Handheld Air Conditioner Unit




About: "Almost Toast"

Jambo Instructabrarians!

Picture this: It's 87 degrees and scorching outside, you desperately want a Slurpee, but the nearest 7-11establishment is about about 5 blocks down. You could go out for a walk, but the heat is so intense you don't think you can make it there and back. You might be able to take a drive, but- wait a minute- car's impounded. So what do you do- risk burning to a crisp for a delicious drink, or struggle through this insane weather, Slurpeeless?

Thankfully, you may never have to face this dangerous predicament again! Good News, Everyone! I just finished putting the latest touches on my newest Summer Mattraption- my brand new Executive Style Handheld Air Conditioner! Portable and eco-friendly, this useful device promises to keep you cool with only 4 AA batteries and ice water!

Author's Note: I recently took this with me when I went on vacation to Hawaii and, I don't mean to brag, but it worked phenomenally.

Step 1: How It Works:

If you've browsed our fine selection of Summer Instructables, chances are you've probably seen CameronSS's amazing 12V Air Conditioner.   The concept is simple: a bilge pump transports cold water from an ice cooler, and is then pumped through a wound coil of copper tubing, which surrounds the circumference of an electric fan.  Thus, when the bilge pump circulates the flow of ice water around the metal copper tubing coils, the cold air is sucked around them and produces and Eco Friendly blast of cold air.

Now imagine that same concept, except 70% smaller.

Instead of using a bilge pump, I opted out for a miniature water pump from a desktop fountain, a stainless steel 1 ltr Thermos instead of an ice cooler, and a mini plastic handheld fan.  The final result?  A conditioner that is as classy as it is portable.

Step 2: Aperture 1: "Executive Ice Container"

Glossy and oh so fashionable, this 1 ltr Stainless Steel Thermos is what makes the HHAC the business executive’s cordless air conditioner. I used the thermos, in lieu of an ice cooler, to maximize ease of transportability.  The thermos proved extremely useful and can keep ice water cold for up to 1.5 hours.

The thermos is what houses all of the ice, water and water pump system so that the fluid is always in motion. I also dremelled three small holes at the top lid, which is how the two stiff plastic tubes that are connected to the cooling coils, as well as the battery wire, fit through the lid to get to the ice water.

Step 3: Aperture 2: "Zen Pump System"

Instead of a bilge pump, I needed something a lot smaller and decided to use a pump from a discarded desktop Zen fountain. After spending 20 minutes trying to open it with a dremel, I finally cracked it open with a hammer and chisel in 5 minutes, and took out the battery pack, switch, and pump.

Next, I re-soldered the battery pack to a 7- inch length of wire, fit it inside some shrink tubing and connected it to the water pump, after I had fed the wire through the thermos cap.

The whole device is powered simply by 2 AA batteries.

Step 4: Aperture 3: "Conditioner Coil + Fan"

The final aperture in this product is the copper tubing cooling coils. I bought a small length of tubing from the hardware store, (about 1 foot or so) which I then bent using a pair of pliers to form fit around my handheld plastic fan. 

Next, I used four tie-wraps to connect my now wound coils to my fan, and then took both ends of the coils and inserted them into the non flexible plastic tubing.  This connects the final piece of the HHAC, so now the ice water can travel from the pump, through the coils and back into the thermos again, in a rapid circular flow.

Step 5: Conclusion

So there you have it, my own personal Handheld Air Conditioner, Executive Style.  While you may need to replenish the ice inside the thermos every other hour or so, you at least will never have to worry about the air conditioner polluting Freon gases into the atmosphere.

Just a tip though, since I predict a number of you may ask this.  Even though it may be tempting to drink out of the ice water Thermos, especially if you are on a long walk, I would highly advise against doing so.  Not that it's dangerous but probably unsanitary, considering how OSH probably never disinfects their copper tubes.

Anyway, if you'll excuse me, there's still the matter of a Slurpee-shortage in my household, of which I must attend to.

Good luck with your Summer Instructables!


Step 6: Materials and Parts Index

Materials and Parts Index

Desktop Fountain
Thin Copper Tubing
Stiff Plastic Tubing
Soldering Shrink Tubing
Handheld Plastic Fan

Where to Buy:
Try Target

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    159 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    So all of you that think Shift is wrong and a fool? You should not put down ideas that may come from the person who may make it possible someday to reach the stars or could double human life span? Maybe you should say that is really cool, neat, boss, trick or whatever term that encourges him to make more things. Support & help him and others that are really thinking. GEEKS RULE!


    3 years ago on Introduction

    I just signed up just so that I could comment-this is brilliant!!!!! Thank you so much for sharing. You should patent!!! (Hope it's not too late!!!) Genius. Thank you again for sharing! :)


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Now this is what Instrucables is about.

    Innovation and invetiveness not these ridiculous ibles about recipes, sewing and how to play with Legos.

    Good job, Shift!

    This absolutely is an "Air Conditioner." Just understanding a few laws of thermodynamics and refrigeration principles you can see why. "Pumping" Cool water through the copper coil on the back of his 12v fan he is effectively able to reduce the humidity and temperature of a relatively sized space. Condensation will form on the evaporator coil, effectively taking the moisture directly from the atmosphere around it. This will simultaneously recirculate air with reduced heat and humidity. Refrigeration is not chilling anything, it is the process of removing heat, which simultaneously removes humidity as condensate.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    So has anybody tried this? Does it actually cool the air enough to have it be worth it?


    4 years ago on Step 5

    You could have use those semiconductor cooling plates. Just that you need an extra fan to dissipate the heat transferred by the plate when cooling the interior. I prefer heatsink+fan so CPU/GPU fan is perfect and easy choice without considering weight and mobility. Ofcourse you can also use a smaller heatsink (about the same size as the plate and a fan that is reasonably sized.

    You will never need to replace the ice/cold water and you can minimize the use of copper tubing(by setting a heatsink also on the cold side and have the fan blow by it.) so to reduce cost if you are doing this.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Sorry, that came across awfully negative.

    Like others that have commented I think you'll "turn off" many people that come visiting this 'ible by your use of green and air conditioner.

    Cool? Yes! Cooling? Very! Air conditioner? No. Green? Definitely not.

    Your 'ible's well written, but it plays for views (hey, I've done the same myself, I don't blame you) and doesn't seem honest. It'd read a lot better if it didn't claim to be what it isn't.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Jayefuu, I respect your opinion even though I readily disagree with it. I didn't label this project "green" simply for false advertising, because I do consider this a very green project. True, it does use batteries but my city has a free recycling program specifically for them. There's no runoff of freon, or excessive amount of energy usage and compared to other AC devices, the design is a much cleaner alternative.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Fair enough, you could have used a TEC and claimed it was 90% efficient AND green, that would have been worse.

    I respect your opinion, but it seems like you justified it being green to greenwash rather than it actually being green. I don't think it'd be constructive to argue about it, so let's leave it at that, or maybe we should work together on a cooler that's greener?

    Ice wristbands? Something to cool your wrists or another close to the surface vein to truly cool you rather than the air blowing at your face? I'd be willing to bet that a battery powered TEC in contact with your skin would be more efficient than freezing ice and blowing cooled air at your face.

    All arguments aside, as I said before, I don't think what you did is a bad idea, it looks neat, the 'ible's well written and the product's cool, I just disagree that it's green or "eco". Green would be rubbing water on your wrists and arms so that evaporation does the hard work, or staying in the shade. Not using power to freeze water and then using batteries.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Ice Wristbands? You just read my mind Jayefuu! However, I might just make a slight suggestion and rework it into a headband/neck brace since the head is one of the areas that collects the most perspiration.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    its not just about perspiration but by cooling the pulse points. there are actually a lot of them on your body


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    about 4 years ago i did something like this but i made 2 loop of copper tube add a thin copper plate in a way so it clipped over the back of my neck it worked real well but ICE was a no go in the long run i used a 200watt TEC and a set of lipo witch is far from green but it added more rounds of golf it avg well over 112F here so green was not what i wanted...................
    but a good 25~100watt TEC a copper pate and a small old P3 cpu heatsink might do the trick. add a pwm power management with temp feedback and you might have a real cooling system..............

    i can see TEC with power management in direct contact like this, green as over time your using far less total power then the ice water setup even just making the ice uses more power..................
    a good 4500ma lipo/nimh can run a 50w TEC like this for days if power is done right....................
    and yes the best way is stay out of the sun.
    but it's 10am at my house I'm in doors and it's 102deg so far today so i know my A/C will be on soon.................

    check out custom computer cooling sites for TEC's you can get good ones cheep..................
    like frozencpu.com
    use a 6-8cell NiMh pack you can get them some what cheep now days as people go LiPo (NiMh live longer and have just as much power)
    lipo are about 1/3rd lighter and smaller that's all......................

    and hey people don't point out flaws unless your going to post ways around them. cooling the air is the lest efficient way direct contact is best.
    just use a mini fan for your face if you need more air in your cooling setup 95% of the cooling is just sweating plus a fan ice is doing almost nothing take a before and after temp with pump on and off at best it's a 2 deg temp drop if that just not a lot of surface area on the tubes to cool the air .................

    hint: if you apply anything to cold to the top of your skin your body will reduce blood flow around it so remember cool not cold.
    (stay with in 20degs of body temp)................

    i hope this gives you ideas for the next one good luck.........

    cool the left side of your neck more then the right if you cool the right side to much you will get massive headaches when the cold blood hits your brain.
    i learn this the hard way lol..


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    actually long loose sleeves help keep you cool, I wear loose, long sleeved, light colored,shirts as much as possible when I need to be outside in the heat, a wide brimmed straw hat, while far from a fashion statement also helps keep you cooler with a combination of shade and evaporation


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Many years back when I was doing yard work, I learned that long sleeve white cotton shirts bought way larger than fits and a long head scarf that was wetted and tied to my head that covered the back of my neck was THE best thing I could do for myself. Long brim straw hat over that. Oh, and totally cut out caffeine when I knew I would be working in the heat. I may go back to doing that again.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    that works for you i guess. I'm stuck with long sleeves as i had skin Cancer. i do see now that shirt is "under armor" and is made to wick heat/ sweat away. i have a few my self. they help a lot if your in direct sun light witch you will never find me. i hate the sun witch the only time i'm awake to reply is late (now 3:23am).
    i always hated long sleeves never owned a shirt with them tell about 13 months ago when i found out i had cancer
    (i have beat it so I'm good just not aloud to be in the sun at all)