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DIY Air Conditioner? Yes it can be done!

Updated on July 15, 2014
Polystyrene containers are the base item for this project. Larger sizes serve well for stationary applications while smaller ones fitted with straps can keep the user mobile.
Polystyrene containers are the base item for this project. Larger sizes serve well for stationary applications while smaller ones fitted with straps can keep the user mobile. | Source

How are you beating the heat this summer?

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With temperatures soaring around North America (and probably elsewhere too) the people need an inexpensive solution to beat the heat designed for people who can't afford an AC unit. All you need is a few cheap items from the local hardware store and the use of a home refrigerator.

The summer heat is often more than just uncomfortable to the elderly and very young; it can be downright dangerous. Show them you care and keep them safe by building this inexpensive and potentially life saving gadget.

Things You'll Need:

  • Polystyrene Camping Cooler

  • Container to make a block of ice in.

  • Emptied and Cleaned 1 Gallon Milk Jug

  • Plastic Flex Tube (2inch diameter ideally)

  • Duct Tape

  • Rubber Balloon

  • String

  • Sharp Scissors


  1. Fill your large ice making container with water and freeze it in your refrigerator.

  2. Cut two holes the same diameter as your plastic flex tube in the sides of your camping cooler. Pick a location near the lid so that it won't affect the items ability to hold water.

  3. Cut the balloon into six circles each an inch wider in diameter than the holes in the camping cooler, these will be used for one way airflow valves that keep the cool air in the unit while you aren't breathing.

  4. Attach the flex tube though one of the holes in the side of the camping cooler using the duct tape. Cut a corner of the milk jug into the rough shape of a surgical mask.

  5. Tape one of the balloon circles over the end of the flex pipe where it enters the cooler, leaving the middle of the circle uncovered. Cut a dozen plastic strips half an inch wide and the same length as the diameter of the rubber circles. Tape two pieces of plastic over the rubber circle in a cross shape. Use the scissor blade to cut 4 slits in the rubber creating gaps that open when you breath in, but the plastic strips make it hard to breath back in to the container. You've now built the first of four valves required by this project.

  6. Place a second valve over the other open hole in the cooler, aligning the valve so that it only opens inwards.

  7. Cut a hole in the milk carton mask and attach it to the flex tube. Attach another one way valve to the inside of the mask where the tube enters to allow one way breathing in only. Cut another hole in the side of the mask, and attach the last valve assembly to allow for pressure release when breathing out.

  8. Cover the outer rim of the mask with duct tape to make it fit comfortably against the wearers skin. Use the scissors to make a small hole in the each side of the mask and use the string to tie a loop that will hold the mask to the users face.

  9. Load the cooler with the large block of ice created in step one, add a quart of cold water to help create more surface area for heat exchange. Prep a replacement block in of ice in the freezer. Empty the cooler and add new ice as needed.

I hope you find this little device useful; you can mod it for multiple users by adding more mask assemblies and valves, or add some canvas or nylon straps to make a portable unit if you've got to be mobile. You might also consider isolating the ice inside of a thin walled steel container before placing it in the cooler so that you can re-use the same water more easily. Thanks for reading and stay cool.

Project Inspiration:


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    • Living Well Now profile image

      Living Well Now 5 years ago from Near Indianapolis

      This is a great hub! If you could include photos of each step, that would be helpful. It's well-written and with pics, it could be a Hub of the Day.