How to Make a DIY Swamp Cooler

Staying cool doesn’t always have to be expensive. If you’re on a tight budget and need relief from the heat in a timely manner, a DIY swamp cooler can do the trick. A swamp cooler uses evaporative cooling to bring down the temperature as much as 15°F. Basically, all you need is water and dry, warm, or hot air, as well as a means to generate airflow.

A traditional swamp cooler setup consists of a motorized blower, evaporative pads that pull in warm air, and a water supply valve. A pump delivers water to the evaporative pads, while a float rises and turns off the valve when water reaches a certain level. Once the pads are in contact with water, the blower motor engages, and warm air is pulled in; the moisture cools warm air that passes through the pads. Cooled air is then blown through a vent and into the room.

Before You Start

Despite their name, swamp coolers work best in dry air with low humidity, unlike an actual swamp. Homemade swamp coolers can be used at any temperature but are most effective in rooms that are 74°F or less due to their tendency to add additional humidity to the air.

A DIY swamp cooler can produce air that is up to 15°F cooler than the room temperature and can cool an entire small room by 3°F. Since most DIY swamp coolers are used like fans for spot-cooling rather than for cooling entire spaces, it’s not recommended to use this system as your standard cooling source, but perfect for smaller spaces and more efficient than a fan.

Building Your Own DIY Swamp Cooler

Since the concept behind a swamp cooler is relatively simple, it’s possible to build one on your own. This entails a small electric fan pointed down into a five-gallon bucket of water or ice blowing cooled air out of holes made on the side of the container. This short project costs only $20 to $30 to create.

Follow these steps to build your own simple DIY swamp cooler from scratch:

1. Gather Supplies and Tools

Start by collecting the necessary supplies. These include a bucket (plastic or foam) or container (five gallons), a small fan, and water or ice. You’ll also need a drill for harder materials; a razor or knife will work for foam. Ice and a small, towel-sized, breathable cloth are needed as well.

2. Prepare the Body of the Cooler

Cut the holes as high as possible on the side of the bucket or container but still below the lowest structural ridge on the bucket. Keep the holes within 4 inches of each other so that they point in the same general direction.

3. Connect the Fan

Measure the front face of the fan and cut a corresponding-sized hole in the lid. The hole should be just the right size. Otherwise, the fan may fall into the cooler. Then, it won’t only be ineffective but could also short out if water contact occurs. Place the fan face against the hole and apply adhesive tape, glue, or caulking around the edges. Allow the adhesive to dry.

4. Make Sure the Unit Is Properly Assembled

Check for gaps around the edge of the lid and ensure there are no loose parts. Secure all components and make sure the swamp cooler is sealed. Next, plug the unit in and verify that the fan is working and airflow is sufficient.

5. Add Water and Ice

Fill up the inside of your DIY swamp cooler with water and ice. The holes you made should be covered with a cloth; make sure it’s properly sized and trimmed so it fits over the holes and interior of the container. Turn the unit on and start to enjoy a fresh, cool breeze.

Tips for Making Your Swamp Cooler Even Colder

To get even colder air, you can try the following methods:

  1. Fill the container with the coldest water possible; chill it in the freezer if necessary, or add crushed ice.
  2. Frequently replenish the ice; this is simple as you can keep adding ice cubes from time to time (one to two dozen cubes will give the best results).
  3. Place the cooler away from direct light, which can heat the water and melt the ice, making the cooler less effective.
  4. If there’s room, drain the liquid and add dry ice to your swamp cooler, which can make a big difference if you’re looking to really chill things down.
  5. Consider a dehumidifier, as swamp cooling works better with dry air; the cooler will, therefore, be more effective since dry air doesn’t feel as hot.

If your AC or heater isn’t providing the comfort you expect it to, contact Black Hills Inc. Home Services. We’re highly trusted in the Olympia area for HVAC repairs, installation, and maintenance.

Available 24/7, we provide emergency service and guarantee flat-rate pricing. To learn more or request prompt AC repair in Olympia, other services, or more DIY swamp cooler advice, call 888-978-2917 today.