5 Easy DIY Air Conditioners to Keep You Cool This Summer

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You’re melting and you need to cool down. Your air conditioning is on the blink, or else you don’t have any (perhaps you live in the UK), and no way to deal with this ridiculous heat.

So, what can you do? The solution is simple: build your own air conditioner! Sounds too complicated? You’re about to find that it’s far easier than you think.

The following DIY air conditioner projects demonstrate how easy it can be to cool down your home and beat the heat this summer.

1. A Fan and a Tray of Ice

Okay, so there isn’t a great amount of DIY about this, but it is where the majority of DIY air conditioning projects begin: a fan, and some ice. Rather than blowing air around a room with a fan, it blows cool air.

Here, the ice is on a tray, in the form of cubes from your freezer. The fan is angled down slightly, and the air is cooled as it passes over the ice. But how well does this work?

Having given this a go myself, it has a few flaws. First, the ice cubes melt far quicker than a larger block ice, so you’re going to find you need an inexhaustible supply of ice. Second, a faster fan gives better results than a slower one.

Third, oscillation isn’t possible without missing the ice (unless you have a very long tray).

2. Plastic Soda Bottle

Here’s a slightly better alternative, and not too different to an project I’ve tried myself (see below). In this video, small soda bottles are strapped to the back of a fan using cable ties.

Inside the bottles, which have been peppered with holes thanks to a soldering iron, is the ice. Air is drawn through the bottles by the fan, and the air cooled by the ice.

This is a great low-budget air cooling conditioning solution, one that you can put together in just a few minutes!

Or Use an Ice Block

Along similar lines, you could also use an ice block, the type often found in cool boxes. I tried this, using cable ties to attach a plastic net bag to the back of the fan. Into this, I slotted the ice block, and enjoyed around 30 minutes of cool air.

It’s a useful alternative that doesn’t have the problem of dripping water (which you might have when using soda bottles).

3. Cool Box Air Conditioner

Now this is an impressive build. Working with the same basic components (a fan, some ice, and a container), this cool box-based DIY air conditioner features some drainpipe tubing as an outlet.

Here, two circles are cut into the lid of the cool box. One of these is big enough to fit the fan, which is placed face-down into the box. The other is for the outlet pipe. In the box, which would normally store food or drink, is a massive piece of ice (although we expect you’d probably start off with a load of ice cubes).

When switched on, air is drawn in by the fan, cooled by the ice, and pushed out of the cool box to chill your room!

Note: A search of YouTube can reveal several variations on this project, all of which are worth checking out.

4. Convert Your Fan Into an Air Conditioner

So far we’ve only looked at projects requiring a fan and some ice. For a more authentic air conditioned experience, however, you can adapt your fan with some 1/4-inch copper tubing.

Mounted on the front of the fan cage, the tubing is then pumped with cold water using a fountain pump. The water runs through vinyl tubing first, then into the copper tubing, and back to the pump, with cooling (perhaps via a bag of ice) taking place along the way.

Although somewhat more complicated than the other projects listed here, it appears the results are good.

5. Pond Pump-Powered Swamp Cooler

Eschewing the need for a fan, this build employs a pond pump and some evaporative cooler pad. Pinned up with a wooden frame, the builder of this project claims that it can reduce the temperature indoors by over 20F.

Evaporative cooling is the process by which the temperature is reduced via the evaporation of liquid. It’s basically how sweating works, removing heat from the surface of the skin. Also found in industrial cooling systems, this DIY evaporative cooling project should cost under $100.

Admittedly, this is the most complex project listed here, and again it requires a source of cool (although not cooled) water.

Other Ways to Stay Cool This Summer

Hot weather doesn’t make it easy to do much, other than lay around watching TV, reading, or topping up your tan (plenty of sunblock, please, and only for short periods).

A DIY air conditioner project should be enough to help you stay cool. While it might not work as a long-term solution, it should work as a stopgap when your air conditioner is down.

However, if a DIY air conditioner unit isn’t working out, or you need something more, try some additional ways to keep cool:

  • Take a cold shower/bath: When things get unbearable, this is always a good option.
  • Schedule your windows: Keep them shut when it’s hot during the day, but open at night to let cool air in. When you shut them in the morning, that cool air should be trapped for a few hours.
  • Power down unnecessary electrics: Computers, TVs, even clothes dryers, should be switched off. They all contribute to the amount of heat in your home, which isn’t useful in such hot weather.

Meanwhile, if you’re reading this article because you feel your air conditioner isn’t cooling well enough, be sure to check our post on common air conditioner mistakes to avoid.

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