DIY Bucket Air Conditioner

Last updated on March 22nd, 2019 at 11:57 am. Originally published on May 13th, 2015

To survive outside in sweltering heat needs some ingenuity. Of course you need some water, but water won’t keep you too cool. There are several ways to make cool air when outdoors, some involve ice and a fan but you need ice to run it.


The bucket air conditioner below uses a fan and pump to reduce humidity in an otherwise hot tent.

Parts you will need

  1. 12VDC water pump
  2. 5 gallon plastic bucket
  3. Computer fan
  4. Switches
  5. Small project box from radio shack
  6. 1” L brackets
  7. Goop glue
  8. 4” dryer vent hose
  9. Cigarette lighter
  10. T fitting
  11. Tubing
  12. Black plastic window screen
  13. 24×76 Filter materials
  14. 6 nuts, 6 screws, 6 flat washers 6 lock washers


  1. Yardstick
  2. Razor
  3. Drill motor
  4. 2 – 2 1/8” hole saw
  5. Yardstick
  6. Razor knife
  7. Phillips head screwdriver
  8. Marker
  9. 5/32,” 3/16,” 15/32,” and ½,” drill bits
  10. Wire cutters
  11. Soldering iron
  12. Rosin Core solder
  13. Tape Measure
  14. Electrical Tape

To build your air conditioner:

  • Drill two rows of 21/8” holes around the top of the bucket. This should give you 24 holes around the top of your bucket.
drill hole bucket

drill holes

  • Use a sharp knife to de-bur the holes clean.
  • Insert filter material in the bucket and fit it to match the height and diameter of the inside of the bucket. You will need at least two wraps
  • Put the pump at the bottom of the bucket with tubing that reaches the top of the bucket.
  • Install a T connector and loop some tubing through the connector.
  • Cut a hole in lid of the bucket the same diameter as the PVC pipe.

Top of cooler

  • Center the fan on the hole of the lid and connect the PVC pipe to the lid
  • Use Goop to seal the space between the lid and the PVC pipe
  • Drill two holes in the lid to wire your switches through.
  • Mount the switches and solder each connection.
  • Connect the power wire to a fused cigarette lighter plug. This allows you to use your fan with solar panels or deep cycle batteries.

It doesn’t provide full on air conditioning but if you are not a fan of fans, this DIY bucket air conditioner will keep you comfortable while you rough it.

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