Weekend Project: Redneck Air Conditioner

We have two rooms in our house that never cool down. Even though we have central AC and there is a duct there, that area is always about 10-20 degrees warmer in the summer. (It’s colder back there during the winter but that is never quite as troublesome as at it being hotter.) That part of the house is an addition that didn’t get the same degree of insulation as the rest of our home.

Usually we have to keep those rooms shut off from the rest of the house in order to keep the AC from cycling on too often. When the AC unit switches on, the fan sucks in air from the house and draws the hot air from those rooms into the rest of the house, raising the temperature in the main area and causing the AC to have to run longer to bring the temperature of the rest of the house down the while hot air is still being sucked from those rooms….you see the vicious cycle there?

So we usually just keep those rooms shut during the summer. The problem is that those are my sons’ bedrooms. It ends up being too hot back there for them to sleep so they spend most of the summer sleeping in the living room. That’s a pain too. So what to do?

This year I decided to make a redneck air conditioner to put in their room. This little contraption is supposed to help take the edge off the heat for a fraction of the cost of running a window AC unit.

Here’s how..

Supply list:

  • Styrofoam cooler
  • Small fan, 6 inches or so
  • pvc elbow, this one is 1 1/2 inch
  • sock or other piece of fabric
  • pencil or pen to mark off the fan and elbow
  • scissors
  • serrated knife

Just a few supplies. Plus scissors.

It was so fast and easy. Levi wanted to make this one since it was going in his room.

Place the fan and the elbow on the lid and trace them.

Step 1

Cut out the openings for the fan and elbow.

Step 2

Go easy. You don’t want to push too hard and crack your lid.

More cutting.


It should look something like this.

Now cut your sock to make a loop.

Step 3

Stretch the loop and wrap it around the edge of your fan.

Step 4

We needed a few sets of hands to get this on. It will help form a seal between the cooler and fan and prevent air loss.

Sock seal ;)

Now get some plastic bottles from your recycling that you have filled with water and frozen and pack the cooler with them.

Put on the lid, plug the fan in and test it out.

Testing the air flow and temp

Levi said he could already feel a difference. So we put it in his room for a test run.

Redneck air conditioner trial run

We left it for a while to run and later when we checked on it the room didn’t seem nearly as hot as it usually gets.

The space back there is pretty large so I can see making a couple of these to put back there. Maybe I’ll make one for each boy to place by their bed so that they can be comfortable enough to sleep in their own rooms.

What do you do to beat the heat?


Posted in diy, frugal Tagged , permalink

About Heidi Fawn

I'm a single mom of 8 working hard to make a living. I've recently realized that life has become too complicated so it's time to dial back my obligations, simplify our belongings and live in the moment. It's a struggle but I'm trying.


Weekend Project: Redneck Air Conditioner — 9 Comments

  1. I don’t know how much money you’re saving by doing this (since continually freezing water requires your freezer’s compressor to run more), but it’s definitely a good way to handle “zone cooling”.

    Two thoughts…..

    1) You probably wouldn’t need to use a cooler, since the point of the whole contraption is to get the coldness from the bottles into the air. A cooler would let the unit run longer, but the net cooling effect is the same with or without one. Plastic storage bins, a cardboard box, etc. would all work just fine.
    2) Ducting the unit closer to the bottom would probably produce better cooling output – and a straight piece of PVC would probably give you better output pressure than the angled piece. A side vent might make more sense than a top vent.

    I like the idea. :) Thanks for sharing it!

  2. I’ve seen instructions for these type coolers on http://www.instructables.com. There are several different ways to make these- maybe a different one would utilize components you already have or that are easier to get. I have never made one, but I would if I needed one. I found you through the lovely Annienygma. I’m really enjoying you so far!!!

  3. I live in Texas (Hell), and like to camp at music retreats, festivals, etc., in an un-airconditioned VW “Hippie” camper van. This is perfect for “Das Bus”, as there’s not a great amount of space to cool. I put one on the side table (by the lower sleeping bed), and one in the “pop-top” bunk.

  4. Thanks for the clearly written description.

    One point I find important when using this: Pay attention that room with the freezer is disconnected from the rooms which you want to cool down. That’s because a freezer just moves warmth from its inside to the room it’s located in. If this room is the same that you want to cool down, all removed heat is added back into the room by the freezer when freezing those bottles (actually more heat is created because of inefficiencies). If you’ve got a big kitchen/living room which you want to cool down, and the freezer is located in that room, it is best to find a different solution.

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