Plans and major components for building your own Frankencooler are now available here
In response to numerous requests from small aircraft owners and pilots, introducing Frankencooler AIR – a small, lightweight, single blower ice chest air conditioner utilizing the patent-pending Frankencooler design.
- 12 volt or 24 volt
- 8 ‘ power plug with wired remote blower controller
- Lightweight: 11.5 – 12 lbs. empty
- Ice capacity: 10+ lbs.
- Wheeled cooler w/telescoping handle
- Dual heat exchangers
- Segregated, insulated ice compartment
- Powerful 230 CFM blower
- Marine pump
- Pilot controlled digital stepless motor controller
- 30+ degree temperature differential
Here are a few tips that may come in handy while building your Frankencooler:
- Always mark the front of your cooler lid with a piece of tape on the bottom. I learned this the hard way.
- Unlike what I did on my early models, place your pump as far as possible to the side of the cooler floor to give maximum room for ice. Using closed manifolds as I did on my gray cooler makes this easier.
- Use nylon 90-degree elbows on radiators with straight connections to route tubing in such a way as to avoid kinks when the lid is closed.
- When using elbows on smaller coolers with closed manifolds, use longer sections of tubing and route them upwards so they make a gentle arc to the manifolds when the lid is closed.
- Use heat shrink tubing over all electrical connections on the underside of the lid. Plastic wire coverings are not adequate by themselves.
- Don’t use the highest flow pumps you can find as they can be noisy. Frankencooler pumps are for circulation, not bailing. I prefer pumps around 300 GPH for 12V applications and 500 GPH for 24V pumps when running on 18V.
- Cover exposed radiator faces with pieces of cardboard during construction to prevent fins from being accidentally flattened.
- Remove all adhesive labels from plumbing components before assembly, as they will eventually come off and can clog pumps and radiators.
- Use the thickest, highest quality insulation board that will fit into your cooler while leaving enough room for block ice below and plumbing connections above.
- Cut sheet insulation with an electric knife if you have one. It produces cleaner cuts and far less mess. Cover all insulation cuts with foil HVAC tape to prevent chipping.
- The air chamber at the top of cooler needs to be as small as your plumbing will allow.
An individual representing himself as a “refrigeration mechanic” commented on one of my dumb YouTube videos today with “the factual information to dispel any notion as to the effectiveness of such a device” (my Frankencooler). He goes on to describe what constitutes a ton of cooling, BTUs, etc. and ends with the definitive proclamation, “So the cooling ability of this device is limited to a fraction of the amount needed to cool a 400 sq foot area. SO IT WON’T WORK!!!!” *ahem*
Okay, so I don’t know who told this guy that this (or any small, portable ice-fueled device) is designed to cool a 400 sq. ft. room, but the hundreds of people who follow this site and the countless dozens who have personally communicated with me know it certainly wasn’t me. Nearly every day I discourage people from building this or any small, ice-fueled chiller for cooling entire rooms or anyplace with access to 110V current. This is not a house air conditioner!
What this cooler does do is send two powerful streams of cold air (minimum 30-degree cooler) to the immediate area for an extended period of time, using no external power source.
I comfortably work in my 115-degree garage next to a battered, well-used Frankencooler that’s gone through more ice than the Titanic, and a bunch of us will tailgate on an asphalt parking lot in 105+ temps in the upcoming weeks in front of two Frankencoolers at the University of Phoenix Stadium. People use these to keep cool at their kids’ soccer and football practices, on fishing and camping trips, or sitting on the patio. This is what a Frankencooler does, and it absolutely works.
Since building the ‘Ultimate Frankencooler’ a few weeks ago, I’ve had a chance to gauge its performance and compare it to my earlier models.
This cooler is bigger (62 Qt vs. 50 Qt.), slightly better insulated, features a much larger power cell and all-copper, high-$$$ heat exchangers, including a 240 MM inlet unit in place of the 10″ X 9″ aluminum one I’ve been using for two years. Other changes included a centralized plumbing arrangement and 50% thicker insulated divider. Oh, yeah – and digital temperature readout thingies (basically useless, but they look so cool).
In testing, the new unit puts out ever-so-slightly colder air (2 – 3 degrees), looks cooler, sounds cooler (insulated lid changes the blowers’ pitch), and will run through four ten-pound blocks of ice on a single charge. It’s better, right? So why do I keep grabbing the other coolers for my garage and outdoor duties in our sweltering 115+ degree Arizona heat, while the Ultimate Frankencooler sits on the shelf? What’s up with that?
Here’s why – the older coolers are way lighter, the Ryobi-based batteries last for a good while, are a snap to swap in and out, and charge in mere minutes, not hours. Also, the ice seems to last longer (those 3 degrees apparently come at a price), and the pump is nearly silent – all for almost exactly half of what I spent on the Ultimate Frankencooler.
The results are in, and the title for my favorite Frankencooler goes to – envelope please – the blue one (sound of applause). This combination simply works great. Put these components in the Coleman 62Qt. Xtreme cooler and have the best of both in a reasonably-priced package.
I am contacted regularly by individuals around the country (and abroad) wanting to purchase a Frankencooler, but as many of you know, I am an older guy with a bad back who can’t stand for the hours needed to crank these out. The response from many is, “Do you know of anyone who can build one for me?”
I know there are many individuals, especially skilled retirees like myself, who love to work with their hands and wouldn’t mind making a few bucks while doing so. I am attempting to collect contact information for those who would like to build Frankencoolers for people in their area in return for an agreed upon fee (that fee would be between the two of you). I would receive nothing from this arrangement beyond hopefully supplying plans and/or parts.
Anyone interested in being listed as a Frankencooler builder, please contact me at email@example.com. Your contact information will be held in strictest confidence and will not be sold or used for marketing of any kind.