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 Jyman » Thu Aug 22, 2013 3:19 pm

FIGJAM wrote:That's amazeballs!!!!!!! 8)

As long as the pump can keep the pads wet it will work great!

WARNING: DO NOT LET THE COOL AIR CAUSE YOU TO HIBERNATE IN CAMP ALL WEEK!!!!!!!! :lol:

Excellent job.


Thanks again FIGR! yeah I put 10 holes per side at 1 & 1/4" apart (7/64" holes). It equally distributed the water to wet the entire pad w/o dry spots. My concern was to not allow too much water flow so the water pressure reaches the end of the line.


On-playa can the dry air still dry it out the pad? Would you suggest more / bigger holes?
It's not too late for me to make another pvc pipe line. It looked to me like one of your boxes had holes 3/4" apart, and another box had em 1&1/4" apart. That correct? Is either ok?
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby Jyman » Thu Aug 22, 2013 3:23 pm

Oh, FIGJAM...maybe you just meant as long as my pump works properly all week it will be fine? Think I mistook you for questioning the irrigation line
:oops:
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby FIGJAM » Thu Aug 22, 2013 5:33 pm

I think it's great!!!

You could still drill some sections of pvc 3/4" and take them with you "just in case". 8)
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby doober831 » Fri Aug 23, 2013 9:51 pm

so i bought the pump that figjam suggests and i'm curious about the size of hole i should drill. the first ring i made i think the holes were to big. the next one i used a 1/16 drill bit and drilled holes every inch. I'm thinking that maybe i'd be better with bigger holes? What size and how far apart from each other have people been doing?
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby FIGJAM » Fri Aug 23, 2013 9:56 pm

I heated 12 gauge copper wire and they're 3/4" apart.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby doober831 » Fri Aug 23, 2013 9:58 pm

FIGJAM wrote:I heated 12 gauge copper wire and they're 3/4" apart.

Solid or stranded? Any idea what the drill bit equivalent would be?
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby FIGJAM » Sat Aug 24, 2013 5:35 am

Solid, but the 1/16" should be fine.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby doober831 » Sat Aug 24, 2013 9:31 am

you don't think the small hole size is limiting the pump's ability to move water? i've also noticed there is always an air bubble trapped somewhere in the ring that generally hangs out in an area that prevents 1 or 2 holes from spraying, they just drip instead. is that normal or an indication that there's a problem with the number/size of my holes?
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby FIGJAM » Sat Aug 24, 2013 10:31 am

Put a small pinhole on top of the halo oppisite the connector.

This will let it flow better.

Now I'm on vacation!!!

Good luck. 8)
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby Sassi3 » Wed Sep 04, 2013 1:12 pm

Thanks Fig Jam. My swamp cooler literally saved me when U was overcome by the heat one day.

I purchased Cooler Master SickleFlow 120-2000 RPM 120 mm Computer Case Cooling Fan (Smoke)
Cooler Master (798) fan which worked ok, but will update it for next year as it really did not deliver the air well.

I will also go with the cooler pads you recommend as opposed to the Aspen pads which were a moody mess and kept bulging out of the holes.

All-in-all a great invention. I already can't wait for next year.

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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby Canoe » Wed Sep 04, 2013 3:02 pm

Sassi3 wrote:I will also go with the cooler pads you recommend as opposed to the Aspen pads which were a moody mess and kept bulging out of the holes.
To get the full potential of the bucket cooler, the gap between the pad and the inside of the bucket wall is an essential. Without it, you have seriously limited the effective area of the filter.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby asr9754 » Thu Sep 05, 2013 9:44 am

Worked FANTASTIC! I followed the instructions closely, esp the Fan specs. Campmates who used different fans or tried to alter the design did not have as much cool air as I did.

I had added a cheap float switch to prevent running dry. It worked at home, but crapped out immediately on playa, so I removed the switch and rewired. Had to keep an eye on it to make sure it didn't run dry. It was buring thru about 1 gallon per hour of old cooler water (with a few drops of bleach for sanitation). My iced tea jug popped a leak so I even ran iced tea thru it with no problems. Very happy camper! The only modification I made was to add a toggle switch for On-Off and I wrapped a cylinder of chicken wire around the duracool pad to help it keep its shape inside the bucket.

Keys to success were lots of holes in the bucket, the chicken wire cylinder to keep the duracool pad from slouching and leaking, and the proper fan with tight connections to the ductwork. Used in a 12" camper trailer and kept the whole thing reasonably bearable. And right in front of the fan it was delightful. Thanks everyone!
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby Canoe » Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:11 am

asr9754 wrote:Worked FANTASTIC! I followed the instructions closely, esp the Fan specs. Campmates who used different fans or tried to alter the design did not have as much cool air as I did.
I had added a cheap float switch to prevent running dry. It worked at home, but crapped out immediately on playa, ... old cooler water (with a few drops of bleach for sanitation). ... I even ran iced tea thru it with no problems. ... wrapped a cylinder of chicken wire around the duracool pad to help it keep its shape inside the bucket...

Right idea to follow his instructions closely, as you saw with having more cool air than others who didn't.
Some things to watch out for with what you did:
  • Bleach in the water: good to pre-treat water from a questionable source (filtered too I hope), but let the bleach fully evaporate away before you use it in your swamp-cooler: you do not want bleach fumes in your eyes or lungs.
  • NOTE: clean potable water is safe. Any food particulate in or dissolved in the cooler water could provide nutrition to bacteria.
    Many people keep their cooler contents in sealed plastic bags so the food cannot contaminate nor cross contaminate through the cooler ice melt water.
  • Iced Tea in the cooler: sugar in the reservoir, and contaminating the pad, could provide a means for bacteria to grow.
  • You might want to fully rinse your pad now so it's clean of any possible contaminants from the cooler water or ice tea. I'd be trying some water with some bleach, but I haven't heard of someone using bleach on the pad before. And run it through the pump & lines. Too much bleach can damage pump seals: don't know about yours.
    In fact, considering the low cost of the pad material, I'd be throwing it out and replacing it with new, just to know that it is contaminant free.
  • Cylinder of chicken wire: with a properly made roll of pad with the inner higher roll of pad, this is unnecessary and may provide an alternate path for some of the water flow - remove it and all the water has to flow through the media of the pad - you may have even more cool air. I assume your roll of pad had the recommended air gap between it and the inside wall of the bucket.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby FIGJAM » Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:17 am

This was the 4th year on the playa for the original bucket cooler in the pictures on this thread.

It's still putting out 30 degree cooler air and I haven't even changed pads since it was built! 8)

If you feel you need some reinforcement to keep the pad from slouching, I would suggest some plastic mesh of some kind.

Something like this.

http://www.amazon.com/Inch-Plastic-Hardware-Cloth-Black/dp/B0067NHAN4

So let's hear all the sucsesses and failures so we can ALL GET IT RIGHT NEXT YEAR!!!!!!!!!! :lol: :lol: :lol: 8)
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby tatonka » Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:51 am

mine worked great , mon night ran it about a 1hr , ran it for 2 on tues and than 5 on wed , then 4 hrs a day or more until sun night when I took it down, all on my kirkland batt. It read over 12 volts all week and I took it home and put it back in my car and it started it
but my friend wasted over a 140 on a deep cycle he bought thinking the reg car batt wouldnt hold the charge.We will just use the marine one from now on, we brought the car batt just incase, but we decided to use the car one 1st to see how it lasted.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby asr9754 » Thu Sep 05, 2013 1:00 pm

Cheers!
I was very happy w/ the chicken wire support and plan to keep it the same. Really helped keep the gap between the bucket sides and the duracool pad, and kept a tight seal with the bucket lid.

I'm a water quality scientist by default world and a few drops of bleach per gallon isn't harmful to people or equipment (just enough to knock out some nasties that might be lurking in old but clear icemelt from the cooler). With dirtier water, stronger bleach+filtration+resting period is a great idea. Thanks for the note about the sugar in tea--I hadn't thought of that but luckily my tea was unsweetened!
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby dragonpilot » Thu Sep 05, 2013 1:47 pm

I built mine exactly to specs, used the HF solar pump which watered the pad just fine, and the recommended fan which was powered by my deep cycle battery. The pump worked, the fan worked well...but sadly, I didn't get the cooler temps that others seemed to have enjoyed. I'd say maybe 5 degrees cooler and that was right in front of the inlet duct. The duct was very short...maybe 1' to 1.5'. I have a small camping trailer. The cubic interior is smaller than most car-camping tents...plus I have more insulation than a tent. Just didn't work for me.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby FIGJAM » Thu Sep 05, 2013 9:02 pm

Has to be something wrong. :shock:

I had my temp sensor on the playa, and every time I checked the temps, there was a 25 to 30 degree drop.

Was the cooler outside the space being cooled? :?
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby geospyder » Thu Sep 05, 2013 9:11 pm

I can vouch for FIGJAM's cooler pushing out cool air. I was just down the street from him and visited him and his cooler a number of times.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby dj_shuze » Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:20 pm

My attempt at the 5 gal bucket cooler went pretty well, though not perfect. Notes from my experience:
  • Get construction started early. You'll have to get things from online sources, and if anything goes wrong, you won't have time to recover.
  • The fan Figjam recommends does indeed put out of lots of air - much more so than the one I bought at Rat Shack first. Just follow his recommendation.
    • I note, though, the the place he linked to as a source was backordered when I wanted one, with no ETA for restocking. I found another source for this fan after some extensive searching, but ended up making 2 attempts to get it. The first time I mis-ordered a different, 4-wire model of the same fan, which used the 4th wire for fan "control" (and which could not be jury-rigged to make the fan start). I discovered this after receiving it and an unsuccessful attempt to make it work (which was debugged by a friend who is an electronics expert). The 3-wire one I got on second order worked fine (using only power & ground wires).
  • Don't economize by waiting until you get to RNO (or similar) to buy the cooler pad & attempt to build it there. In Boston, it's humid, and nobody uses swamp coolers, so no stores stocked any. I'd have had to have one shipped to build before leaving here, which seemed silly for a $5 component. So instead, I built everything except the pad here in Boston, shipped it out, and bought the pad in RNO, then added the pad at the Burn. Bad idea for three reasons:
    • Less precision available when constructing away from your normal construction workbench.
    • High dependence on getting it right the first time.
    • In particular, do NOT attempt to cut the pad on the Playa. Talk about MOOP CITY! Fortunately, I cut it on a floor where I could collect all the little blue bits before they Mooped up the Playa. But cutting blue cooler pad on the Playa is a BAD idea.
  • The 7 volt pump in the original post was a pain in the butt; find the 12-volt Figjam currently recommends. I didn't realize this until too late, and used the 7-volt one with a voltage converter. It was an electrical hassle, and the pump didn't put out much water. I think it under-wet the pad. Next year I'll switch to the 12-volt pump.
    • I think Figjam's recent recommendation to put a little air hole on the _far_ side of the drip ring is a good suggestion. I'm betting part of the problem with my 7-volt Harbor Freight pump was that the pump had to work too hard to overcome the air-bubble on the far side of the ring from the T connector. My ring definitely wet the side of the pad closest to the "T" much more thoroughly.
  • Don't use a bunch of plastic car lighter accessory plugs / splitters / cables as a convenient way to wire together all the different connections, then set your full bucket of water down on all the car lighter parts right on the Playa and shatter them all to pieces just as you are setting up your cooler for its first production use, forcing you to re-wire everything by hand, cussing and fretting the whole time. I can vouch for the fact that this is a big bummer. :? :lol:
  • Don't try the trick of putting the cloth thingie somebody recommended around the outside to cutdown the dust. It a) gets clogged with dust quickly, which b) causes the fan to suck the cloth against the bucket and (importantly) the cooler pad, which c) causes it to get wet, and muck up the whole thing. I did this, and removed the cloth bag mid-week. Just make sure you have the proper gap between the pad & bucket & let the pad filter as it will.
    • I note that getting the pad size correct was probably the biggest hassle to figure out, since the orange kit buckets all seem to vary in size. We should probably come up with a method to a) precisely measure the inside base of a bucket, and b) compute the appropriate pad size from there. Using a metal tape measure (particularly on-playa) didn't work so well. I must have cut my pad 3x to get close to the right size. Also, the construction process should suggest measuring the inside height with the lid attached after you've cut the hole for the fan, but before installing the fan.
  • Another harder-than-expected thing for me was to figure out clean wiring to the power sources. The little 12-volt wires are often so small that crimp splicers won't hold them together. Plus, it's important to not over-complicate the wiring; fixing overly clever electrical on the Playa is a pain and a waste of Playa time. Fortunately I found some nice clips & stuff, but this was lucky, and overall harder than anticipated.
  • I felt that my 5-gal bucket adequately cooled my H12 yurt. No, it's not as cool as the big version of the cooler would have been, but it made more than enough difference to bring down the mid-day heat to a comfortable level.
  • I think my big, deep-cycle battery was overkill. I didn't want to leave the cooler running all the time, since I wouldn't be there to refill the water every time it ran dry. So I ran it from roughly 10am-3pm each day, which was about 1 full bucket of water. It ran 6 days. I don't think I came close to exhausting my battery. Next year, I'll do some calculations to see if I can use a smaller battery. (Actually, hopefully next year I can get 120v power, and use a wall wart to step it down to 12v.)

All in all, it did the trick. Thanks, Figjam. IMO, a full repeat of the bucket design, under a new thread title, started by you, with current supplier links, stuff about the air hole, varying bucket sizes, etc., will be in order before next year.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby Canoe » Fri Sep 06, 2013 6:42 am

dragonpilot wrote:I built mine exactly to specs, ....but sadly, I didn't get the cooler temps that others seemed to have enjoyed. I'd say maybe 5 degrees cooler and that was right in front of the inlet duct. ...

Photos of bucket and shelter setup?
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby FIGJAM » Fri Sep 06, 2013 8:20 am

Great post dj shuze! 8)

It's a bucket, cooler pad, pump, fan, tubing, and some septic parts for ducting.

That's all!!!

People can tinker with the design all they want, but keeping it simple means less things to go wrong while you're busy with your burn.

As for starting a new thread, I love this monster and all the info in it, good, bad, and all.

I WILL try to make the next recap more detailed.

A good deep cycle battery is always a good idea because any battery will last longer if they are not discharged below 50%.

You can get years of service out of one of these if their connected to a battery maintainer when not in use.

Mine only get used on the playa and this was their 4th year, and expect to get 10 years out of them. 8)

While riding around sunday morning I came across 5 yurts with coolers.

I stopped to see how they were doing.

They all had the same issue.

Cool air at the output duct, but not moving enough air.

Got their fans out of old computers.

Those are generaly 30 to 60 CFM.

Cut corners at your own risk!!! :roll:
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby gyre » Fri Sep 06, 2013 9:10 am

Probably in the thread already, but there are two types of fans used in electronics generally - low noise and high flow.
That varies a lot too, depending on cost and construction, and need.

Do you specify a squirel cage?
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby Canoe » Fri Sep 06, 2013 10:41 am

All of the types tested and work at the flow and pressure that works for the pad specified are not squirrel cage.
Before going up to the Endless Breeze for the larger swamp-coolers, the one that works, and others closest to it, look like "computer fans", so people make the mistake that any "computer fan" will work well, and don't pay attention to the rpm, cfm, current and pressure when they decide to substitute a different fan.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby gyre » Fri Sep 06, 2013 12:36 pm

Wouldn't a squirrel cage be more efficient if you could get the right one?

I do know the better muffin fans can do more than people think.
When the volvo blower was unavailable, I suggested to someone that they use some of the better muffin fans.
I made no guarantee that they would work well enough, but the alternatives were unpleasant.
He called me back and had done so, using the better cast german fans.
I don't know what he paid, but still cheaper at the time.
He said they worked superbly and were much quieter too, kind of a surprize.
The better fan designs like spal do use a modern blade design, quiet for the flow.
He would have used two or three, at least.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby dragonpilot » Fri Sep 06, 2013 12:45 pm

FIGJAM wrote:Was the cooler outside the space being cooled? :?


Based on the positive reports I'm sure there was something wrong with my setup. Perhaps the little solar powered HF pump was not wetting the pad sufficiently, but even so there should have been at least some noticeable cooling effect.

And yes, the apparatus was outside.

Thank dawg there was a fellow camper with a big honkin' 6000 watt generator that he was willing to share to run my little trailer's AC! :P
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby percussivepaul » Fri Sep 06, 2013 6:46 pm

Just had a great time with my cooler. it was a total life safer. A few things I learned:
1. Building the cooler was not difficult! I was intimidated by it in the past as I thought I was not a handy person, but it really just involved sourcing the parts and mashing them together. It was only one evening's work.
2. Aspen cooling pads are a pain in the ass to work with if you're cutting them -- they kind of dissolve into bunches of sticks. DuraCool is presumably a better choice. Worked fine though.
3. Having a powerful fan really makes or breaks it. I used a smallish battery that I recharged during the week, and when the battery was low, the fan would slow down, and the tent would heat up noticeably... swapping with a fresh battery and hearing the fan spin up to a loud WHIR meant nice cool air, aahhhh.
4. Bring lots of extra water to run the cooler. I went through about a gallon per day.
5. Tents need to be covered with tarp or shade cloth. The first morning before we had our shade set up, the tent was uncovered and in full sun. The cooler helped a bit, but was not strong enough to counteract the sun. Once the shade was on, it was significantly better. Still bordering on uncomfortably warm from 11a to 2pm or so, but comfortable in late morning and early afternoon, and downright lovely in morning and evening.

Thanks to this cooler, we did what would have been unthinkable to me in previous years -- stayed up all night, went to bed after sunrise, and then slept all fucking day in our tent until 4:30 pm. Having a private space available to us at pretty much any hour of the day was an invaluable luxury, especially since the burn was an emotionally challenging one for us.

Thank FIGJAM, this cooler really helped!
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby tatonka » Fri Sep 06, 2013 6:59 pm

mine didnt work very well one day cause the unper vent wasnt open , after I opened that the place cooled off fast.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby maladroit » Fri Sep 06, 2013 7:29 pm

I had a pump, fan, and some wire...then bought parts for the swamp cooler at hardware stores along the route to the playa. Built the swamp cooler one night in my hexayurt...we ran all of our cooler melt through it, and it was excellent during the late morning. In fact, it sort of detracted from the whole Burning Man experience, since it was too easy to lounge in bed rather than head out to explore.
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Re: cooling your tent or van

Postby Jyman » Fri Sep 06, 2013 8:36 pm

Image
Screen shot 2013-09-06 at 9.20.42 AM by J Hy One, on Flickr

Image
Screen shot 2013-09-06 at 9.21.43 AM by J Hy One, on Flickr


I got more like a 15 degree effect inside. Not sure why not 25-30 like FIgjam gets. I had 2 exhaust windows with furnace filters (yes they faced the correct way) and to help exhaust I would sometimes crack the door. When the heat outside was kickin, from 85-95, I never got below 74 inside my Yurt. Can I complain?...no. But it seems others with this design get better results. And I think my fabrication was solid as can be this time. Pads stayed wet, pump worked well, cooler was shaded outside. I think I may have gotten near a 20 degree drop at one point. I guess my yurt may have been absorbing more outside heat and has more cubic feet than Figjams playapod for example. Can anyone think of why I didn't get even better results?

On another note, there were a couple more humid days on-playa this yr. A few times it was around 15-20 percent RH outside

Image
Screen shot 2013-09-06 at 9.20.01 AM by J Hy One, on Flickr
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