If you are looking for an inexpensive way to beat the heat this summer, there are plenty of very effective DIY options you can try. A while back we featured a solar powered air cooler by Desertsun02 on Youtube – an awesomely practical idea for cheap cooling – and he has several other homemade air coolers he has built and tested out with great results.
All of these off grid air coolers are very cheap to build, requiring less than $30 in materials. They are also simple to set up and they consume a fraction of the energy that traditional air conditioners do.
All of these air coolers are powered with solar panels. Since they require ice to operate, a common concern is about how to make ice off the grid. Desertsun02 addresses that in this video, so be sure to check it out.
Below is the original ice chest air cooler we featured before, along with 2 more great ideas.
1. Off grid ice chest air conditioner
Homemade air conditioners don’t get much simpler than this. This setup uses only a foam ice chest, a PVC pipe, and a 12 volt fan.
A block of ice is kept in the chest and the fan blows warm air from the room over the ice. The air that is blown back out into the room stays around 40 degrees fahrenheit. The fan here is hooked up to a single 15 watt (1 amp) solar panel. This can provide up to 10 hours of cool air.
See the original article about this cooler here.
2. Bucket air cooler
This concept is very similar to the foam chest cooler. It is smaller and easily portable, perfect to use as a space cooler for a camper, automobile, or in the home.
The materials required for this setup are a 5 gallon bucket, a foam bucket liner, 3 PVC pipes, and a fan. A hole saw is used to drill the holes through the bucket and liner where the pipes are inserted and the fan is placed over a hole cut into the lid.
A 1 gallon jug of ice in this cooler lasted 6 hours in a room that started out at 84 degrees, and the air outflow stayed about 40 degrees. This cooler is also hooked up to a 15 watt solar panel.
3. Copper tubing fan cooler
This cooler is a little more work to set up, but is extremely effective, providing many hours of cold air.
It works by running ice cold water through a coiled copper tube attached to a large fan. To make this setup, you’ll need a fan, copper tubing, clear vinyl tubing, a fountain pump, and a bucket or foam ice chest to hold the ice and water.
First, the copper tubing is wrapped to make a coil that fits the face of the fan. This part is time consuming, but the tubing is pretty easy to work with. The coil is attached to the front of the fan using zip ties.
Next, clear tubing is used to connect the copper coil to a small pond pump that is submerged into a bucket of ice water. The pump circulates cold water through the coil, which stays very cold. The air that is blown into the room is cooled down as it is passed over the coil.
This setup is quite a bit larger than the previous two and uses about 45 watts of power when running on high. It is hooked up to a 3-panel solar setup. An insulated bucket or foam cooler can be used to hold the ice water to keep it cold for longer.