DIY air conditioner | VANLIFE Hack


alright guys so if you are living van
life then you definitely know how hot it can be and here in Salt Lake City it’s
been like a hundred and five degrees and that is just absolutely unbearable so
since we don’t have an air conditioning unit in the van not because we don’t
want one it’s just that they use so much
electricity that you generally have to be plugged into Shore power in order to
use them and we’re not ever really charged or we’re not ever really plugged
into Shore power so it’s not something that we can really use I’ve looked at
very small air conditioning units it’s a little miniature swamp coolers that they
make either everything uses way too much electricity or it’s gonna put a lot of
moisture into the air which is generally gonna be pretty bad for the inside of
your van you don’t want to just blast moisture in there even when it’s hot
that just makes it humid you’re gonna end up with mold not a good idea so what
I’m gonna do is I’m gonna make one of those ice chest coolers that forces air
through a tube that’s cooled by ice kind of like the opposite effect of what
takes place in an external combustion furnace which is like an RV furnace
which is what we have in the van so I’ve already got a boat blower motor off of
Amazon I’ve gotten a 12 volt pigtail that’s gonna connect to a cigarette
lighter so that I can plug that blower motor into the house battery that’s
gonna help me power this ice chest cooler then we can run the ice chest
cooler without starting the ban or without using a lot of electricity what
I still need to pick up is a cooler some duct tubing some reducers and then some
sealant so once we get this put together I’m gonna fill it with ice we’re gonna
test it out see how it works and you’re stuck in places like this that are
really hot you definitely want to be able to sleep in a cool environment so
having one of these ice chest coolers to drop the temperature below you know like
80 degrees when you’re trying to sleep in the van is an absolute godsend so
we’re gonna go ahead and get started on this we’re gonna head to Home Depot why
don’t you come along with me all right so I know I said we’re going to Depot
but we’ve got to get a cooler and Walmart’s gonna have the best prices so
I’m really looking for a cooler that has a drain that’s gonna be relatively small they try to bring the suckers down
singing on the crowd we’re gonna go that’s big it’s 43 bucks seems like kind
of a lot but I think it’ll probably keep the iSchool the longest and probably be
the most efficient what that’s enormous you think it’s gonna be loud I don’t
even know what you’re making Wow I ended up getting a pretty large cooler and has
smooth sides it’s pretty big but it’s also like a really well insulated cooler
and it has a drain to let the melted ice out of the water out but it’s gonna be
definitely worth it on those days where it’s 100 degrees in an indie cooldown
this is a 99% Trent episode but I thought I would pop in and say hi I as
many of you know work full times writing a big report right now but I think I’m
gonna take a short lunch break and go into Home Depot and figure out exactly
what he’s building I’m as lost as you are big Coleman cooler $43 84 cents 4 inch
by 3 inch coupling eight dollars and ninety two cents three inch by one and a
half inch coupling six dollars and 98 cents four inch by eight foot semi rigid
aluminum ducting $10.98 one and a half inch by two foot ABS pipe two dollars
and forty six cents white quick seal caulk three dollars and twenty eight
cents four inch in line marine bilge air blower $29.99 12 volt cigarette lighter
pigtail $9.99 12 volt cigarette lighter to USB adapter $9.99 that comes to one
hundred and twenty six dollars and forty three cents the reason that that’s so
expensive is because this cooler was like almost forty five bucks but I think
the more money you spend on a cooler the longer your ice is going to last the
more efficient your band air conditioner or DIY air conditioner is going to be now for this entire job you’re really
just going to need a drill with a drill bit and then a screwdriver tip a jigsaw
so that you can cut the holes out where the air needs to go in and needs to go
out and then you’re going to need something to be able to strip the
electrical wires and crimp the ends together so that you can power the pump and that’s what the inside of your
cooler looks like styrofoam two sides of plastic pretty basic so
just go ahead and cut the eyelets off of the pigtail and then you’re gonna want
to crimp the positive on to the positive end of the pump negative on to the
negative end of the pump you want to make sure that you have the arrow going
the correct direction so that you’re blowing into the air conditioner and
just use two of these 1 inch sheetrock screws to actually secure the blower
motor to the cooler and we’re ready to put the cuff link
on this end you’ve got this cuff link installed into your ducting you want to
take your elbow pretty much as far down as you can it’ll come out right about
here but this kind of is low into that little section as I can if this was
cutting through anything but plastic and foam I would be kind of worried about
this part because I can’t really set the jigsaw flat down on here to go around
the radius but I think holding the jigsaw up and kind of manipulating it in
the air is gonna work just fine she isn’t pretty but she works there we
go cut this off and then you can take the
end that you cut and that can go into the fittings so that you have a nice
smooth edge on this side so there’s no burrs or anything that’s gonna scratch
it now we just need a silicon up all of our entry points so that we don’t have
any hair or water leaking out and then we’ll be ready to go pretty exciting
go around the inside and the outside edge of the tubing or of the the ducting
here and you can kind of back this up a little bit fill in all the gaps here I’m
not the best at caulking things obviously I’m making a huge mess here
long as it’s airtight that’s all it really matters it doesn’t have to be
pretty now you just got to fill it with ice and turn it on so there you go guys
as you can tell I’m sweating to death out here it’s like a hundred degrees the
Do It Yourself cooler air conditioner for your van is definitely done all we
got to do now is go and buy a couple bags ice throw them in there and kick it
on so let’s go pick up some ice and we’ll see exactly how it works beautiful
another thing that’s nice about this is you can actually use that ice for like
drinks or smoothies or whatever you want because other than a little metal tubing
that’s in there it’s gonna be pretty clean for your grimy hands like my grimy
hands today is the day to do this it’s what a hundred and seventeen is
what the dash was reading earlier it’s definitely at least a hundred degrees
just outside in the actual Sun now we’re gonna let that I sit in there for a
minute get the tube really cold and then we have a infrared thermometer that
we’re actually gonna read the temperature of the air coming out of the
cooler and see how big of a difference it actually makes in the van when it’s
hot now we’ve got the DIY air conditioner cooler completely finished I
put those two bags ice in there I let it chill out for about 20 minutes to make
sure the internals are nice and cool so basically this is going to suck air in
below through the chamber which is gonna cool the air and then it’s going to come
out this port right here we have this infrared thermometer so it’s gonna kind
of tell us temperature so that is reading ninety nine point eight
degrees right now that’s the inside of this tube we’re gonna go ahead and plug
this in just a basic USB pork okay
okay pretty good oh yeah conditioner oh it’s cold I think we just
fixed our problem holy crap temperatures pretty much just consistently going down
down to 76 degrees remember it was a 98 before it turned on the fan a couple
things that I want to go over this whole setup was 125 bucks you can probably get
an actual air conditioner for a little bit more expensive than that but one
it’s gonna drain the electricity of your house battery in your van so fast it’s
not even gonna be worth it or you can be plugged into Shore power
I bought a cooler that was like 45 bucks basically you can buy coolers that are
like 15 bucks and probably get the same amount of cooling out of them I believe
that this cooler will actually keep ice for a longer period of time so in the
long run will save more money than buying the 15 dollar cooler also might
keep the internals cooler which is gonna produce colder temperatures coming out
of the port so this 12 volt cigarette lighter adapter a lot of people in their
vans have the actual receiver for this the female ends so you can just plug
that right in it runs off your house battery everything’s good to go I did
never install one of those because I never used these I had to buy an extra
$10 piece that is the female version of that I have plenty of USBs in the van so
I just plug this into one of our charging USBs more business baby yeah it’s like it’s cold it’s like
having an actual air conditioner right here I was pretty skeptical because I
wasn’t sure how much airflow there would be and also how loud it would be and if
you’re gonna be working in your van I’m on like conference calls all day I
didn’t want something super loud this makes noise but it’s not gonna be
it’s not gonna be loud enough to like make background noise in a conference
call or a video call it’s kind of it almost sounds like a fridge yeah when a
fridge kicks on and it’s like it’s pretty similar to that level of noise I
mean it’s totally safe there’s no combustion there’s no no fumes no
anything you’re literally just pushing air that’s hot through a frigid chamber
and then when it comes out the air is cold so kind of the longer this thing
runs the cooler it should keep the interior of the van it was great
it’s noticeable instantly noticeable it doesn’t really use any more electricity
than the roof vent fan and whence this hot the Solar is pumping out enough
electricity that it doesn’t even know this thing’s running so just lowering
the temperature of the air of the room that you’re already in so you want to
keep the windows and the roof vent closed so that you don’t have a bunch of
hot air coming in while you’re trying to cool the air down and this thing is
doing a great job yeah we’re not going to keep it on pianos so I think we’ll
kind of give this a few weeks try it out and then maybe do a more extensive
review once we know the kinks yeah let’s we kind of once we put it through the
wringer yeah we’ll let you guys know we’ll kind of update you in one of the
future videos and let you know how it’s been working out over a long period of
time if you aren’t subscribed to Trent Natalie already go ahead and hit that
subscribe button check out our other videos I’m Trent and this is Allie
obviously if you could give us a thumbs up on the video we’d really appreciate
that if you’re gonna try this we’d love to like see how yours turns out so maybe
tag us on Instagram or let us know shoot us a DM or something if you’re gonna try
it and let us know your thoughts how does it work for you what would you
change what should we have done differently yeah and if you have any
questions about how to build this or any of the specs or
any questions in general just shoot them down in the comments I’ll be glad to
answer them for you in the description I’m gonna leave links to every single
piece of equipment or tool that I use to build this thing so you can see a full
list of everything that you’ll need to replicate this exact design pretty easy
I think this is worth honor 25 bucks I’m I’m not sold it’s been five minutes I’d
just like oh this will definitely make it bearable on those nights when it’s
really hard to sleep and it’s hot you’ve got the windows open there’s nothing you
can do kick one of these puppies on just sleep like a baby get out there and try
it yeah like the video if you liked the video or
give us a thumbs up whatever you want to call it subscribe if you’re not already
thank you guys so much for watching see you later oh this is a better idea than
I expected it to be whatever yet now
bouncing around between 76 and 78 which is like in the first 10 minutes
I’ll take it really nice compared to 20 degrees Lodi India and

100 thoughts on “DIY air conditioner | VANLIFE Hack

  1. I live in Florida basically the mecca capital for hurricanes and I use various coolers and load up on Ice before the hurricane hits and I actually buy battery operated fans just to blow straight into the ice and to cool one bedroom off to get through the night I Can Only Imagine how good it would be for a van

  2. My question would be: How much do you spend a day or weekly on ice since that is your primary source of cooling? Seems like it would defeat the purpose of lowering the cost of everything.

  3. If you think a bag of ice is going to cool your RV, then you need to take a thermodynamics class at Utah State University and learn that your idea is just a waste of money.

  4. I just found this video re A/C. The reason I have hesitated pursuing van life is because I have a cat and small dog. Now I would be on my own so when I go shopping for food they would be in the van alone and hot. Not what I want. This would help for sure. Are you still using this or have things changed. I know you have or had a dog would you leave your pet in the van with this going? I do hope you answer this question. This will make or break my van life. 🙂

  5. Not quite following why it is beneficial for the cooler to retain the cold. I mean, wouldn't one with less insulation simply cool the room down faster?

    I'm curious how long one of these gives off cold air before you have to drain and put new ice in?

  6. YouTube. how to convert reg ice chest into an igloo ice chest. pretty cheap to make. Stay cool guys :)😎

  7. Most Air Conditioners are mainly dehumidifiers. An Ice cooler also adds moisture to your van. Same as a swamp cooler.

  8. Add some aluminum foil to the inside walls of the cooler for an extra few degrees of coldness and also try adding some extra insulation on and around the cooler to extend the life of the ice inside by a good 20-25%. Great video!

  9. Would there be any way to make the hole that the air is coming out bigger because the hole that yours is coming out is a lot smaller ?

  10. hmm, if you have at least 800 watt of solar, then you should have enough for a small a/c unit. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaVCNQ_59lM

  11. I really enjoy your videos. all the best in your future travels. As for the air-conditioner I went the cheep route, using a $1 foam ice box, frozen water bottles, cups for the vent and a small usb fan. Not as cold (or cool) as yours but it worked well enough for a hot day and I could have more water bottles in my RV’s freezer getting ready to replace the melted ice. All I had to do was cut a hole on top to place the fan on facing down, and two small holes on the side to allow the air out into my van, I also used two disposable cups with the bottoms cut out in the vent holes which allow me to direct the air a little.

  12. Little kid in china builds one for 28 bucks. Get it on amazon. They call it Arctic Air. With the 100 bucks ya woulda saved, you coulda got yo lady a whole box of tube tops and short shorts.

  13. Saw a video where they took a Coleman cooler and added some expanding foam and Reflexite insulation to make it as good as Yeti.

  14. I found myself in Montana in the summer in my van when the temperature hit 115°. My DIY air-conditioner solution was to use the 4 wheels under my van, face the West, apply pressure to the gas pedal for a good number of hours until the temperature was more desirable in a place called Seattle Washington.

  15. Hmmm…I'd be worried that when the ice melts the water will leak out where your air intake/motor Is…why install at the bottom of the cooler?

  16. Being a minimalist, I gotta wonder If there’s a place you can put it where it can work but you don’t get to see it. Another words is there a place you can put it so it’s more aesthetically pleasing,or do you not care cause you’re in a van?

  17. I am sure this has been said but why the huge reduction in pipe size, that will drastically reduce airflow. Also, that usb to 12v will reduce that fans airflow by going from 12v to 5v

  18. A USB port cant power that fan properly. Its only 5 volts, where the cigarette lighter is 12. It might be quieter if it was on 12 volts, at it sounds like the motor is labouring

  19. no use jigsaw use hole saw lol. Use silicone caulking. Also using 2.5 line coiled around the wall of the cooler with the ice in the middle would be more effective temp wise , airflow wont really change much do to the motors cfpm limit. Also try not to use an elbow. If you are going to use a 4inch line using a coarse air filter on the inside of the unit just before it exits will remove A lot of moisture which will truly help the cooling effect. It will reduce air flow slightly but just dont bottle neck your 4 inch line. Great video , well done..

  20. A few years back I had a landlord that refused to fix the AC in my house so instead of running an AC that kept my house at 90 degrees, I resorted to making an ice chest cooler to cool me off at night while I was sleeping. I used several 2 liter bottles full of water that I would refreeze every day, like 5 or so to put inside of the ice chest but the sweat coming up of the 2 liters would produce a moisture as well. This system seems to at least reduce the moisture level of the air coming out seems like a good idea.

  21. I wonder how much heat the motor makes from running all the time ? I would also run a piece of flexible tube off the blower intake and run it down to the floor

  22. How much ice used per cooling hours? I would be interested to know if a 1-1/2 " outlet pipe provides enough air flow (CFM) to overcome the heat losses of the space.

  23. I had a 5000 btu window unit and it used just under 400 watts. Ive seen some house boats use a modified cube fridge guts to make a small ac unit, very power efficient.

  24. Why do you need a good cooler? The only reason you would need insulation is to keep the cold inside, but you are venting it anyways.

    Not knocking the concept, but you could get any bare bones cooler.

  25. After the ice melts (so long as you don't drop rock salt in there) you can recycle the water in the shower system if you have it. Or to wash your hands. Or to wash dishes etc.

  26. Dont forget people, you are also heating the ice via the tube with the intake air…the ice will not last as long as some are imagining….to help visualize it put ice in a cooler and leave the lid open..this will at least give you some idea of what is going on.

  27. made the same for about 12€(PC cooler 120mm about 2€ and cooler bag for about 10€). just have to ask where the he** are human numbers? F arent something that human would understand?

  28. I built the same thing from stuff I had kicking around my house….two styrofoam coolers, one fit inside the other, some old aluminum tent poles, a piece of 4" PVC, and a 12volt cooling fan from a computer. Took me one hour to put together, and no out of pocket expense.

  29. Being an animals first person, I imagine that your gorgeous dog is really enjoying your latest invention…….Well done!

  30. DUDE that is freakin innovative. Hats off to you and the lovely one. Ignore, (as I'm sure you have) the retarded thumbs downeres as they just need something to rail against. lol. =) Great job!

  31. Great build!
    I would put the fan inside the cooler. Sure you lose some volume for the ice, but it would be a little quiet and a lot easier to store in tight space.

  32. My 8,000 BTU A/C costs only $2 a day if run 8 hours a day.
    The big bag of ice costs $3.59 in my area. Assuming you only use one bag a day, that's still more expensive than my AC and that's not counting the electricity for the fan on you unit.

  33. Better have batteries that or charged, like two of them and not hooked to van,or it will kill batteries,and get wife to steal ice from Indian motel .

  34. Great idea. The tubing may have to be changed every now and then. I'm not sure how that would work when it has a lot of water in it. I'd definitely go with a durable cooler(not foam). Buying a very small cooler might be enough in a van because of space constraints(It would need smaller tubing and maybe a smaller fan). You might wake up in the morning freezing with that big one. Great job though. I'll try and find your follow up video to see your full review.

  35. Hi Trent & Allie, I love this idea. Do you think it would cool a gazebo? I live in Georgia. It gets pretty hot. Thank you for any information. Stay cool.

  36. The elephant in the room is how long does the ice last? 1 hr.?
    , 4hrs? All night? Will you be a slave of ice runs to keep cool? I suspect it’s cooling life is no more than running a 5amp window unit on solar, abt 3-4 hrs, why not upgrade solar & buy a small energy star window unit, less work, same results without the “ice run” hassle. Shalom!

  37. It takes a couple thousand pounds of ice to do the same cooling a basic small ac can do. It's a neat project to do for fun but ice costs 2-$3 a bag.

  38. I made the same thing as a fog chiller for a "cool" Halloween affect with a fog machine. Cools the fog down and keeps it on the ground..

  39. I have never seen this design before. Burying the duct work in the ice makes perfect sense. Thanks for making this video.

  40. AMAZING! TOTALLY worth the money. I live in coastal Texas and would def pay that. I'm totally making one of these to use in my house even!

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