Do you love camping? I mean, do you love the idea of it and then when you’re actually camping you start to remember how you miss your actual bed with your air conditioner blasting to the point that you’re basically a human popsicle? Well, this Northerner now lives below the Mason-Dixon and I can’t stomach being sweaty when I sleep.
I wanted to find a way to cool my butt when we go tent camping so my kids are happy and I’m not ready to murder everyone due to lack of sleep. Enter my DIY $10 Air Conditioner. This is the cheapest DIY I could figure to make to cool a room. I used a desk fan, and a styrofoam cooler, but if you’re fancy, and have a circular cutting attachment for your drill you could use a real cooler. I’m cheap and lazy-ish.
I used a steak knife.
The first thing you need to do it take your handy-dandy fan out of the box. I didn’t even attach the stand, but you can use an existing one if you have one in the garage or steal it from your own desk. It doesn’t need to even be super powerful. Take a marker, crayon or the one pen you haven’t lost out of your purse and trace slightly smaller than the opening.
Cut that styrofoam with the steak knife and don’t chop off your fingers or anything. Alternately you can use a bread knife, but anything serrated will keep it from making that horrible squeaking noise that sounds like your murdering a seal.
You’ll also need to cut an opening for the cold air to escape. Pro-tip, keep it a few inches from the bottom just in case you’re using bagged ice, because that’s going to melt at some point!!
Next all you need is a cold mass. I froze 2-liter bottles and 1/2 gallon milk jugs to test it out. I think the smaller containers work slightly better than the gallon milk jugs, but use whatever you have in the recycle bin. A full cooler yielded about 10 hours of cold in a room that was in the 80’s. This is a simple DIY you can literally make it about 10 minutes, from steak knife to chilly. If you’re glamping in the great outdoors and don’t have an electrical plug in, grab a desk fan that uses a USB and hook it to a battery pack that you’d usually use for your phone.
This works like a swamp cooler, so it will produce condensation if it’s in humid weather but I’m willing to take the risk. I set this up in my kids room which doesn’t have AC (thanks historic district) and it kept the room moderately cool for quite a while. I’m sure you could use a 5 gallon bucket in the same manner, but this was the cheapest, fastest way I could MacGyver a cooler room.
What is essential for your tent camping trips?