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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FIGJAM
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by FIGJAM » Fri Sep 06, 2013 8:47 pm

It was probably the humidity.

When I checked temps, it was the hottest part of the day when I was sitting in the shade with the bucket blowing on me.

Sometimes (rarely) I would only get a 20 degree drop and it was because of the humidity. 8)
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Canoe
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Canoe » Fri Sep 06, 2013 10:09 pm

Jyman wrote: I had 2 exhaust windows with furnace filters (yes they faced the correct way) and to help exhaust I would sometimes crack the door. When the heat outside was kickin, from 85-95, I never got below 74 inside my Yurt. ... I guess my yurt may have been absorbing more outside heat and has more cubic feet than Figjams playapod for example. Can anyone think of why I didn't get even better results?
Some points to consider, and some questions:
  • your yurt walls reflect heat away, really really well, and they're insulated - so no to absorbing more heat
    (many have their yurt largely sealed up to keep hot air out, and what heat is inside is somewhat absorbed into the cooler ground)
  • (looking at box to yurt connection on the outside photo, I can't clearly tell how your box was made, etc.) any chance hot air was getting sucked into your cooler box without passing through the pads?
  • exhaust impeded by the furnace filters - reduced flow (I'm strongly suspecting this one)
  • cooler appears to be sitting on an angle (illusion?), any possibility that part of the pad didn't have adequate water flow so it had a dry spot for hot dry air to pass through to the inside?
Something I'm beginning to suspect for a lot of yurts: hot air rises and stays in the roof area, radiating heat downwards - if there was a duct from your exhaust vent up to near the peak of the roof, then the incoming swamp-cooler air would be pushing out near 100% of the hot air, starting with the hottest air near the peak.
swamp-cooler shelter venting airflow - side vs. top intake.png
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Last edited by Canoe on Fri Sep 06, 2013 10:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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gyre
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by gyre » Fri Sep 06, 2013 10:14 pm

While the yurts appear excellent, don't be overawed by foam.
Specs are R-3 to R-4 per inch.
Good, but not magic.
Shade is still important.

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Canoe
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Canoe » Fri Sep 06, 2013 10:25 pm

But that radiant barrier surface is pretty near magic.
Heat reflectance in the 70% to 90% range. Reflects away sunlight (that would absorb as heat), IR in the sunlight, and the heat radiating from heated objects (ground, air, etc.).
The heat that gets through that barrier is impaired by the foam insulation, and again on the inside by the low heat emittance when the inner surface is also a radiant barrier.
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gyre
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by gyre » Fri Sep 06, 2013 11:10 pm

Reflective is good, but unless you have really high effectiveness, you still need shade.
They fudge the figures on much of this insulation.
I've used 98-99% reflective material and it is like magic.
Really expensive too.
We had about four square feet of it for electronics.
Most of the reflective stuff only reflects a certain spectrum range and to a certain %.
Nasa was using gold and still needed 24 layers, I think.
You need gold surfaced to approach the high numbers.

And you can add reflective material to any tent too.
There was a camp out there with silver mylar glued to all their shade.
Perfect? Hardly, but not bad.

Fyi, the techs recommend the reflective layer be on the inside of insulation.
This may not be right advice for the playa though.

I sure don't think mirror surfaces are a bad idea, but if they were near 100%, yurts wouldn't get hot.

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by dragonpilot » Fri Sep 06, 2013 11:29 pm

="Jyman" I never got below 74 inside my Yurt. ]
Jeebus! I never got below 90...and yer complaining? :D

Problem living in the Pacific NW we can't test our coolers until we're on the playa...no more Mr Nice Guy...next year I'm kicking a 6500 watt generator! :mrgreen:
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by FIGJAM » Sat Sep 07, 2013 6:49 am

gyre: Shade is important when using the cooler with tents, but the 1 to 3 minute complete air exchange we get with the coolers keeps the yurts very cool.

This is particularly true with the box cooler.

The temp in those yurts was about 65 degrees and felt down right chilly without being shaded. 8)

Even in tents without shade the air can be directed at the people inside and still be comfortable.
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Canoe
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Canoe » Sat Sep 07, 2013 7:14 am

FIGJAM wrote:gyre: ... the 1 to 3 minute complete air exchange we get with the coolers keeps the yurts very cool.
This is particularly true with the box cooler.
The temp in those yurts was about 65 degrees and felt down right chilly without being shaded. 8)
Gyre, to put it another way, tents need shade because what hits them, sunlight and radiated heat, is largely absorbed and radiated to the interior as heat, with some of the radiated heat passing straight through to begin with.You can add radiant barriers and insulation to tents, RVs and the like, and depending on what you do, you can get meaningful improvement in performance, but with the yurt, it's all built in from the start: a sunlight barrier, a radiant barrier, insulation and a low-emittance interior surface. With sun & heat against the radiant barrier and the insulation, the heat that makes it through would heat the interior over time, but the resulting rate of heating is too little to matter as the air it's trying to heat is soon replaced by fresh cool incoming air anyway.
Last edited by Canoe on Sat Sep 07, 2013 7:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by AntiM » Sat Sep 07, 2013 7:20 am

Our bucket cooler worked like a champ. Small 3 person tent, shaded, insulated with a comforter on top (as are all tents in our camp). I got so chilly during my afternoon nap, I had to get under the blankets. We also used the bucket as a personal spot cooling device when sitting under the shade. Building bucket two for next year, as passing one around got old. Worked, because we were all on different schedules, but that won't always happen.

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by gyre » Sat Sep 07, 2013 7:23 am

It sounds like that is probably true, but wouldn't a cooler structure require less aggressive ventilation to keep it cool, so less air flow bringing heat in?

My new place is shaded almost all the time, rarer than people think.
It never reaches full outdoor temperature inside in the day.
There is no insulation.

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Canoe » Sat Sep 07, 2013 7:43 am

gyre wrote:It sounds like that is probably true, but wouldn't a cooler structure require less aggressive ventilation to keep it cool, so less air flow bringing heat in?

There is no insulation.
You don't want any air flow bringing heat in. Bringing in hot outside air is the quickest way to heat up the interior and its occupants.

A "cooler" structure gains heat slower. Given the heat source and enough time, it will heat up. That's why a shaded tent or a yurt gives you more sleeping time in the morning, takes longer to heat up. An aggressive radiant barrier job along with sealing against incoming hot air and some insulation can have you comfortable all day; balance cost against benefit. If you're up and out exploring by noon, why build/pay to have passive cool through the day.
(yurts can be interesting as the rate of heating and the rate of heat absorbing into the ground below can be close to each other: keep that hot air out and ...)

The swamp-cooler is the trump card (and relatively low cost, and no fussing with added this treatment and added that treatment and keeping them in place with the wind during the event; just add water as needed). Anytime in the day you return and need a nap, turn it on and the hot interior air is replaced by incoming cool fresh air. Where you've got a larger shelter with good heat rejection, a cooler with the Endless Breeze can be turned on high to clear the hot air out, then turned down to low as the shelter's rate of heating is so low.

With your house with 'no insulation', you've got to factor in the fact that the building materials themselves have an insulation value and the thermal mass of the building materials.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by gyre » Sat Sep 07, 2013 7:55 am

I'm not against insulation.
It just can't replace shade.

The apartment is far better built, but egregiously hot, even with constant ac.
Direct sun all the time.

The box houses people have built for years often have a spaced roof on top.
Barely visible, but acts as a radiant heat block.

I'm not against coolers, just looking for best effectiveness.

I have foam insulated trailers.
If anyone wants, I can do real world testing in 100 degrees.
Shade bests insulation.
96 here today, and we're all happy it's so much cooler.

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Meat Hunter » Sat Sep 07, 2013 8:34 am

When using a bucket evaporative cooler with a Playa Dome, does one place the bucket inside the dome and allow the cool air to circulate out the best way that it can or does one place the bucket outside the dome with the cool air blowing in?

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by FIGJAM » Sat Sep 07, 2013 9:47 am

Always have the cooler outside the space being cooled. 8)
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Meat Hunter » Sat Sep 07, 2013 10:21 am

FIGJAM,

Thank you.

I am a 70 year old (but, a young 70 year old - advanced decay has yet to fully set-in) from Mississippi and my UNReno graduate student granddaughter & I are planning on attending our first burn in 2014.

She has given me the responsibility and a year to assemble and build our camp and trailering it from MS.

See y'all in 2014,
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by peaceoflove » Sat Sep 07, 2013 3:56 pm

We ended up making a variation of the three-sided box cooler for our dome...it worked so beautifully, even surpassed my expectations :-) It was mostly used for sleeping into the late morning but occasionally for an afternoon nap. One day, two of our campmates who failed to find sleep before noon used our space to sleep all day and never once woke up feeling hot. On low speed it was perfect for whomever was napping in front of it, on high it cooled the entire dome - which was only needed on occasion. Thank you Figjam, Canoe, and everyone else who contributed advice, pictures, and descriptions of their projects over the past few years (I read every single post before beginning the process...). Oh yes, and extremely honorable mention to my boyfriend who actually constructed/wired/did mathematical engineering equations that made my head spin. I decorated it, which might not have been functional in any way whatsoever, but made me feel that the swamp cooler participated in a form of radical self-expression. Pictures to come...

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by peaceoflove » Sat Sep 07, 2013 3:59 pm

*the only issue we ran into was leaking when first turning the pump on, which resolved after a minute or so of running the fan*

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by unjonharley » Sat Sep 07, 2013 4:08 pm

There is only thing I'm into changing.. One solar pump did not work for me.. So I added a second one. This worked much better.. The change I have in mind is in the water feed.. Having two tubes now.. I'm into running these tubes up between the pads.. The way it is, it smashes the pads down at the tees..

The cooler realey kicks butt going down the road.. With a air scoop sticking out the window..

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Martiansky » Sun Sep 08, 2013 6:40 pm

Figjam, thanks for diagnosing my cooler problems!
I will look for a different fan and pump for it and add the hole to the topside of the drip ring.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Dr. Brap » Mon Sep 09, 2013 4:37 pm

Worked awesome. Made those afternoon delights much more delightful ha ha! The real downside though was spending too much time in the tent. Sorta feel like I missed out a little this year.

My fan battery was a bit on the weak side, fortunately I camped right up the street from Sno Kone Solar so I was able to put a charge on it each day.

A campmate contracted a mild case of heat stroke one afternoon. It took us a long time to make it back to camp and when we did I sat him down in a recliner with the cooler blowing right into his face. Lots of water and a few hours later he was good as new.

I ziptied my cooler pad to the bucket lid and sandwiched the drip line in between the two. This eliminated any gap at the pad and kept the ring right where it should be. And don't forget, two layers of pad are absolutely necessary!!!
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Canoe » Mon Sep 09, 2013 7:16 pm

Dr. Brap wrote:... I ziptied my cooler pad to the bucket lid and sandwiched the drip line in between the two. ...
Air leak from hole for zip ties?
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by jasonryan » Thu Sep 12, 2013 12:27 am

Hey all,

I just picked up the fan that Figjam recommends, the 190CFM Delta AFB1212SHE-CF00, from http://www.onlinecomponents.com for $22.84, which is considerably cheaper than the site he originally recommended a few years ago, frozencpu.com, which has it for $34.95:

http://www.onlinecomponents.com/delta-p ... p=44522398

With tax and shipping, it came to $31.85. Frozencpu estimates their shipping to me would be $9.96, which, with tax, would put the total at nearly $50. Yikes! So I just wanted to pass that along.

DAMN is this fan powerful. I was shocked when I turned it on. Actually, it's pretty loud as well, just to warn ya. It's hard to think of a comparison. It's way louder than any "cpu" fan you've ever owned or heard, a very high-pitched whine, you know? I don't think I will mind it, as I slept with ear plugs on the playa every night this year. I've been looking around quite a bit and it's amazing how Fig found a fan with just the right everything--it's very efficient and it moves the most amount of air for the money. If you want to save a little bit, you can go down to the Delta AFB1212SHE-4F1C and get it from jameco.com, because they apparently have a factory overrun so they are selling them for $3.95 (but you have to place a minimum $10 order). That fan puts out 152CFM and it uses 0.75 amps, instead of the 1.25 amps put out by the CF00, but get this--they are both rated at about 55 decibels! Go figure. I would be interested to know the real world difference between these two fans, though. Do you think there would be a measurable difference in the air temp coming out of the cooler (ie. 75 deg instead of 71 deg)? Or does the extra 38 CFM just allow you to cool a bigger area because it can exchange air more rapidly and thus keep the overall average temperature of the space lower? I am planning on using this on my 8ft x 8ft x 6ft dome tent (not exactly sure of the cubic feet there--I am guessing 300)--I wonder if the slower fan would have been ok? I do like the fact that the 152CFM fan uses half an amp less power--that is significant, especially if you are planning on using your deep cycle battery for other things.

Here are the two data sheets, btw:

190CFM:
http://www.delta-america.com/Products/F ... 00%29-.pdf

152CFM:
https://www.jameco.com/Jameco/Products/ ... 162880.pdf

The $3.95 fan might be right for you if you are planning on building 2 or 3 of these coolers for your camp mates, perhaps. I leave it to you. Decisions, decisions!

By the way, seeing as I was usually going to sleep around 4am, when it was still cold, and waking up around 11am when it was pretty muggy, I'm thinking it would be nice to have a way to turn this cooler on when the outside temperature reaches a certain point (or maybe the inside temp). Anybody got any ideas? I'm sure, with enough effort, I could figure out how to solder up a temperature sensing DC switch, but maybe there is an off the shelf solution already?

-Jason

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Meat Hunter » Thu Sep 12, 2013 2:05 am

Jason,

They do make user-settable 12v thermostats that would turn your cooler on and off at predetermined temperature settings.

When I lived in Las Vegas 43 years ago, I purchased one locally and it worked flawlessly.

I am sure that you can find one and when you do, please let us know.

Which water pump did you use?

Meat Hunter

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by fernley1 » Thu Sep 12, 2013 7:04 am

Thanks Jasonryan for the fan link. Got my fan on order this morning.
Going to sleep in next year!

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by FIGJAM » Thu Sep 12, 2013 7:11 am

Rule of thumb for coolers: The more air you can move the better the cooler.

The 190 CFM is the best balance of CFM for the power invested.

And we can thank ConnieH for finding it. 8)
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by asr9754 » Thu Sep 12, 2013 1:20 pm

@Jason,
I wired a simple On-Off toggle switch into the battery lines with plenty of extra wire, and ran the wires thru a gap in the window frame of my trailer, so the switch was inside the trailer right next to the bed. When the morning sun got too hot and woke me up, I rolled over and hit the switch, and went back to sleep! The swamp cooler gets cold very quick. A thermostat would be even more fancy, but my roll-over and switch technique helped me stay rested and saved power b/c I only ran the thing when my body knew it was too hot to sleep.

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Jyman » Thu Sep 12, 2013 1:41 pm

Canoe wrote:
Jyman wrote: I had 2 exhaust windows with furnace filters (yes they faced the correct way) and to help exhaust I would sometimes crack the door. When the heat outside was kickin, from 85-95, I never got below 74 inside my Yurt. ... I guess my yurt may have been absorbing more outside heat and has more cubic feet than Figjams playapod for example. Can anyone think of why I didn't get even better results?
Some points to consider, and some questions:
  • your yurt walls reflect heat away, really really well, and they're insulated - so no to absorbing more heat
    (many have their yurt largely sealed up to keep hot air out, and what heat is inside is somewhat absorbed into the cooler ground)
  • (looking at box to yurt connection on the outside photo, I can't clearly tell how your box was made, etc.) any chance hot air was getting sucked into your cooler box without passing through the pads?
  • exhaust impeded by the furnace filters - reduced flow (I'm strongly suspecting this one)
  • cooler appears to be sitting on an angle (illusion?), any possibility that part of the pad didn't have adequate water flow so it had a dry spot for hot dry air to pass through to the inside?
Something I'm beginning to suspect for a lot of yurts: hot air rises and stays in the roof area, radiating heat downwards - if there was a duct from your exhaust vent up to near the peak of the roof, then the incoming swamp-cooler air would be pushing out near 100% of the hot air, starting with the hottest air near the peak.
swamp-cooler shelter venting airflow - side vs. top intake.png
Thanks Canoe! Those are great points. I put down some details about my box construction on page 78 http://eplaya.burningman.org/viewtopic. ... start=2310

-As you said, yurt walls seem very efficient, but my pals yurt with no a/c still hit the high 80's. I was avg 72-75.
-I think my box had a pretty good seal in all areas. The lid was my weakest link, though it still was sealed w/o any openings. If by chance my pads weren't fully wet, it's because I need more irrigation holes, though I checked throughout and the pads didn't have dry spots, but the bottom did seem more soaked than the top.
-Furnace filters do get clogged during the week, but this was a minimal year for dustiness and though I brought extra filters to switch out, I was too caught up to bother using them. I figured leaving my door cracked would allow air to escape fine if the filters were not doing the job. I agree, this may have been the main culprate.
-It looks like my cooler is on an angle because my trash can case has a slight taper. I butted the fan side flush against the yurt wall for a good seal, and to compensate for the taper. But it didn't effect my pads wetness, they were still fine. The taper was so slight that the base was barely tilted.

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Jyman » Thu Sep 12, 2013 1:53 pm

dragonpilot wrote:
="Jyman" I never got below 74 inside my Yurt. ]
Jeebus! I never got below 90...and yer complaining? :D

Problem living in the Pacific NW we can't test our coolers until we're on the playa...no more Mr Nice Guy...next year I'm kicking a 6500 watt generator! :mrgreen:
:D To quote myself I did say,"can I complain? No". It was great, we could crash in the daytime fine. Our camp-mates would stumble in and crash on the ground just in the doorway to enjoy a nap.

Though I'm sure you could dig that after all the time spent on this thing I still strive for max effect, especially when others are reporting better results. I used a side-draft type box cooler with the endless breeze fan though. If you were only getting down to 90, is it cause you used a smaller home-depot-type bucket cooler? With an 8' yurt being around 860 cubic feet, I went with a 900 cfm fan. I'd much prefer this 12v system to a generator / AC combo. The battery has served 2 burns, lasts all week, and doesn't require lugging gas. It's also dead silent.

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by jasonryan » Thu Sep 12, 2013 8:34 pm

Meat Hunter wrote:Jason,

They do make user-settable 12v thermostats that would turn your cooler on and off at predetermined temperature settings.

When I lived in Las Vegas 43 years ago, I purchased one locally and it worked flawlessly.

I am sure that you can find one and when you do, please let us know.

Which water pump did you use?
Heheh, you know, after I posted about making my own, I thought about it a little more and was like... yeah, of course they make thermostats. They must. But it turns out, it's quite a bit harder to find one for DC, or at least a simple one. They *do* make ones for RVs, but those seemed very expensive. The trick is finding the right price. So far, this is the best I've found:



Pretty simple to wire that up to the bucket. I'll try to look again once more real soon and if I can't find anything cheaper, I'll probably go with that.

I also saw a post on this thread about somebody wiring up a phototransistor to switch it on when it gets light outside--that is also something to consider.

As to the water pump, I went with the harbor freight solar pump at first, and, ironically, I had a similar problem that many others had... the holes in my halo were too big. I didn't have 10 gauge wire, so I used the bottom of a drill bit that was the same diameter as the wire (I heated it on a flame and burned the holes with it). As I continued to make holes, the bit built up some melted plastic on it which increased its diameter, which ended up making my holes just too big for the pump to build up adequate pressure. At first I didn't think the pump was strong enough, so in my haste I found this pump on eBay and ordered it:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/261213457364?ss ... 1439.l2649

But then I remembered I had an AC pond pump that was really strong AND had a flow rate dial on it--150GPH. Hooked it up to test and, nope, still not enough pressure, at which point I realized the holes were too big. Now it's too late to return the HF pump ($27 bucks) because I ended up cutting the cord in half and using some of it to wire the fan, lol.

Oh well, I didn't like that the pump was 7 volts anyway--makes it more complicated to wire in with the fan (you have to get a voltage reducer). At $8.99, the pump from eBay puts out 93GPH. I think the one that Fig recommends from greenlivingforu.com only pushes 68GPH and they want $45 for it!! Yikes. So do some searching guys, you can find a good deal out there for a 12VDC pump. Btw, to convert liters per hour to gallons per hour, just divide by 3.74.

So now I need to make a new halo with smaller holes. I am going to start with 12 gauge wire and go up from there if necessary. Can always make the holes bigger!

-Jason

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by asr9754 » Thu Sep 12, 2013 9:58 pm

Jason's cheap Ebay pump is the one I used and it was perfect. So cheap, I bought 2 in case the first one died, but it lasted all week so now I have a spare for 2014.

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