Autonomous Self Powered Computer Cooler





Introduction: Autonomous Self Powered Computer Cooler

About: I am an inventive photographer, Pilot, and MacGyver. I love building and modifying things to aid in my adventures. Check out my Website! Have a great day!

This is a smart computer cooler that is capable of super cooling your computer by approximately 20-30 degrees Celsius. It is thermostatically controlled and is also able to power itself from the heat given off by your computer. I have been able to reduce my computer temperature from 31.3 degrees to 4.2 degrees Celsius.

This is just a proof of concept prototype. The final product will be much prettier. ;-) The final version will allow for multiple fan speed control, and possibly some fancy lights. I am just awaiting the extra parts to arrive.

What you will need:

- 12v Computer fan (mine was 21Watt)

- Thermoelectric Generator/Cooler

- (Peltier Plates, Copper plate, Copper heat sink, Thermal Paste, Zip Ties or Mechanics Wire, Electrical Merits, and a Small Computer Fan)

- 12v Thermostat (Available on eBay or from your local electronics store)

- light gauge electrical wires

- Scissors

- Screw Driver

- Piece of closed cell foam (to avoid scratching your desk)


- 12v Transformer (if you need more amperage)

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Step 1: Thermoelectric Generator/Cooler

This is a fairly simple device to build. It is pretty much a giant peltier plate CPU Cooler with a small 12v fan. Mine cost $7.50 to make. You can see all of the building Instructions on this Instuctable (

The generator uses the heat from your computer to generate electricity. This process directly cools the computer by dissipating the heat, and indirectly by supplying power to the thermostat and larger cooling fan.

Below is a video of the Thermoelectric Generator build.

Step 2: Connect the Thermoelectric Generator

The next step is to connect the generator to the thermostat. Remember to swap the leads (+12, and Ground) because the generator is producing not receiving power.

The neutral lead should go to the +12 contact, and the live lead to the neutral contact.

NOTE: The colors are swapped not the power

Step 3: Connect the Fan

Connect a jumper wire from the +12 contact to the K1 contact. The K1 contact supplies power to the thermostat's 12v switch. Then connect the positive lead from the fan to the K0 contact (output from the

thermostat's 12v switch), and the neutral lead from the fan to the main neutral contact (GND).

The cooling system is now complete.

Note: the two extra wires on the fan are a tachometer and ground. Neither of which need to be connected.

Optionally you can also sever the leads of a 12v transformer and connect the positive to the +12v contact and the neutral to the neutral contact.

Step 4: Install on Computer

Cut and place the foam insulating mat underneath the generator and make sure that the small computer fan is securely aimed into the heat sink. Next place the thermostat probe inside of the computer's main vent, using tape is necessary to make sure tat the probe cannot be sucked into the fan. Finally attach the thermostat control board and turn on your computer.

Step 5: Enjoy

Once your computer warms up the control board will automatically power up. Once it is on you can set your limit temperatures. I originally set mine to turn on at 25 degrees Celsius and turn off at 0. It seemed to steady out at around 11 degrees when editing and transcoding 4K video. I later increased my lower limit to 15 degrees to avoid the risk of condensation.

If you have any suggestions for improvement, or have any questions we
would love to hear from you and see what you have built. Feel free to comment below! :-)

Have a great day!



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    37 Discussions

    Nice setup. Do you think you could get subzero if you liquid cooled the peltiers and ran the intake air though a heat sink or two?

    Anyways it's a good instructable and deserving of my vote!

    3 replies

    Yes its possible to go sub zero Celsius with a peltier and water cooling providing your delta v is adequate. meaning your peltier device has to be sufficiently large enough to cool the heat load of the cpu, and then some. So if the cpu puts out 125 watts of heat your peltier device has to have a capacity of say 150 watts or more. You could cool such a device with air but it would be a ridiculously large heat sink, so water would be much more practical. However going below the dew point can cause a whole other bunch of problems, which can also be overcome. Swiftech used to make devices for this when they were first starting out, and where way more badass. Ill post a picture when I get home sometime. I have one.

    you don't need to go subzero on your PC. If you drop temperature below 60°C, you don't need to go any further. Peltier in combination with water cooling is only useful for extreme (-ish) overclocking as it extends surface area.

    I believe it would all depend on your peltier plates, and an external power supply would not hurt.

    It definitely sounds like an interesting idea. Personally I am a little wary of mixing liquids and electronics, but I would love to see what you come up with!

    Have a great day!

    I really enjoyed this. I believe I will try this on my Linux desktop it always seems to run a little hot for my liking. @GreatWhiteNorth49 liquid cooling sounds cool! Lol

    Really cool project! :)

    The Mac Pro does have its own fans, but when it is used for high quality and high rate video editing (ie 4K at 30fps), gaming, or when your programming tries to crash your computer it can get extremely hot.

    Since trans coding video can take multiple hours in some cases, I wanted to make sure I would not damage my computer.

    Have a great day! :-)

    I feel like I'm missing something. So the thermoelectric generator powers the bug fan at the top for cooling but yet your temperatures are below ambient? Just a fan can't do that so what am I missing?

    1 reply

    What you are missing is that the thermometer is not inside the computer, the temperature is that of the top of the aluminum computer case/heat sink. I chose to measure the temperature here to make sure that I would not create condensation by cooling any part of the computer past the dew point.

    The CPU is still likely very close to ambient. It is just not melting :-)

    Have a great day! :-)

    Nice! That mac pro is perfect for this in shape. Did you get any photos of the bottom of the mac alteration?

    1 reply

    I did not alter the bottom of the Mac at all. It is just a copper plate sitting directly on the aluminum case. The case of the mac is just a giant heat sink, so I am using it to my advantage. :-)

    Have a great day! :-)

    Hello. I'm quite interested in making this for when I go camping. Do you think this would generate enough to charge a car battery when it's sitting over a hot campfire? Thank you :)

    1 reply

    It would all depend on what Peltier plates you use. To charge a battery you either need to have higher voltage than the battery, or higher amperage and a voltage regulator that can invert the current.

    Have a great day! :-)

    What temp would you have to keep to avoid condensation? Nothing fries components like moisture :(

    2 replies

    It would all depend on your humidity and dew point. You can usually check this on local weather reports. When in doubt lit it run a little warm!

    Have a great day! :-)

    If it's a problem, I believe you could deal with the condensation by packing airtight artists eraser around the cpu on the front and back of the motherboard, so that it blocks out moisture. Im fairly sure thats what's done with basic phase change cooling, so I think it would work here.