Alternative Energy

Amazing! Stay Cool With This Solar Powered Air Cooler! [DIY]



Feature | A rusty fan grill of a heavy duty of a compressor of central air conditioner system | Amazing! Stay Cool With This Solar Powered Air Cooler! [DIY]

Beat the heat with this solar powered air cooler! This “Blast Chiller” air cooler is great for home, the workplace, and especially great when camping.

RELATED: DIY Air Conditioner From Household Items

In this article:

  1. How It Works
  2. Why Should I Do This?
  3. Benefits of a Solar Powered Air Cooler
  4. DIY Solar Powered Air Conditioner

Solar Powered Air Cooler | Keeping Cool Off the Grid

How It Works

Solar powered air conditioning is not a new concept. For this portable solar powered air conditioner, it works by threading cold water through the bucket, before being cooled the window screen and dissipated by the fan.

It’s a simple yet highly effective concept and one that you can do yourself.

Why Should I Do This?

Living off the grid has many advantages, but a lot of disadvantages as well. One of the things you’ll have to contend with, especially if you live more in the southern parts, is really hot summers.

Add the fact that temperatures are rising every year, and you’ll find that you’ll be sweating like a pig at the butcher. While you can definitely fork out the cash for a solar air conditioner, you can save some money by making one yourself.

Benefits of a Solar Powered Air Cooler

When the temperature goes up in your safehouse, this might lead to discomfort, dehydration, and even death. Having a solar air conditioner such as this one can spell the difference between comfort and… well, potentially deadly discomfort.

Having one of these babies in your safehouse will make SHTF situations a lot more bearable.

DIY Solar Powered Air Conditioner

Materials you’ll need:

  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Window screen, black plastic (minimum 24” X 76”)
  • Fan (computer fans work great)
  • Cooling pad, or filter material
  • 1/4″ Aquarium tubing
  • Clamp
  • Fountain pump
  • Push Pin
  • Solar panel (optional)


  • Yardstick
  • 1 – 2” hole saw
  • Marker
  • Razor tool

Step 1: Fill Bucket with Water

First, start by filling the bucket with two gallons of water.

Step 2: Make Circular Holes


Next, cut circular holes around the bucket, making sure they are all well above the water line. Then, vertically drill a pair of two holes, spacing each pair every 5-6 inches.

These holes should be roughly 1.5 inches in diameter. Between these pairs, drill a single hole, 2 inches in diameter.

Step 3: Cut the Cooling Pad

Next, you need to cut down the cooling pad. You will want it to be about 13-14 inches high, and roughly 30-31 inches around.

This is roughly the measurement of the bucket.

RELATED: 13 Ways To Cool Your House During A Blackout

Step 4: Make Window Screen

After that, take a regular window screen and double layer between the bucket and the cooling pad. You may also use garden cloth.

This will help hold in the moisture of the cooling pad away from direct contact with the air holes.

Step 5: Trace and Cut Fan Edge

Next, trace the circular edge of the fan on top of the lid and cut.

Step 6: Position the Fan in the Hole

After that’s done, place the fan in the hole. It should fit nicely in your solar powered air cooler without falling through.

Step 7: Wrap the Tubing and Clamp End of Hose

Next, drop the fountain pump in the bottom and connect the 1/4 inch aquarium tubing. Then, wrap the tubing around the bucket, and once again at top of the bucket.

What is a fountain pump? A device used for water ornament or aeration that spouts up water in your pond or aquarium.

Clamp off the end of the hose to keep the water from escaping.

Step 8: Make a Soaker Hose

To turn this into a soaker hose, pin along the length of the hose, about every inch around the diameter of the hose. This will saturate the cooling pad.

Step 9: Hook the Fan to Solar Panel


Finally, hook up the fan to the solar panel, and you are set! Your solar powered room air conditioner should get between 65-40 degrees, depending on how cold the water is.

Add ice if you want cooler air.



If you are going camping, you can also add a 90-degree piece of PVC and dryer vent hose to isolate the air.


Check out the video tutorial by desertsun02 on how to make your own solar powered air cooler:

Having a solar air conditioner such as this one can make your safehouse – and in effect, your whole experience – a lot more bearable. Not only is it convenient to have, but it also doesn’t even have to be powered from the grid.

It takes very little resources to make and is easy enough that you can teach even the youngest members of your family on how to maintain it. That said, we hope to see your own homemade solar powered air conditioners soon!

Think you can DIY this solar powered air cooler? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!


Amazing! Stay Cool With This Solar Powered Air Cooler! [DIY] |

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on May 25, 2018, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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  1. Aeryn

    May 30, 2014 at 6:59 AM

    What you have is a swamp cooler.

    It is great for drier climes, like western KS y OK or central y northern AZ. or where the humidity is low. less than 25% RH works best. Above that things start to get sticky.
    Used to install and service the things there

    But if one resides in more humid climes, by pumping in moist air is makes matters worse, including excess mold build up.

  2. Kenny

    May 30, 2014 at 9:14 AM

    This will only work in arid conditions , it will not work in areas that are humid .

  3. zane

    May 30, 2014 at 9:50 AM

    What type of fan do you use get?

  4. Paul in IL

    May 30, 2014 at 11:56 AM

    Just how long does the fan last with all that moisture getting pulled thru its motor.. It looks to be an invitation to low voltage shock therapy to me,,, just thinking..

    • Dave Baker

      February 25, 2018 at 8:30 AM

      It’s only 12volts you won’t even feel anything lol

  5. Left Coast Chuck

    May 30, 2014 at 3:33 PM

    In humid areas just running a 12 volt fan blowing directly on your body will be cooler than running a swamp cooler. The industry name for them is evaporative cooler. I am not sure about western Kansas, but they were big in SoCal in the inland desert areas back in the 50s and 60s. Even had them for cars, otherwise one used the 4/65 cooling system — rolled down 4 windows and drove 65 mph. I am not sure if any cars had a/c in the 50s and 60s. At least in my price range they didn’t. Maybe top of the line Caddies, Buicks, Lincolns etc., but anything I could afford didn’t. In the pioneer days in AZ before electricity and the advanced system of swamp coolers, pioneers used to hang wet sheets by the windows to cool off a house in the summer.

    • JJM

      May 30, 2014 at 9:54 PM

      Just to confirm my suspicions, I experimented with a Zeer Pot-In-Pot evaporative cooler along the Gulf Coast. At best, I saw a 5 degree temperature drop and realistically that drop may have only been because the wet sand acted as an insulator and averaging out the day and night temperatures (never measured temps at night).

  6. Keith

    June 1, 2014 at 2:57 PM

    I would not recommend drilling with a corded drill into a bucket with water. If you are doing so just to know where to drill mark the water line with a sharpie and then empty the water out.

  7. Mark

    June 3, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    Portable solar is probably not running that unit very long. No reason to pump water up when you could gravity feed from an upper bucket, saving power.

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  10. Tara Pantera

    June 5, 2014 at 1:01 PM

    For those who live in more humid climates, could we use the other bucket a/c project that uses a frozen gallon of water in the bucket rather than the water and pump system?? These projects are still very new to me, so I’m waiting to hear what others are saying that have tried them…

  11. Bob Nogle

    June 10, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    WE made a window unit in 1953. We lived in 29 palms cal.120 degrees in the shade.the unit worked very well,made lfe muce easier.

  12. SLS

    June 21, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    I just want to clarify something….are the fan and the fountain pump plugged in somewhere?

    • Lauren J

      June 24, 2014 at 9:35 AM

      Yes. They would both require electricity. Thanks for your question!

  13. Cheryl

    June 25, 2014 at 7:12 AM

    Please give us a way to PRINT these tutorials. If we are out trying to build this, it’s very impractical, if not impossible, to run back in to the computer. Printed material would go with us to the store to be sure we get exactly what we need, as well.

    Thanks for listening!

    • Lauren J

      June 25, 2014 at 9:10 AM

      Hi Cheryl! Does it not work for you to print the web page off of your browser? If you go to file print it should allow you to print off the instructions.

      • C

        March 23, 2019 at 11:00 PM

        Yeah, there is a file-> print option. However, it’s 26 pages long and only about three of them are useful, and most of the information is interrupted by ADs, there are about 0 useful pictures that are printable and overall the page has just become pretty messy.

  14. Gary Runkel

    June 29, 2014 at 8:12 AM

    I love this project but I want to build one for myself as our central ac unit has gone up and will cost thousands (that I dont have to repair or replace) where did you get the fan could you possibly post a link? I could not find a fan small enough and without a mount to fit the bucket.

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  18. James McDonald

    July 24, 2014 at 7:10 PM

    These type of oolers don’t work too well here in Florida! The high humidity keeps it from working.

  19. nick

    September 24, 2014 at 11:29 PM

    Where do you find a 12volt pump that is cheap? I went to home depot and nothing Lowes are the same.

    • Mossydog

      November 11, 2017 at 9:02 PM

      It isn’t submersible, so you will have to purchase the inexpensive riser tube that goes with it, And Mount the Tube thru the top so the powerhead doesnt get wet, But just go to any pet or aquarium store and get an aquarium filter part called a powerhead. Im pretty sure they Make 12v models that run on batteries. If Not, A good aquarium, outdoor decorating, pool and patio or Pond specialty shop- Just call and make sure they carry submersible pond filter pumps. Filter Floss can work instead of cooler wrap and it may be cheaper. I Guess what Im trying to say is find an aquarium/pond/patio shop And they will have Everything U need.

  20. Bruce Cannon

    January 4, 2015 at 6:19 AM

    Do you leave the tubing wrapped around the inside of the top of the bucket. Well I’m going to try this in my SUV. To humid in Florida to go camping unless you keep it in your tent.

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  24. Flakecheta

    June 13, 2015 at 1:43 PM

    Hi Natalie I have a few questions? What kind of fan is that and where did you get it ? Also how are you powering the fan and the fountain pump? And how and what are you using to hook into the solar panel?

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  29. Tina Gallagher

    June 1, 2017 at 1:27 PM

    I need to make this for my RV. thank you for the instructions

  30. Anthony Ray Johnson

    June 10, 2017 at 1:45 PM

    This will only work until the humidity in the air rises then it will no longer transfer the heat. It requires fresh air intake and exhaust in a building for this to work more than a few minutes in an enclosed space.

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  32. Creek Tilghman

    July 3, 2017 at 5:05 PM

    You can make it yourself, just loook and learn from INPLIX .

    • Sherryl Keith

      July 3, 2017 at 5:06 PM

      I love it

  33. Andrew Pollock

    August 20, 2017 at 2:30 PM

    Is there a video at the top? It won’t play. Please post the url so I can play it.

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  38. Striker Stallone @ Survival Saga

    June 6, 2018 at 2:28 AM

    Great video! But one thing:

    Looks like this setup works best in drier areas.

    In areas with higher humidity, you might run into some issues. Using evaporative coolers and all…

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  48. Dr.Pat Howden

    June 23, 2018 at 10:51 AM

    12 volt source of power is from a long cable connected to your vehicle battery. A much simpler cooler is to wear only a T shirt. Spray a little water on it, then let the fan blow on you. You will freeze so fast that you will have to get much further from the fan or slow it way down. A 2 or 4 watt fan should be plenty. Fans played on naked legs are far more effective than elsewhere being fanned.

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