Warmth / Shelter / Cooling

Trying My Hand at the Homemade Air Conditioner DIY – The “5 Gallon Bucket” Air Cooler

cooler-9I was fairly impressed with the Homemade Air Conditioner DIY – The “5 Gallon Bucket” Air Cooler video that I posted a week or so ago. And, while I understand there are certainly better used for precious resources such as ice and my backup power supply, I thought it would still be a fun DIY project for this weekend.

Originally, my intention was to make this short and sweet and, in fact, utilize the styrofoam insert mentioned in the How to make a Simple “Hard-Sided” Ice Chest – “5 gallon bucket” style! video but when I went to Home Depot they were out of stock… bummer.

So, while I was there I picked up a 2-gallon bucket and decided I would wing it like I normally do. Just follow along in the gallery at the bottom of the post from steps 1 through step 8…

  1. The first thing I did was to glue two scrap pieces of 2″ x 4″ to the bottom of a 5-gallon bucket so that I could create some space between the bottom of the 5-gallon bucket and the 2-gallon pail.
  2. Next, I cut off the outer edge of a 5-gallon bucket lid so that I could use it later.
  3. I then traced around the top of 2-gallon pail onto the same bucket lid used in step two above and cut that out.
  4. After allowing the glue to dry a few hours I started adding shredded paper to act as an insulation to the bottom of the 5-gallon bucket.
  5. Next I placed the 2-gallon pail inside the 5-gallon bucket, covered it with cling wrap so I wouldn’t fill it full of shredded paper, and then added shredded paper between the 5-gallon bucket and 2-gallon pail as evenly as I could. I packed it fairly tight. When finished I removed the cling wrap.
  6. Remember the lid we cut up in steps 2 and 3? Well, now it’s time to turn it upside down and begin to shove it down the bucket (it’s a tight fit) and keep shoving until it’s beyond the top of the 2-gallon pail and firmly holding the shredded paper in place. This isn’t rocket science.
  7. Now it was time to cut the vent holes. Use whatever PVC you want but I wound up commandeering an unused leg from a set of plastic shelving. Just use an appropriate hole saw and cut the PVC a little long so that you have something to work with. Officially, the distance between each pail was 1-1/4″ but I cut my PVC at 1-1/2″ which worked out fine but I think I would have cut them a bit longer (maybe 2″) if I did it over again. I thought about caulking the entire setup but haven’t bothered to do so yet.
  8.  Add ice and top with a fan as shown in the photo at the top of the post.

So, how did it work?

Well, I started with a gallon jug of ice as shown in step 8. We placed it in our room which tends to stay hotter than the rest of the house. The original temperature started at 82 degrees and dropped to about 76 degrees after an hour. I was not very happy with those results so I removed the gallon jug and substituted with a small bag of ice (about 8 pounds) which immediately felt cooler. The problem is that after an hour of using the bag of ice the temperature didn’t budge. Why? I don’t know. I am not happy. Granted, he was measuring temperature coming out of the bucket cooler (at about 45 degrees) whereas I was measuring the room temperature. Regardless, I wasn’t expecting a miracle here but I was expecting better results.

Any thoughts as to why this didn’t work for me like it did in the video?


By Damian Brindle

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23 replies on “Trying My Hand at the Homemade Air Conditioner DIY – The “5 Gallon Bucket” Air Cooler”

Dog’s/pet’s Are Organisms.They have felling.Most dry day can’t Stay lease.This portable Air conditioner can use to cool dog house or Any kind of pets house.That is my proposal.I think It is right idea.I was done it.It is working.Buy Air bucket in Etsy and try to do it

Gallon bucket air conditioner Is creative product.It is very usefull hot and summer days.Hot and summer days Are very bad to people and animals.People Are use AC machine.But Animlas/Pets Are not AC machine.I think Gallon buckrt air conditioner are used to benefit of our pets.It can do well.keeping a bucket in his pets house and switch on the fan.Pets house Are cool.Try to do it

Etsy Gallon Bucket Air Conditioner has 3PVC ports to come cool Air.I think It is deferent feachers.One gallon bucket air conditioner has used to cool 2 doghouse.Because it has 3 PVC ports.PVC ports has come cool Air.It has used to 2 have at one place doghouse.I was done it.Buy and Do it

I buy this item on Etsy.It is Handmade item.It Materials is Honeywell turbo vortex fan or 12vDC auto fan, 5 gallon bucket with lid, 5 gallon bucket foam insert with lid, 3 PVC ports, Comes fully assembled and ready for use.
I think It must be use to dog-house cooling or Any pet housess cooling.I think This product match to it.

I have been looking into this for some time now and one guy said to put the holes closer to the bottom of the bucket to keep it cooler. heat rises and all that stuff.


I will be trying this 5 gallon air conditioner today, as I get heat stroke quickly, my house just gets way to hot and I can not afford a fancy smancy air conditioner or a rich mans central air. I am excited as instead of ice i plan on using ice packs a whole bunch of thank you for the idea, i wish i could have found the written instructions and materials somewhere as well. have a awesome day!

Couple of things come to mind.

The ice worked better then the jug of ice due to surface area. You are extremely limited to the outer shell of the jug while the bag of ice has thousands times the surface area.

The plastic isn’t as good of an insulator as the Styrofoam; probably lost some cooling through conduction.

Last what was the humidity like on the 2nd? If it was anything like our weather here in Dallas/Fort Worth, it was very humid. That greatly affects how much cooling is possible.

You had bad instructions. Try the two following links they have better directions and both work. (Ignore the fact they are for burning man, hippies have some good ideas, but there politics are not for me.) The first one is a small cooler the second one is a HUGE cooler.

I have made the small one and it works well for small places, but like all swamp coolers you have to have a low humidity to make them work there best.

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