Homemade, Off-Grid Air Conditioner

Make a homemade air conditioner using a small fan, a plastic tote, and some frozen jugs of water.

June/July 2017

By Robert D. Copeland
Photos by Russell Mullin

off-grid air conditioner
The "Chillbilly" air cooler is backwoods, off-grid, and dirt-cheap. Photo by Russell Mullin.

I’ve been accused of being a lot of things: a cheapskate, a hermit, a used-car salesman, and one lady thought I was the ghost of country singer Keith Whitley. But I’ve never been accused of being someone who would buy something new and expensive when I could either make one myself, splice a few old gadgets together, or do without. DIY is my thing, y’all.

It gets hot here in Texas. And nobody wants to sit around all day in the 100-degree-Fahrenheit heat for four months out of the year. If you live off-grid like I do, work in your shop or barn all day, or worry that your animals are getting too hot outside, cooling your space can be a challenge. I run my cabin and farm on batteries, solar panels, and a homemade wind generator (which you can learn how to build), so cranking up traditional air conditioning is really too much of a drain on my small 12-volt electrical system. I’m trying to use less juice, not more. But when July rolls around here in the northern territories of Texas, I’m looking to cool off just like the next guy.