Home Homesteading How to Build a Cheap DIY Air Conditioner

How to Build a Cheap DIY Air Conditioner

by Anthony
Homemade Air Conditioner


When you are prepping for surviving after a major collapse, you are typically focused on the basics. All the extras in life that we have become accustomed to, like air conditioning, are not even thought about. If you don’t have electricity, how can you have air conditioning or even a fan to cool you? You can and we are going to talk about how you can build an evaporative cooler with just a few basic tools.

Despite the mindset that you will get by, there is a good reason to have a way to cool down. If you are doing more physical labor in a survival situation, you are more prone to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. The latter can be potentially fatal. You need a way to cool down. You don’t have to be in a room that is a cool 76 degrees all day, but you will be more comfortable if you can cool down from time to time.

The following instructions will help you put together a portable evaporative cooler that you can use in your house or tent. This particular cooler uses ice, but you could use water from a lake or stream.
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  1. You will need the following items.
    • An ice chest—50 quart works fine, must have a lid
    • 90 degree, 4-inch PVC pipe
    • Desk fan–12v
    • Solar panel 15w 1 amp or connect to an electrical outlet
    • Jig saw
    • Electrical tape
    • 2 Small alligator clamps
  2. Place the PVC on the top of the cooler with one curved end pointing outwards. Use a pencil to trace the bottom of the pipe.
  3. Place your fan face down on the opposite end of the cooler lid. Use the pencil to trace the total face of the fan.
  4. Use a jig saw to cut out the circles you have traced on the lid.
  5. Place one end of the PVC pipe into the appropriate hole. It should fit fairly snug.
  6. Place the fan, face down, in it’s hole.
  7. Connect the fan to your solar panel. If you don’t want to use a solar panel, you could connect the fan to a small 12v battery. This will require you to attach the fan’s cord to a set of alligator clamps. It is fairly simple to splice the cord from the fan, strip the plastic to expose the wires and use some electrical tape to wrap the fan wires to the clamps. The positive side will typically be black with a white stripe. This is the wire you will hook to the positive clamp.
  8. Place a large block of ice in the cooler and place the lid back on.
  9. Turn on your fan and feel the cool air shoot out of the PVC pipe. The air coming out of the pipe will be around 40 to 45 degrees. This is plenty cool enough to cool a room in your house. You can expect a large block of ice to last 5 to 8 hours.


  • Because it is unlikely you would have ice in a survival situation, you can use cold water collected from a lake or stream. It will not blow out air that is as cold as the ice blocks, but it will still be around 50 to 60 degrees, which is certainly going to be cooler than the temperature outside on a hot day. Keep in mind, this is going to add a lot of humidity to the room. It is a good idea to have a window open a bit to keep air circulating through the space. You don’t want mildew or mold to start growing.
  • You can fill old water or soda bottles with water and pop in the freezer. Place the frozen bottles in the cooler. Old milk jugs would work as well. This method will not give you that ice cold air you would get with the exposed ice, but it will still be around 50 degrees or so. The cleanup is much easier and you could refreeze the jugs for the next round. Keep a few containers in the freezer at all times so you have a steady stream of frozen jugs to place in your cooler.
  • In today’s world, you may be tempted to use dry ice. While this would be effective and give you cooler air, it isn’t a good idea to be in a small space inhaling the air. Considering this air conditioner of sorts is best used in a small area, dry ice isn’t really an option. Dry ice releases carbon dioxide into the air and as you know, too much carbon dioxide is poisonous. It just isn’t worth the risk.

Cooler Variation

You could also use a 5-gallon bucket with a lid to make this evaporative cooler. Instead of placing the large PVC on the top, you would drill 3 small holes around the top edge of the bucket. A 2 ¼ inch hole saw is perfect for 1 ½ inch PVC. You would insert the 3 short PVC pieces into the front of the bucket and mount the fan on the top, face down similar to the cooler instructions. The only drawback to using a bucket is you would need to purchase a Styrofoam bucket liner. These can be found at Home Depot typically.

This cooler is perfect for use this summer. Imagine how much money you could save on your electric bill this summer by using one of these evaporative coolers to cool your room. It would also give you time to learn the quirks, what works and what doesn’t before you truly need it after SHTF.

Sources: http://www.nbcrightnow.com/story/25928116/summer-heat-homemade-air-conditioner-for-8-bucks

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