“Redneck” Air Conditioner

I have never made one of these but certainly can see how they work. Although effectiveness is pretty limited, in the right environment and in a small area it could provide some comfort.

Ever make anything like this? Did it work?

Please share!




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10 thoughts on ““Redneck” Air Conditioner”

  1. A friend of mine made one similar, he modified the design to accomodate items he had on hand. He’s used it in his pickup camper when he’s out and says it worked pretty good. It’s definitely better than nothing at all according to him.

  2. I have a buddy that made one very similar. Instead of a 5 gallon bucket he used the 48 quart cooler. These things do work. We live in Hurricane territory. It would help keep you comfortable at night. With the cooler he used frozen 2 liter bottles. He used 3 bottles and had cool air for about 6 hours. The better fan you use the better the results.

  3. Yes I made something similar. It was an AC unit for a car using heater hose, hose clamps, four small ball valves, an ice chest, one switch, a water pump, mounted tie down straps, and a heater core. you cut the heater hose under your hood and splice in a T with a ball valve on each of the input lines from the engine. You then attach the new heater hos to the T and put another ball valve on them so that by shutting off one set of valves (engine/hot feed side or the new hose/cold feed side) you can have hot or cold. You will need to fill the new lines prior to its first use with antifreeze, so keep one line disconnected with any extra length on it to make this easier. Next you run the new hoses along the frame to the trunk. You may need to drill a couple of holes into the trunk if you don’t have any drain grommet holes to use. Run the hoses right up into the trunk and then drill two holes through the lid of the ice chest to run them through. next to the ice chest cut the lines and insert the electric water pump (mounted to the trunk floor). Using the mounted tie down straps, secure the ice chest to the trunk floor. Then inside of the ice chest attach the heater core to the heater hose. You will then need to run electric wire from your battery to the switch (which you can mount on your dash) and then back to the pump, and ground the negative side of the pump to a good ground near where the pump is mounted (you may be able to use the bolts used to mount the pump for this). Then fill the ice chest with enough ice and water to cover the heater core. Make sure that the cold valves are open, the hot ones are closed, and that your vent is set to HOT. Fill the new heater hose lines and turn on the pump to ensure the entire line is full. When water comes from the unattached heater return line then turn off the pump and stop filling. Attach the hose to the ball valve and ensure that all of the clamps are tight. Setting it to cold will bypass the heater core the factory installed and you wont get the effects you hope for. Turn on the fan and you should start to feel cold air flowing through your vents.

    Is it as cold as A/C? Depends on how good of an AC unit your used to, but it will cool the inside of a car. I went further and installed a fitting to make draining the ice chest through the floor of my trunk easier with a shutoff valve on it as well. I did this on an old Mustang so that I didn’t spend 1500 on an after market AC unit that would require a lot of modification, and this didn’t rob my engine of power. Another friend of mine did this using a screw top round drink container, which was less prone to leakage as the square ones sometimes leak in corners and such. To “RECHARGE” the system it was a simple matter of draining most of the old water, and dumping in a new bag of ice. Low budget and it worked fine for me.

  4. Yeah I made one, it’s not very efficient or cost effective, the only thing I really did learn about this device is use a block of ice not cubes or chipped ice, cubes and chipped ice melt to fast.

    It cooled a small pickup truck camper for almost an hour, and when I say cooled it lowered the temp from 85 degree, down to 79 degrees.

    The best cooling you get, is sitting right in front of it.

  5. I made one of these a few months back when the AC went out in my car, just prior to leaving on a long road trip. They do work, though the air is no where near as cold as a refrigerant-based system. I made large ice block by freezing water in a large pot and placing it in a thick foam shipping box instead of a bucket. I cut out one vent port just below the top of the ice block and attached a 2″ dia cardboard tube with duct tape wrapped around the end for a snug fit. I bought a small cheap 120V fan from Wal-Mart and cut out a snug whole in the box lid for it and plugged it into my 12V-to-120V inverter in my car (via cigarette lighter plug). The key is to get the air from the fan to circulate around the ice for as long as possible, before it exits the container – making the exhaust tube smaller and putting as much distance between the fan and exhaust tube helps. Using flexible tubing may also help, so you can easily position the exhaust tube to blow directly on you – this contraption does not do a good job cooling the air around you, it must be positioned to vent directly on your body. Using a slab of dry ice, instead of regular ice, would work much better for cooling, but make sure that you are in a well ventilated area and don’t position the exhaust air directly into your face – the carbon dioxide gas released from the dry ice could create an oxygen deficient/carbon dioxide gas high environment, which could cause you to pass out, or worse…

  6. Built a similar one of these for my rabbits in the garage. Worked sufficient enough for the rabbits to relocate themselves to lay in front of the air stream. My garage would get up to 90-100 degrees in the summer.
    It only brought the temp down 5-10 degrees.

  7. I made one of these to use when camping, just a slightly different design. Worked fantastic!
    The most important factor is the outside humidity – must be at or below 60% to work efficiently.

    If anyone is interested, send me an email and I’ll send photos of the construction, parts needed, how we power the unit when remote, and two charts to give you a better understanding of the maximum cooling effect per the amount of humidity to expect.


  8. My husband and I made a larger scale “red neck” air conditioner for out front porch using a approx 6 ft by 2 ft cattle trough as the base. And 3 six foot cooper pipes, one vertically on each side and one across the top, joined with copper elbows. We drilled holes about 1 inch apart in the pipe across the top, and connected a submergable pump at the bottom of one of the pipes, and filled the trough with weather. We also found that running weighted wires from the top pipe near the drilled holes into the bottom of the trough we were able to direct the flow of water. We kept gold fish in the tank year round and grew water lilies in the spring. Being in a very dry area of west Texas with a breese almost daily this would cool our porch 10 to 15 degrees, and we could enjoy being outside.y


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