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While you technically don’t need an air conditioner to survive, it is a nice luxury to have (especially if you live in a hot area). The thing is, air conditioners require electricity to operate. In the unforeseen event that you lose electricity, you’ll be left without cool air.
This is where knowing how to make your own air conditioner can come in handy. In the following videos we found, you'll see how creating a 5-gallon bucket air conditioner is actually really easy! And what a great family DIY project. You’ll be surprised by how cold the air it produces actually gets. With that being said, let’s take a look at how it’s done.
- 1 Bucket Air Conditioner – Materials Needed
- 2 Bucket Air Conditioner – Steps
- 3 How it Works
- 4 Make Your Own Bucket Air Conditioner – Bottom Line
Bucket Air Conditioner – Materials Needed
Let’s start with the materials that you’ll need - you may already have some of this laying around the house:
- 5-Gallon Bucket (With Lid) (less than $10)
- Styrofoam Liner (less than $30)
- PVP Pipe (about 1.5" internal diameter, enough to make 3 pieces, 3 - 4" long)
- Hole Saw (you'll use the 2 1/4" hole saw for the bucket; and the 2 1/8" saw for the liner)
- Small Fan (if you're making this to work without electricity, try a solar powered fan or rechargeable fan like this Odoland Portable LED Camping Lantern with Ceiling Fan)
- Ice (freeze up a gallon jug!)
And…that’s it! When I first built my bucket air conditioner, I was shocked that so few items were needed. When done correctly, your makeshift air conditioner will have the potential of reaching as low as 40-degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in a hot area and without any air conditioning, you’ll be glad that you came across this post.
Now, let’s take a look at how to build it. This classic YouTube video shows what is probably the most complete demonstration we've seen. We'll break down the steps below.
Bucket Air Conditioner – Steps
What I like about this bucket air conditioner project is that you don’t need to be a handyman in order to do it. If you follow the steps in this article, you’ll be able to have yours built in less than half-an-hour (probably sooner).
Here are the steps for how to make your own air conditioner:
Step 1: Drill Three Holes in Bucket:
Start by drilling three separate holes in your 5-gallon bucket. Each hole should be the same size as your PVC pipe. A hole saw will make this step very easy (if you don’t own a hole saw, see if you can borrow one from a friend or family member). Then you’re ready for step two.
Step 2: Drill Three Holes in Styrofoam Liner:
Place your Styrofoam liner inside your 5-gallon bucket. Then, drill three holes that are exactly the same distance apart as the holes on the 5-gallon bucket. The reason why the Styrofoam liner is needed is so that it can provide the unit with more insulation once you’ve added the ice.
Step 3: Add PVC Pipes:
The PVC pipes will serve as a bridge between the inside of your 5-gallon bucket air conditioner and your living area. Insert the PVC pipes into the three holes that you made in the previous steps. It’s important that the holes are the exact same size as the PVC pipes (otherwise, you’ll lose cold air).
Step 4: Cut a Hole in Lid:
You’re almost done. Now drill a hole in the lid of your 5-gallon bucket. The hole is where you’re going to place your fan to circulate the air through your bucket air conditioner. Since these lids are relatively soft, you can cut a hole in them using a box cutter or something that’s just as sharp.
Step 5: Fit the Fan into the Lid:
And that's it! Turn it on and give it a try!
Congratulations! You’ve officially finished building your makeshift air conditioner. Again, the steps above shouldn’t take longer than half-an-hour to perform.
How it Works
When you add ice to your 5-gallon bucket, cold air begins to accumulate. Once you add the fan, the cold air will be redirected out of the bucket and into your living area. The key is to make sure that you’ve fully insulated your bucket and that there’s no gap between your holes and the PVC pipes. As a general rule, the more powerful the fan, the better the results. We’ve noticed from what we've learned from others is that powerful fans produce colder temperatures than less powerful fans.
But this is going to take a little experimentation. If you find you aren't getting the results you are hoping for, take a look at this video, where the presenter talks about how he found that SLOWING down the air was more effective (at about the 4:30 minute mark), and that he preferred a small computer type of fan. Watch his explanation here - we found it very helpful:
Once you learn how to make your air conditioner, make sure that you keep all the doors and windows in your home closed (to preserve cold air). Finally, consider using a 1-gallon frozen jug of water and placing it in your bucket instead of ice. This is more convenient because once the ice in the jug melts, simply place the jug back into the freezer until it re-freezes. If you have two jugs, one can already be frozen so that you can switch immediately and not experience any lag in your cold air.
Make Your Own Bucket Air Conditioner – Bottom Line
Whether you’ve lost electricity, or simply can’t afford to pay for a conventional air conditioner, learning how to build a bucket air conditioner is a great idea. As you can see, they aren’t difficult to build, and don’t require that much money either. For more fun DIY projects, be sure to check out How to Make a PVC Bow and How to Build a DIY Solar Oven. Thanks for reading.