Frankencooler FAQs

Here is a collection of some of the most common questions I receive.

Is the Frankencooler a good choice for cooling a small apartment or room?

My cooler, like any ice-fueled AC, is too inefficient to use as a room cooler. If you have access to electricity, buy a portable air conditioner – the money you spend on electricity will still be less than what you’d spend on blocks or bags of ice. On the other hand, if you need effective area cooling for an extended period of time off the grid, nothing beats a Frankencooler.

What is the total cost to build a Frankencooler?

The blue and white model featured in some of my videos cost approximately $375 to build. That included $40 for a new Ryobi work fan which is where I obtained the Ryobi battery receptacle, and a 4.5 Ah knockoff Ryobi 18V battery. I already owned a Ryobi charger which costs around $35. With a broad range of pumps, blowers, coolers, etc. available, this cooler could have been built for much less or much more.

On the flip side, the grey and orange cooler you see in my videos cost well over $750 to build and features state-of-the-art components and features. Unfortunately, while it looks cool and can run for over 7 hours thanks to its large Bioenno power cell, it averages only a couple of degrees cooler air output compared to the blue and white cooler. Choosing the most effective components for the money is the key to building a great Frankencooler without breaking the bank.

What is the best power source – 12V battery, 18V Ryobi battery, or 12V power plug?

My personal favorite for ease of use and quick charging are the 18 V Ryobi batteries even though they are low tech and not available in larger sizes. Cooling durations over 2 hours require a more powerful, quality battery and the Bioenno Power models we offer are absolutely the way to go. If you are mainly using your Frankencooler in a boat, car, or plane, the power plug is the obvious choice.

Do I have to buy your component packages to build your cooler?

No – many people choose their own components online after reading the Frankencooler plans. My major component packages are for individuals who want what I have found to be the best setup for the money, without the hassle of sourcing parts all over the place.

Will you build me a cooler, and if so, for how much?

I get this question often. While I would love to build my Frankencoolers for sale, I’m an older guy with a bad back who can’t stand for the hours necessary to mass produce these things. However, I occasionally sell one of my proof-of-concept coolers if I need the room. When available, they are listed in the ‘Built Coolers’ section in the top menu.

Why should I go to the trouble to build your cooler when I can just buy something like an Icy Breeze?

Unlike other ice chest air conditioners on the market, the patent-pending Frankencooler design doesn’t pull hot air into the ice chamber but isolates and insulates it from the ice and water, significantly slowing ice melt. In addition, Instead of a single, weak PC-style fan, the full-size Frankencooler features dual, powerful blowers that move 460 cubic feet per minute (CFM), while the single blower Frankencooler AIR design moves 230 CFM. Instead of one heat exchanger, the full-size Frankencooler utilizes three, and even the small AIR model utilizes two. Other features that set Frankencooler apart are the use of high-quality marine pumps and blowers and digital, stepless speed controllers offering infinite blower speed control. While it may not be pretty, the Frankencooler is a serious cooling machine, not an overpriced, pretty novelty.

How long will a Frankencooler run on a battery charge?

That depends on the battery. A 4.5 Ah Ryobi battery will run a dual blower Frankencooler for about 1.5 hours. The 5 Ah Ryobi for about 2 hours. I understand there are now 6 Ah aftermarket Ryobi batteries available that should easily go 2.5 – 2.75 hours. Our Bioenno Power batteries will run a full-size Frankencooler all the way up to 10 + hours, depending on the model. The addition of a solar array and controller will provide around-the-clock operation in most conditions, making the Frankencooler an excellent off-the-grid cooling choice for events such as the Burning Man Festival.

Can I use any ice chest to create a Frankencooler?

While you can convert just about any ice chest into a Frankencooler, the job is made considerably easier by choosing a cooler with an unobstructed, flat lid underside to simplify the mounting of multiple heat exchangers. Other considerations are whether the cooler has a drain cock and/or wheels – both highly recommended. Whichever cooler you choose, make sure it is large enough to fit all of the needed components and hold an amount of ice needed for the cooling duration you’re seeking.

Which kind of ice should I use in my Frankencooler? What about dry ice?

Dry ice should only be used in coolers that are rated for it – not all coolers are. I have found that the dramatically higher cost of dry ice isn’t worth the few degrees improvement it provides. I always use block ice when possible as it seems to last longest. Ideally, I will put two 10 lb blocks in my full-size coolers for tailgating which easily lasts for well over two hours in blazing hot 105+ temps. A 10 lb block of ice goes for $1.99 in my area. A better alternative to dry ice are freezer bags such as ‘Cooler Shock.’ When used with ice, the melt times are extended.

I see you offer single and dual blower component packages. How do I determine which Frankencooler I need?

Unless you have limited space such as in a small aircraft or tent, I recommend the full-size dual blower design, as it offers room for more ice and a larger battery, providing the longest-running and cooling times.

Isn’t your Frankencooler just an expensive swamp/evaporative cooler?

No. An evaporative cooler blows air through a water-soaked pad resulting in a flow of cooler, moist air. In humid climates or conditions, these are ineffective as more humidity is the last thing you want. Frankencooler is a true air conditioner that uses ice water instead of gaseous Freon to chill radiators that cool a powerful stream of air. While the frigid radiators may gather some condensation as the warm air is blown through them, for the most part, the Frankencooler produces powerful streams of cold, dry air that works in any climate. Watch my Frankencooler heat testing videos to see that temperature differentials (the difference between incoming and outgoing air) are often an astounding 50-degrees in over 100-degree temperatures (30-degrees is considered effective cooling).

Why do you charge $20 for a download of your plans? Is it really worth it?

I’ve spent thousands of dollars refining what I (and many others) consider to be the most effective ice chest air conditioner on the planet, and literally weeks creating a set of plans to build it. Encompassing 20 pages and 37 photos, illustrations, and diagrams, these plans will guide anyone through the steps to build a Frankencooler, while avoiding the pitfalls I’ve experienced. BTW, I use the proceeds from plan sales to pay the hundreds of dollars it costs for this website every year.

If I buy Frankencooler plans and later purchase the component package that includes plans, do you refund the $20 I paid for the plans?


What kind of tools do I need to build a Frankencooler?

Basic hand tools and a drill are really all that is needed to build a Frankencooler. An electric jigsaw is handy for cutting holes in the cooler lid, but I prefer to use a razor knife as most inexpensive coolers are constructed of fairly soft plastic. Because there are electrical connections, a wire stripping/crimping tool is also recommended. Frankencooler plans available on this site outline in detail everything needed to build your own Frankencooler.

If I purchase plans or a component package, what amount of personal assistance can I expect to receive from you?

As much as you require. During the summer months, I spend approximately 5 – 8 (and often more) hours a day, including on weekends, responding to emails. Unfortunately, because of the volume of emails I receive from customers, I am increasingly unable to provide build assistance to non-customers, which I regret.

I live in the Phoenix area, can I pick up my Frankencooler components package order from you to save shipping time?

Sure, as long as we agree on a specific time.

I also attend Cardinals football games. Can I stop by your tailgating tent to see your Frankencoolers in operation in order to evaluate them for myself?

Absolutely. We tailgate in the Grey Preferred parking lot usually near marker 55 – Look for the Frankencooler flag (below) flying above our grey and blue tent. Bring beer.