DIY Bucket A/C

Like us, you've probably had this project pinned for some time. Anyone who has ever worked in a hot garage, in summer, in Florida knows that even a tiny hint of cold air is welcome relief! I wanted to try the project but didn't want to go to the expense and effort of ordering the needed styrofoam bucket liner that the project required.
I was on the lookout for something that would eliminate the need for the liner. As luck would have it, I found this insulated vertical drink cooler that would be perfect for only $2 at a yard sale. I already had the needed plastic tubing, fan, and hole saw cutter so the expense for this project was minimal!
- Insulated bucket (this was picked up from a yard sale for $2)
- Plastic or PVC tubing
- Tape to seal tubing (optional)
- Fan to fit top of bucket
- Jugs of ice
Watch the video!
Using a hole saw bit, drill three holes to match the diameter of the plastic tubing you are using near the bottom of the bucket. Mine was 2 1/8". In hindsight I should have drilled mine closer to the bottom. (I will plug the existing holes and re-drill them.) The theory for holes closer to the bottom is that cold air settles to the bottom. That way the fan is blowing out the coldest air possible. Science-go figure!
Cut three sections of plastic tubing or PVC pipe about 6" long. Place tubes into bucket. I did not secure mine, but they can be sealed into place with any number of products including wrap and seal tape.
To use:
Place frozen jugs of water into the bucket, place fan on top, turn on and enjoy the tiniest amount of cold air ever!
This really doesn't produce any discernible cooling of the surrounding area but if you are right in front of the tube vents, there is a noticeable cooling. I wouldn't say this is a fail as any sort of cooling in Florida is blessed relief but I wouldn't count on a DIY bucket A/C to keep you cool.
This was a fun project/experiment of a pinned project.
For more details and a how-to video visit our website!
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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 20 questions
  • Annette
    on Jul 9, 2019

    Would it be cooler if you add more pipes? I think this might be a little help in the tool shed when my husband is working in there. He plans on cutting a hole in the wall and adding a window unit at some point but I think he needs to add more amperage for that.

    • Tick
      on May 31, 2020

      Think metal would defeat the purpose... you want to keep the cold inside to cool the air. The idea of using the metal to conduct cold sounds good but it also works in reverse and warms up the interior air from the outside heat.

  • Joy Speed
    on Jul 16, 2019

    I had a cooler just like this given to me,I collect Pepsi stuff, but it didn't have a lid, what did you do with your lid? I want it,please🤗

    • Leslie
      on May 30, 2020

      Hi Joy, If you want to make a lid for the cooler, ( Not sure of the diameter ) cut out a circle of plywood a bit larger than the diameter of the cooler. I would spar poly the plywood after you paint it if you decide to paint it to keep the wood from taking in water from the evaporation of the ice. Next I would get that grey pipe insulation tubing and E-6000 it to the bottom of the lid so that it fits snuggly over the cooler lip. Lastly I would get an inexpensive cabinet handle and attach to the top of the lid. Good Luck!!

  • Kathy Lewis
    on Jul 17, 2019

    Where is the video for the DIY Bucket A/C?

Join the conversation

2 of 148 comments
  • Tara Brock
    on Jun 6, 2020

    This would be great for camping in a tent in the hot summer nights.

  • Have you tried ice not frozen in jugs? I'm wondering if filling the bottom with if cubes might give more surface area to cool the air in the tub. It might be worth a try!

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