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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Gazmatron
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Gazmatron » Tue Jul 08, 2014 6:21 am

Great thread, thanks for all the info!

Thought I’d share an idea I had for making a 2 stage indirect/direct evaporative cooler. I appreciate it would add complexity, but I thought it might be fun to try. That’s if I’ve understood the theory correctly!

Assuming you used a box arrangement. Imagine a hole in one side, against which you mount a fan and small radiator (e.g. from an old bike or car heater core). For the fan I was thinking something like the one Figjam used, or maybe
http://www.noctua.at/main.php?show=prod ... g=en&set=1
Something that produces high static pressure basically…

The water pump would connect first to the radiator inlet, and then from the outlet of the radiator to the sprinkler hose for the cooler pads. The water would cool across the pads, and then in turn cool the radiator, thus cooling the incoming air.

The cooler pad would be mounted across the middle of the box, and (if necessary) a second fan on the opposite side of the box to improve static pressure… So in series you would have radiator & fan -> pads -> fan -> duct -> tent. Alternatively, if you had a good fan, the pads could be just mounded on the opposite side, something like the unicooler.

Because the dry air hitting the pads is already pre-cooled by (in theory) 10-15 degrees, the wet-bulb temperature for the 2nd stage is lower. The pads won’t be quite as efficient with the cooler air, but the combined effect of both stages should result in a greater overall temperature drop than direct cooling alone. Because cooler air holds less moisture, a potential advantage is that the air in your tent would be less humid (though that’s possibly not a big deal in the grand scheme of Playa things!;)

You can pick up an old heater core for less than $20 on ebay, so other than needing a reasonable pump and fan I don’t think it would add much in the way of expense.

A big unknown for me is how much a radiator would affect the air flow and whether a bigger fan/more power would be required. I’ve seen figures for car radiators of about 5mmH2O. I have an old bike radiator in my garage that I’ll try and test – that should be less restrictive than a car radiator or heater core.

I'm also curious whether the system would achieve a given amount of cooling for less water than an equivilent single-stage cooler?

I plan to build a bucket cooler first so I know I have something that works, but if I have time I’m tempted to give it a go. Any thoughts?

jwfold7777
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by jwfold7777 » Wed Jul 09, 2014 6:29 am

Anybody have any insight on flying with Cooler components? TSA hassles? practical advice?

Instead of driving 32 hours from Michigan, my wiser wife decreed we are flying.

Living in LA made this aspect of my life easier. :?

Gazmatron
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Gazmatron » Wed Jul 09, 2014 7:37 am

jwfold7777 wrote:Anybody have any insight on flying with Cooler components? TSA hassles? practical advice?

Instead of driving 32 hours from Michigan, my wiser wife decreed we are flying.

Living in LA made this aspect of my life easier. :?
Assuming your cooler uses the same components as the bucket cooler, you shouldn't have any issues. I’ve travelled with all manner of electronics without any problems. My advice would be to put all wires, fans, pumps and unusual electronic items in your checked luggage. Partly for convenience, but also because I suspect that airport security can, at their discretion, stop you carrying items that other passengers may perceive to be a threat, even if they are safe and legal. I haven’t be able to verify that officially though. Last year flying to BM a security official in Sydney took me to one side and politely asked me not to open my carry-on bag in view of other passengers for fear that the contents looked so dodgy it might start a panic… The TSA may not be so accommodating.

The above advice excludes batteries. Certain types and sizes of batteries are prohibited/have special restrictions. Don’t, for example, try taking a car battery on a plane! ;)

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by LowePro » Wed Jul 09, 2014 8:56 am

@ Gazmo
Interesting idea w/ the radiator. Couple thoughts: running water thru a radiator, you'd have more friction and constriction, so may need a more powerful pump. test test test. Humidity from the swamp coolers at Bman is a nice fringe benefit. You also have to have an exhaust opening or vent in your structure or swamp cooler doesn't work, so the humidity doesn't build up much inside anyway. Humidity is a non-issue IMO.
Hot air running over the radiator would heat up the water, then this warmer water is being used in your evap process, I wonder if the warmer water would cancel out any benefit of the 2-stage cooling design?
What about using the radiator on the outflowing air side? You'd maximize the efficiency of the Evap-stage (because hotter air cools at a more efficient rate), and you wouldn't warm up the radiator water as much. Just a thought. In this method, there would be condensation on the radiator b/c the air passing over the coils is humid, so do something to catch the dripping, or build the radiator in the interior of the box. Test it and let us know! Sounds like it might get you another few degrees drop in air temp.

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by fresh » Wed Jul 09, 2014 9:01 am

Excuse me in advance for I know that this must have been covered over the 2500+ posts in here, but a search brings up way too many results....

I have the classic 5 gallon bucket cooler which has made the trip to the playa the past two years and currently resides in our camp storage in Gerlach. I previously used this for my 10x10 kodiak tent. This year I have purchase a 1997 Ford Club Wagon, one of those 16 person giant behemoths. I figured that it would become my main sleeping quarters for this burn since it is quite large and will help in muffling the loud music of our camp. I still have much to figure out in regards to customizing and pimpin it out.

What I am curious is how to vent in my evap cooler duct hose with my van. I have used a collapsible flexible 4' long 5" wide hose from a portable AC unit as my transport method. How can I get this to run into the van?!? Is there a known method to get the air intake into the van? Do I go through a half opened window and block the rest with plastic sheeting or something similar?!? I thought about doing this with the side pop out windows and use a different duct system?? I also thought about removing one of the back small fixed windows and building something custom to replace window with wood panel.

I could create a new cooler based on the box design and custom built into the corner of the van utilizing a vent to replace the small window, but my time to prep is getting shorter every day..


Any input and advice is warmly (or shall I say Cool-ly) appreciated.

fresh
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LowePro
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by LowePro » Wed Jul 09, 2014 9:15 am

Freshy, You can use a piece of foiled foam insulation board, cut it to fit into a window opening on your vehicle. (Duct tape around the edges of the cuts to prevent moop). Cut it just a hair too big and then you can wedge this foam into the window sill. Cut a round hole to fit the duct tube from your swamp cooler. Voila. Keep the circular disk of foam and you can use it to plug the hole when not in use.

The best thing for you is to get the top of the swamp cooler as close to the window as possible (A long duct tube adds friction and lets your brand new cold air heat back up). So pick a window that doesn't require a long duct, ideally close to your bed, or use a small table or other prop to lift the bucket cooler higher and closer to the window vent. You'll also need to crack another window on the opposing side of the vehicle while the cooler is running or the cooling effect won't work--you need an exhaust vent.

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Swope904
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Swope904 » Wed Jul 09, 2014 9:24 am

Are these more effective when you treat outside playa air? Or inside Yourt,Tent,Van?

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by fresh » Wed Jul 09, 2014 9:54 am

asr9754 wrote:Freshy, You can use a piece of foiled foam insulation board, cut it to fit into a window opening on your vehicle. (Duct tape around the edges of the cuts to prevent moop). Cut it just a hair too big and then you can wedge this foam into the window sill. Cut a round hole to fit the duct tube from your swamp cooler. Voila. Keep the circular disk of foam and you can use it to plug the hole when not in use.

The best thing for you is to get the top of the swamp cooler as close to the window as possible (A long duct tube adds friction and lets your brand new cold air heat back up). So pick a window that doesn't require a long duct, ideally close to your bed, or use a small table or other prop to lift the bucket cooler higher and closer to the window vent. You'll also need to crack another window on the opposing side of the vehicle while the cooler is running or the cooling effect won't work--you need an exhaust vent.

Thanks Asr!!! Foiled foam board!!! Perfect! With an elevated cooler that setup should work! I do wish i brought the cooler home with me to work on alterations!!!
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Dactylion
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Re: Re: Unicooler

Post by Dactylion » Wed Jul 09, 2014 10:00 am

>> NOW INTRODUCING THE UNICOOLER!!!!!!!

Thanks so much for the suggestion, Fig Jam!!! I've gone ahead and built one from a "Genuine Joe" trash can and I think it will make a big difference.

ONE WORD OF CAUTION ABOUT THE "ENDLESS BREEZE" FANS:
The one I bought from Camping World had a MAJOR FLAW and I don't think it is limited to just this one. Somebody at the factory really screwed up and molded the blades exactly backwards from the way they should be facing! I disassembled the fan to attach it to the cooler box and I noticed that the airfoil shapes of the blades were 180 degrees flipped! If you look at any plastic fan you'll notice that the blades are shaped like an airplane's wing-- i.e., they have a fat leading edge and a thinner trailing edge and the underside surface will be flat or slightly cupped. This shape takes advantage of several aerodynamic principles to increase the efficiency of any fan. But the way the blades in this Endless Breeze fan are molded is bass-ackwards! They have the fat edge as the trailing edge, the thin edge as the leading edge and the underside of the airfoil was curved outwards while the top of the airfoil was flat!
The way the hole for the shaft screw is molded you can't simply flip it over-- I had to dremel out the screw hole so it could go on the shaft the correct way. (If you do this just use a washer that's larger than the shaft under the screw to retain the fan.) Doing this almost DOUBLED the output of this fan!!! So they really screwed up at the factory. If you get one of these reversed fans you should call the factory and see if they can ship you a corrected blade assembly. It's worth it because it really is a great fan once the blades are turned around.
Last edited by Dactylion on Wed Jul 09, 2014 10:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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LowePro
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by LowePro » Wed Jul 09, 2014 10:01 am

NP. This is the exact setup I use (except w/ a travel trail, not a cargo van). I use a folding table to lift the swamp cooler, then bungee the whole table+bucket rig around the tire to keep wind from tipping it over. A cargo van is getting pretty big for the capacity of a swamp cooler--to make a nice sleeping chamber I suggest hanging a sheet or curtain around your bed to keep the cold air near you. Doesn't need to be totally enclosed, but if you can keep some of the cold air contained near the bed, it will help a lot. And foil off the rest of the windows. I got pretty good results this way with a single bucket cooler in a 17' trailer. It didn't cool the whole trailer, but kept the cordoned-off bed area delightful.

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by FIGJAM » Wed Jul 09, 2014 10:24 am

The inside space of the Club wagon should be smaller than the 10x10 tent, and because it's insulated, I think it will work great. 8)

Sill a good idea to cover the windows.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Gazmatron » Wed Jul 09, 2014 3:57 pm

asr9754 wrote:@ Gazmo
Interesting idea w/ the radiator. Couple thoughts: running water thru a radiator, you'd have more friction and constriction, so may need a more powerful pump. test test test. Humidity from the swamp coolers at Bman is a nice fringe benefit. You also have to have an exhaust opening or vent in your structure or swamp cooler doesn't work, so the humidity doesn't build up much inside anyway. Humidity is a non-issue IMO.
Hot air running over the radiator would heat up the water, then this warmer water is being used in your evap process, I wonder if the warmer water would cancel out any benefit of the 2-stage cooling design?
What about using the radiator on the outflowing air side? You'd maximize the efficiency of the Evap-stage (because hotter air cools at a more efficient rate), and you wouldn't warm up the radiator water as much. Just a thought. In this method, there would be condensation on the radiator b/c the air passing over the coils is humid, so do something to catch the dripping, or build the radiator in the interior of the box. Test it and let us know! Sounds like it might get you another few degrees drop in air temp.
Hey Asr,
Thanks for the feedback. Yep, a bit of trial and error would be required! Time isn’t on my side this year, but I’ll certainly report back if I get chance to try it.

I was thinking the sprinkler holes may be more restrictive than the radiator so in combination with a good pump, it might need a Y-piece and a ball-valve on the line so that the flow rate between the radiator and the sprinkler could be adjusted.

The evaporative cooling process is not affected by the temperature of the water. It’s purely down to humidity and temperature of the air. I had to double check that myself when I first looked at this as I’d seen a few people talking about adding ice to various designs and wanted to be sure.

I suggested the radiator first because that’s what all commercial 2-stage units I’ve seen do. I’ve not seen an official explanation, but I’m guessing it has to do with the effect of cooling on moist air. Once the air has passed through the pads it it’s holding as much moisture as it can for a given temperature. If you passed that moist air through a radiator some of the moisture would be forced out and form condensation. This could affect the flow of air through the radiator as the fins would fill with water. As I say, that’s a guess – there may be other, more scientific reasons!

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Gazmatron » Wed Jul 09, 2014 6:42 pm

Gazmatron wrote:
asr9754 wrote:@ Gazmo
Interesting idea w/ the radiator. Couple thoughts: running water thru a radiator, you'd have more friction and constriction, so may need a more powerful pump. test test test. Humidity from the swamp coolers at Bman is a nice fringe benefit. You also have to have an exhaust opening or vent in your structure or swamp cooler doesn't work, so the humidity doesn't build up much inside anyway. Humidity is a non-issue IMO.
Hot air running over the radiator would heat up the water, then this warmer water is being used in your evap process, I wonder if the warmer water would cancel out any benefit of the 2-stage cooling design?
What about using the radiator on the outflowing air side? You'd maximize the efficiency of the Evap-stage (because hotter air cools at a more efficient rate), and you wouldn't warm up the radiator water as much. Just a thought. In this method, there would be condensation on the radiator b/c the air passing over the coils is humid, so do something to catch the dripping, or build the radiator in the interior of the box. Test it and let us know! Sounds like it might get you another few degrees drop in air temp.
Hey Asr,
Thanks for the feedback. Yep, a bit of trial and error would be required! Time isn’t on my side this year, but I’ll certainly report back if I get chance to try it.

I was thinking the sprinkler holes may be more restrictive than the radiator so in combination with a good pump, it might need a Y-piece and a ball-valve on the line so that the flow rate between the radiator and the sprinkler could be adjusted.

The evaporative cooling process is not affected by the temperature of the water. It’s purely down to humidity and temperature of the air. I had to double check that myself when I first looked at this as I’d seen a few people talking about adding ice to various designs and wanted to be sure.

I suggested the radiator first because that’s what all commercial 2-stage units I’ve seen do. I’ve not seen an official explanation, but I’m guessing it has to do with the effect of cooling on moist air. Once the air has passed through the pads it it’s holding as much moisture as it can for a given temperature. If you passed that moist air through a radiator some of the moisture would be forced out and form condensation. This could affect the flow of air through the radiator as the fins would fill with water. As I say, that’s a guess – there may be other, more scientific reasons!
Was just thinking the logic of my radiator guess is somewhat tenuous as I was half asleep when I was typing! ;) I apologise for missing the point you had already made. ...My second guess is that the water temperature would be determined by the wet-bulb temp of the air across the cooler pads and in turn the radiator temp. If the radiator was after the pads the difference in temp between the air and the water wouldn’t be that great. However, by cooling the dry air first, the wet-bulb of the air hitting the pads is lower and thus the lowest temperature achievable via direct evaporation is lower.

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by LowePro » Wed Jul 09, 2014 8:10 pm

All good points (and no need to apologize!), interesting ideas and it all seems logical enough to put the system in the order you describe.
I'm curious how your tests go and if you get "super-cooled" air, keep us posted.

Seems that 1 of the 2 stages is going to be less efficient than it could be, because either cooling mechanism (evap or radiator/heat exchange) is most efficient when there is a significant difference between the air and the cooling medium (the wet cooler pad or the radiator). It's TBD if the second stage is effective enough to drop the air another few degrees, VS the added cost and complexity. Sounds like a fun project for you!

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Swope904 » Thu Jul 10, 2014 8:42 am

Copy and Paste

Are these more effective when you treat outside playa air? Or inside Yourt,Tent,Van

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by fresh » Thu Jul 10, 2014 9:12 am

FIGJAM wrote:The inside space of the Club wagon should be smaller than the 10x10 tent, and because it's insulated, I think it will work great. 8)

Sill a good idea to cover the windows.
Well I did a rough measurement of the interior. Since I got the XLT Super Duty behemoth, the interior is pushing about 500 cubic feet. approx 15.5 ft x 6 ft x 5 ft. My kodiak tent was between 650-700 cubic feet. Hopefully it will perform better in an insulated van than in a canvas tent. The fan i am using i believe is rated about 100cfm. I'm hoping that will suffice. I will put up some fabric/sheets to separate the front from the back...

I will probably add the standard septic conduit L from the cooler through the front window and the run the expandable conduit inside the van to get the cool air closer to my sleeping area in the back!!!
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FIGJAM
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by FIGJAM » Thu Jul 10, 2014 12:14 pm

I thought you had the 190CFM. :?

You will be much happier if you get one.

You want total air exchange every 1 to 3 minutes for best results. 8)
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Dr. Pyro » Thu Jul 10, 2014 12:26 pm

...I can't believe that now with over 2700 posts this question hasn't been answered yet...

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FIGJAM
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by FIGJAM » Thu Jul 10, 2014 12:35 pm

And over 400,000 views.

The answer is probably in the pile somewhere. :lol:
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Stochl » Thu Jul 10, 2014 8:55 pm

I found this fan, but a little cautious on the Amperage. I will be using the 5 gal bucket style cooler for a 10 x 10 Kodiak tent. Overkill maybe?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6835213001

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FIGJAM
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by FIGJAM » Thu Jul 10, 2014 9:05 pm

You're only getting 50 more CFM for almost an amp more power drain.

If power isn't an issue, go for it.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Breakdown » Mon Jul 14, 2014 1:33 pm

So, this post has been so very helpful. This year will be my 5th burn and my wife's 4th. Up until this year we always rented a camper trailer and I dragged that damn thing all the way to BRC from San Diego. This cost me $1500 for the trailer and God knows how much in extra gas. Well this year I talked my wife into not taking an RV. I've built a yurt, a swamp cooler, and a camp shower. Without the swamp cooler and shower there is no way my wife would have consented to not bringing an RV. Well, we did a test raising of the yurt and ran through all the electrical systems this weekend. And everything went off without a hitch. My only unknown is how well the swamp cooler will work since we're in SD coastal we don't get too many dry hot days. Anyhow, I have all the confidence in the world this will go as planned.

Attached are images from this weekend's build. Thanks Figam! I couldn't have done this without you!!!!

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by LowePro » Mon Jul 14, 2014 3:58 pm

Looking like a sharp setup!
Paint that black elbow pipe white or wrap it in foil tape and you'll keep your cold air cold(er), and/or set up the yurt w/ the swamp cooler in the shadow of the yurt.
And I assume you have a vent in the yurt on the opposite side or in the roof somewhere--there are some yurt experts that posted about yurt venting elsewhere on EPlaya. Gotta have an exhaust vent for the swamp cooler to do its job properly.

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by fernley1 » Mon Jul 14, 2014 7:43 pm

First test of my bucket cooler today.
it was 102 degrees, with about 20% humidity.
Temperature at the end of the black tube went down to 77 degrees, a 25 degree drop.

Thanks for this thread FIGJAM.

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by FIGJAM » Mon Jul 14, 2014 9:33 pm

Engineers are still telling me "It can't work"!!! :lol:
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Meat Hunter » Mon Jul 14, 2014 9:50 pm

FIGJAM,

Reminds me of the time a few years ago when I told my professional air conditioner repairman that I was building a walk in cooler, I was going to use a window A/C unit to cool down to 34 deg via. a micro-computer that would not violate the electronics of the A/C.

He said that it was absolutely and scientifically impossible for an off-the-shelf window A/C unit to cool lower than 65 deg - even after I told him about the micro computer.

Although I only cool down to 47 deg., it has shown me that it will maintain a constant 34 degrees; when I ask it to.

He came over a few years later and I took him out for a "chilling" visit -- Silence was all that I heard.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by jellyburner » Mon Jul 14, 2014 11:55 pm

Figjam,

With full credit to you, I led a free bucket build workshop this weekend for the Sacramento burner community. After a 7 hour marathon session, we have 9 new happy & excited cooler owners now!

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by FIGJAM » Tue Jul 15, 2014 6:19 am

8)
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Sassi3 » Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:35 am

Kudos Figjam,

I used your 5 gallon design last year and made a few small changes. I am certain your original design would have been superior so I am trying to go back to that.

The flaws I found with my changes were:
The Aspen pad. Nightmare. Major moop. I am trying to find the Duracool pads you speak of, but the ones I see on Amazon look to be much thinner. Can anyone recommend a different name or company?

I plan to upgrade my fan as well to one like you recommend to get that extra kick.

As I fly from the east coast, making that septic connector to direct the air takes up valuable container space. I used a dryer hose which was not particularly efficient as I lost a lot of air where it connected from the cover to the tube. The pro of the dryer tube was that I could direct the air right into my bed chamber. Any recommendations?

Thanks,
Sassi

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by HurtYurt » Wed Jul 16, 2014 12:48 pm

Hi!

I've previously built the unicooler for my hexayurt, and that has worked great, thanks to this awesome thread.
This year I'm bringing a 19' travel trailer, and I'm starting to build a new box cooler for it (bigger space to cool)

I'm looking for ideas on how to funnel the air from the box cooler into a side-window of the travel trailer.

I was thinking on using flexible duct meant for portable AC units, something like http://www.amazon.com/HDIUK-Portable-co ... B008D5581K.

But the fan is much wider than the flexible duct, so I'm looking for ideas on what to make a funnel out of? cloth?

Also, I was thinking of having the box cooler on the ground next to the trailer. I'm assuming that the endless breeze fan on mid or high speed is strong enough to push the air up into the trailer. Does anyone have any experience doing this? Problems ?

thanks!

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