Sunday, July 28, 2013

My Ice-Chest A/C For Tent Camping

It's easy to make a cheap air-conditioner for your camping tent. Cut one hole in the top of the cooler to match the size of the small fan you plan to use. Expecting electricity on my trip to Tiny Texas Houses in Luling, I chose this small fan which lay face-down on top of the hole. The air is pushed down, past frozen water bottles or frozen ice packs placed inside, cooling and condensing it as it circulates before being pushed out the 2nd hole you need. Mark carefully around the 'vent' you choose. I used a PVC elbow joint, cut my 2nd hole and pushed the elbow in place, now I can direct the flow of cold air coming out onto me instead of straight up.

Plan A - The Idea
I was anxious to put it together to prove to my skeptical family it would work. They just smiled politely as I explained to them how it would work but said very little. I plan to cut 2 holes in the top of the cooler, one to snugly fit the 4" pvc elbow, and another just a bit smaller to fit this little $8 fan placed face-down over it. The fan will push the air into the ice chest past the frozen water bottles and out the pvc elbow. Only because I knew it was going to be flimsy to transport did I decide to wait till I actually got to my destination to cut the holes and put it all together and I'm glad I did. 

Plan B - The Reality
When I arrived with my tent, I couldn't resist the generous offer to spend my week there in a tiny house, even if it meant having no electricity to run my fan. Luckily I had decided to wait until I got there to actually make the thing because I simply cut a much smaller hole to fit the little battery powered personal fan I had brought with me as well. It worked like a charm! I saved the piece I cut out for the elbow, and kept it to plug the pipe and saving my ice when I wasn't running it.
When I got home and used my electric fan it worked even better.

Plan C
I'm planning to build another one using this old ice chest. I'll add some baffles to ensure the coldest air gets circulated well before exiting the vent. At first I planned to place 2 of these 4" elbow vents on this one, but having had a discussion at TTH I now realize I need more air to come in than can come out to further condense and cool the air. I may place two much smaller elbow vents on this one. Thank's guy's! So that's the plan... I'll update with the reality soon....


  1. That’s quite a good hack! I think it’s gonna be a good project to do while anticipating the summer season. You could at least have a way to fight the nauseating heat. Whoever came up to this project really deserves some recognition! Cheers!

    Will Merritt @ Patterson Heating & Air, Inc.

  2. Anonymous16 July, 2016

    we just brought a window unit and leveled it with outside the back window of the tent. with the rest of the windows closed it puffed out the tent and condensation was running off the outside. Open that door and it was like walking into a freezer, in a tent, in florida, in july. :)

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