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Hot? Make your own portable air conditioner cheap



do-it-yourself supplies

Simple supplies are all you need to make this DIY air conditioner.

Alina Bradford/CNET

The weather is warm here in many parts of the US, but there’s an easy way to keep cool while barbecuing, at the lake or camping: a DIY air-conditioning unit. Pick up a few inexpensive items at your local hardware store — we’ll show you which ones below — and you’re an afternoon project away from a homemade portable air conditioner. Best of all, you don’t need any electrical experience to rig it up.

Read more: How to buy the right portable air conditioner and stay cool all season?

Necessities

Here’s what you need to get started on your AC project:

  • An ice chest
  • Drilling
  • Skill saw
  • Two 5-inch (13-centimeter) diameter PVC elbows
  • Highlighter
  • Duct tape
  • Wireless fan and batteries
  • Ice

Create your portable AC unit

Now that you’ve gathered your supplies, use these steps to build your DIY AC unit:

  1. Follow the fan: Insert the batteries into the fan and then place it in the center of the cooling cover. Trace around the fan using the permanent marker.
  2. Drill the cover: Drill a hole in the center of the circle you drew on the lid. This will make it easier to cut the circle with the skill saw.
  3. Cut the fan hole: Place your skill saw blade in the hole and cut a line connecting from the hole to the circle you traced. Keep cutting around the circumference of the circle until it is cut out.
  4. Add the fan: Place the fan in the hole so that the front of the fan faces the cooler when the lid is closed. Secure it with duct tape around the edges. You will want to tape the edges to the back of the fan and to the front. I used a printed duct tape for a bit of spice.
  5. Trace the pipes: Place an elbow pipe on one end of the cooler and pull around it. Do the same on the other side of the cooler.
  6. Drill a pilot hole: Drill a hole in the circle as you did with the lid. Do this on both sides of the cooler.
  7. Cutting hole for pipes: Cut out the holes for the pipes with the skill saw.
  8. Add Pipes: Push the knee pads into the holes. Make sure the ends of the tubes are facing up. Secure the pipe to the hole with duct tape around the edges, as you did with the fan.
  9. add ice: The last step is to fill the cooler with ice, close the lid and turn on the fan. Within 10 minutes, the air conditioner should blow very cold air.






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How does it work?

How this AC unit makes cold air is quite simple. A battery-powered fan pushes air into the cooler, which is cooled by ice. The cold air is then forced out of the pipes at both ends of the cooler. The lucky person sitting at either end is greeted with a chilly breeze.

3 professional tips you should know

Follow these tips to get the most out of your air conditioner:

  • Instead of using bagged ice for your air conditioner, grab a few pitchers of water and freeze them. The frozen pitchers of water are mess-free and you can refreeze them again and again.
  • You can use a solar powered fan instead of a battery operated fan so you don’t have to worry about changing the batteries.
  • Toss a few dryer sheets on the ice for fragrant air.

Do you have any questions? Check out the gallery below for more visuals.


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