Gallery: DIY: Beat the Heatwave by Making Your Own Air Conditioner


Martha and the Vandellas were on the right track — heatwaves can definitely tear you apart. The current temperature in parts of the US has our “heads in a haze“, and being as energy conscious as we are, we’re torn between being unbearably hot or turning on the electricity-eating AC. Well, we just might have a wonderful compromise — a DIY AC that you can make out of inexpensive and readily available materials!

According to the US Department of Energy a typical window air conditioner will use about 10 times as much electricity as a fan — sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on the size of your AC and fan. Generally speaking, a fan is much more energy efficient. Although we’re not sure that this homemade AC will cool you down as much as an AC unit would, it’s definitely better than a simple breeze. It works on the idea that if you pump cold water through tubing in front of the fan it will immediately cool the air blowing on your steaming face.

You’ll need a fan, some tubing for the water to run through, a water pump, some twist ties (or zip ties), a cooler, water and some ice. The assembly is simple — the first step is to remove the front grate on the fan and affix the tubing with the twist ties. Then you attach the tubing to the water pump, fill the cooler up with water and ice, stick the pump in and press go. Voila! Some cold respite from the heat without the electricity bill — and green guilt — that you’d have with an AC unit. For more detailed instructions and some trouble shooting ideas head over to Instructables, where they’ve got all the directions posted, along with some helpful photos. And stay cool out there!

+ DIY AC at Instructables

Via Gizmodo


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  1. Giant DIY LED Lit Ballo... August 6, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    […] isn’t for the faint of heart, earlier this squelching summer they taught us how to make a DIY air conditioner so they’re not messing around. Now, they’re going to teach you all about the air […]

  2. jsco July 13, 2010 at 1:54 pm


    you don\’t get anything for free. put warm things (water) into the freezer, and the compressor runs that much more to chill them down. either way, you\’re ultimately using a compressor to lower the temperature of an air mass, and the ice cube method gains you nothing. (unless you live in a smart billing area, where running at off-peak times and \”storing\” the energy in thermal mass, which is a genuine advantage. the article does not metion this.)

    criticism is not elitism.

  3. garrendraco July 13, 2010 at 2:50 am

    Note that if you have a refrigerator/freezer in your home at all, it’s going to be running regardless; otherwise you risk spoiling food. The idea takes the power you have to use to keep your food from spoiling and gives it double duty. Which is better: Fridge/freezer/fan or fridge/freezer/AC?

    Glad to see that people like to focus on the negative and crush any positive aspect at all with elitist comments. Kudos to someone for trying!

  4. the bystander July 11, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    I like how the article read, “Some cold respite from the heat without the electricity bill — and green guilt”… so not really for the environment eh?

    Also the point that the ice was made during off peak hours doesn’t eliminate the fact that hefty amount of energy is still being used.

    I thought the whole point of being environmentally conscious is to reduce energy use overall and not just transfer the use to other people during other times to assuage your own “guilt”.

  5. harbindroid July 9, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    Actually, if the ice is made at night, while energy demand is low, then it has a huge advantage over a traditional ac unit. The diffuser could be a bit better though. I read about some large commercial installations being based off of that very concept

  6. jsco July 8, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    ugh, seriously? the cooling comes from the ice. this is neither cheap nor energy saving. that ice was made in a freezer, using the same tech that a/c units use, and the price of the energy is more than built into the price of the ice. this is just a rube goldberg contraption that inserts some extra steps (go-to-store, buy-ice, go-home, put-ice-in-cooler) in between the normal steps of chill-with-compressor and blow-fan-over-chilled-radiator that an a/c unit would use.

    google “swamp cooler” and “evaporative cooling” for true alternatives to compressor-based climate control.

  7. Em July 8, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    I’m confused by the utility of this project, since the ice is made by an electricity-powered freezer.

  8. Larakin July 8, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    soo…. how much energy was used in creating the ice? or do we not count that.

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