Portable Air Conditioner

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Summer is becoming more intense every year, to the point that turning on air conditioners all day is a very tempting thought. But that could be very costly for most of us. So how can we survive the summer heat? By making an inexpensive, low electricity air cooler!

Portable AirConditioner

Homemade air conditioners don’t work as well as the air conditioners we have mounted on our walls, of course. They cannot make an entire room cold, but they provide a cool breeze straight to your direction, enough to make you comfortable throughout the day!

The unit featured in this project was made by a security officer who spends eight hours a day in his truck. Since it isn’t cost effective to have his truck’s air conditioner run all day, he decided to make this portable air conditioner. If you or you know someone who does field work, this is definitely a great DIY project that can help keep automobile expenses low.

If you want this for your home, you can make this unit more suitable by getting a stronger fan, a slightly bigger container (styrofoams will work, too), and by providing two or three vents instead of just one.

This portable homemade air conditioner will provide 2 1/2 to 5 hours of cool air, depending on the temperature of your environment, size of your container and the ice/cooling agents that you use.


  • Old Cooler
  • 12 volt DC Fan
  • 4 inch 1/4 Bend PVC Hub
  • 4 inch RDR DR 35 PVC Adapter
  • 12 Volt DC Accessory Plug
  • Piece of Plywood
  • Wood Screws
  • Ice


  • Tape Measure
  • Saw
  • Hole Saw



Portable AirConditioner

Cut the plywood to fit the inside lip of the cooler. This needs to be a snug fit so you don’t loose air but not too tight as you will have trouble removing it. Cut two holes in the plywood, one for the fan and one for the PVC exhaust.

Portable AirConditioner

Cut a 3 inch plywood strip a little bit narrower than the width of the board. Screw this into the bottom of the board. This strip forces the air to go further down into the cooler forcing the air into the ice.

Portable AirConditioner

Place the fan over the large hole and drill 4 holes into the fan. Make sure you do not drill into any wires when doing this. You may have to take the fan apart to find the best place to drill. Also make sure the power plug is facing towards the top so you will be able to access it.

Portable AirConditioner

My fan came with a two speed on off switch. The switch was on the opposite side of the power plug. I put the switch on high and mounted the fan switch towards the board. If I want to turn the fan off I just unplug the cord. Screw the fan to the board. Be sure your fan blows into the cooler.

Portable AirConditionerPortable AirConditioner

Put the 4 inch PVC adapter into the hole.

Portable AirConditionerPortable AirConditioner

Put the 4 inch 1/4 Bend PVC Hub into the adapter. You should be able to turn the PVC Hub 360 Degrees. This allows you to blow the air in any direction.

Portable AirConditioner

Plug your DC Adapter into the fan and the other end into your vehicles 12 volt DC accessory plug. You are now ready to use your Portable Air Conditioner.

Portable AirConditioner

Notes: The air will be cooler if you use bag ice, however bag ice will probably melt in about 2 1/2 hours. I freeze water in 1/2 gallon milk jugs. The ice will stay frozen twice as long but the air is not as cool as using bag ice. If you use milk jugs do not fill them up all the way. When water freezes it expands and will burst the milk jugs if they are filled to the top.


Thanks to  for this great project!




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