Every week I hear from people who who have already built an ice chest air conditioner yet are interested in building a Frankencooler(tm). The story is always the same: “In the video it looked like a good idea and it was cheap to build. It just didn’t work like I expected.”
A battery-operated fan blowing on ice, a cooler containing a big snaking plastic tube hooked to a blower screwed to its side, to giant coils of copper tube in front of box fans, you quickly find out the ‘good idea’ sucks as the ice quickly melts and the barely moving air turns warm. There’s a good reason why regular home and auto AC units blow air through a chilled heat exchanger instead of employing a giant plastic tube connected to a blower.
The Frankencooler design isn’t magic – it utilizes the tried-and-true technology of chilling airflow that has been around for decades but does so in a way that is unique to any other portable ice water fueled cooler. Totally segregating airflow from ice/water storage provides the longest ice retention, while multiple heat exchangers work together to typically produce an incredible 50-degree temperature differential in 100+ degree temperatures. Regardless of price, no purpose-built ice-fueled cooler on the market can match Frankencooler’s effectiveness.
The downside to this kind of performance is the fact it’s a little more complicated and expensive than draping a big tube through a cooler, but the results speak for themselves. Frankencoolers may be ugly, but they work – and when it’s 112 outside, that’s all that matters.