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 FIGJAM » Wed Jul 04, 2012 4:57 pm

Well, if your going to use the inverter anyway, the whole world is now YOURS!!!

How much power do you have available for the week?

Do you have recharge capability?

If you have the power, go BIG.

Built this one a little larger to use a household box fan. (wallyworld $16)

Google search "Box fans" will give you plenty to choose from.

Or just use the endless breeze hooked straight to the battery, and use the inverter only for the pump.

It's the best fan for the power invested.

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Instead of holes, use the register covers on three sides, for the air intakes. (like the unicooler uses)

Make sure your pump will keep the pads damp.

What you will have is very similar to a side draft household cooler.

You will need to keep it pretty level for even distribution of water on the pads.

It will be amazingly cool, and you'll be able to use it at home too, if your climate is dry enough. 8)
Last edited by FIGJAM on Wed Jul 04, 2012 5:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby FIGJAM » Wed Jul 04, 2012 5:02 pm

RECAP!!!

The basic idea for the bucket cooler is just a smaller version of Yellowdog's cooler made from a rubbermade garbage can.

An evaporative cooler will reduce the tempature by 20 to 30 degrees.

Keep in mind that there is more than one way to skin a cat. (WARNING! DO NOT SKIN A CAT, IT WONT HELP THIS PROJECT AND WILL IRRITATE YOUR PUSSY!!!)

All the ideas that people came up with on this thread are a perfect example of radical self relience! (Bravo!!!)

Get a 5 gallon bucket and lid.

Have your trained mice naw some holes in the bucket, or use a hole saw, or 50 caliber sniper rifle. (Honey badgers wont work, they don't give a shit!)

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Find some cooler pad.

I like duracool pads.

http://www.simsupply.com/Items/426741

If your area does'nt have them, find a national chain DIY hardwear store and see if they will order some for you.

This may save you shipping cost. I use home depot.

Cut the first pad 33 1/2x13 inches.

Roll this pad into a tube and silicone or hand stitch the seam.

This will give you a tube 13 inches tall.

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Because the bucket tapers out towards the top, you will not need to line the bucket with shade clothe.

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Cut a second piece of pad 24x13 inches and roll into a tight tube.

You wont need to seam this one.

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Sleeve this inside the first tube.

The reason for the double pad is to have a wide space to set the drip line on and adds more evap surface.

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1/2 inch Drip irrigation line works ok to soak your pads, but poly hose is more flexible and you can buy it by the foot.

I like the T connectors that fit inside the line. I cut the ends of the T shorter so I could keep the holes in the line close enough together so there wont be a dry strip on the pads.

This hose is 3/8 inch.

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The holes in the line need to be uniform for an even flow on the pad.

Drlling holes works, but I found that heating a piece of wire melts a nice, more uniform hole.

I used a piece of 10 gauge copper wire.

Heat the wire with a torch, or the burner on your stove, then press through the line.

Sliding the wire in and out till it cools will make a happy hole! (Don't even think about it Yggy, this is serious!)

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To pump the water through the line, buy a pump.

This is the solar pump.

http://www.harborfreight.com/solar-powered-fountain-pump-66093.html

I like this pump instead because if it's cloudy, it will still let the cooler work.

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http://www.ebay.com/itm/12VOLT-DC-SUBMERSIBLE-WATER-FOUNTAIN-PUMP-FOR-USE-W-12V-SOLAR-PANEL-OR-BATTERY-/400297468468?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5d3396a234

The 3/8 inch line fits this pump perfectly.

Nice even flow of water.

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When the lid is put on, the line will be pinched between the lid and the pad, so it wont move around.

FANS!

The key to a good cooler is a powerful fan.

CFM=cubic feet per minute.

http://www.frozencpu.com/cat/l2/g36/c435/list/p1/Fans-12_Volt_Fans_by_CFM.html

I used this one.

http://www.frozencpu.com/products/12959/fan-859/Delta_120_x_38mm_High-Speed_PWM_Fan_-_19048_CFM_AFB1212SHE.html?tl=g36c435s1108

It uses more power, but makes the bucket cooler very effective.

Calculate the cubic footage of the space to be cooled, then get a fan that will replace the air inside the space every 3 to 5 minutes.

I use a single fan cause it suits my design perfectly.

Cut a hole in the lid of the bucket to mount the fan.

I put mine on the bottom of the lid to keep the unit compact and to make ducting easier.

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Any 120mm fan will fit inside the top of the pad tube.

I spliced the wires from the fan to the wires from the pump. (both are 12volt)

Then ran the wire out through one of the holes in the side of the bucket.

Now with the lid on the bucket, I used a 4 inch septic line connector gooped to the lid over the fan.

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Now you can use 4 inch septic line to duct the air into the space to be cooled. You don't need to glue these piceces together.

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These parts are at the hardwear store.

Outside temp!

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Air temp coming from the cooler!

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Water temp inside the bucket!

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This cooler uses 2 gallon of water every 5 hours.

It uses about 1.45amps per hour.

My 105AH deep cycle battery will run this cooler for 47 hours before needing to be recharged.

So running 4 or 5 hours a day, it will let you nap in the hottest part of the day, all week without recharging the battery.

If you need more cooling than this, build the box cooler.

You will need to vent the air out of the space for circulation.

HAPPY NAPPING!!!
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Re: Re:

Postby FIGJAM » Wed Jul 04, 2012 5:04 pm

Last year people tried to make the bucket cooler do more than it was ment to do, with moderate success.

The main problems seemed to be a powerful enough fan and how to duct the air into the space.

My box cooler worked great and I never use anything but the low speed on the fan.






NOW INTRODUCING THE UNICOOLER!!!!!!!


No duct work needed!!!

Build a box 17wx30hx9d.

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If you cant build a simple box, try to find something waterproof with roughly the same dementions or this.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B001PMI25M/bestprice2010a-20

If you can find something that does'nt have tapered sides it will work better.

Cut a hole for the vent cover. ($11.00)

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Cut a hole for the fan. (Endless breeze fan $60-$80)

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I used 100% clear silicone caulk to stick these to the box.

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The vent louvers are facing down and into the box to keep the water channeled toward the inside.

I got some angle trim and siliconed pieces to the inside of the box to act as a pad retainer.

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This is the pump.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/12VOLT-DC-SUBMERSIBLE-WATER-FOUNTAIN-PUMP-FOR-USE-W-12V-SOLAR-PANEL-OR-BATTERY-/400297468468?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5d3396a234

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I had to cut the 90s shorter to get the straight pieces closer together, but you can stagger the holes in a single piece to get the same effect.

The pvc just lays on the top edge of the pads.

Then I went to the bin (16489-j "junk" subheading A "awsume") and found some handles.

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8)

Then make an air tight lid.(figure it out)

Finished cooler looks like this.

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I call it the universal cooler cause you just shove the pad side against any opening in a tent, bus, travel trailer, yurt, or playpod and it will cool up to 3000 cubic feet of space. You can even set it on a table outside for use.

Add some foam stickon wheather stripping for a good seal around a window.

Fill it with 7gals. of water for 8hrs. of cooling. So once a day depending on how much you use it.

105ah battery will run this all week on low.

You may have to recharge if you use medium or high speed on the fan.

I'm confident that this will cool even a school bus without useing a genny and its a lot quieter than an air conditioner.

As always I'll try to answer any questions you may have.

(This cooler can be made more affective by widening the body enough to accept 2 vent registers. It will get more air flow and have more evap surface!)


HERE'S TO A MORE COMFORTABLE BURN!!!
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Re: Re:

Postby FIGJAM » Wed Jul 04, 2012 5:13 pm

YURT ALERT!!!

Ok you dont have to have a yurt, but I liked saying it. Swamp cooler 2.0.

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I made the box out of some left over material from my tube surround. I dont remember what its called, but its water proof and light. Fiber glass or plastic panels will work if their thick enough, but if you are patient, look in the thrift stores for a plastic or lexan display case with roughly the same dementions. 15x15x24in. Then you wont have to build a box.

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The endless breeze fan is awsome. I thought I had a problem with it, but it turns out that I reversed the connection which made the fan run backwards, so it wasnt pushing much air. Now I can feel the breeze from 10ft away when its on low(1.18 amps 250cfm) medium 500cfm 1.68 amps, and high is 900cfm at 2.50 amps. Great for a 12 volt fan. The cheepest price new that I found was $60. Mine was a display and I got it for $25.

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1/2in. pvc and three 90s and a cap.

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The feed line was a little small till I put a short piece of pvc in the 90. with a little sillycone, its perfect. No need to glue the other pvc parts together.

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By folding the pad instead of cutting individual pieces, It gets a snugger fit. The piece of strap keeps the pad snug at the front of the cooler. This is needed because if your fan is real strong, it will try to vacume your pad away from the sides. The pad retains its shape real well, so folding the inside corners is perfect.
The black tape is there because I got a little high on the sides with my holes and you want all the air to be drawn through damp pad.


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Im waiting for the little bit stronger pump so I can test, but it should work fine...........FIGJAM........Oh .....check rv places to locate this fan. I sillyconed all the joints on the box exept the lid and this unit holds 6 gal. of water. Theres room for a case of pbr in the bottom. I have to check, but I think the water temp when running is close to 40 degrees. Unite dry wieght 13 pounds.

(The only change for this one is to use the register covers on the 3 sides instead of drilling holes.)
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Re: Re:

Postby FIGJAM » Wed Jul 04, 2012 5:15 pm

RECAP!!!


The pumps just arrived! I installed one on the new cooler and I cant think of any way it could be more suited to this purpose.

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It uses .23amps and has a built in filter. Cost $14.95. Heres a pic of the pad to give an idea of how porse it is.

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If you want your controls to be inside your structure cut the box with an extention where you will attatch the fan. this is how I set mine up.

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I didnt need an extention. I tried it without the shade clothe first. When I had just the pump on there was minor leaking untill I turned the fan on low and the leaking stopped. If I sand the holes it may stop that entirely as any little snag tends to direct a small leak. And now the best part.....

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The cooler on low (1.4 amps with the pump) is setting on the desk in the background and is about 4ft. away, but I couldnt get a good pic of the temp with the cooler in the shot. But damn AM I EVER HAPPY HAPPY WITH THIS THING...............FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGJAM!!!
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby snabss » Thu Jul 05, 2012 6:59 pm

figjam,
what material did you use to make the box for the yurt version. i am having a hard time finding a suitable box. can i make one out of wood and somehow make it waterproof inside (paint? sealer?)

i ordered the 12v fan endless breeze fan and the duracool pads and i will use the pump i already have. looking forward to start the build!!
I have decided to built a yurt this year instead of going with the kodiak tent. this would be somewhere 1400 -1600 cf. How large should i make the box (and the area covered with the pad?)

thanks
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby FIGJAM » Thu Jul 05, 2012 7:55 pm

The material for the box is similar to the stuff they use for tube surrounds.

I got it at home depot in a 4x8 sheet for $35.

In the same isle, you'll find some plastic inside corner molding.

Then I used GOOP to glue the box together and went over all the inside joints with 100% silicone caulk.

If you build out of wood, use marine paint (for boats) inside and out for a good waterproof seal.

Box dimentions are 16"dx16"wx24"t.

You can use some short pieces of wire through the registers to hole the pad in place.

The registers will give you about 3 sq. ft. of evap surface.

Keep the fan and intake registers close to the top so you have plenty of water resivour space.

Make sure your lid is well sealed.

For that much space, you'll need to run the fan on medium for a 3 minute air exchange rate, high will be close to 1 1/2 minutes.

Make an exit vent opposite where the cooler will be, so the air can cuirculate through the space.

Cut the hole in the yurt a little bigger than the size of the fan or the wall will be in the way of the switch.

I hope that's everything.

If not, just ask. 8)
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby HandJamMasterC » Fri Jul 06, 2012 8:38 am

Question for HandJamMasterC:

I'm attempting to build a swamp cooler along the lines of the one you built with the Rubbermaid trash can.

What size grills did you use?
Were the grills necessary for structural strength or was it more of an aesthetic choice or just as a way to keep the cooler pad inside?

I was thinking I could maybe just use some screen door material I have lying around if the grill wasn't required for structural strength.

Any other tips beyond what you've already shared? I've got most of my materials (pump, trash can, endless breeze fan, etc.) but I haven't actually started cutting anything yet, so any late-breaking "be sure not to do <fill-in-the-blank>" tips would be much appreciated.

Thanks,
Klondike


Sorry - haven't checked this thread in awhile. The grills do provide some structural strength, since so much trash can is cut away. They also channel the water back inside the trash can so it won't drip. Home Depot has a good assortment - the size will depend on exactly how much you cut out.

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby FIGJAM » Fri Jul 06, 2012 10:14 am

You are now the only person I know with that great fan.


http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200422029_200422029


I can't find it anywhere now!


8)
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby HandJamMasterC » Fri Jul 06, 2012 4:06 pm

That sucks, but there is now this one - same fan but it can also use AC power? Looks similar, same maker - http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/ ... _200514348
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby FireTommy » Sun Jul 08, 2012 1:14 pm

Hey...what do you think the operating range is for a swamp cooler in terms of relative humidity? Obviously it will work the best on the playa, but would we get much cooling at about 40% or so?
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby FireTommy » Sun Jul 08, 2012 1:26 pm

Wait. Got it from Wikipedia...not bad even at 40% :)
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Re:

Postby FIGJAM » Sun Jul 08, 2012 1:30 pm

Here you go!!! 8)


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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby FireTommy » Sun Jul 08, 2012 2:26 pm

Thanks! My bucket cooler will rock at non-playa events, too! :)
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby melodiousdirge » Mon Jul 09, 2012 11:58 am

Anyone get super fancy and wire their cooler up with a thermostat? I'm thinking the cooler I'm building to cool my trailer is going to be significantly oversized. Would be nice to not waste battery power running it.
More ideas than time.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby FIGJAM » Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:35 pm

Sure!

Just put a thermostat on the switch leg.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby klondike-SD » Mon Jul 09, 2012 5:33 pm

Thanks for the response - I'm still assembling my cooler (have the vent grilles installed, but still need to do most of the rest of the assembly). I was debating whether the side vents were really necessary but decided to go ahead and put all three vents in. I'll post some pictures when I have it all up and running.

HandJamMasterC wrote:Sorry - haven't checked this thread in awhile. The grills do provide some structural strength, since so much trash can is cut away. They also channel the water back inside the trash can so it won't drip. Home Depot has a good assortment - the size will depend on exactly how much you cut out.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby melodiousdirge » Tue Jul 10, 2012 10:43 am

FIGJAM wrote:Sure!

Just put a thermostat on the switch leg.


Yeah that would be what I did. Was wondering if anyone knew of a decent thermostat though, the only 12V thermostat I can find is a cheap bimetallic thing for an RV (which will do if need be but I'd much prefer a digital one).
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby Canoe » Tue Jul 10, 2012 12:21 pm

melodiousdirge wrote:
FIGJAM wrote:Sure!
Just put a thermostat on the switch leg.

Yeah that would be what I did. Was wondering if anyone knew of a decent thermostat though, the only 12V thermostat I can find is a cheap bimetallic thing for an RV (which will do if need be but I'd much prefer a digital one).

Why one that uses power?
I'd NOT recommend one of the old bimetallic mercury switch ones, but there are newer ones that use a different type of switch.
Check the contact ratings for VAC vs. VDC. But remember, you're not switching a lot of current if you're powering a single van and pump.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby melodiousdirge » Wed Jul 11, 2012 12:37 am

Canoe wrote:Why one that uses power?


A digital thermostat will operate for months on a pair of AAs. I'm not really worried about the power consumption.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby kstlfido » Wed Jul 11, 2012 12:47 am

[quote="sjs"]I drilled some holes on the inside of the cooler at the bottom of the "well" under the pad, and as you can see, there's a very steady flow of water out of those holes (indicating that I am achieving good saturation on the pad).

Next stage is getting the power, fans, switches, etc into the lid.[/quote]

Hey Steve! Kent here. Great info! I plan to build one of these for my 6' stretch yurt this year. Will the 5-gallon cooler cool that space well enough?

I had an idea about your portable cooler... (which I am REALLY looking forward to trying, your suits last year were very effective!)

The water might start sloshing around a bit while being pulled across a bumpy playa. Similar to car gas tanks, adding some dividers with holes would reduce the sloshing. Thin plastic sheets cut to form an egg-crate and put in the bottom. Added benefit- it would keep the pump from moving around, too.

Just my 2c!

-K
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby Canoe » Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:37 am

melodiousdirge wrote:
Canoe wrote:Why one that uses power?

A digital thermostat will operate for months on a pair of AAs. I'm not really worried about the power consumption.

One more thing that needs batteries.
Batteries add another point-of-failure.
Just say'in
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby FIGJAM » Wed Jul 11, 2012 7:47 am

[quote=]"kstlfido Great info! I plan to build one of these for my 6' stretch yurt this year. Will the 5-gallon cooler cool that space well enough?[/quote]


That's a large space.

You'll be happier with the unicooler or the box cooler. 8)
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby klondike-SD » Wed Jul 11, 2012 8:00 am

FIGJAM wrote:[quote=]"kstlfido Great info! I plan to build one of these for my 6' stretch yurt this year. Will the 5-gallon cooler cool that space well enough?


I believe this formula has been posted to the forum multiple times before, but just for easy reference :-) :

Code: Select all
<Cubic feet of space>/2 = <Cubic Feet Per Minute of Air Required>


I haven't finished building my version of the Unicooler yet, but based on that formula it wasn't hard to determine that a bucket cooler with a computer fan wasn't going to work for my 18' dome, which holds ~1500 cubic feet.

From http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/home/heating_cooling/evaporative.html
how to choose the right-sized evaporative cooler

For a swamp cooler to effectively cool, it must be the proper size for the job. A small portable unit, for example, will not adequately cool a large-sized room.

While the output of air conditioners are rated in BTUs (British Thermal Units), evaporative coolers are rated by CFMs (the cubic feet per minute of air that the cooler can blow into your home).

Whether it is for a single room or a whole house, there is a simple formula for determining the proper size of swamp cooler you need. Figure the cubic feet of space you want to cool, and then divide that number by two. The quotient will give you the CFM rating for the proper-sized swamp cooler.

For example, if you have a 1,500 square foot home with 8 foot-high ceilings:

1,500 x 8 = 12,000 cubic feet 12,000 % 2 = 6,000 CFM needed
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby kstlfido » Wed Jul 11, 2012 2:06 pm

Thanks for the help, folks.

I did a quick cu feet calc of a 6' stretch hexayurt. Dimensions here-
http://www.appropedia.org/Hexayurt_schematics

It comes to ~ 300-350 cu feet. That sound right?

350/2= 125cfm needed.

-Kent
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby FIGJAM » Wed Jul 11, 2012 3:57 pm

I don't know why they divide by 2.

If you calculate for a total air exchange every 1 to 3 minutes, you should be good. 8)
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby Jared » Thu Jul 12, 2012 11:43 am

I've seen a couple of people use a float-switch-controlled pump to fill a drip reservoir rather than continuously operating a small pump. I suspect this would have lower overall power consumption. Does anyone see any issues with it?
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby melodiousdirge » Thu Jul 12, 2012 5:11 pm

Jared wrote:I've seen a couple of people use a float-switch-controlled pump to fill a drip reservoir rather than continuously operating a small pump. I suspect this would have lower overall power consumption. Does anyone see any issues with it?


I don't see an issue with it other than potentially overfilling one reservoir or the other depending how you have your pump and switch set up. I'm kind of considering this myself, as it makes it easy to fine tune the water flow without wasting pump power pumping across a flow restriction or something.

Wouldn't it be sweet if you could run your pump based off an input from a digital hygrometer in the air stream(!). Yes I tend to overcomplicate things.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby sjs » Sat Jul 14, 2012 8:33 am

kstlfido wrote:plan to build one of these for my 6' stretch yurt this year. Will the 5-gallon cooler cool that space well enough?

I had an idea about your portable cooler... (which I am REALLY looking forward to trying, your suits last year were very effective!)

The water might start sloshing around a bit while being pulled across a bumpy playa. Similar to car gas tanks, adding some dividers with holes would reduce the sloshing. Thin plastic sheets cut to form an egg-crate and put in the bottom. Added benefit- it would keep the pump from moving around, too.


Hey Kent, I guess that others have mostly answered your question about cooling that amount of space. It does seem like a bit of a stretch for a single fan like what is used in the bucket cooler. As Figjam said, you could do the unicooler or box cooler, which use a larger fan. You could also do a version of the two-fan bucket cooler I did last year (the main challenge being that it is a very tight fit getting both fans on the lid). Or, I suppose you could build two bucket coolers and see how it goes, maybe loaning one of the two to a camp-mate if one turns out to be sufficient for the yurt.

I really like your "dividers with holes" idea for my rolling cooler, and I'm going to experiment with that.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby sjs » Sat Jul 14, 2012 8:50 am

Cooler-Con is happening at 5:00pm on Tuesday at Camp Bioluminati (we are the "Pimp Yr Bike" folks). Our actual camp location is on the 5:30 road between Alyssum and the Esplanade.

To put it more simply, we are near the "p" in "Center Camp" on this map:
Image
(click the image for more detail)


So, as noted on PlayaEvents and in your What Where When book:

Bring your swamp cooler or come to learn! Meet the fabulous people from the epic eplaya thread! Fix, troubleshoot, and invent!
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