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Old 07-17-2009, 06:34 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Air-conditioning (because I'm a sissy)

So I've been trying to figure out some air-conditioning on the cheap in my apartment while the weather has been mild... And I've not had good luck. The central unit kicks on for 15-20 mins, and then stops for about 10 mins, if the temperature difference is more than 5F. In a test, it dropped the temperature of the apartment 3F in ONE HOUR. Clearly not gonna cut it.

Next up was the portable air conditioner I was using at my parents house, (bedroom above a garage that gets ridiculously hot), and it's somehow worse, despite having been manufactured perhaps 20 years after the central unit in my apartment. It takes over 150w just for the FAN. Once the compressor kicks in, though, it hovers around 550w. Then it starts rising. It gets up to the point of 1,100w after about 10 mins. Never does get a good enough flow going to cool the apartment, either. Can anyone clue me in on the rising consumption? Second compressor, perhaps? This is the type that sits on the floor and uses a hose to access the window, BTW.

Finally, I have an evaporative cooler on loan, which does nicely in moving air, only uses 75 watts with all the features on, and has a tray for adding ice, which does cool the air significantly. But it's not enough when it reaches 85F in the apartment, still gets hot and sticky.

I've also been opening the window and screen door and running the exhaust fans at night to move all of the hot air out of the apartment, but then I get moths and a bunch of things coming in.

Dammit somebody give me 2kW worth of solar panels, and some Peltier panels so I can refrigerate my apartment while setting fire to my deck.

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Old 07-17-2009, 07:46 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I cool the place at night with a fan but of course I do that THROUGH the screens. Works every night, but less so on the rare nights it doesn't really cool off much outside.
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Old 07-17-2009, 11:08 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Lee View Post
I cool the place at night with a fan but of course I do that THROUGH the screens. Works every night, but less so on the rare nights it doesn't really cool off much outside.
Oh I have screens, they just have so many gaps around the edges, and some of the smaller bugs are crawling THROUGH the screens...
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Old 07-17-2009, 11:15 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Are you using the evaporative cooler right? They rely on constant airflow. If you don't have windows and doors open to let the hot air out all they do is increase humidity.
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Old 07-21-2009, 05:47 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Are you using the evaporative cooler right? They rely on constant airflow. If you don't have windows and doors open to let the hot air out all they do is increase humidity.
It gets hotter faster in the apartment if I open the windows while the sun is up, so no.
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Old 07-21-2009, 11:10 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Tape the gaps between the screens & the windows.
Get some insulative curtains. I have seen some with a radiant barrier in them also. Keep them closed during the day & when you are running the a/c.

The increase in power consumption may be the a/c unit finally reaching steady state operation.
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Old 07-21-2009, 02:54 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
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It gets hotter faster in the apartment if I open the windows while the sun is up, so no.
Yeah, evap coolers need to be outside, and if the humidity is low enough the evaporating water will cool the incoming air. Since it's positive displacement, a window or something needs to be open at least a little bit. All you'll do by running it in an enclosed area is increase the humidity AFAIK. Try looking around for something used/big you can mount in one window. I have a big one stuck in a window that I have to cycle on and off on all but the warmest (110+) days or else the room gets too cool, even on the low setting (250W). On high (500W) I'm pretty sure it could cool the entire house but I'd need a window on the opposite side since the exits would be in the rooms.
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Old 07-21-2009, 05:40 PM   #8 (permalink)
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My recommendations:

Tape up the screens like DonR suggested. Be sure and use blue painter's tape, which won't leave residue (~$3 at a home improvement store).

If you're really adventurous (or a cheap b*****d like me), cover some cardboard with foil and put it in the window. Take it down after the sun goes down and get that cool[er] night air in.

Yeah, the evap cooler really needs to be vented. It will drop the temperature unlike an unvented A/C, but it does so at the expense of humidity. I use, ahem, 'targeted evaporative cooling' with a spritz bottle and the hottest parts of the body, those being the head, wrists, and lower back.

If you must use the evaporative cooler, get a hygrometer and use it when the humidity is low.

Last edited by MissileStick; 07-21-2009 at 09:10 PM.. Reason: The censorship actually made my post look *more* dirty
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Old 07-22-2009, 08:24 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Have you tried the poor college student A/C? All you need is some copper tubing, clear tubing, a fish pump, cooler, ice water and a box fan or standing oscillating fan.


Wrap the copper tubing on the fan, circling in towards the center. Use zip ties to connect it to the face of the fan. Connect the tubes via the clear tubing, into the fish tank pump and put it in the ice water. You can either recycle the water back into the cooler or use it to water some plants or something.

The only electricity you'll be using will be to power the fish pump and fan. That's not going to be much juice.

They can keep a small/medium sized room cool for a couple of hours before you need to add more ice to the cooler. If you recycle the water and add a little salt, it will work even better.

There are a bunch of videos on youtube if you just search for "DIY air conditioner"
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Old 07-23-2009, 08:30 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roflwaffle View Post
Yeah, evap coolers need to be outside, and if the humidity is low enough the evaporating water will cool the incoming air. Since it's positive displacement, a window or something needs to be open at least a little bit. All you'll do by running it in an enclosed area is increase the humidity AFAIK. Try looking around for something used/big you can mount in one window. I have a big one stuck in a window that I have to cycle on and off on all but the warmest (110+) days or else the room gets too cool, even on the low setting (250W). On high (500W) I'm pretty sure it could cool the entire house but I'd need a window on the opposite side since the exits would be in the rooms.
I would have thought it would increase the humidity, but, no change on my hydrometer. The inside of the apartment pretty much falls in line with whatever the humidity is right before I close the door/window in the morning, and doesn't rise, even if I use the evaporator. It's strange.

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