A tiny air conditioner for a tiny space.




If you ask people in the rest of the world to describe the weather in Canada, 90% of them would say it’s cold with a chance of hockey.  Even though I made that percentage up, based on my own experience I know it’s true.  I think there’s some confusion, in the United States especially, due to the whole celsius versus fahrenheit thing.  When we say it’s 30 degrees in Canada in the middle of summer we don’t mean 30 degrees fahrenheit. We mean 30 degrees celsius.  Although some of us do mean 30 degrees fahrenheit because even though it’s been over 40 years since the country switched from imperial to metric, most residents are still kind of suspicious of it.

Collectively we seem to have agreed to accept celsius as a measurement of temperature and kilometres as a measurement of distance.  Beyond that we’re mostly confused.  If you asked me to tell you what I weigh in kilograms I’d have to jump on one of those hanging grocery store scales and ask someone to read it out loud to me.

But back to this whole temperature thing.  30 degrees celsius, which it regularly is in my part of Southern Ontario during the summer, is approximately 86 degrees fahrenheit.  When you factor in the humidity that’s common around here, the day could feel more like 101.  So air conditioning is not a luxury in many parts of Canada, it’s a necessity.  Yes.  Summers in a lot of Canada are hot.  Very hot.

But air conditioning is a necessity that not everyone has.  I, for one, didn’t have central air conditioning until 3 years ago.  Up until then I had a window unit in the bedroom and the dining room and a really good relationship with my air conditioner owning neighbours.  In the summer you can tell how many families don’t have air conditioning by counting the number of people sitting cross legged inside the grocery store ice cream freezer.

The mini air conditioner I’m going to show you today might not cool off a whole house, but it will help cool off a tent (which can get STIFLING hot) while you’re camping or in my case … a chicken coop.

People always ask me how I keep the chickens warm in the winter, but chickens don’t need anything to keep them warm in the winter.  They’re fine with the cold.  It’s the heat that’ll kill them.  So at least 3 times a summer, I have nights where I have to keep their coop doors open and run a fan on them.  I have a screen that goes in place of the coop doors, and even though it’s really secure I don’t like the idea of raccoons running around being able to see the chickens in there at night so I’m constantly waking up and running down to check on them.

After about a year of researching different options I’ve decided I’ll probably install a solar powered roof vent.  I don’t know when I’ll get around to doing that so for now I’m using this ridiculous homemade redneck air conditioner.

It costs about $20 to make and works.  The ridiculous thing works.  The bigger your cooler, the more ice it can hold, the more effective it will be.  Mine is just a tiny one because I wanted it to fit in the coop.

Here’s how you do it and what you need.


DIY mini air conditioner


1 cooler

1 small fan

1, 4″ PVC elbow






You need to cut holes in the top of the cooler for both the fan and the PVC elbow, so put them on the cooler and mark their size with a pencil.



Before cutting the holes out with a jigsaw, drill a large hole into the lid.  This will give you a place to put your jigsaw blade in to start cutting.



Cut your circles out.  I use this Bosch. Bosch makes the VERY best jigsaws around. Ask anyone.



Grab your PVC elbow …




… and your fan, and put them in the holes to make sure they fit.




If you cut correctly the fit will be tight.  To keep everything sealed and in place, run a bead of silicone around the elbow and the fan.



If you wanted to make this extra fancy you could cut the plug off of the fan and wire it to a 12V (car) battery.  That way it can run even when you don’t have a power source nearby.  Like in a tent.  To be super-extra-crazy fancy you can wire the 12 V battery to a solar panel so your battery will always be charged.



In case you were wondering this is what it looks like from the underside of the lid.

Just add ice.  You now have a mini air conditioner.


I know there’s going to be some smart ass that says That ain’t no air conditioner! An air conditioner removes heat from the air using a discombobulator skimmy coil, it doesn’t blow cool air around, that’s just a fan with some ice, NOT the same thing.

To you I say, suck it.

I gave the air conditioner a test run the other night in the coop.


The air began at 87 F (30.5 C) in the coop and after two hours was 74 F (23 C).




It’s compact and easy to move around, doesn’t take up much space in the shed when I’m not using it and doesn’t weigh much even when it’s filled with ice.  Of course, I have no idea what it weighs in kilograms.  2 pairs of hockey skates, maybe?

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  1. Nancey says:

    I’m thinking of making one of these to put into my dog’s dog house I’m currently building. Do you have any recommendations of how to hook it up to solar power? What size solar panel? Do you need a battery if using a solar panel? Any instructions for this would be most appreciated.

  2. Daniel says:

    Ha ha! Very nice, I got much fun by seeing that hens are taking AC air. But the AC is really fine for any little space such as chicken house, little firm, little cabinet or car


  3. Linda says:

    You are absolutely incredible Karen. I look forward to receiving your posts every single day. You make me laugh.

  4. Edith says:

    What a cool idea! I had never heard of such a contraption. Will file it under “heat survival skills”. That would be a great idea for a camper or tent.

    You’re such a good chicken mom!

  5. Brent says:

    A small improvement. Instead of siliconing the elbow in place, use a small piece of pipe, then put the elbow onto the pipe. That way you can set the cooler wherever it will fit and still be able to direct the cooled air wherever you need it to go.

  6. Patty says:

    I think if this was truly a Redneck Air Conditioner it would be made out of the Styrofoam coolers you can pick up at the gas stations and the pvc would be duct taped. But fun concept none the less.

  7. Anniepalmer says:

    I’m thinking of using this on our 30′ carver boat

  8. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    If the girls are happy with it..I’m happy with it!

  9. Evalyn says:

    I must object to calling this a Redneck Cooler. Duct Tape was not used – everyone knows if you don’t use duct tape, it ain’t redneck. Also, you use appropriate tools that pose no opportunity for maiming oneself in the process. And although I have faith that beer was consumed, nowhere do I see evidence of same. My sister in law, who lives in the wilds of Alaska, built herself one of these from a old styrofoam cooler, a partial role of duct tape, a dull pocket knife and a six pack of Coors. It works well, blowing cold air directly on her beer while she applies pressure to the cut on her leg. How hard can it be?

  10. Vicki says:

    Wow, what a great idea! Thanks for sharing.

  11. Kelli says:

    Would dry ice be overkill, Karen? Or too cold?

  12. Sabrina says:

    Good on ya, Karen! I made one last summer with a styrofoam cheapie and filled it with frozen bottles of water. I was desperate while working in the shed building shelves and reorganizing (where did all the CRAP come from??!!!). Worked like a “breeze”! ;-) I’m in El Paso, TX, and I swear the shed could double as your pizza oven in the summer!

  13. Amy in StL says:

    I believe that’s generally known as a swamp cooler. My aunt used to put a pan with a block of ice in it in the windowsill. She then put a fan blowing on the block of ice into the living room. I remember as a kid thinking that was the coolest idea ever.

  14. Mary W says:

    I accidentally left my Cockatiel in her very well built cage on our completely screened back porch one night. Next morning, I found the cage bars pulled apart and nothing but feathers left and the wet footprints of a raccoon as it squeezed out the cat flap door. It must have dipped in the pool before leaving to add insult to injury. My brother said they poop in his pool all the time. Raccoons are tremendous predators!

  15. Lynn (really spelled w/ an "e", but somebody else already has that spelling on here) says:

    You wrote: “I don’t like the idea of raccoons running around being able to see the chickens in there at night…” Are raccoons predators? P.S. Very cool redneck AC!

    • Jan in Waterdown says:

      Raccoons may be cute when they’re young but they are major predators, incredibly destructive and determined. I admire their tenacity but would not regret their quick and sudden demise. If they didn’t kill the chickens, they sure as heck would grab the eggs. And poop all over the place as a parting gift! Our neighbours feed them . . . grrrrrrr . . .

      • Sandy says:

        Take a Pill. Sudden demise, seriously! Ass

        • Jan in Waterdown says:

          Lovely . . . thanks . . .

        • Karen says:

          I’ve gotta say as someone who lives with raccoons throwing food around, eating my pond fish and regularly trying to get into my chicken coop to kill my chickens … I’d also be pretty fine with their demise. I’m with Jan with this one. ~ karen!

  16. Jody says:

    That is so cool. What did the girls think of it?

  17. mickey says:

    Freakin’ awesome!!

  18. Elen G says:

    “In the summer you can tell how many families don’t have air conditioning by counting the number of people sitting cross legged inside the grocery store ice cream freezer.”

    Bwahaahahaha. I’m looking at my chest freezer in a whole new light. Count Freeze-ula.

  19. Cred says:

    Great solution! We’re lucky the duck house is well shaded, well the whole lot is, but it does prompt me to go check the temps in their house. You’re definitely right, most people worry about how to keep birds warm in the winter but the problem really is keeping them cool in summer.

  20. Molly says:

    This invention is literally for the birds.

    Which I don’t have. I do wish I had chickens. I’ve got a couple coolers like the one you do. Just need the birds. nicely done!

  21. Gary G from Holland, Michigan says:

    Depending, I keep my chickens in either the freezer or the fridge.

    Seriously, this redneck air conditioner is a great idea. I really enjoy reading your articles.

  22. Sandy says:

    My husband and I thought the Christmas lights were genius to keep the water from freezing. Now this! Even more Genius!!!! Lol. Where did you get the fan, Karen? It’s been close to 100 most every day in North Carolina. The girls would be happy to have this.

    • joanne says:

      blink. blink..

      “Christmas lights….. to keep the water from freezing”.?!?!? How did I miss that one? It makes perfect sense, and would never have thought of it!

  23. Melissa in NC says:

    You are incredibly resourceful!!!

  24. IRS says:

    I’m glad you were able to keep your chickens cool for a few hours. I, too, am able to keep my chickens cool. I use a Subzero refrigerator. It keeps them cool for days. If I want to keep them cool for even longer, I use a Subzero freezer. Works great!

  25. Barb says:

    Karen, pretty flippin’ inventive, I must say!

  26. Kim in ATL says:

    Hi Karen,
    I loved this post! I live in Atlanta, Georgia where temperatures in the summer are easily over 100 degree (F) and with the near 100% humidity feel as if it’s 115 degrees. My “fella” is a self-proclaimed redneck (southern country boy) so I can confirm that this is indeed called a “redneck AC”. We use them as you mentioned when camping and at sporting events. While they may not be true air conditioners they will cool things down by an average of 10-15 degrees depending on the size of your cooler.

  27. I surround myself with quirky, genius friends so I look smarter. We are the company we keep!! …wait you hang out with chickens…

  28. Ann says:

    I may try to make one of these for my rabbitry. Rabbits are way more sensitive to heat issues than even chickens. And this week we will be close to the century mark, in Fahrenheit, that is, and with humidity. So our heat index may come close to 110. That is the hottest I have had to get thru since raising rabbits. Right now, my freezer is full of 2 liter water filled pop bottles and I take them out by noon and place them in their cages. I can go out later to find rabbits all snuggled up to the ice bottles and they still look uncomfortably hot. And the rabbitry is in full shade. My chickens are lucky enough to have good shade somewhere in their run all day long. But you are right, that coop has got to be stuffy and hot at night. Plus I have a broody girl who wants to stay in the coop all day. Even with the nest box lid propped open, it can’t be comfy in there

  29. magali says:

    20$ if you already have the cooler right? Or have you found a place that sells affordable coolers?

  30. holly says:

    I made this for my husband to use while he is in the garage. We live in Phoenix and we call this a swamp cooler or evaporative cooler. I used a styrofoam cooler I got at Goodwill for $1.00 so it was super cheap. As long as the humidity is down, this works like a charm. I fill a gallon milk jug with water and freeze it every night and it stays frozen for a few hours. You’re a good chicken mama.

  31. Sherry in Alaska says:

    Same principle as an evaporative cooler. But much more portable and not requiring running water. Gets too hot here in interior Alaska sometimes too and this seems like a good method for cooling at least the room I’m in.

  32. Bronwyn says:

    You never cease to amaze me too.

  33. Barbie says:

    I LOVE this! So does my husband who was just reading this over my shoulder! Brilliant!

  34. peg says:

    passing this idea on to my son,very cool. your birds seem to be thankful. :D

  35. you never cease to amaze me.

  36. Yvonne says:

    What an absolutely clever idea! Lucky chooks.

  37. Mary says:

    There is a local Chicken Rescue group here in MN. They take in unwanted or stray chickens and rehab them and then adopt them out.(they also sterilize them so they don’t lay eggs anymore, but that’s a whole other story). They posted today (heat index in MN was 102) that you should bring your chickens inside when it’s this hot, as they can’t deal with the heat. Think I’ll share your post link on their page.

  38. Kathy says:

    That is just too clever. My son might make one to use while working in the garage at his house. I bought my house from people that did upholstery work in the garage and somehow the duct work for heat and air is in the garage too. I don’t miss that big change in temp. going from house to garage. You come up with really good projects. Thanks

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Kathy! He’d have to have a pretty big cooler and a larger fan for this to cool a garage but technically it’s possible. :) ~ karen!

  39. Dolaine Koch says:

    I’ve use the same concept by placing a shallow bowl in front of the fan, running the air over it to cool my bedroom out of total frustration. I didn’t have tools and time, I just wanted to get immediate relief to sleep!

    • Karen says:

      Before central air I’d put the fan on me then squeeze a spray bottle of water into the air over me. Worked great too! ~ k!

  40. Carol says:

    If you have a bunch of hessian/burlap, the wherewithal to drape it over and around the coop, the means to dampen down said cloth, and if the chook house is in the path of a breeze, you could try an old Aussie invention that needs no electricity…..
    The Coolgardie Safe

  41. brenda says:

    awww – those lucky d̶u̶c̶k̶s̶ chickens

  42. Paula says:


  43. Shelly says:

    I really like this idea! How long does the ice last, and where on earth did you get this great idea?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Shelly – It will all depend on how good the cooler is. This one isn’t great so the ice just lasts into the night. It’s long enough for the chickens to get to sleep without being too hot. But in the morning the water inside the cooler is still almost ice cold so it’s still effective. ~ karen!

  44. Suzanne says:

    What ever floats the boat. And keeps the chicklets comfy.

  45. jeannie.b says:

    I was just researching the same subject earlier this evening. The video I saw was with a frozen milk jug full of water, in a bucket with a fan on top and some PVC tubes sticking out the front. I’ve got oscilating fans in each of my main rooms and haven’t yet turned the A/C on. I’m glad that your pet hens enjoyed sone cool air way to go Karen!

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