Plastic bucket with lid
Styrofoam ice bucket
Small desk fan
Sharp utility knife
PVC pipe leftovers
Over the years, I’ve run into a certain problem with air conditioners: the room where a unit is in a window is freezing while other rooms are uncomfortably warm. Without central air, that’s the way it goes. You have to turn the air all the way up so that it can be felt in various rooms of the house but that one room is frigid. What to do about the problem? Make a portable air conditioner! It costs a fraction of the price of a portable unit and you can put it in the room of choice. Turn down the window unit and the whole house is just the right temperature.
Before you ever start making the easy, portable air conditioner, freeze some water, and you’ll have ice ready – needed to provide the cold air of the unit. Fill zipper-lock bags and put them in the freezer. One bag can last a few hours. Put each bag in a round mold, such as a pitcher or a cylindrical cup. That way, the ice will have the shape of the inner cooler of the air conditioner.
Start out with a plastic bucket that has a fitted lid. You can find the new, empty ones at a home improvement store. The bucket will become the outer part of the portable air conditioner. Inside, you’ll need a Styrofoam ice bucket, which is large, but smaller than the plastic bucket. The ice bucket needs no lid. Set the Styrofoam bucket inside the plastic bucket to continue.
To provide the fan of the air conditioning unit, use a small desk fan, which runs on electricity. Lay the bucket lid out flat, lay the front of the fan down on the lid, and draw around it. Use a utility knife to cut out the circle. Using the same cutting method, or using a drill with an attachment to cut out a doorknob, cut three circles in the front of the outer bucket, as well as the inner bucket. Insert same-diameter PVC pipe – through both buckets – to provide the vents for the air conditioner. With that, the unit is complete.
To operate the air conditioner, place ice (without the bag) in the ice bucket, put the lid on the outer bucket, and lay the fan – face-down – on the lid. The air blows across the ice and out of the vents to provide a cold air source for any room of the house. When the ice melts, dump the inner bucket, and put in fresh ice. The homemade air conditioner is not fancy but it certainly works!