DIY "Air Conditioning" System

8 August 2012

We recently had an article go up by the illustrious Jessica Moorhouse that showed you some free ways to beat the heat. I'd like to add one more way to beat the heat that's not free, but it is really cheap.

Basically we're going to build a cold water cooling system to affix to a standard floor fan. The fan will pull or push warm air through the cooling system which cools it down, and blow it out into the room. You might have seen builds like this before but a lot of them aren't as efficient as they could be. Being a big dork, inefficiency drives me absolutely banana sandwich, so I've amassed what I think is the best build around.

What you'll need:

  • A floor fan, preferably with a metal enclosure.
  • 1/4" Copper tubing. The length of the tubing depends on how big your fan is. Use a string to estimate how much you will need.
  • Copper wire. You can also use zip ties, twist ties or anything of the sort, if you want.
  • 1/4" inside diameter vinyl tubing. The length of the tubing depends on your setup.
  • Hose clamps
  • Garbage cans, buckets, rubbermaid containers, etc...
  • Water
  • (Optional) Ice
  • (Optional) Pond pump or some other water pump that can attach to your vinyl tubing.
  • Hacksaw
  • Scissors
  • Snips
  • Sandpaper
  • A metal file

Let's get into the steps involved:

  1. (Optional) If you are using a fan with a metal enclosure that is painted or coated in some way, file the paint off of either the front or back of the enclosure. This will facilitate better thermal transfer between the copper tubing and the enclosure.
  2. Coil the copper tubing into a spiral shape, on the face of the fan. The closer the copper tubing, the better, as it will allow for a larger cooling area.
  3. Attach the copper tubing to the metal enclosure with lengths of copper wire or zip ties. Make sure you clip off any excess wire. The copper wire marginally improves thermal transfer but not enough that using zip ties or something else would cause the unit to function in a less efficient manner.
  4. Use the hacksaw to cut the copper tubing so there are two ends sticking off to the side of the fan. Sand the ends.
  5. Attach the copper tubing to the vinyl tubing and secure it with the hose clamps.
  6. Put one end of the plastic tubing in a container filled with cold water. Use ice to keep it cooler, longer.
  7. Put the other end of the plastic tubing in an empty container that is lower than the first one. This can be achieved by placing the filled bucket on a chair, table, or shelf or by putting the empty bucket downstairs or outside, if you are up a level.
  8. (Optional) You can use a pump to circulate the water instead of the gravity fed option above. With this option, you can keep it down to one water container as long as you keep on replacing the ice/water to keep it cold.

Now for the moment of truth. Get the water flowing using whichever method you've chosen and turn on the fan. Be careful that you don't set the fan up in such a way that water could get into the electronics.

That's it! Enjoy your cool, cheap air cooling system.

What do you think?

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