Testing My Ice Chest Air Conditioner - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-02-2014, 01:51 PM   #1
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Name: Huck
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Testing My Ice Chest Air Conditioner

for test purposes, I made an ice chest air conditioner. I'm using a styrofoam cooler that is used to ship frozen food. In the lid, I put a 4" computer fan which is being run by a 15 watt solar panel. I believe I used a 2" pvc pipe for cold air exhaust. (Correction: inside diameter is 2.5")

I just loaded the cooler with 4 1-liter bottles of ice. Temperature in the trailer is 100 f.

Not expecting much. Will check every hour until I determine if it helps or not.

Any guesses?

Trailer is 15' Parkliner.
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Old 07-02-2014, 02:02 PM   #2
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Testing My Ice Chest Air Conditioner

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Originally Posted by Huck View Post
for test purposes, I made an ice chest air conditioner. I'm using a styrofoam cooler that is used to ship frozen food. In the lid, I put a 4" computer fan which is being run by a 15 watt solar panel. I believe I used a 2" pvc pipe for cold air exhaust.

I just loaded the cooler with 4 1-liter bottles of ice. Temperature in the trailer is 100 f.

Not expecting much. Will check every hour until I determine it helps or not.

Any guesses?

Trailer is 15' Parkliner.
Huck,
Great idea! Please keep us posted on how things turn out? Get your heavy coat ready!

Carl
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Old 07-02-2014, 02:45 PM   #3
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Hour 1 was a bust. Temperature was still 100. Could be the cooler kept it from getting hotter or maybe it had no effect at all.

When I went out to check, the sun had gone behind a tree and the fan wasn't spinning, so I hooked the fan directly to the trailer's 12v system.

Will check again in an hour.
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Old 07-02-2014, 03:13 PM   #4
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I had thought about doing this as well. Camping in 100+ degree heat without AC is brutal on an old couple.

The small aircraft guys have something basically the same they use in the cockpit when AC isn't part of the powerplant. They want an arm and a leg for what you have made for pennies. A Cessna cockpit has much less volume than any of our trailers, so it will be interesting to see what you get. Maybe it has to be directed at the occupant more directly.
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Old 07-02-2014, 03:20 PM   #5
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I made one about a month ago and it works great while you are sitting in the cold blowing air, but I noticed the same thing- it didn't do anything to the temperature of the inside of my truck. It makes sense though- that small amount of ice isn't going to really change the large volume of air's temperature very much. You have to be there to appreciate the cooling effect- must be the opposite of quantum physics.
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Old 07-02-2014, 03:57 PM   #6
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I made one about a month ago and it works great while you are sitting in the cold blowing air, but I noticed the same thing- it didn't do anything to the temperature of the inside of my truck. It makes sense though- that small amount of ice isn't going to really change the large volume of air's temperature very much. You have to be there to appreciate the cooling effect- must be the opposite of quantum physics.
Part of my test will be to install a curtain that seals off the bed area. I figure that area is approx 100 cu ft. I think I might be able to cool the temperature a few degrees by reducing the area that is cooled.

Another idea is to open the roof vent a little.

I think the real test will be to start my test at 8 pm and monitor the inside temp with the cooler going compared to outside temp.

What I want this for is to cool the trailer down a little between about 8 and 9 pm to make it easier to fall asleep and then to keep it cooler for several hours.

I'd like to make one that uses dry ice, but I don't know how to vent the co2 or transfer the cold from the dry ice to the air.
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Old 07-02-2014, 04:00 PM   #7
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Hour 2 - temperature was down to 96. This was at 4:30 pm so it might have been just a little afternoon cooling.

Hour 3 - temperature down to 94.

Ice in plastic bottles has barely melted. I think I need either 2 fans or a bigger fan, and a bigger output hole. I need to push a lot more air through the cooler.
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Old 07-02-2014, 05:07 PM   #8
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You could try setting up baffles to circulate the air around each bottle. The key requirements are surface area, residence time and flow volume. Try to get the air to contact as much surface area of each bottle, in sequence, as you can and I think you will get the best cooing for a given air flow.

Do you plan to install a thermostat?
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Old 07-02-2014, 05:24 PM   #9
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You didn't mention where on the cooler you put your "inlet" port relative to the fan in the top. The longest, most indirect path will be best to give the air time to cool.
Also (I've been thinking about the ice cooler ac a lot) I think it will be most helpful to prevent as much heat build up as you can in the first place. I have an Aluminet shade cloth that will fit my little Casita. I haven't done temp tests with the Casita yet, but with the Aluminet over my shade house there is a very noticeable temp difference than with just the shade house alone.
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Old 07-02-2014, 05:58 PM   #10
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You could try setting up baffles to circulate the air around each bottle. The key requirements are surface area, residence time and flow volume. Try to get the air to contact as much surface area of each bottle, in sequence, as you can and I think you will get the best cooing for a given air flow.

Do you plan to install a thermostat?
I don't think the thermostat would ever kick in unless I set it at 90.

The air coming out was about 75 degrees, so it wasn't getting cooled enough. But the input air was almost 100 and was putting out 75 degrees. Just not enough of it.

After 4 hours, the ice was about 1/3 melted so there is a lot of cooling I didn't take advantage of. The good news is there was maybe a tablespoon of water in the cooler from condensation.
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Old 07-02-2014, 06:08 PM   #11
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You didn't mention where on the cooler you put your "inlet" port relative to the fan in the top. The longest, most indirect path will be best to give the air time to cool.
Also (I've been thinking about the ice cooler ac a lot) I think it will be most helpful to prevent as much heat build up as you can in the first place. I have an Aluminet shade cloth that will fit my little Casita. I haven't done temp tests with the Casita yet, but with the Aluminet over my shade house there is a very noticeable temp difference than with just the shade house alone.
The fan is the input hole. I recessed a hole in the lid of the cooler the fan fit into. Then I duct taped it in place.

Both input and output were on the lid of the cooler.

I'm thinking of leaving input on top, but moving output to one end close to the bottom. I don't see any good reason to try to push the cold air up just so it can sink back down again. I'm hoping I can place the cooler on top of the stove and have it feed through a curtain into the bed area.

How will you position the shade cloth over the Casita? Will you just drape it over the top or will it have some type of scaffolding?
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Old 07-02-2014, 09:22 PM   #12
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Some ways to stay cool while sleeping.
  • Direct fan onto your body or face
  • Open ceiling vents to let out hot air
  • Wet bedsheets. The vaporization of water will cool you
  • Spray self with fine mist of water
  • Wear "neck cooling bandana" I would leave it untied while sleeping for safety reasons.
  • Put damp washcloth on forehead
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Old 07-02-2014, 10:10 PM   #13
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Huck, if it works well enough, where are you going to get the block ice while boondocking for the next night?
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Old 07-03-2014, 03:08 AM   #14
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Huck, if it works well enough, where are you going to get the block ice while boondocking for the next night?
I'm working on this specifically for camping on the NC Outer Banks. Plenty of places there to buy ice. One place sells 20 lbs of ice for $2.

What I think might work is to cut off the tops of several 1 liter plastic bottles, fill them with bag ice, and then put them in the cooler. Dump any leftover ice into the bottom of the cooler. That way there is room for the air to pass through the cooler.
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