Thursday, August 4, 2016

Ice Air Conditioner For Vans

Southern California has been really hot this summer. We went down to Comic-Con in San Diego a couple of weeks ago and it was so hot that even the ice surrounding my laptop could not keep it from burning out. So we bought a new laptop (that financially hurt) and decided to take the plunge and build an air conditioner that would work for our van until we can get a battery and solar panel system set up.

The things I bought. First I went to Walmart and I bought:
1. A 10 gallon garbage kitchen can
2. A shoe box plastic box with lid
3. E6000 glue
4. Clear Gorilla Tape
NOTE: Clear Gorilla Tape is not as good as a regular Gorilla Tape. In the picture you can see I took all the tape off. I highly recommend you use regular Gorilla Tape.

At Home Depot I bought heavy duty industrial scissors & a metal plate with a hole in it in the Home Building section. Most constructions I've seen online  have used the plastic plumbing pipes. However since the van isn't that big I was worried that we would constantly be bumping into it. My concern with the metal is rust. However so far I haven't seen any sign of rust.... but it's only been about a week.

The two things I already had previous to this was a camper fan that runs on batteries and an ice chest.

The camper's fan that I have has a battery compartment that forms a U & bends down so that the fan and the U part of it goes almost flat - it's much easier to lay on top of the lid to blow air over the ice which blows it out into the van.

You absolutely need to have an ice chest for this construction. Since I'm not a construction person nor science enthusiast I learned the next day that I forgot that when water melts, beads of water appear on the outside of the plastic bin eventually forming a water leak / flow. You need to have the garbage can air conditioner inside the ice box so that all the water will flow down into it.

The lid / top.

Originally I was going to use the plastic box to put the fan into and then put the box on top of the garbage can. However I couldn't find a good way to attach the plastic box that could also make it easily removable when I needed to add ice to the garbage can. Using the blue lid that came with a plastic box , I drew a circle so that the fan could easily sits above it. I also had to make a square cut-out to the circle to allow me to be able to turn the fan on and off. Using the heavy duty industrial scissors will make it a lot easier to cut the hole. It will not be a perfect hole but cutting plastic is definitely not easy to do with regular scissors.

NOTE: The blue lid will not fit perfectly over the garbage can. However it will sit on top of it. If you do not have the fan taped to the lid, the fan will drop into the garbage can and get wet.

Tape down the fan onto the blue lid to secure it to the lid. This way when I need to add ice to the garbage can I remove the lid and not the fan and lid. As noted above definitely use Gorilla Tape but not clear Gorilla Tape.


The metal square pieces is harder to explain than show. Definitely take a look at the picture. The square is lightweight but hard metal. Unless you have the proper tools you can't cut it with industrial scissors. Place the metal plate on top of the garbage can and mark a wide circle for the vent. Using the industrial scissors cut out the hole. Chances are you may have made the hole smaller than the vent so make sure to look at it and see that the hole is large enough for enough air to go through the vent. Next, tape the metal piece to the plastic. Once the hole is big enough...

I put the top of the metal plate under the rim of the garbage can & tapped down the top. Then I used to E6000 on the side for a little bit of extra hold. Then I used the tape again to go along the sides and bottom and top to firmly secured it to the garbage can matching up the vent hole to the garbage can hole.

Once you have everything tapped in place put the garbage can inside the ice chest. Fill with ice to the bottom of the hole but no further. If you need extra ice and it goes partially past the hole, the amount of melted water shouldn't be enough to pour out of the air vent hole...but I don't recommend you taking that chance.

Depending on when you use this will depend on how long the cold air will last. Even when partially melted ice is mixed with water, a cool breeze can still be felt coming out of the vent.

Using this ice air conditioner  will be enough to feel a difference but unlike electrical air conditioners it isn't a instant cool off. It really helps to use this while you're sleeping or taking a daytime nap.

A nice bonus to this - you can put water safe packages on the side of the air conditioner inside the ice chest. Items such as plastic bottles of water or cans of soda. Since soda cans are metal though I wouldn't recommend leaving them in there for more than a day.








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Once the ice has completely melted we use the water in different ways.  Some is used to wash our face (or cool off on a hot day.) Or if we go to the beach the morning of the melted water we will use the water to rinse off all the sand. It can also be used for washing the van, we water our plants and some for  cooking when it's not too hot.








Saturday, June 18, 2016

Monte Cristo Campsite

Monte Cristo Campground is one of many of the Angeles National Forests spots to camp at with a tent, camper van or small RV.  Sites are kind of small and close together but it is very quiet (as long as your neighbors are.) Sadly the creek is all dried up but there are pits for a cooked dinner. If you’re willing to do a little hiking you can find fire wood for the pit. Its $12 honor system but we're told that Rangers do come by to check cars. Bathrooms are pit and at night you will need a lantern.











Monday, May 16, 2016

Sawtooth Canyon

Barstow / Lucerne Valley, California

Boondocking in the desert.

Sawtooth Canyon
Southern California
About half-way between Barstow and Lucerne Valley
13 spaces with a picnic table & grill, no electricity, water or trash cans.


Sawtooth Canyon is really quite and very far removed from any city. Located in Southern California, near Victorville, CA. There are 13 spaces with a picnic table & grill. There is no electricity, water or trash disposal available. There is no paved road. It's approximately 1.3 miles from the highway - all rough rocky dirt.



(5/14/16) Currently looking for a camp host. The camp host has its own gated spot with a storage unit & what looks like statlite dish.


Whatever you bring in you MUST take with you. There are no garbage cans and the place is free as long as people take care of it.