How to: Portable A/C Unit - RC Groups
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How to: Portable A/C Unit

Summer is hot here in the south as well as much of the country/world and being outside flying all day can take a toll on your body. Build this DIY Portable A/C Unit and stay cool all summer long.

Splash

Stay Cool with this Simple Cooler Mod

Summer is hot here in the south as well as much of the country/world and being outside flying all day can take a toll on your body. Tent shelters alone are not enough to deal with 90+ degree F temps and high humidity levels so something else must be done. You could get a portable fan, but why blow hot humid air when you can easily build a portable a/c unit from a cooler, 12V fan and a lipo battery. I did just that and it has been a lifesaver at the field. Here's the parts list and some instructions on how I built it for around $60.

Parts

Construction

Now I've seen similar builds using 5 gallon buckets, but those aren't insulated like a cooler. The other nice thing about this cooler over a bucket is it has a retractable handle and wheels so you can roll it. I used a 2-1/4" hole saw bit and drilled the 3 holes for the PVC elbows. I used jigsaw to cut the hole in the top for the fan. It only took a few minutes to cut all the holes and get it ready for the assembly.

I used some self tapping screws to secure the fan to the top lid and cut off the cigarette lighter plug on the end and soldered on a Deans connector. The PVC elbows insert right into the holes and you can twist them to direct the airflow. I used a piece of Velcro on the top to hold the battery on securely.

The lid is removable and you'll want to fill the cooler up with ice right before you want to use it. The fan has two speed settings and on the low setting the fan draws .7A. On high it draws 1A so you can expect long run times depending on the battery capacity you use. It blow nice cold air on your from several feet away. The ice lasts for a few hours and then the cold water still helps provide cool air. It's really nice to set this up next to your chair so when you sit down to rest, you have cold air blowing on you. It makes a huge difference and it was so worth the $60 and little effort to get it up and running.

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Jul 31, 2017, 01:35 PM
Registered User
Bama3Dr's Avatar
What a great idea! I may have to build one of these for myself. One of my coworkers was talking about making something like this just the other day and I'm going to pass this article along to him as well.

- Dustin
Jul 31, 2017, 01:39 PM
Registered User
Bama3Dr's Avatar
I'm wondering if you could take some metal plates or just some kind of metal grating and fit into the cooler to make a sort of a heat exchanger to draw heat out of the air and transfer it into the cold water once the ice is melted..........might extend the length of time it can make colder air just a little before having to put new ice in.

- Dustin
Jul 31, 2017, 01:57 PM
RCG Staff
Jason Cole's Avatar
Great idea, worth a shot for sure.
Jul 31, 2017, 02:36 PM
Registered User
Wrecking Ball's Avatar
How is that new? There was also someone who tried to "improve" that idea by using dry ice, which is a bad "improvement".

HOW TO BUILD A HOME MADE AIR CONDITIONER! ( SAVE MONEY) (13 min 11 sec)
Jul 31, 2017, 02:44 PM
RCG Staff
Jason Cole's Avatar
Like it. No one ever said it was new, just showing people how easy it is to do.
Jul 31, 2017, 03:36 PM
AndyKunz's Avatar
That's exactly how air conditioning was done in the way back.

We used the same concept for cooling our boat racing motors, running ice cold water through the cooling system prior to racing (cool the motors and ESC, and heat up the batteries).

Andy
Jul 31, 2017, 09:15 PM
Registered User
This is an excellent twist on the original bucket version.
However, this is not to be confused with an air conditioner as a real unit not only cools but draws humidity from the air as well. As the ice melts the air blowing over it will send moisture out into the room. A good way to do this is to make up a grid of small PVC tubes placed inside the cooler which is buried in ice. The fan is mounted so that the air is blowing only into the tubes and the cooling air is then forced out into the room. It would be much like a car radiator. This way you will not be imparting any more moisture into the room.
Aug 01, 2017, 05:46 AM
Cajun-American
Boogie_'s Avatar
redneck air conditioner
Aug 01, 2017, 08:03 AM
Registered User
Bama3Dr's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Boogie_
That made my morning......good stuff! Jason, yours is a much more elegant solution than any of these examples.

-Dustin
Aug 01, 2017, 08:22 AM
AndyKunz's Avatar
There's also a redneck grill gas hookup there that made me laugh good! It's about #15 of the pictures.

Andy
Aug 01, 2017, 08:36 AM
Obsession, not hobby
TazRC's Avatar
This would complement Uncle Booger's Bumper Dumper nicely.

Aug 01, 2017, 08:55 AM
RCG Staff
Jason Cole's Avatar
Lol!
Aug 01, 2017, 08:56 AM
Registered User
It's getting hot in Portland for the next few days and the "ice water cooler" has been shown on the evening news here. Remember, if used in the house with ice from the fridg, the net effect will be to add heat energy to the house.
Aug 01, 2017, 09:04 AM
RCG Staff
Jason Cole's Avatar
Yeah mine is more to help out while resting in between flights at the field.


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