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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silverfish
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by silverfish » Sat Jan 24, 2015 2:36 am

I made my first bucked cooler for the '14 event. It was both a success and a failure.

Things learned:

1. Don't let the pads touch the sides of the bucket!
- I let the sides touch and created a new design in the process - the bucket in a planter design. I drilled holes in the bottom of the bucket and let the water rest in the planter and flow freely back into the bucket. The worked great and since the planter is the same height as the bucket it provided dust protection. In short this worked, but it was unnecessary.
2. Don't buy Aspen pads.
- they also worked, but the required extra work (like making a filer for the pump so it didn't clog.(a cut up water bottle and some pantyhose)) get the blue ones instead.
3. My fan/blower was just okay, I need a more powerful one.
- I got an "Attwood Blower H20 Resist (White, 3-Inch - $20)" and it helped us sleep in about 2 hours later. We hardly evaporated any water (2-3 gallons in five days of 4 hr/day use). The air coming out was noticeably cooler (about 20-25 degrees), but I don't think the fan moved enough air.(Our tent was 10'x 9' and 6' tall at the apex) The blower itself worked fine along with some 3" flexible ducting to pipe the air into our tent. The website for the blower says it moves 90-100 CFM - not enough for our tent. Next time more air moving power. We also covered the tent with a 70% aluminet tarp, and used sun reflecting tarps under the aluminet on the morning sun side - a space blanket, a silver tarp and some reflectix.
4. Solar works - for a price.
- I elected to get a 12 volt 18 Ah Rechargeable Deep cycle battery ($25) and use solar to power it. I also bought a ALLPOWERS® 18V 14W Portable Foldable Solar Panel ($70) and a
Patuoxun 10A 12V/24V Solar Charge Controller ($13). These all worked together quite well for about 4 hours a day. I was drawing about 3 amps/hr.
5. Electricity - amps matter and so do volts.
- I used to think about electricity in terms of watts. But in building this system I learned that everything needed to be 12 Volts DC for compatibility (your house is 120 Volt AC, very different and not compatible.) The next thing I learned is that I needed to think in amp hours and amps for power consumption - not watts. My fan draws 2.5-3 amps and my pump (Huhushop(TM) Solar DC 12V 24V Hot Water Circulation Pump - $22) draws about .5 amps. So i was using 3 - 3.5 amps per hour. My battery had 18 amp hours - but you don't want to discharge it past 50% - so I had 9 useable amp hours, divided by 3 amps per hour equals 3 hs of power till discharge. But when the sun is up my solar panel kicks in for 1.5-2 amps and charges when the cooler isn't in use. In practice this allowed the swap cooler to run almost as much as we liked - it did die once due to low battery power.
6. There is no $5 bucket cooler.
- Any real solution is going to cost a lot more. I ended up spending $215 including the solar panel and battery. And I am going to upgrade the fan next year, probably a Fan-Tastic 01100WH Endless Breeze - $68 (or $48 more than the fan used last year). That or get a couple of the computer fans.

I added a switch box to separate the fan and pump and add the ability to turn off the system without disconnecting it. Wiring it came with some help from an engineer.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this thread. There is a lot of great info here. Also if anybody wants to make suggestions or ask questions - fire away!

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FIGJAM
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by FIGJAM » Sat Jan 24, 2015 8:25 am

This is the fan I use for the bucket cooler.

http://www.amazon.com/Delta-Electronics ... B004XJLOG8

It will cool a space of about 600 cu. ft.

The fan and pump combined use 2amps per hour.

I built 2 for some overseas burners last year and they loved them.

The EB fan is for a larger cooler that will cool up to 3000 cu.ft. on high speed and will use about 3amps. 8)
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dragonpilot
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by dragonpilot » Thu Feb 05, 2015 4:01 pm

That's the fan I have. I just received the recommended garden pump for the bucket cooler from Amazon, hooked it up to battery and ZOWEY! My solar-powered pump had nowhere near this output, so I'm hoping this will raise my cooling quotient...won't know until I get to the playa.
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SourPatch
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by SourPatch » Wed Feb 18, 2015 2:33 pm

SourPatch wrote:... On a separate note, I was reading about adding essential oils to your evap cooler in order to make your living space smell good. I will try a combination of tea tree oil, lemongrass, and eucalyptus. Tea tree oil is supposed to inhibit mold/mildew too.
I just want to report that the essential oils worked really nicely and our tent smelled like a spa. It became a nice oasis of perfumed humidity that provided our skin and nostrils a deserved break from the playa.
Overkill or go home.

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SourPatch
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by SourPatch » Thu Feb 19, 2015 9:00 am

FIGJAM wrote:This is the new "best choice" that I've found at a fraction of the cost of the original!!! 8)
http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/261351083541?lpid=82
I trusted you, FIGJAM, and got a similar pump on Ebay (http://www.ebay.com/itm/1pc-Mini-DC-12V ... 1431156285) for only $4.34 shipped.

I received the pump yesterday, and was surprised by its tiny size (about 2.25" x 1.5" x 2"). I was skeptical it could pump liquid over 9.8 feet high as the seller claims, so I immediately connected a hose, dunked it in water, and hooked it to my battery.

WOW!

The vinyl hose I have is not long enough to reach that high, but I can attest that at 4 feet high, the pump delivers a very good amount of water. For sure plenty for my evap cooler. Great find FIGJAM. Thank you!

Image
Overkill or go home.

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FIGJAM
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by FIGJAM » Thu Feb 19, 2015 9:47 am

You're welcome.

At that price, I recommend getting a couple in case you need a backup! 8)
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MFOB
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by MFOB » Fri Feb 20, 2015 10:10 am

Alright, so I took it apart and drilled out the shaft hole. Flipped it and fired it up. No deals, I think it was correct.


I just figured out the when I flipped it, it was blowing harder, I just had it connected to the wrong terminals on the battery. Duh
These angles are all fenced up!

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FIGJAM
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by FIGJAM » Fri Feb 20, 2015 11:14 am

Yes, polarity is important. 8)
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Punchitchewy
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Punchitchewy » Sun Mar 01, 2015 5:57 pm

Hello!

Thanks so much for this thread, tons of great info!

I'm going to build a swamp cooler, I'm a complete newb, and I understand how to build the actual cooler, but I'm struggling to find all of the required information to understand the specifics of how the power supply works and how everything is all connected.

Is there a breakdown somewhere in this thread, or somewhere else, that goes in to detail about how the solar panels are connected to the battery and the pump?

I'm sure I could find the info if I scrolled endlessly, but this route seems much quicker!

I understand that you can use a solar panel, which I will, but I don't understand exactly how the deep cycle battery and solar panel are connected, and then how those things are connected to the pump….

Little help?

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FIGJAM
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by FIGJAM » Sun Mar 01, 2015 8:02 pm

I don't use solar, so I just connect the cooler direct to the battery.

If you use solar, then the panel connects to the battery to trickle charge, and the cooler connects to the battery to run. 8)
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Punchitchewy
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Punchitchewy » Sun Mar 01, 2015 8:35 pm

ok, sorry to pester, but I'm curious as to specifically how the cooler connects to the battery?

I assume that there is a standard wall plug coming off the pump and fan (and I've read that you can just splice the pump and fan wires together), but then what is on the end of that wire? Do you just strip the wire coating and wrap the exposed wire around the battery terminals?

And if I were to use a solar panel to trickle charge, does that mean that there are alligator clips coming off the solar panel that I hook up to the battery terminals?

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FIGJAM
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by FIGJAM » Mon Mar 02, 2015 6:27 am

Big alligator clips will work for connecting the cooler to the battery.
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LowePro
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by LowePro » Mon Mar 02, 2015 11:37 am

Regarding the solar and battery hookup. Safety-third--don't connect anything to the battery until you know what you're doing. Don't cross any Pos and Negative wires.

For the swamp cooler, It works like this: The fan and the pump will come with + wire and a - wire (Usually Red+ and Black-). There is no wall plug.

Splice together the positive wire from the fan and the positive wire from the pump. Connect this to the battery positive terminal
Splice together the NEGATIVE wire from the fan and the NEG wire from the pump; Connect this to the battery Negative terminal.
(you can strip a bit of insulation of the wires and wrap them together, then splice to a gator-clip, available from AutoZhop).
Your fan and pump should start running now.

For the solar panel:
The panel will be rated for Volts (V) and Watts (W)
1) Make sure you get a 12Volt panel. For Watts you'll want 5 at an absolute minimum and up to 50W or more, depending on your power needs. 5W will just barely trickle charge the battery, good for light usage only. If you are running lights or other electronics off your battery, you might need 50 or 100W panel to survive the week. Those are just general guidelines that depend on the rest of your setup.
2) Depending on the Wattage of your panel, you *may* need a charge controller. Generally they say up to about 10W you don't need a charge controller. Higher than 10W, you should use one. The charge controller is just a little box that regulates the flow of energy. They are available online or an electronics shop <$20. Some panels may come with a charge controller installed, in this case, disregard the next paragraph.

Assuming you do use a charge controller: Turn the solar panel over so it is NOT facing the sun. Take the Positive wire from the solar panel, Connect it to the charge controller Positive Input. Then connect the Black wire (Negative) from solar panel to Negative Input on Charge controller.

The connect a wire from Positive Output of charge controller to Positive Battery terminal.
And another wire from the negative output from charge controller to Negative battery terminal.

Once it's all hooked up, then turn over the panel so it's facing the sun. Now you are charging the battery.
Each component has positive and negative, make sure to keep them properly aligned. If you're a more visual person, here's a diagram showing the connection and the flow of power.

PANEL Positive----> Charge controller Pos----> Battery Pos ----> (Fan Pos and Pump Pos)

PANEL Negative----> Charge controller Neg ---> Battery Neg ---->(Fan Neg and Pump Neg)

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Punchitchewy » Mon Mar 02, 2015 2:53 pm

asr9754 wrote:Regarding the solar and battery hookup. Safety-third--don't connect anything to the battery until you know what you're doing. Don't cross any Pos and Negative wires.

For the swamp cooler, It works like this: The fan and the pump will come with + wire and a - wire (Usually Red+ and Black-). There is no wall plug.

Splice together the positive wire from the fan and the positive wire from the pump. Connect this to the battery positive terminal
Splice together the NEGATIVE wire from the fan and the NEG wire from the pump; Connect this to the battery Negative terminal.
(you can strip a bit of insulation of the wires and wrap them together, then splice to a gator-clip, available from AutoZhop).
Your fan and pump should start running now.

For the solar panel:
The panel will be rated for Volts (V) and Watts (W)
1) Make sure you get a 12Volt panel. For Watts you'll want 5 at an absolute minimum and up to 50W or more, depending on your power needs. 5W will just barely trickle charge the battery, good for light usage only. If you are running lights or other electronics off your battery, you might need 50 or 100W panel to survive the week. Those are just general guidelines that depend on the rest of your setup.
2) Depending on the Wattage of your panel, you *may* need a charge controller. Generally they say up to about 10W you don't need a charge controller. Higher than 10W, you should use one. The charge controller is just a little box that regulates the flow of energy. They are available online or an electronics shop <$20. Some panels may come with a charge controller installed, in this case, disregard the next paragraph.

Assuming you do use a charge controller: Turn the solar panel over so it is NOT facing the sun. Take the Positive wire from the solar panel, Connect it to the charge controller Positive Input. Then connect the Black wire (Negative) from solar panel to Negative Input on Charge controller.

The connect a wire from Positive Output of charge controller to Positive Battery terminal.
And another wire from the negative output from charge controller to Negative battery terminal.

Once it's all hooked up, then turn over the panel so it's facing the sun. Now you are charging the battery.
Each component has positive and negative, make sure to keep them properly aligned. If you're a more visual person, here's a diagram showing the connection and the flow of power.

PANEL Positive----> Charge controller Pos----> Battery Pos ----> (Fan Pos and Pump Pos)

PANEL Negative----> Charge controller Neg ---> Battery Neg ---->(Fan Neg and Pump Neg)


Exactly the info I was looking for, thank you so much!!

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Bless
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Bless » Thu Mar 12, 2015 9:26 pm

Is this an epic swamp cooler?

Image
Gary Brown, a retired computer technician who has lived for six years at Slab City, in a solar operated "cool cave" he built to survive the summer temperatures.

http://nyti.ms/1AgACWv
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Koumori
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Koumori » Fri Apr 03, 2015 9:52 am

Figjam,

How much water does your Unicooler use per day/hour?

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FIGJAM
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by FIGJAM » Fri Apr 03, 2015 10:05 am

When it's driest and hottest, about 3/4 of a gallon per hour. 8)
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FIGJAM
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by FIGJAM » Mon Apr 06, 2015 1:16 pm

Apparently this was a program that aired 2 weeks ago on a weather channel show called "Brainstormers"!!! :shock:

http://www.weather.com/tv/shows/brainst ... oler-build
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by cobraearl » Mon Apr 13, 2015 3:29 pm

Out in the South East we dont use Evap coolers due to high humidity.... Can you set it in the middle of your yurt, or van IF you have some fresh air coming in??? I assume in a PERFECTLY SEALED room it would cease to work when the room humidity got really high.

LowePro
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by LowePro » Mon Apr 13, 2015 3:33 pm

A yurt or vehicle is pretty well sealed, even if a window is cracked. It really works much better if the swampie is outside and the air flow is ducted into your structure. Also you need a vent to let some air pressure escape from the inside of your structure. It's not like a normal air conditioner where you want the structure sealed up tight, you need some air flow in and out for the cooling effect to work.

If the swampie is inside the structure, the cooling effect gets maxed out pretty quickly and you won't see much drop in temperature. If for some reason it's really impossible to have the swampie inside, at least place it near a vent or open window so it can suck in some fresh air.

jimthompsonmd
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by jimthompsonmd » Sun Apr 19, 2015 6:14 pm

More precisely, it's the supply air that needs to be outside air.

It does not matter where the physical unit is. In fact, if the unit is inside, the efficiency would improve b/c there is less heat gain from the sun for both the water and the rest of the components.

Of course, if you are using a bucket design evap cooler where the air comes in through holes in the side, the unit would have to sit inside some other completely enclosed box which was in turn drawing in the supply air from the outside via a vent of some type...bucket in a box w/ a vent through the wall or something.

spectrabrite
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by spectrabrite » Mon Apr 20, 2015 9:33 pm

Hi I am currently working on my bucket cooler and was thinking about using a small boat bilge pump as they can run dry without burning up

what do you think of this? I have a 200cfm fan already

http://www.amazon.com/Shoreline-Marine- ... bilge+pump

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FIGJAM
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by FIGJAM » Mon Apr 20, 2015 9:37 pm

What is the power consumption???

That is my only concern.
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spectrabrite
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by spectrabrite » Mon Apr 20, 2015 9:55 pm

The current draw varies based on the lift or head height you wish to pump the water up to. It is supposed to be a 25 watt pump, drawing 2-2.5 amps

there is also one that is a little smaller that draws 1.5 - 2a

I am not to worried about the draw, more worried about falling asleep and the pump dry death on day 1

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FIGJAM
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by FIGJAM » Mon Apr 20, 2015 11:20 pm

The pumps I've been using are .3 to .5 amps.

Shouldn't be to hard to rig a float switch to shut down when the waters low.
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LowePro
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by LowePro » Tue Apr 21, 2015 9:38 am

That bilge pump is big, far more than needed for a bucket cooler. That bilge pump has the output on the side and it might not even fit in the bucket when you have the blue fiber rolls and the tubing all packed in there. It takes a 1inch hose, that's too big.

The pump recommended on this thread, and I've used for 2 years now is about 1 inch cube and takes only a sip of energy. Got it from ebay for about $7. Search for "12V dc mini pump". Order 2 for a backup plan. It uses smaller tubing that fits well in the bucket cooler. Add a $2 float switch if you want. I tried this but it took up too much room in the bucket and got tangled in the wires, so I gave up on the float switch. As long as you fill up the bucket with a few gallons before using, you should be fine for 3-4 hours. You don't want to leave it running while you're not at camp anyway.

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Captain Goddammit
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by Captain Goddammit » Tue Apr 21, 2015 11:11 am

FIGJAM wrote:When it's driest and hottest, about 3/4 of a gallon per hour. 8)
Oh now wait a minute, thats a bubble burster!!!
Thats way more gallons per hour of fuel than my Honda generator uses to run a real air conditioner!
And gasoline weighs a little less than water, too.

The bucket cooler still makes sense for a tent but depending on the application, that water consumption rate doesn't compare well with the generator-A/C plan.
GreyCoyote: "At this rate it wont be long before he is Admiral Fukkit."

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by LowePro » Tue Apr 21, 2015 11:28 am

Depending on the application, yes. But if you don't own a genny and/or AC unit, the swampie is a great solution with many perks.
I reuse leftover water from melted cooler ice. I take extra clean cooler water from my camper buddies, they are usually happy to get rid of it (add 2 drops of bleach per gal). I don't pack in extra water for the sake of the swampie. Generator + AC + fuel cans are heavy and expensive, swampie cost me $30 and a few hours of time. Deep cycle battery is about $100. Overall the swampie system is cheaper, smaller, gets rid of excess water that I would otherwise have to deal with. Plus it humidifies the air which is a nice bonus in the desert. Differt Strokes for Differt Folks 8)

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AzJames
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Post by AzJames » Tue May 05, 2015 12:58 pm

Another plus of a bucket cooler is the dust filter effect. I ran two bucket coolers and lived almost dust free in my 14' dome the entire burn! Try that with an AC unit, plus playa dust inside of an AC sounds like a shortened life $$$.

worldjoe
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Timer wiring and electric question

Post by worldjoe » Fri May 08, 2015 6:02 pm

I had trouble understanding the timer switch. I bought the 4 hour timer:


I blew a fuse on my van because I didn't understand the terminology. So here are instructions on how to wire the timer.
Definitions:
Load = power coming out
Line = power coming in

That means:
Connect the red wire connected to your battery to the Line
Connect the red (power) wire of your pump to the Load

Now for my question.

If I connect both the fan and the pump to the load line on the timer then run that to the battery, will both the fan and the pump getting enough power? Or will they run with less power, and be less effective?

Followup, if I connect the power line to a car outlet adaptor is that going to result in less power? I bought one of these:
http://www.intertexelectronics.com/Phil ... P8455.aspx

Thanks,
Joseph Elwell.

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