Zero Cost Laptop Cooler / Stand (No Glue, No Drilling, No Nuts & Bolts, No Screws)




As seen from the picture and title this instructable is about how to make a zero cost laptop cooler / stand from salvaged items from your local scrapyard or around the house.

Please be advised that though this laptop cooler can truly be made at zero cost, for some steps you may want to substitute a tiny bit of money for less hassle and trouble, throughout this instructable i shall be pointing out these steps and how you could do so.

BTW this laptop cooler build can seriously take a lot of weight, so don't worry about structural integrity when using.


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Step 1: Materials

If you're reading this step then i guess you're interested in building a Zero Cost Laptop Cooler / Stand of your own, if so, go salvage / hunt for the following materials

1. Small size disposable BBQ grill rack grid X1
(i got mine from a BBQ party i went to which had extras)

2. PC fans, preferable as large as you can find X2
(i got mine from a discarded tower chassis server in a junkyard, they are 8cm x 8cm, the normal ones found in most PC are 5cm x 5cm)

3. 12v wall-watt / adapter-plug / 230v-to-12v-transformer, min 400mA rating X1
(i got mine from the same junkyard as the PC fans)

4. Small zip ties X min 10 pieces
(i got mine from shimming open used zip ties found on cabling in PC located at the same junkyard)

5. An female barrel plug compatible with the wall-watt (optional)

6. Some lengths of wire and electrical tape (optional)

{BTW do check all electrical parts for working condition before salvaging them, many a time i have heard of people making a trip to a junkyard and coming back with up to 90% spoilt electrical parts}

Step 2: The Structure + Hardware

This step deals with the structure (BBQ grill rack grid) and hardware (PC fans) of the laptop cooler.

BBQ Grill Rack Grid
1. Take your laptop and center it on the BBQ Grill Rack Grid
2. Leave a buffer of 2-4cm and make a mark on either side of the laptop
3. Bend the BBQ Grill Rack Grid along those lines to form a U-shaped structure

PC fans
1. Take the 2 PC fans and center them on the underside of the BBQ Grill Rack Grid
2. Use the zip ties to secure the fans on to the BBQ Grill Rack Grid (see picture)
[The picture shows 2 zip ties at each corner but 1 is enough if you don't mind the vibration generated during usage, also, a used store bought zip ties for pure convenience sake, you could do so too]

Step 3: The Electrical Wiring

This step deals with the electrical wiring of the laptop cooler.

Electrical Wiring
1. Run the fan wires to the edge of the BBQ grill rack grid by either weaving them in and out of the grid or using zip ties
(in the picture i used the weaving method, cos it is much neater, but takes a lot of time)
2. Using whatever misc connectors and wiring you have been able to salvage, splice the fan connections together, you want to connect the 2 PC fans in parallel to the wall-watt
(the inner part of the wall-watt barrel plug is + and the outside -)
(the PC fan red wire is + and the black wire is -)
(in the picture i used some hot glue to insulate my connections however electrical tape can be used instead, i just used hot glue cos i ran out of electrical tape, the glue serves no sticking purpose!)
3. Note: Some of you may notice the 2 little green things, they came attached to the PC fans and are used to regulate the speed of the fan, as they heat up they cause the fan speed to increase, thus i located them next to my laptop's fan exhaust.

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    17 Discussions


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Nice work.  I was thinking it would be nice to be able to power these fans with a USB cable.  However, the fans are 12v, and USB (from what I gather) outputs between 4.75v and 5.25v.

    I'm not an electrical geek of any sort, but I wonder if you could use output from more than one USB port, or some other kind of voltage-stepping method. (I *really* don't know what I'm talking about)

    2 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    i am glad that you mentioned it, in fact i did consider making the laptop cooler USB powered however there are severe limitations of a standard USB socket (even a high-powered dedicated one), as well as the power losses from using a boost switching regulator (AKA step-up convertor) to bring the 5V USB to 12v FAN

    1. Each USB hub of a computer is designed with a max current source of 500mA, and at 5v, that's a max of 2.5W of power, as P=V*I. However to power the 2 fans i need 400mA at 12V, that's 4.8W of power, therefore i could only theoretically power 1 fan (2.4W) with a USB hub, that is assuming that the power conversion is 100% efficient, which is technically impossible (see point 2)

    2. To convert 5V to 12V, one can either use a transformer or a much more efficient boost switching regulator (AKA step-up convertor), even then the max efficiency is 90%, thus of the 2.5W that can be sourced from a USB hub only 2.5*0.9=2.25W of power is actually usable, thus not even enough to power 1 fan.

    3. It is to be noted that the fans i have used in this instructable are 8cm X 8cm server tower chassis grade fans that source 200mA at 12V. There are cheap china notebook coolers for sale out in the market that use purely USB hub power, however they usually use smaller fan sizes and under power them so as to achieve this, therefore the total air transfer volume can never match mine. on a side note, these cheap china notebook coolers also usually employ voltage convertors with horrible efficiencies as low as 50% sometimes, and this lost power is radiated as heat, undermining the cooler's purpose.

    At the end of the day, chance are that i won't be bringing a laptop cooler that looks like mine all over the place, thus portability isn't an issue, instead the cooler needs to be as powerful as possible to ensure that a laptop running long hours doesn't overheat and to do so i opted for a wall watt instead, also with the extra power available i could add more fans if the need arises or even add some speakers onto the laptop cooler, as laptop speakers are horribly tiny.

    Maybe the best way to have sufficient power for your 12v fans is to use an unused but functioning desktop power supply. With it you will be sure to provide exact power. You just have to search instructables how to convert your power supply into a multiple voltage bench power supply. I have my own version of your laptop cooler which I have been using for the last 9 months. All materials are also sucks heat down rather than blow air to your laptop and it is very efficient. But mine is using a usb for power supply, but still efficient. I hope i can provide pictures soon and post it here,


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Nice idea.
    Just a thing. You should point out that the fan must be mounted as extractors, that is they pull the air out from the computer case.
    Some people could be tempted to mount them to push air into the PC.

    5 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    sorry maybe its just me, but what PC are you referring to?

    This is a Laptop Cooler, designed to push a continuous steam of air towards the base of a laptop being placed on it, so as to achieve the purpose of cooling it down so much so that the laptop's own fan wouldn't have to work so hard (therefore best used on laptops with long operating hours that would incur more wear and tear)


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Yes , i got that correctly.

    On my laptop, the hot air is blown out of the laptop at the bottom (and it cooks some delicate part of me BTW)
    So if I mount the fans to blow air into the laptop bottom, I will interfere with the exhaust.

    That's why I suggested to mount the fans as extractors (pulling hot air out and away) rather than trying to push cold air inside.

    Was I clear? It's two hours to New Year so you will understand that I may not be too sure of that!!


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Oh, wow, i've never seen a laptop with a downward facing exhaust, but frankly, i've no solution for you, cos simply reversing the direction of air flow may help, however it is inefficient because the main computer fan still has to work as hard to cool the computer down

    Note: i'll brainstorm about it, maybe somthing may hit me in time, who knows, but thanks for the heads up, any chance you could provide a link to a pic i could see, or a model number and brand of your laptop?

    BTW Happy New Year (in advance, that is...)

    I have encountered laptops that expel air through the bottom, and have one at the moment that draws air in from the bottom. I also have a bunch of Toshiba units that exhaust out the back and intake through the keyboard.

    Either way, this is a great instructable, with minimal purchase required.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I don't have it with me.
    The keyboard died and I bought a new one.
    However it was a Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo 1424 (discontinued).
    Your design will work with my new notebook anyway, so i'll fave it.

    Thanks and happy 2010.


    9 years ago on Step 3

    Very minimal!
    The Best Cooler!


    Thanks for your compliment, however could you kindly pls remove your double post below, oh ya, and vote for me ^_^


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah, finally a Laptopstand that really seems to be focussed only on cooling and not on style or sth else. Gonna try this out soon (have to check which parts I have.). I guess even without the fans this should kick some serious butt.

    1 reply

    HA, nice, i really like the way you put it! That's why i said in the instructable that it would make a fine UTILITARIAN GIFT, as practical and efficient as can be

    BTW vote for me pls, thanks


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Nice, 2 positive comments already, in under 24 hours, i love this community.

    Thanks for the compliment, glad i could provide something constructive to the masses ^_^