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Even before our society arrives at a complete meltdown, summer cooling bills can easily leave you with little money for daily needs and prepping. At the same time, once society collapses, it is not going to be feasible to try and lug around portable air conditioners let alone avoid areas where some form of advanced cooling will be required.

This particular “air conditioner” requires little more than a fan, submersible water pump, and salt to deliver as much as 20 – 30 degrees in temperature reduction.

How It Works

As water evaporates, it tends to produce a cooling effect. Evaporation can be sped up by heating the water (which happens in an air conditioner), or a fan can be used to push air over water. Using a fan to speed up evaporation will only work as long as the surrounding air has less water in it than what is being pushed out of the unit.

In this case, pushing the cooler air through salt (or some other desiccant) absorbs excess water. This makes it possible to achieve lower temperatures without increasing humidity.

Materials

  • 2 small baskets with holes in them (I found 2 perfect ones for 1.00 each at Dollar Tree)
  • 1 basin large enough to fit small baskets in completely (I used a round bowl for 1.00 from Dollar Tree).
  • Plastic canvas (costs approximately $3.00 in craft section at Wal Mart)
  • empty square water bottle (I used the 1 gallon clear container from Dollar Tree)
  • Solar submersible water pump (about 10.00 on eBay)
  • Disposable wash cloths or any other material that air blows through easily (also just 1.00 at Dollar Tree; or cheapest fabric you can find in Wal-Mart).
  • Coffee filters
  • Table salt (or some other desiccant)
  • Duct tape
  • Twist ties
  • Small fan (a desktop computer fan, or just about anything else will do)
  • Aquarium airline tubing (1.88 in Wal-Mart)
  • Water

Materials and Tools

Tools

  • Small saw
  • Scissors

Steps to Build

1. Cut a hole in the bottom of one basket so that fan fits through without falling in.

2. Cut water bottle down so that it is no higher than the rim of one basket. This forms a water reservoir.

3. Punch holes in airline tubing (this creates a soaker hose). Do not put holes in the end of the airline tubing where it will attach to the pump. Soaker holes should only be in areas that touch the cloth.

punch holes in airline tubing

4. Cut plastic canvas so that it is tall enough to reach about 3/4 way out of lower bucket. You should be able to place top bucket over the lower one without problem. It should also sit low enough so that the fan does not touch the canvas.

5. Tape canvas to reservoir.

tape canvas to reservoir

6. Cut fabric to fit over the canvas and reach about half way into the reservoir.

7. Cut slits in the fabric so that you can weave airline tubing through the fabric. This will make soaking easier and more efficient. You may need to add additional rows or poke more holes in the airline tubing to get adequate soaking throughout the entire fabric.

8. Place fabric and airline tubing inside the plastic canvas area and flatten as much as possible against the canvas. Use twist ties and duct tape to secure the fabric to the plastic canvas. You will need to change the fabric often to reduce mold; so do not affix so tightly that it becomes difficult to remove later on.

9. Put pump inside the reservoir and attach the end of the airline tubing with no holes. Make sure that the other and if the airline falls back into the reservoir.

10. Place salt or other desiccant inside coffee filter.

11. Tape up coffee filter with duct tape to form a pouch.

12. Attach one pouch to each side of the upper basket .

Operating This Device

1. Fill reservoir with water, and also spray some water on the fabric to soak it. You will need to check at regular intervals and add water as needed.

2. Place lower basket inside a larger water proof basin that will catch water dripping from the salt pouches.

3. Place reservoir and fabric unit in lower basket.

4. Place upper basket upside down on top of lower basket.

5. Fit fan into hole in upper basket.

6. Turn on the pump to start water soaker. You may also want to set the pump up to run on batteries at night and then just use the solar panel on suitable days.

7. Turn on the fan.

Plans for Future Development 

Even though this unit works well, I was hoping to find a dehumidifier that would not require salt or other disposable desiccants. My future plans include looking for some other way to remove moisture from the air. Ideally, this system would also form a viable way for pulling water from the air for consumption and other needs.

While this method does not create a cooling chamber as found in the clay flower pot refrigerator, I will also be looking for ways to integrate a passive cooling chamber into this system. One possible method includes simply adding a clay or other porous double chamber to one side of the air conditioner and then use sand in that chamber for keeping food cool.

In a crisis situation, staying cool can help prevent dehydration and other illnesses. Unfortunately, when electricity is unavailable or very limited, you will not be able to use a conventional air conditioner. This fan based air conditioner and dehumidifier can help lower temperatures using far less power than expected. When combined with DIY electric coils, Tesla Turbines, and other devices that turn physical activity into electricity, it is a viable option for off grid cooling.

This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia

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