Turn Your Old Cooler Into A Portable Air Conditioner

A few years ago I was fixing up an older Jeep Cherokee XJ and when she was finally up and running a problem was realized.  It was June in South Louisiana and the Jeep’s a/c system was leaking Freon.  With no room in the budget for a/c repair or replacement I took to the internet to see what could be done for me to drive my baby without sweating bullets.

My first stab at staying cool was by purchasing the RoadPro 12V Tornado Fan.  Though it was pretty loud, the fan was quite strong and very impressive.  The conditions inside the Jeep were definitely improved, but I knew that I could do better.

Back to the internet I went, more specifically to YouTube, and this is where I found my second, and final temporary solution to my Jeep a/c issue.  I discovered that you can make a portable air conditioner using only a fan, a cooler, ice, and some PVC pipe.  I happened to have all three laying around so I was good to go.  Below are the tools I used to make my portable a/c and the steps involved in the build.

TOOLS

Jigsaw or Oscillating Multitool

Hole Saw

Electric Drill

Silicone Adhesive

THE BUILD

At the end of this article I have posted a link to the video that inspired my portable a/c build.  I put my own spin on the project by using different components than the one seen in the video due to the fact that it was what I already had on hand.

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Trace the outline of your fan onto the top of the cooler.

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Using a jigsaw or multi-tool cut out the hole for the fan.

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Using a hole saw or multi-tool cut out a place for your PVC pipe.

This is where the cool air will exit the cooler.  If this particular cooler had enough area on the lid to put a PVC 90 degree elbow on top I would have place it there, but I put the pipe on the side due to the smaller size of this cooler’s lid.  If you put your exhaust pipe on the side of your cooler do not put it too low, as the water from the melted ice could leak out through the exhaust pipe if it is too low.

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I used a rubber gasket and silicone to seal the exhaust pipe then added two screws for good measure.

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The silicone is really all that is needed to seal and hold the pipe in place.

Your new portable a/c is practically done.  Just place some ice in the cooler and the fan in its hole, plug it in, and enjoy the constant cool breeze.

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Your portable air conditioner is complete!

I will be the first to admit that this is not the sexiest contraption in the world,(it was not always this dirty) but it is literally a very cool project that is a lot of fun to complete.  I was skeptical at first but this thing rode in my passenger seat and worked great.  Believe it or not I actually had temperature readings in Fahrenheit ranging from the upper 40s to the lower 60s exiting the pipe.  The large variance in temperature was due to the amount of ice and type of ice used (packs vs. cubes).

Chances are you have everything you need to make your own portable a/c already laying around your house as I did, but if you do not but would still like to undertake this fun little project I have linked to some affordable components below.

48 Qt. Ice Chest

110V Fan

12V Vehicle Fan

Oscillating Multi-tool

Or you could just splurge for a store bought portable a/c unit like the Black and Decker 8000 BTU Portable A/C.

Here is the link to the YouTube video that inspired my own portable cooler a/c build.  Portable A/C Video

Thank you for reading.  Be sure to like, comment, follow tool-school.com and share this post on social media!  Have a great week!

Jake with tool-school.com

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