A couple of weeks back, I was able to camp again and I wish that I had an air conditioner for my 5 gallon bucket. We were camping several days, in an area without electricity hookup, and many of our neighbors (some who had never camped before) were there so I decided to make a solar powerbox. It worked great. Although it was a prototype, it worked well. It could charge electronic devices, light up, and recharge my Yaesu FT-818ND FT-818 6W HF/VHF/UHF All Mode Mobile Transceiver. Although I would love to purchase one of the Goal Zero Yeti 500 solar generator kits, I might just be able to do without one of these small ones.
It’s now 118 degrees at my Phoenix home this weekend. I began to think about how I would survive in such extreme weather. You need to have plenty of water in order to survive in desert conditions. You need more water in deserts than you do elsewhere. However, drinking water is not enough to keep you cool. To stay cool, you need to figure out how to do it.
There are many designs that can be used to make a bucket, cooler or other container with fans sticking out. These coolers will only work if you have enough ice. This design can be used in areas where water is scarce, but it works fine if there’s a freezer near you. You’re dead if you don’t have water. You only need solar to power your home.
As long as I had enough water and a reliable power source, I decided to make my own portable swamp cooler. It’s not a conventional air conditioner, but conditions the air. This post will be written before I start building it. I did some research on the components and got enough info to help you build your own. Once it is built, I will post the version 1.0 build.
They can be very effective in dry conditions. These units use far less energy than air conditioners, so they won’t need to be powered up as much. They can also reduce temperature by as high as 30 degrees and dry out your tent during sleep. This could be a great option to make your life easier or save your home in the event of an emergency.
If you feel that you must be in the desert in order to enjoy this item, these are some of the temperature drops you could get from it under different humidity levels:
Cooling it down won’t be a big problem since I only have one tent, a Koppen Maelstrom 2, but that’s not enough. I also don’t like the idea of entering one side so I am considering getting one Marmot Limelight 2.
Here is the answer I sought:
- It runs on 12V DC, so you can use it as a solar panel or to charge a battery. This will require a 12V power adapter.
- As little power as possible.
- It can connect easily to larger water sources so that it doesn’t need to be refilled constantly or has a large reservoir.
- Portable. Backpackable if possible.
Let’s now see how a swamp cooler works.
It was 117 degrees at night when I visited my neighbour’s house. It was very cold after I got out of the pool, even though it had been a couple of drinks. Although the temperature dropped only 3 degrees, it was still quite cold. What is the reason for this?
Water evaporates and it requires energy to turn it into a gas. You only need to make sure that dry air contacts water. The swamp cooler will allow the air to lose some of its temperature and convert it into a room. It’s simple.
Keep in mind that the temperature at which the air can reach the lowest level of evaporation is its wet bulb temperature. You’ll soon reach a place where you can’t pump humid air into a room. You’ll eventually have a humid, hot room. It will be worse than it was when you first started. This system is not the way to go.
Water is used to cool a swamp cooler by being dripped through a medium. This can be a pad or mat that looks similar to a piece of blue fiber or hay, or a mat. The mat provides water with as many contact points as possible. A system that has more water will be more efficient. The room will also cool faster if there is more air passing through it. These two are like two chickens fighting over a worm. The pad dries faster if you blow the air more quickly. The pad will have a dry area, so the air can convert less.
You need to make sure you have enough pad surface, that it is constantly wet, and that it gets as much air as you can.
It also means bacteria could grow if the system isn’t maintained with regular maintenance. Holmes 4-Speed True HEPA Air Purifier works great for this. A small swamp cooler like this would make a good bottle.
How are we going to do that while still meeting all of the criteria I have mentioned?
We’ll start by looking at the simple idea that a man came up with to cool his bucket. This instructible explains it all. It’s easy to find things that will make your life easier or more manageable.
As you can see this design is quite large. This is too large for what I need. Because the theory is simple it can be easily modified and scaled down. Figjam, Fuck Me I’m Great, Just Ask Me), did this to prepare for Burning Man’s Playa at Burning Man. This is a place that was always a hub of inventions but also very hot and dry. In this blog post, he also explains how it was done. This is a great post.
That’s more of it. It’s portable and low-power, but it works. A 5 gallon bucket was used. He wrapped it in swamp cooler mat, attached a loop of hose to the pump, and then ran a fan through the top using piping. The pipe could be attached to a vent line and pumped into the shelter.
I will take that design as a guideline and make some changes.
First, it is not something I like to have to use AC and DC for the system to work, particularly since AC requires more power. It’s not much but I will be able to make it more efficient and use less power. To that end I will use a 12-volt DC submersible pump. The pump draws 350mA, or 4.2W at 12Volts. It can hold a little over one gallon of water per hour. That should be enough. It is possible that I will need to replace the pump with a newer one, but it’s not impossible.
The pump should provide me with the flowthru speed I require to maintain the padding moist, but it will not consume too much energy. It doesn’t have to work. I can either switch to a bigger 12V pump, or just give up and get AC. It’s only $10, but I have to at least give it a try. It may work. If not, I might look into a more powerful DC pump that costs a little more.
The fan is another thing that I want to change. I originally planned to use the same type of fan as Figjam, but decided that it did not have sufficient flowthru. Here’s what he uses:
This one should pull about 45 CFM (Cubic Feet Per Minute), and draw approximately 1.8 Watts at maximum speed.
The QP-TE1-0126 Boundless Breeze Ultimate RV/Marine Fan is what I have settled for. The fan runs on 12v and is extremely reliable. It puts out 900 CMF (which is 20 times more than the fan above). Also, it pulls about 2 amps at high speed or 1 amp at low. It can be combined with the pump (12v), providing it has enough water. This fan is great to have if you don’t already own it. This fan is my favorite.
The Attwood Blower H20 Resist was what I wanted to use. The Attwood Blower H20 Resist pulls only 2.7 amps, but it blows at 240 CFM. Because it is inline with pipes, the machine pulls air more efficiently than open-air. This is like 5 computer fans. If the DC pump worked, it would be possible to pay for the higher amps. Although 2.7 amps would be a lot more than the 150-200 milliamps the fan draws, it could still work for certain applications. Because of the potential for static pressure to build up in the system from so much airflow and the impact that velocity might have on the cooling efficiency, the Endless Breeze is my first choice. However, it may be used in a different configuration. It would need to be piping air into/out, so it’s not clear how I would configure it.
A second thing that I want to do is to be able hook up the container to water in some other way and not worry about overfilling it. This is why I am going to hook up an easy mechanical float valve.
This allows me to keep my internal reservoir full without having to fill it up every hour.
This thing should be easy to carry around, or at the very least, not take up too much space in your vehicle.
It’s still not clear what container I will use to store it. Although I might end up making a DIY 5 gallon bucket air conditioner, (using a 5 gal bucket), I still need to test out how the current arrangement works. It would be nice to have some way of making it foldable so that it could fit in a bag or other container. However, I do not want it to be too complicated for people who don’t know how to build things.