Homemade AC Unit For Under $25

This post may contain affiliate links, view our disclosure policy for details.

Please share this content if you like it. Thank You!

This is a tutorial for a very simple homemade AC unit that you can make for under $25 and very quickly. It can be powered with a car battery if you live off the grid or it can also be a great solution for an RV or a garage. It’s just enough to cool a medium size room down a bit and break the harsh heat of the summer. Yes, I am aware that I could go for a window unit that costs $125 but I choose to do this instead because fall was right around the corner and I knew we would be getting a good system installed the following summer, I just needed a tiny break from the heat and this homemade AC gave it to me. 


It is hot, you guys. As in HOT. I am sure everyone can feel it, but being eight months pregnant, having 3 little kids to run after, and living in humid, central NC in a house without AC… Well, boil me to death and let’s just be done with it!

So, what’s a hot mama to do if she does not have $3000 to buy an AC system for her house?

Why, look for a cheaper alternative, of course. As in much much much cheaper.

$20 and change. Yes! That is in the budget.

I watched some cool videos on YouTube on how to make a homemade AC unit and in the end, made up kind of my own simple design that doesn’t require the use of a drill or any power tool.

Keep it simple, man.

Homemade AC Unit For Under $25

Here is a simple homemade AC unit that you can build in just a few minutes. It cost me $20 and change, and it cools a room for a good couple of hours. #homemadeacunit #diyacunit #howtomakeanacunit #homemadecoolingunit

For this project, you will need…

Here is a simple homemade AC unit that you can build in a just a few minutes. It cost me $20 and change, and it cools a room for a good couple of hours.

A cooler. Not too small, you want at least one, preferably two 1 gallon bottles to fit in there. This cooler cost me $7 at Walmart.

Here is a simple homemade AC unit that you can build in a just a few minutes. It cost me $20 and change, and it cools a room for a good couple of hours.

A 6” fan. This one was $10 at Walmart.

Here is a simple homemade AC unit that you can build in a just a few minutes. It cost me $20 and change, and it cools a room for a good couple of hours.

And two 1 1/2” elbows that was $1.72 each at Lowes.

You don’t have to follow this exact design,  but it will give you the basic idea and then you can adjust according to what you can find in the store or what you already have on hand.

You will also need a utility knife.

Here is a simple homemade AC unit that you can build in a just a few minutes. It cost me $20 and change, and it cools a room for a good couple of hours.

First, I removed the shield (front part of the fan), we don’t need it for the finished unit…

Here is a simple homemade AC unit that you can build in a just a few minutes. It cost me $20 and change, and it cools a room for a good couple of hours.

But I did use it to mark where to make the opening for the fan on the lid of the cooler. I also placed the elbows where they should be to make sure it all fits on the lid.

Here is a simple homemade AC unit that you can build in a just a few minutes. It cost me $20 and change, and it cools a room for a good couple of hours.

Next, with a utility knife, cut the hole for the fan…

Here is a simple homemade AC unit that you can build in a just a few minutes. It cost me $20 and change, and it cools a room for a good couple of hours.

Like so…

Here is a simple homemade AC unit that you can build in a just a few minutes. It cost me $20 and change, and it cools a room for a good couple of hours.

Then, cut two holes for the elbows…

Here is a simple homemade AC unit that you can build in a just a few minutes. It cost me $20 and change, and it cools a room for a good couple of hours.

And the lid is ready!

Here is a simple homemade AC unit that you can build in a just a few minutes. It cost me $20 and change, and it cools a room for a good couple of hours.

Place the fan, front down, in its hole. I had to adjust the hole just a bit so it would fit snug…

Here is a simple homemade AC unit that you can build in a just a few minutes. It cost me $20 and change, and it cools a room for a good couple of hours.

And then place the elbows in their holes.

Here is a simple homemade AC unit that you can build in a just a few minutes. It cost me $20 and change, and it cools a room for a good couple of hours.

That is pretty much it, the unit is ready.

Here is another look.

Here is a simple homemade AC unit that you can build in a just a few minutes. It cost me $20 and change, and it cools a room for a good couple of hours.

To use it, place one or two one-gallon bottles of frozen water in the cooler, place the lid on, plug in the fan and start it, and let it blow delicious cold air in your face!

Take into consideration that it takes some time for such a big bottle to freeze. I have three or four of them in the deep freezer. Yo can also use a bag of ice instead.

Of course, it’s not as cool as having the real deal but it’s a great relief from hot humid air.

I use it mostly at night because I have a hard time sleeping when it’s hot. And I run it at nap time so my boy can sleep comfortably.

If you live in a tiny home or if you live off the grid, it can be a great, easy, and cheap solution for you. It will cool a room for a couple of hours before you need to replace the bottle. Also, if you live off the grid, a fan will take much less energy than even an AC window unit, so you can easily run it on a car battery or a small solar panel. I think it would also be nice to take it with us when we go camping.

‘Till next week…

Yours,

Lady Lee.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

49 thoughts on “Homemade AC Unit For Under $25”

  1. Freeze water in the foam cooler if you have a deep freeze.
    Buy another cooler and swap them out as they thaw.
    Ice will stay frozen longer.

  2. If you use the ice packs for lunch pails it may last longer. Just a suggestion. I’m not sure if this will work or not but worth a shot and you can put more in a cooler at a time and use less room again if the ice packs even work.

    1. No. It’s just easier to make the holes for the pipes and fan but you can use any cooler you want but you might need a drill to make the holes.

  3. Used a solid 5 ga. Bucket with a tight fitting lid. Drilled the appropriate openings. I put 10 lbs. Of bagged ice inside, closed the lid tight and turned on the fan. Not much cold air came out. I’m disappointed and very warm…

      1. I used a Five Gallon bucket, BUT I recycled some styrofoam panels and cut strips out and used waterproof liquid nails to two layers of foam on the inside of the 5 gal bucket, works like a charm…it’s essentially a swamp cooler, but don’t let the hype fool you, it will NOT feel as good as or as cold as A/C, but it’ll be cooler than just having a fan recirculating hot air around you. Use an old vacuum hose and tight tape it to the output and feed a hose underneath the covers…works REALLY well for a good sleep.

  4. I do a lot of different crafty things in my garage when temps allow and in Texas that window of allowable time is short. It heats up quickly and especially in the afternoons. This is an idea certainly worth trying. Even if it produces enough cool air to keep it bearable I’ll be happy. Thanks.

  5. That’s an great idea, I work in civil construction and every now and then during hotter months a machine A/C unit will break down. Could use a twelve volt fan and use in machine to finish of a job before sending to work shop.

  6. Calling BS on this one. Tried it and no go. In order to cool down the air it either needs to move very slowly or you need much more cooling than you have available in this. Don’t waste you time.

    1. I tried it as well and it worked great. If you’re looking for it to do the job of a central a/c unit or window unit…this isn’t it! Its for personal use only and for a short duration

      1. That’s right. It’s an easy solution to help you get by not in any way comparable to a regular AC unit. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Great idea. I’ve used this with a battery powered can for camping. Also good for parks with kids. We do put a bit of water to start the frozen bottles cool faster. Freeze half full water bottles fill with regular water. Best part give the kids small squirt bottles fill with chilled water and little hot red faces cool off quickly. Thanks for all the good info. You share with us.

  8. DO NOT EVER USE DRY ICE, IT IS CO2, CARBON DIOXIDE, HEAVIER THAN AIR AND IS THE BY PRODUCT OF WHAT WE BREATHE OUT, MEANING IT IS BAD FOR HUMANS AND IT COULD KILL. PLEASE NO DRY ICE.

  9. I am old, I remember the iceman putting a large block of ice in the top of the “icebox”. We all know heat rises so if you can open the top of the window 2 inches it will draw off the heat, put the cooler it least table height or more. Get the largest foam cooler and, I use those 8x8x2 gel packs 6 at a time, or more, turn on fan. You can have more than 2 elbows. VERY IMPORTANT YOU NEED A MINIMUM OF12 INCHES BETWEEN ICE AND FAN MORE THE BETTER OR IT WON’T WORK. Have cool day.

  10. Dr.Pat Howden

    Far too complex & costly. We hand-spray our T-shirt with water, then have a small fan playing on the moist T-shirt. That gets usually too cold & we have to slow or move the fan. Also, a fan playing on bare legs is much cooler than if playing on face, arms etc. For low humidity areas we have a tiny 12volt water evaporator. Big home units take very little power to supply cool air ducted around to each room. For outside in the sun, my favorite is a white hat topped with a small solar PV panel powering a cute little fan built into the front brim.

  11. i tried the 5 gallon bucket but the air drops only about 5 degrees and the ice melts really fast. the set up is basically the same as the ones shown on youtube. fan, 3 pvc pipes, frozen plastic bottles. any help?

    1. Maybe it’s because the five-gallon bucket is not insulated and it can’t keep the ice for a long time. This is why I used the styrofoam cooler. It is meant to keep ice in an ice form…

      1. i put a styrofoam liner in the bucket. i switched over to the styrofoam cooler method but still doesnt work that good

    1. I’ve never tried. Someone suggested it here in the comments and someone else commented back that dry ice vapor is poisonous so I am not sure it’s a good idea but more research is required in order to decide.

    1. To cool the whole house you will probably need a few of them. I hope it will work for you! Thanks for visiting!

  12. Does any one know average cooling time this worked for. Like 2hours or 2-4 or 4-6 just rough estimation would work to get idea of size needed

  13. Well done, I had a commericial unit years ago that was so expensive . I gave it to a relative who really needed it, and never saw it again………But like yours it works!

    Thank you , be cool,

    Johnny G.

  14. Use an empty 5 lt box wine inner, wash out then half full with water and freeze Place at bottom of foam box, will last much longer.

Scroll to Top
Planting Bare Root Strawberries Cheap Driveway Paving Canning Milk Canning Beets