cooling your tent or van

Swamp Coolers, Cooler Management, Dry Ice, Misting Systems, and just plain how to beat the heat.
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legionvr6
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by legionvr6 » Sun Jan 08, 2017 8:04 pm

Thanks FIGJAM. for some reason i can't see the link you posted when i use chrome on my laptop but i can on my phone. oh well

I found a 150CFM 120mm fan laying around. I'm going to use it for a first run and test it out at LIB to help cool my tent.
I think i'll try running the system off a small 9ah 12V battery with a small solar trickle charger. Worst case I'm building a new solar generator with a deep cycle group 25 that I can use as backup. I'd make a thread with a "how to build a solar generator" but im pretty sure someone already made one.

LowePro
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by LowePro » Tue Jan 10, 2017 3:29 pm

Anyone got an estimated shelf life for their CPU fan in real-playa conditions?

My pump isn't too durable, but at $8 I just buy a few spares.
Fan has been going strong for 4 burns, should I plan to replace it before year 5?

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FIGJAM
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by FIGJAM » Tue Jan 10, 2017 8:10 pm

The "Original" fan has been to the playa the last 7 years and shows no signs of quitting!!! 8)
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by BBadger » Tue Jan 10, 2017 10:12 pm

These computer fans, even relatively cheap fans, are designed to run constantly for years on end. They're brushless motors that don't have parts that suffer from corrosion (like brushes on brushed motors).

What generally goes out on fans are their bearings, not the remainder of the fans. Cheaper fans use sleeve-bearings -- basically a lubricated tube -- and they fail when the lubrication eventually wears out or evaporates. Better fans, such as Deltas and others, use sealed ball-bearings. The ball bearings aren't perfectly sealed but the lubrication dissipates at a far slower rate (95,000+ hours @ room temp). The sealed ball bearings are also less prone to suffering the effects of dust.

Your fan is exposed to humid air, but not very long by lifetime standards. It'll also be relatively "clean" air if it's only working with the bucket's air. I would definitely try to keep out dust when the fan is in the presence of the humidity so that it doesn't form a corrosive mix, affecting the electrical connections. As long as you're not changing it in windstorms it shouldn't matter too much though.

TL;DR: If your fan has decent bearings (and even if it doesn't) it should last a long time. Regular use shouldn't affect it much.
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mattcamp
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by mattcamp » Wed Feb 01, 2017 8:27 am

Apologies if this has been discussed before but I can't seem to find the information all in one place.

Over the last few years my camp has built a number of Unicoolers however power has proven to be a major headache.

We now want to encourage a bit more radical self-reliance so I'm looking for options to suggest to my camp members for powering a cooler based on the usual Figjam unicooler design (endless breeze fan + cheap 240L/m pump).

I know the traditional recommendation here is to go either battery or solar+battery however as my entire camp is international the batteries will sit for a full year between burns with no ability to trickle-charge them.

Having everyone bring a fully-charged 100+Ah battery was considered however with everyone usually flying into Reno the day before heading to BRC this presents a problem pre-charging the batteries. Also I have no faith in my camp-mates to only use Low speed setting or limit usage to 2-3 hours/day which means that they will likely deplete any batteries below safe levels at some point throughout the week.

We have 11 swamp coolers and many people are on-playa for nearly 14 days. Our AC generators are small so we can't power or constantly recharge this many batteries from AC chargers either.

Going with the battery + solar option solves the recharging issue but we still have the storage problem and the cost increase would be unacceptable to most of our camp members.

It seems to me (based on some rough calculations that perhaps a 50w panel (as can be found from usual online mega-stores for less than $100) would provide enough power to run a cooler on low or medium.

A concern I have is that a regular solar charge controller is designed to charge a battery and may behave weirdly if directly attached to a swamp cooler (without a battery).

One option I've been considering is buying a 50w panel without a charge controller and instead adding a 12V DC regulator to deal with the potentially wide range of volts coming off the panel. This could give a complete solution for about $100 which wouldn't need any heavy, short-lived batteries.

Has anyone ever attempted to power a unicooler directly from a solar panel before? I know people have done this with the smaller bucket coolers but I'm keen to hear from anyone who has done this on a larger scale.

Cheers.

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by LowePro » Wed Feb 01, 2017 9:19 am

Matty,
many of us have experimented with the Solar-direct for swamp coolers. I can only speak to my own, but here goes:

You will not have 50% efficiency for all 8 hours. 50% will probably be your peak efficiency (around high noon). Earlier morning and later afternoon will be even less efficient (due to high altitude, heat, dust, clouds, and general efficiency loss in the equipment not performing to spec, which is the sad reality of the dusty environment).

At peak performance (around noon):
50 watt panel @ 12 volts = 4.16 amps max; at 50% efficiency = about 2.1 amps max power supply.
Your cooler draws 1.5 amps on low and 2.8 amps on high. So the 50watt panel would not power the cooler on High even at peak solar output.

Add to this the fact that most cooler use will be around 8 to 10 am (after sunrise but when people are trying to sleep in), and you have even less power supply during those early morning hours.

Not trying to rain on your parade, (and please do whatever you can to prove me wrong!), but the solar-direct cooler has proven elusive because of these factoids.

Adding a few 12v deep cycle batteries to your kit may be the best answer. They are sold fully charged and you can get a few in Reno. You can probably share a few coolers off one battery if you have solar panels rigged to re-charge them ( PM Me I can describe my rig for that), if you trust your campmates to share reasonably.

"Also I have no faith in my camp-mates to only use Low speed setting or limit usage to 2-3 hours/day which means that they will likely deplete any batteries below safe levels at some point throughout the week" How is this your problem? It's theirs, right? I admire your willingness to help keep your campmates cool, but if these were my campmates I'd inspire radical self reliance by letting them figure out their own cooling and power situation! You're too nice!

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Popeye
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Popeye » Wed Feb 01, 2017 11:33 am

mattcamp wrote:Apologies if this has been discussed before but I can't seem to find the information all in one place.

Over the last few years my camp has built a number of Unicoolers however power has proven to be a major headache.

We now want to encourage a bit more radical self-reliance so I'm looking for options to suggest to my camp members for powering a cooler based on the usual Figjam unicooler design (endless breeze fan + cheap 240L/m pump).

I know the traditional recommendation here is to go either battery or solar+battery however as my entire camp is international the batteries will sit for a full year between burns with no ability to trickle-charge them.

Having everyone bring a fully-charged 100+Ah battery was considered however with everyone usually flying into Reno the day before heading to BRC this presents a problem pre-charging the batteries. Also I have no faith in my camp-mates to only use Low speed setting or limit usage to 2-3 hours/day which means that they will likely deplete any batteries below safe levels at some point throughout the week.

We have 11 swamp coolers and many people are on-playa for nearly 14 days. Our AC generators are small so we can't power or constantly recharge this many batteries from AC chargers either.

Going with the battery + solar option solves the recharging issue but we still have the storage problem and the cost increase would be unacceptable to most of our camp members.

It seems to me (based on some rough calculations that perhaps a 50w panel (as can be found from usual online mega-stores for less than $100) would provide enough power to run a cooler on low or medium.

A concern I have is that a regular solar charge controller is designed to charge a battery and may behave weirdly if directly attached to a swamp cooler (without a battery).

One option I've been considering is buying a 50w panel without a charge controller and instead adding a 12V DC regulator to deal with the potentially wide range of volts coming off the panel. This could give a complete solution for about $100 which wouldn't need any heavy, short-lived batteries.

Has anyone ever attempted to power a unicooler directly from a solar panel before? I know people have done this with the smaller bucket coolers but I'm keen to hear from anyone who has done this on a larger scale.

Cheers.
Solar power is politically correct and quiet but not very cost efficient for this application and if you are replacing batteries every year not good for the environment. ASR is correct, you won't get stable power from a solar panel without using batterys as well. To much variation in the amount of sunlight.
11 swamp coolers each at 12V and 2.82 amps means you are pulling 372 watts at full load. This is very little power. Why not just buy a small AC generator, bridge rectifier, regulator and filter to supply DC to all 11 tents at once? No need for batterys. First person to wake up from the heat in the morning can start the generator and everyones cooler will start.
You will get a little power loss when converting from AC to DC.
Most regulator/rectifier/filter units are rated for a maximum of 3 hours at their rated power (it's a UL thing). Buy one rated for at least 120% of what you think you will draw, 120% of 372 watts is 447 watts so you will probably end up with a 500 watt power supply. Go bigger if you want to include lighting or whatever.
Your generators DC output is not suitable for this.
When you are figuring generator size don't forget to derate for altitude.
Watts drawn will be the same for any voltage- as voltage goes up current goes down, it's porportional. P=IE.
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FIGJAM
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by FIGJAM » Wed Feb 01, 2017 1:24 pm

Somewhat like Popeyes suggestion.

Put your 11 cooler campers in a circle with the entrance to their structures facing out.

Generator goes in the middle of the circle. (Honda 1000 should do it)

Plug in a "smart charger" connected to 2 100AH batteries hooked in parallel.

Replace the plugs on some power strips with clamps to hook to the batteries.

Put regular plugs on the coolers to plug into your new central power station.

Everybody brings their own extention cords!!!

I don't have the knowledge these other guy have, but that is how I would d it. 8)
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Popeye
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Popeye » Thu Feb 02, 2017 1:28 am

FIGJAM wrote:Somewhat like Popeyes suggestion.

Put your 11 cooler campers in a circle with the entrance to their structures facing out.

Generator goes in the middle of the circle. (Honda 1000 should do it)

Plug in a "smart charger" connected to 2 100AH batteries hooked in parallel.

Replace the plugs on some power strips with clamps to hook to the batteries.

Put regular plugs on the coolers to plug into your new central power station.

Everybody brings their own extention cords!!!

I don't have the knowledge these other guy have, but that is how I would d it. 8)
That would work until someone put the wrong plug in the wrong hole :shock: and let all the smoke out :D

Maybe use a different type of plug or hardwire.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by FIGJAM » Thu Feb 02, 2017 6:50 am

I use polarized plugs to keep that from happening. (one prong larger than the other)
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mattcamp
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by mattcamp » Thu Feb 02, 2017 8:34 am

Thanks all, really good points there.

I like the generator idea and since we run one most of the day anyway this could work really well.

Does anyone have a suggestion for a decent smart charger that will automatically start charging when connected to the AC? We have tried to use a Schumacher one in the past but it won't start charging until you press a button on it.

I've already put DC barrel connectors on most of the coolers from last year when we tried to run a 12v power grid to them all.

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FIGJAM
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by FIGJAM » Thu Feb 02, 2017 12:18 pm

This is what I use to maintain my batteries year round.

"Set" it every time you start the generator and it will do the rest.

http://www.batterymart.com/p-128cec1-ba ... aQodXtIBIg
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Straightveg
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Straightveg » Sun Feb 12, 2017 11:58 am

Popeye wrote:
FIGJAM wrote:Somewhat like Popeyes suggestion.

Put your 11 cooler campers in a circle with the entrance to their structures facing out.

Generator goes in the middle of the circle. (Honda 1000 should do it)

Plug in a "smart charger" connected to 2 100AH batteries hooked in parallel.

Replace the plugs on some power strips with clamps to hook to the batteries.

Put regular plugs on the coolers to plug into your new central power station.

Everybody brings their own extention cords!!!

I don't have the knowledge these other guy have, but that is how I would d it. 8)
That would work until someone put the wrong plug in the wrong hole :shock: and let all the smoke out :D

Maybe use a different type of plug or hardwire.
Please, Please, PLEASE, do not use plugs for systems they weren't designed for. NEMA has a whole slew of plug and receptacle configurations designed specifically to prevent accidentally plugging something in to a system with more power than it can handle. Using an AC plug on a DC system is just asking for someone who doesn't understand the electrical side of how their cooler works to plug one of these things in at home "to make sure it works" and have a really bad time.
TL:DR, DANGER, DON'T PUT A NEMA 1-15P PLUG ON YOUR COOLER!
Instead, for running several coolers use something like a cigarette lighter power strip. As an added bonus, you have USB ports for charging personal electronics with this setup.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Anjin » Sun Mar 12, 2017 6:55 pm

So what is the current consensus on putting a Unicooler inside or outside of a yurt? Original unicooler, or new 3 vent box style?

Figjams original posts said that it was intended to go on the inside with the intake vent pushed up against the wall of the yurt, but I noticed that there was a post on this thread:

viewtopic.php?f=280&t=33842&start=3780#p1124547

and an article on Medium:



that both have the Unicooler box on the outside of the living space. The one from that Medium article looks incredibly suspect to me since their U shaped pad structure seems overly complex (compared to the 3 vent box design Figjam posted) and having electrical connections for the switch on the inside of a box that is going to have water in it seems...dangerously silly.

But there is something attractive to me about the idea of having only a smaller port for the cooler air exhaust from the fan in the side of my yurt versus a larger opening for the air intake.

Also, in the original 1 vent unicooler, does the evap pad need to be right up against the vent grate? In another thread (or maybe this one) I saw an example where the evap pad was in the middle of the box held in place with aluminum channels to make a really snug wall.

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FIGJAM
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by FIGJAM » Mon Mar 13, 2017 9:15 am

The unicooler only has one air intake, and the hole only needs to be the size of the intake,

Image

Image

The box cooler has 3 intakes, so it must set outside the structure.

The same size hole should let you have the fan through that hole and still have room to use the switch on the fan and pump from the inside.

Having the pad against the intake vent makes everything easier, and the louvers are facing down and in to keep it from leaking.

That tutorial design will work, but is overly complicated and I don't see why they put the fan inside the cooler.

I have the pump on it's own switch because sometimes I just want the fan to circulate the air. 8)
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Anjin » Mon Mar 13, 2017 2:34 pm

Thanks for the reply Figjam! The one thing that does seem more ideal to me about the 3 vent box on the outside is that I feel like it would be easier to make that with an off the shelf bin (I'm trying to avoid building a box for a first build), and also easier to seal the yurt opening since the Easy Breezy fan would be sticking out from the side of the bin...kinda of like a male adapter and the yurt is the female port.

But on the other hand the single vent Unicooler seems like it would be more efficient from a water usage perspective since there's only one pad to keep wet...and having it inside makes for easier access to refill water. I guess I could make, and silicon in place, a ~1" rmax collar around the intake vent so that it wouldn't matter that the sloping side of a plastic bin wouldn't be perfectly flush - it could create a nice snug fit in the yurt hole.

For the original Unicooler, what size intake vent do you recommend? I thought that I remember seeing in the thread that you originally had something smaller and ended up getting better performance after bumping it up, but of course in a 128 page thread I can't remember if I did actually see that!

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by FIGJAM » Mon Mar 13, 2017 2:49 pm

20"x20" is great.

If you get something with a little slope in the sides, you can make a seal out of some old foam rubber.

Home Depot has a recycle bin that is pretty narrow.

Leave as much space as possible in the bottom as a water reservoir so you spend less time filling the cooler.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Anjin » Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:19 pm

FIGJAM wrote:20"x20" is great.

If you get something with a little slope in the sides, you can make a seal out of some old foam rubber.

Home Depot has a recycle bin that is pretty narrow.

Leave as much space as possible in the bottom as a water reservoir so you spend less time filling the cooler.
I was actually thinking about something that would be more like a docking collar around the vent made out of Rmax panels. If it extended just enough to make it through the 1" thick side panel, and assuming that I seal it up nicely to be airtight, I think that it could negate any slope or handle overhang. Something like this image I made (ignore that proportions are a little whack - I was making it quickly).
BM-cooler.png
On a single vent cooler, is there any advantage / disadvantage to letting the evap pad extend down into the water? Or should it be cut to pretty much just cover the vent and that is it?
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FIGJAM
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by FIGJAM » Tue Mar 14, 2017 10:23 pm

Leaving the pad longer will keep it from sounding like a trickling fountain all the time. 8)
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Anjin » Thu Mar 16, 2017 10:59 am

FIGJAM wrote:Leaving the pad longer will keep it from sounding like a trickling fountain all the time. 8)
Hahaha, I'm not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing! Could be very relaxing... get a clear container add some black shiny rocks, little pagoda statue, and baby, you got a zen fountain goin' on...
01e48907d3c6b96ce86502794307abec0cea29f0205a492fad96d2db426354cc.jpg
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by EGAZ » Thu Mar 16, 2017 8:37 pm

As zen fountain that will cloud over after a day of running..... LOL But hey, it will look good for a few hours.... :D
2nd time better than the first. And the first was pretty Freakin' Great!
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Jeremy757jones » Thu Apr 06, 2017 4:44 am

Has anyone tried any kind of alternative to the duracool pad?
Such as this

Image

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by EGAZ » Thu Apr 06, 2017 8:23 pm

That is not as stiff as the blue stuff. Its also a finer weave, if we can say that about it. 'IF' you have a framework like Chicken Wire to help hold it up, as it will sag when it gets wet, it will work. But the blue poly is better. There is some 'light green stuff that will work too.
2nd time better than the first. And the first was pretty Freakin' Great!
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Jeremy757jones » Fri Apr 07, 2017 4:38 am

eldergeekaz wrote:That is not as stiff as the blue stuff. Its also a finer weave, if we can say that about it. 'IF' you have a framework like Chicken Wire to help hold it up, as it will sag when it gets wet, it will work. But the blue poly is better. There is some 'light green stuff that will work too.
Thanks bud. I might make a some kind of cages out of chicken wire to hold the poly in place.

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by EGAZ » Fri Apr 07, 2017 10:25 am

I use the expanded paper type, double wrapped, with a cage. Its my Grey Water Evap Unit. FigJam approved even!
2nd time better than the first. And the first was pretty Freakin' Great!
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by manlason » Mon Apr 10, 2017 8:02 am

Summer is coming soon, it's an exciting idea. Thank you for sharing, preparing the cooling medium, I want to try making the evaporative cooler. :D :D
evaporative cooler pad and fan greenhouse cooling system cooling your house!

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by EGAZ » Mon Apr 10, 2017 12:49 pm

Just follow the directions as given. Too many try to make 'improvements' and they run into trouble, doesn't work as well and always take more time to complete. :coffee:
2nd time better than the first. And the first was pretty Freakin' Great!
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by sharpstick » Fri Apr 14, 2017 4:15 am


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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by mohnjeyers » Tue Apr 18, 2017 7:47 pm

Hey there,
First of all, huge thanks to figjam and other contributors--this is a really great project and something I'm excited about building! 8)

With all of the pages of info here, I couldn't possibly go through it all. Few questions for those who have kept updated with the thread:

Is the first post updated with what is considered still to be the best spec'd fan/pump for this design? e.g. highest cfm/power consumption ratio? Are there good options on Amazon or similar that could be easily linked to? I'm leaning towards a car battery or similar, so 12v, though haven't done the research to figure out if a car battery could last all week or not.

What thickness of Duracool is used?

Big thanks!
Mohn

Edit: went back a few pages--looks like you are still recommending the Delta AFB1212GHE-CF00. Still curious about the recc'd pump. Might be helpful for the newbies to state something like "Up to date, reccs on X date" on the first post.

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by FIGJAM » Tue Apr 18, 2017 10:12 pm

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