Almost free air conditioner

The swamp cooler, also know as the “poor man’s air conditioner”, is an inexpensive and very effective way to cool your home. This cooler draws air into the room, air that passes a moistened pad. This adds moisture to the air and thus cooling the air.


  • Two commercially made swamp cooler pads
  • A box fan
  • Four 1-inch thick, 4-inch wide boards 2-3 feet long (depends on your window width)
  • 12- 1/2 inch long drywall screws
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Screen mesh
  • Staple gun with 3/8-inch staples
  • Submersible water pump (like found in fish tanks)
  • 8-feet of 1/2-inch clear plastic tubing
  • Water Collector Tray at least 2-inches wider than your frame and 4-inches deep

Frame building

To build a frame you will need four boards and some drywall screws. Join them together using a drill and a drill bit.

Rubber tubing

Now drill a hole in the center of one of the boards, a hole of 1-inch diameter. Insert the tube and run it through the inside of the top of the frame. Now starting from one inch from the side and stopping also at one inch, drill small holes of a couple of millimeters, every 2 inches. Secure the rubber tubing using staples, from the top side board, but first seal one end with waterproof silicone. Be careful not to puncture the tubing. Now connect the other end of the tube to the submersible pump. Put the pump in the water tray.

Screen mesh

The screen mesh needs to be stretched over one side of the frame and stapled. Start from the center and then continue on the sides.

Swamp pads

Place the screen facing down. Insert the swamp pads inside the box. Use two pads. They should be at least 1/4 of an inch above the frame. Stretch the screen to cover the pads and hold them in place. Staple it.

Water collector tray and fan

Use some wood screws to attach the fan to the frame. Drill some holes in the frame. Set the fan on top of the tray and fill it with water to cover the pump.


Now put the frame on the windows with the fan facing inside the room. Open another window to improve air circulation. Plug-in the pump and fan. The pump will drip water on the pads. The water will recirculate as it will flow to the bottom of the unit and back into the tray. The air that will pass should be cooler.

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