Swamp Cooler




About: I am on the path of becoming a true jack of all trades and master of maybe somethings. I live in South Africa and is currently a recovering vegetarian and amateur mustache grower. I (almost) fix and fly ai...

Ok Where I come from it gets hot. So hot that beer evaporates while in the bottle.

Also the fact that my room gets a lot of afternoon sun does not make for a cool night in summer.

Being the person i am, I hacked an old (Newly bought) bucket to create a usb Aircon if you will.


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Step 1: Gather Your Material (and Lose Your Mind)

If this was a video game you'll have to travel far to get it. This i bought at a dolor store.

  1. A Bucket 20L
  2. A lid that fits said bucket
  3. A USB desktop fan
  4. Some cleaning cloths or thin porous material (40cm x 30cm)

The tools i used is only a guideline, so feel free to deviate from this list (we always do)

  1. A rotary tool (Dremel)
  2. A measuring tape
  3. A vernier
  4. Hot glue gun (with glue sticks)
  5. Your brain (do not use another tool for this, yours will be excellent)

Step 2: Let Us Mutilate

Not mutilate ummm.... cut yes cut.

Take the lid and drill a small pilot hole in the center

Use the vernier to determine the diameter of the fans cage minus the part were the screws go threw.

I got mine at 16mm minus 3.2mm for the rim. Leaving me with 12.8mm

Using the vernier set to 6.4mm (radius of the cage) i scraped a circle on the lid. (with the pilot hole as my anchor point)

Then we cut. Use the rotary tool or a sharp carpet knife cut out the circle you scraped.

it should look like the above picture.

Next use the cage to drill pilot holes for the screws threw the existing holes in the cage.


Step 3: Drill the Holes (you'll Not Find Oil Thou)

Drill the holes you piloted in the lid.

Make sure they line up with the cage and is clean for a tight fit with the cage

Step 4: Now Marriage of the Cage.

Split the cage. Save your screws

Place the bottom side under the lid and the top side of the cage on the top, the lid is between the cage now.

Secure the cage with the screws you kept. A dab of hot glue under the screws will stop them from pulling threw. My fan came with nuts so I skipped the glue part, but if you are worried that they may come lose you can dab them with glue to.

Congratulations, the lid is done. To the Bucket we go

Step 5: Buckets of Yet More Cutting.

The bucket is your water vessel and the channel which controls the air coming in.

On the side cut a notch for the wire to fit. This is where you will put the wire threw.

Next measure the bucket and make a mark at the half point with a felt pen.

Measure the top half and mark the half as well.

This is where your holes will be made so go and trace that halfway point all around the bucket.

Now the fun starts.

Step 6: Captain There Is a Hole in the Bucket

Depending on how many hole you want, mark a few circles around the bucket more or less 13cm.

Use the vernier again to scrape a circle with the halfway mark as the pivot point. Remember to use the radius (6.5cm) I made 4 holes perpendicular to each other.

This is where you can use your own ideas. I used two designs here as examples.

Cut out a circle or drill holes inside the circle.

This is your intake holes so feel free to experiment.

Step 7: Cloths and Holes.

We are at the cloths and why they are in the list.

The dimensions are 40cm x 30cm. If you can't find them and are using another material.

Fold them length wise and glue the top just above the hole. Making sure it covers the hole and that a large piece of it touches the bottom of the bucket.

Place a bead of glue under the hole and secure the cloth to it.

Almost done

Step 8: Water and Ice

Fill the bucket with water till under the holes.

Add ice for a better effect. Wet the cloth all the way so it can act as a wick that keeps drawing water.

Put on the lid and plug it in to a USB plug and let the magic commence.

It takes a while to cool a whole room, but it lowers my room average from 25C" to 16C' threw the day.

A great thing is you can run it of as little as 6V so a addition of a small solar panel makes it a camping addition to make your friends jealous.



PS. Show me your variasions and final build and ask for any support.

Hack Your Day Contest

First Prize in the
Hack Your Day Contest

Bucket Challenge

Runner Up in the
Bucket Challenge

Hand Tools Only Contest 2016

Participated in the
Hand Tools Only Contest 2016

1 Person Made This Project!


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48 Discussions


3 years ago

Not "threw".
"Threw" is the past tense of the verb "To Throw"

2 replies

Reply 6 weeks ago

You're welcome.
And think that, at the time, I was an IMMIGRANT from Italy.
Anyway, a cooler like that can give you SO MANY problems with humidity that, unless you live in the desert, you don't want it in your house.


3 months ago

Love the idea, and it is quite sound. I am using bottles filled with water and frozen to allow for the ice to melt slower. I live in NC so it gets hot here also, but the basic idea you used is good for cooling my home office, but it could still use some tweaks for better performance. I used a bigger fan, ice bottles, and working on using some old PC heatsinks for better delivery from the bottles to the fan. I will post pics and instructable once I perfect it. Thanks for the quick start.


: D


Reply 3 years ago

Humidity IS the key. I'm in New Mexico (USA) and swamp coolers work great because our relative humidity is usually less than 20%, but the just don't work with 65 or 70% humidity like The east coast or the south. The water won't evaporate (much) which is where the cooling comes from, just as sweating cools down your body. (Melting ice will, of course cool things down).

Also, adding your evaporated water to a closed room raises the humidity, so the longer it runs, the less it cools. Our coolers are mounted outside and use all outside (dry) air as intake, and blow the cool, humidified air into the house. A 20 degree Fahrenheit drop in temperature (or so) is about all you can get out of them. The motors/fans do live in that high humidity, but do fairly well over time, but they do get a bit rusty.


Reply 3 years ago

Are these coolers more effective if the air is being PUSHED into the bucket and out through the pads?


3 years ago

Are these coolers more effective if the air is being PUSHED into the bucket and out through the pads?


3 years ago

Very COOL Indeed... no pun intended. ... well, maybe a tad bit of a Pun ^_^


3 years ago

I am going to do this but one difference battery powered fan everything else for the most part will be roughly the same

1 reply

Reply 3 years ago

I have air conditioners but they cost a furtune to run and fans alone don't work this should do fine


3 years ago

Not "threw".
"Threw" is the past tense of the verb "To Throw"

Mark 42

3 years ago

Swamp coolers work well in low humidity (e.g. in the desert), but not so good in high humidity.

A small one is worth experimenting with.

Just be aware, if you put ice in it, more heat was made to freeze that ice than the heat you will extract from the room with the ice - so if your freezer is not outdoors, or in the basement, you may end up warming your house in the long run.


3 years ago

The only problem I see with this is the increased humidity from the evaporating water, this might give you condensation problems or even mold.

During the day 25 is fine outdoors for most people, indoors it is to warm, and at night indoors is is much to hot, so I can see why.

I have an idea to improve this design, I'll get back to you when I have tried it.

Thank you

3 replies

Reply 3 years ago

Please. This design has alot of flaws i can't adres now or i don't have the knowledge to adres


Reply 3 years ago

Then maybe you have no need to make a negative comment.


Reply 3 years ago

not really just needs a few tweaks is all , add a small aquarium pump, use some small cooler pads cut down to fit and a spider to wet the pads .


3 years ago

nice build why not use some small cooler pads? also add a small aquarium pump hook it to a spider and that would make a bad a$$ cooler..


3 years ago

Deserved a vote for entertaining build process :)