cooling your tent or van

Swamp Coolers, Cooler Management, Dry Ice, Misting Systems, and just plain how to beat the heat.

Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby peaceoflove » Sun Aug 11, 2013 9:00 pm

The dome is a playadome from Shelter Systems...18ft diameter, white, pvc/plastic sheeting. I've used it the past two years and have seen others like it on the playa. I'm leaning more towards a tall rectangular trash can design that I have seen in previous posts, with the pad/vent side against one of the dome doors (sealed if possible, haven't thought it through yet) and the fan blowing straight across - as opposed to my earlier idea of the fan blowing upwards. There are slits between the sheets where I can insert a vent - like a piece of pipe to create a small amount of airflow, similar to having a window open while running a swamp cooler in my house (right?). I have a fan (endless breeze) and pump (12v/solar) being delivered this week, going salvage shopping tomorrow for acceptable bins/boxes...all other materials should be easy to find in NM. There are so many great ideas circulating on this thread, hoping I can make something that works....thanks for any and all advice <3
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby Canoe » Mon Aug 12, 2013 2:55 am

>The dome is a playadome from Shelter Systems...18ft diameter, white, pvc/plastic sheeting.
got it

> I'm leaning more towards a tall rectangular trash can design ...
A big yes to the box-cooler (rectangular trash can). You'll have three filters (one to each of three sides and the fourth for the Endless Breeze fan) supporting the higher CFM to do the most you can for the larger space.

> and the fan blowing straight across - as opposed to my earlier idea of the fan blowing upwards.
Good. Provide the cool air to the people down below, not to the hot air in the top of the dome. (Don't blow the cool upwards and mix the incoming cooled air with the hot, it's not efficient.)
As cool air stays low and hot air rises, look to the next point...

> There are slits between the sheets where I can insert a vent - like a piece of pipe to create a small amount of airflow, similar to having a window open while running a swamp cooler in my house (right?).
Correct. You need some venting to ensure the cooled air can freely be blown inside.
To be the most efficient, you want that vent to be exhausting the hottest air within the dome (and not having a dead zone of hot air above you, radiating heat downwards). This is the air at the top of the dome. That pipe you were going to slip between the slits, run the inside end of it up near the peak of the dome. That way as the incoming swamp-cooler air fills the dome and forces hot air out, it will be exhausting the hottest air that has risen to the top of the dome.
Foil-sided bubble-wrap can be rolled and taped into a pipe shape for a lightweight (harmless) duct up to the top of the dome; you'll need something with more rigidity for going through the side of the dome.
Some air will leak out through any cracks in the shelter, but this means it's harder for dust to blow in through those while the swamp-cooler is running.

Before you go too far, wait to see what FIGJAM recommends for sealing, as in getting the air from the box-cooler in through that door.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby Canoe » Mon Aug 12, 2013 3:24 am

Canoe wrote:... To be the most efficient, you want that vent to be exhausting the hottest air within the dome (and not having a dead zone of hot air above you, radiating heat downwards). ...

To illustrate that point.
Keep in mind that although your shelter material is white, it isn't insulation like a hexayurt, so it will be absorbing some heat. So unlike the diagram, there will be some heat radiating in from the walls/roof, and more so from the parts the sun is shining on. Another reason why you want the three-fitler box-cooler design over the uni-cooler or bucket-cooler.

swamp-cooler shelter venting airflow - side vs. top intake.png


On cool nights (as we expect this year), you'll want a way to keep the heat in. As in, stop it from leaking out the exhaust vent and the swamp-cooler, or stop cold outside air from blowing in through the swamp-cooler (or hot dusty air if you're away from camp and have the swamp-cooler off). You'll want a cap or damper on the exhaust and a way of blocking air blowing through the swamp-cooler. A cover taped over the endless breeze is likely the easiest.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby FIGJAM » Mon Aug 12, 2013 6:49 am

Just watched this video.

[media]



Since the sheathing is not one solid piece, I don't think venting the air out will be an issue.

If you make the cooler as wide as one of the doors, this gets real simple as you can roll up that door to the hight of the cooler.

Leave everything else as is, and if it turns out that you need more venting, I would just wedge something in one of the top seams to create a "vent gap". 8)
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby peaceoflove » Mon Aug 12, 2013 9:32 am

I should mention that the dome will be covered in black sunshades to block the majority of direct sunlight...helps a little. Last year I taped all the inner seams in preparation of extreme dust conditions, will probably leave it like that minus one upper seam where I can insert a vent if needed. So - box cooler over unicooler? That can be done, was just hoping to keep it simpler but want to do whatever will work best :wink: . Going container shopping today...I'm not opposed to building one of my own BUT I will not actually be the one building it, so that makes it a little tricky. There is a unicooler on p.54 of this thread that looked as though it might work well, but finding a container of that size is a challenge. (think I've read every single post on this entire thread, so many ideas...) We were thinking maybe we could even find an old swamp cooler shell in a salvage yard if we did the box design...will report back. Thanks Figjam and Canoe for the advice...

For fan cover - a piece of plastic or fabric taped over?
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby Canoe » Mon Aug 12, 2013 9:50 am

> So - box cooler over unicooler? ...
Same fan, same pump, same power source. Box goes on the outside of the shelter, not the inside (but fan is on the inner side so its speed controls are assessable from inside). You cut three holes instead of one, use three vent grills instead of one, and cut three pads and use a little more tubing.

> Going container shopping today...
plastic garbage can, squared

> We were thinking maybe we could even find an old swamp cooler shell in a salvage yard if we did the box design...
Do you have time to modify it to work as well as a box-cooler (sealing of pad for hot air short circuits, air flows & rate, water flow rate vs. side of filter pads, management of water reservoir instead of a plumbed pressurized water source, push vs. pull fan, etc.)?
There are a lot of technical aspects of a successful swamp-cooler that you get to skip even having to know about, let alone solve modifying one to work with a different fan, pump & filter pad, by simply building a bucket-cooler, uni-cooler or box-cooler the way described.

> For fan cover - a piece of plastic or fabric taped over?
The piece you cut out of your container for the fan hole?
Last edited by Canoe on Mon Aug 12, 2013 10:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby FIGJAM » Mon Aug 12, 2013 10:00 am

I don't know what your budget is, but I looked at a lot of options before building my own.

Fiberglass bait tanks come in a lot of dimensions.

Patio/pool bins is another option if you can seal it.

You can get lexan boxes made to order, but their pricy.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby dragonpilot » Mon Aug 12, 2013 1:02 pm

FIGJAM wrote:As far as the pump and fan go, if you bought the pump I recommended, it comes with clips to connect to the battery.


Is the pump you recommended the first one on this page: http://www.siliconsolar.com/replacement ... html...but may be too later to order online...I'm heading out next Tuesday! What does HF have in the store that's compatible?

My pump wiring needs to reach about 10' to my deep cycle battery fixed to my trailer tongue...thinking I may need to add some wire (what gauge?).

I'm going to use my Harbor Freight solar pump as my primary pump to conserve battery power...but I noticed that the little solar panel needs to be pointed directly at the sun to run at full power...which means having to constantly adjust it. We'll see how it goes, but I'll have the battery pump as a backup.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby FIGJAM » Mon Aug 12, 2013 3:37 pm

That company stopped selling the pumps.

Now they are here or on ebay.

https://www.greenlivingforu.com/dc-submersible-water-fountain-pump-use-12v-solar-panel-or-battery
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby dragonpilot » Mon Aug 12, 2013 4:47 pm

Thanks...I'll look around Seattle...too late for shipping unless I pay $$ for faster...

What gauge is the wire I should be using?
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby FIGJAM » Mon Aug 12, 2013 6:01 pm

I think the pump wire is 16 or 18.

It's not very big.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby otakup0pe » Mon Aug 12, 2013 6:09 pm

Do the holes in the side strictly have to be circular ? As long as they are evenly distributed around could they be, for example, rectangular ?
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby FIGJAM » Mon Aug 12, 2013 6:13 pm

Any shape you want!

Someone did a really great one with Man designs all the way around and some kind of rainbow glitter paper! 8)
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby MysticPixel » Tue Aug 13, 2013 1:18 am

So I built the bucket cooler as described in the original post. Had to get 1/2" OD x 3/8" ID tubing to fit the pump. Having some issues with the HF pump...

First off, the solar panel on that thing is kind of janky. So I ditched it for now (keeping it as a backup.) The pump wants ~220mA at 7V if I recall (give or take a few mA, I'd have to find my notes.) So I put 23 ohms of power resistors in line (it might be OK with 12V, but I didn't want to fry it to find out!)

Didn't have any #10 wire so I made the holes in the ring by heating a small screwdriver (maybe #12 size equivalent). Made the holes ~3/4" spacing. Problem is, the pump has a really hard time getting an even flow of water out all the holes.

I made another ring with smaller holes, maybe #14 or so (just used a smaller screwdriver.) This is a bit better, but the ring still has to be almost perfectly level to get even flow from all the holes.

So warning... the HF solar pump is probably not a great choice. If I had smaller tubing that might help but I was in a hurry and just wanted one that would mate properly (also that was the only size I could find a plastic T fitting for.)

Going to try that other pump from GreenLivingForU... seems like the extra power will help out. Maybe also spacing the holes out a bit more so it won't lose pressure.

FYI:
got the cooling pad from here http://www.midlandhardware.com/888693.html#.Ugnon3_JJlk it's 28x33", a hair small but I think it should work, haven't cut it yet, I ordered 2 but think 1 should be enough

Also I found the fan in several local stores for ~$30, but DigiKey had it for $17:
http://www.digikey.com/scripts/DkSearch ... ND&cur=USD
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby atomicray » Tue Aug 13, 2013 6:42 am

The 23ohms and 12vdc...that provides 0.522amps I do believe.

A zener diode in series with a resistor will step the voltage and dissipate the excess voltage as heat, so you will need to be cautious of the added heat aspect. Wired wrong, parallel, this can burn up the diode or drain the battery. Inexpensive yet higher end electronics theory and application I am afraid :(

Your best and easiest bet is to find a cel phone car charger that meets your voltage step...many are in the <13.8in-7.5out vdc range and if you are like me then having a drawer full of old charges is quite likely...though fairly cheap if new.

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby FIGJAM » Tue Aug 13, 2013 7:14 am

Don't get excited about the bowl on top as we found that connectors worked better for ducting, but the creativity of the bucket still tickles me! 8)

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby MysticPixel » Tue Aug 13, 2013 5:08 pm

atomicray wrote:The 23ohms and 12vdc...that provides 0.522amps I do believe.


If there's no other load, yes, 12V / 23 ohms = .522 A would flow, if I was to put the 23 ohms directly across supply.

But I meant 23 ohms in series with the pump (might have forgotten to mention, sorry.) So it's really more of a current limiter... the same reason why people put resistors in series with LEDs to run them off a 12V PC supply. The pump wants 7V, and it's happy to pull ~0.22A. So, I need to drop that extra 5V somehow. If assume a current of 0.22A through the circuit, what resistance do I need to drop 5V?
5 = 0.22 * R
R = 5 / .22 = 22.7 ohms
Then as you mentioned you gotta take the power aspect... the resistors need to be rated to dissipate the heat. Quick check, P = 5 * .22 = 1.1W (if the entire thing was a single resistor). As an approximation say I break it into 3 x 7 ohms (yes it's only 21 but close enough for now), V over each = ~1.7, P = ~0.37 so I know the usual 1/4Watters aren't gonna cut it. Went to the power resistor box... only things I had that were small enough to make 23 ohms were some wire-wound 10Watters. Sure, why not!

atomicray wrote:A zener diode in series with a resistor will step the voltage and dissipate the excess voltage as heat, so you will need to be cautious of the added heat aspect. Wired wrong, parallel, this can burn up the diode or drain the battery. Inexpensive yet higher end electronics theory and application I am afraid :(

Yeah zener regulators suck for anything over a few mA, because the parts have to handle the worst-case dissipation when there's no load attached. (Had to look those up for a project a few months ago actually.) But that's getting too complicated even... I don't need real precision here. I could, say, take some regular (bigass) diodes, say 6A2-T, and just use those to drop the voltage. Sure, Vfwd varies, but again this isn't precision work, and I know the order of magnitude, which is close enough to tell me each one will drop around 0.65V. So throw 6 or 7 of those in there before the pump, you'll get it down to 7V.

Just wanted to run the entire thing off 12V if I could, I mean if I was bringing 120V into it I'd use a wall wart and be done. Or if I wanted to get exact I'd just wire up an adjustable regulator, heck I have a LM2593 board sitting on my desk, it'll give me anything I want at up to 2A. But I'm just thinking "keep it simple" ;) The HF pump is less than ideal anyways, it was just the only thing I could find locally.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby TT120 » Tue Aug 13, 2013 9:12 pm

Or you could wire 2 pumps in series and that would give you 6 volts at each pump and almost twice the pressure of a single pump. You could stack the pumps on top of each other or run them seperately to a single output.

The pump is designed for 7 volts but I bet 6 would run it pretty good and you wouldn't have the heat dissipation issue like with the components you're considering. Much less math too.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby atomicray » Tue Aug 13, 2013 10:07 pm

Indeed.

Less math and less complex would be best...those resistors will get hot hot hot.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby Drizzt321 » Wed Aug 14, 2013 5:34 pm

Just getting in on this thread, I'm making a 5 gal bucket cooler based off of the Figjam design. So far so good, and thought I'd stop by and add that I'm using a deep-cycle 65 Ah battery plus a 10W solar panel to charge it up somewhat. Added to that, I'm using a light activated switch with a pot to tune the sensitivity so that I can have it switch on when it's hitting full sunlight so I don't need to use a switch to turn it on/off manually. I'm using http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BLZ93T2, which can serve as a both light activated switch or dark activated switch. In fact...you could use this to turn on your cooler in the morning while also turning off your lights, and then turn the lights back on at night and turn off the cooler! Looks like it'll do 10A @30V, so you can push a decent amount of power through it, or use it to flip a relay that can handle significantly more power if you need.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby Canoe » Wed Aug 14, 2013 6:40 pm

Most are running off of a battery they want to last the whole week. An on/off switch doesn't uses any power to do its job.
Cooling your shelter the whole of daylight would be cooling it for more hours in a day than most people will need, as they're out exploring. Uses more water too. When you return, flip the switch and instant cool, with the hot air inside soon pushed all out of the shelter.

So, turn the switch on vs. brushing the dust off the switch sensor so it can turn on...
Let us know how it works out on playa.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby FIGJAM » Wed Aug 14, 2013 6:48 pm

Plus if the cooler runs dry while you're out, you may burn out the pump.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby unjonharley » Wed Aug 14, 2013 7:33 pm

Damn I move slow.. Took four hours to make a Homer bucket cooler..Doped the temp bout 15 degrees in no time..The humiditey is around 100% this evening.. So I put it away for now..Will mount it in the van tomorrow..
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby Dr. Brap » Wed Aug 14, 2013 7:48 pm

WE BE figJAMMIN!! Yeah buddy! 30 Degree differential! Welcome to the boom boom tent, the nookie time has officially been extended into the afternoon!
I'd post the evidence but I can't seem to figure out how to post pics...help!

I made a few deviations to utilize some things I already had. I didn't want the Costco battery because of the expense and because I'd only use it once a year. I'd then have to buy a trickle charger to store it too.

Here's what I came up with:
Pump, 3.5-9V with USB plug: http://www.amazon.com/Submersible-Aquar ... s=usb+pump
I picked this pump because it had a USB plug on it and I've already got a 18Ahr lithium battery pack for charging cell phones. Running it at 5V instead of the max 9V halves the max flow rate and head. As long as you fill the bucket as much as possible you lower the head as much as possible. This tiny little thing is probably giving me about 10 gpm installed in the cooler. I'm using 5/16"id line with a 3/8" tee. I drilled holes 1/2" apart with a 1.5mm bit (similar size to 14ga wire).

Fan: http://www.coolingsurplus.com/index.php ... s&Itemid=8 I bought mine on Ebay for $18 shipped.
I looked at fans for hours and developed these thoughts:
1. I'm Not worried about how loud it is. The playa is plenty loud and I'll probably have ear plugs in anyway. 30dB or 50db I don't care.
2. Pressure seems to be related to fan rpm. The higher speed fans have higher pressures. If you're not picking Figjam's fan, find one with, I would say, RPMs over 4000.
3. Current ratings for fans are all over the place, a low current fan might sound nice 'cause the battery will last longer but are the flow rate and pressure high enough?
4. Fans are only designed to work one way. While you can wire it backwards and just flip the fan, you'll loose about 20% of it's efficiency, or so I've read. Look closely at the fan case and there should be two arrows. One indicates rotation and the other indicates which way the air should blow. Wire the fan to follow these arrows.
5. Ultimately I picked this fan because it had a pretty high pressure rating for the relatively low 1.05A draw.

I used a toilet flange on top that accepts a 4" sewer line. It actually measures about 5" in diameter which matches up pretty close to the 120mm fan. A normal 4" toilet flange is too small for the 120mm fan. I sealed everything up with caulk. I massaged a 4" rubber coupler over the flange and set a flexible, yet ridged, 4" aluminum duct on top. I used a bucket that I already had and bought a lid at Lowes. The lid is flimsy and I later saw a much sturdier food grade lid at Home depot.

I'm running the fan off of an 18Ahr auto jump pack. This probably won't be enough but I have a 12V solar panel that puts out 0.2A I think if I leave the panel plugged in all day I should be able to get through the week. I can also top it off using a generator that I'll have running to provide tunes during happy hour.

I secured the water loop to the top of the duracool with zip ties. I also used zip ties to connect the ends of the duracool. I decided to run one layer of duracool first to see how it would perform. This only got me about a 23 degree drop. The weight of the water on the pad caused the pad to sag a bit and I figured that air was short circuiting the pad because it wasn't pressed up against the bottom of the lid. I ziptied the pad and cooling loop to the bottom of the lid. While I like this because it definitely creates a good seal, it didn't help get my temp down any further. I added a second layer of pad and POOF, 30 degree land!

Thanks Figgy!, this will for sure extend my tent time. Last year was my first and, no joke, I don't think I slept more than 20 hours the entire week. As Nelly would say, "It's getting hot in hurr." And I did take off all my clothes. Then I was just naked and hot still and couldn't sleep. Not this year, I'll be naked and comfortable. Well things are gonna get sweaty still but bucket cooler can't cure that! Ha, thanks again!!!!!!!
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby FIGJAM » Wed Aug 14, 2013 8:37 pm

8)
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby Wendle » Thu Aug 15, 2013 5:34 am

I hot glued one of these: http://www.amazon.com/Intermatic-FF4H-4-Hour-Spring-Brushed/dp/B002RMZ57W to the outside so I can set it and nap worry-free that the water will not run out and burn out the water pump.

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby Canoe » Thu Aug 15, 2013 6:50 am

Nice!
Mine is only good for sixty minutes.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby Wendle » Thu Aug 15, 2013 7:39 am

I also found these: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0049XEDMK which I feel help to hold the cooling pad upright against the bucket and even out the airflow over the pad. The gap between the basket and the bucket is perfect to hold one layer of aspen pad against the bucket, which would probably be about the same as one blue pad, but since it kind of directs the air downward over the pad it is increasing the amount of dwell time on the pad and is probably the same effect as having the air go directly across two pads; the air is quite cold coming out.

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby holymoley » Thu Aug 15, 2013 8:40 am

This thread has been amazingly helpful, thank you so much you guys. We are assembling two of them, test run this weekend :)

I'm sorry if this has been brought up already; I searched the previous posts but couldn't find an answer. Is it necessary to solder the fan and pump wires together? Could you just attach both to the battery or would it not be as effective?

Thanks!
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby TT120 » Thu Aug 15, 2013 8:58 am

I spliced longer wires to the pump and fan and then just connected them both to the battery. Works fine.

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