Hack your cooler: Air chillers

Hack your cooler: Air chillers

Sitting here in our un-airconditioned hackerspace after a long bike ride has got me thinking about how to cool off, and what better way than to make your own air chiller? It turns out there are a number of different ways that makers have figured out how to do this. I wish I had one of these here with me now!


Pete H. made this cool-looking device that uses cool water pumped through copper tubing to chill the air being blown by a fan.


And here’s a more advanced, radiator-based design that should be more efficient than the copper tube version above.


Finally, here’s an Instructable about how to make a battery-powered version for when you are on the go.

Any other ideas about making a portable air chiller using a cooler? How about a portable swamp cooler that has an icy reservoir of liquid to keep you cool? A portable mister that uses gravity or compressed air to keep an area cool? An astronaut helmet that keeps your head in a cool bubble? Share your ideas in the Comments.

6 thoughts on “Hack your cooler: Air chillers

  1. vivi says:

    It’s quite easy to build an evaporating cooler using a fan, a small rectangular water tank and some cloth. Place a small rectangular reservoir of water at the bottom of the fan. Cut strips of tissue and attach one end at the top of the fan and the other inside the water reservoir. The stripes must be disposed so that air can flow freely between them. Water will rise by capillarity and keep the tissue wet. Air flow will cause accelerated evaporation of the water and a drop in temperature.

    I made one a few years ago during a particularly hot summer and the combined effect of air flow + slightly cooler air (maybe 3 or 4°C difference) was quite nice.

  2. Nick says:

    My first apartment out of college had a door leading to the basement in the living room. I cut a bunch of garbage bags into tubes, taped them together into one long tube, taped one end to a fan in the basement, and hung the other on the living room doorknob. Turning the fan on blew cool (if a wee bit dank) air up from the basement.

    It didn’t hold a candle to an air conditioner, but I already had the spare parts and it didn’t require much power to run. The stream of cool air could be aimed by adjusting the door, and the tube-end waved about a bit, helping to spread the cool air a bit.

    My next apartment had a simpler solution: The basement was nicer and larger, so I just used that as my living room. It was a reasonable temperature all year around.

  3. Not so cool says:

    Too bad these designs won’t actually work. In fact operating the fans and pumps in the room, which create heat, will typically cause the room temperature to rise.

    It might feel cooler in the airflow but the average temp in the room will climb.

    It is with good reason that heat pumps place some of the components outdoors and that window AC units actually hang outside the window.

    One word: thermodynamics

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