DIY Portable Bucket Air Conditioner

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Image Credit: Trisha Sprouse

DIY in a Day brings you step-by-step instructions for easy projects that will spruce up your space — within 24 hours (or less!).

Nothing zaps your energy faster than a hot room on a hot day. If your abode lacks an air conditioner, this portable bucket AC will beat the heat without breaking the bank. Paint makes it pretty, and the handle makes it easy to move from room to room, so you can stay cool all summer long. Literally a bucket, a fan, a few pipes, and some ice, this DIY unit is both affordable and effective, and we guarantee it's the perfect solution to your heat wave woes.

Things You'll Need

Step 1: Remove Stand From Fan

Remove the fan from its base stand. Some stands can simply be disassembled with a screw driver, but others might need to be cut off with a hacksaw.

Image Credit: Trisha Sprouse

Step 2: Trace Fan on Lid

Place the fan face down on the bucket lid, and trace around the front rim of the fan.

Image Credit: Trisha Sprouse

Step 3: Cut Out Lid

Cut around the traced circle with a box cutter. If your lid is made of rigid plastic, it may be easier to cut your circle out with a jigsaw. In that case, you'd first need to make a starter hole by drilling into the lid, and then sliding your jigsaw blade into the hole.

Image Credit: Trisha Sprouse

Step 4: Place Liner in Bucket

Place the styrofoam bucket liner inside the plastic bucket.

Image Credit: Trisha Sprouse

Step 5: Drill Holes Through Buckets

Use a hole saw to drill three evenly spaced holes in the front center of the bucket, about midway down. It may help to brace the bucket against a wall. Be sure to drill through both the plastic bucket and styrofoam bucket.

Image Credit: Trisha Sprouse

Step 6: Cut PVC Pipes

Use a hacksaw to cut three 3-inch pieces from the PVC pipe.

Image Credit: Trisha Sprouse

Step 7: Paint the Parts (Optional)

Place the various components of your AC on a drop cloth, and spray several light coats of paint until evenly coated. Let dry completely. We used a mossy green for the bucket and metallic gold for the fan and lid.

Image Credit: Trisha Sprouse

Step 8: Attach the Pipes

Slide the three PVC pipes through the holes you cut in the bucket. It should be a very snug fit, so you'll likely need to push firmly to get them through. But if they're loose for some reason, you can always hot glue them in place.

Image Credit: Trisha Sprouse

Step 9: Add the Ice

Place the frozen gallon of water inside the bucket.

Image Credit: Trisha Sprouse

WARNING: Only use ice frozen within plastic containers inside your AC bucket to avoid risk of electrical shock. Never use loose ice or ice water.

Step 10: Attach the Fan

Place the plastic lid on the bucket, and then push the front rim of the fan through the hole in the lid.

Image Credit: Trisha Sprouse

Plug the fan in, turn it on, and chill out to your snazzy new AC! It'll stay cool for several hours, so keep a spare gallon of water in the freezer to swap out when needed.

Image Credit: Trisha Sprouse
Image Credit: Trisha Sprouse

Trisha is a writer, video producer + maker with a knack for creating modern DIY content. When her hands aren't covered in paint, she's most likely holding a camera or power drill or both.

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