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Heat Wave Creates Redneck AC
updated: Aug 29, 2015, 2:00 PM

By Billy Goodnick

Here’s what’s been keeping me cool in my stuffy 2-car-garage windowless office conversion. It’s been called a Redneck AC and I found instructions on YouTube. 



  • Small, cheap styrofoam ice chest
  • Sharpee marker
  • Small desk fan, 6” to 8” diameter
  • 2” diameter PVC elbow fitting (optional)
  • X-ACTO razor cutting tool, or other sharp device
  • 3 to 4 frozen jugs of water (loosen the lid and leave a few inches empty for expansion or you’ll crack the jug)


  • Use the Sharpee to trace the outline of the fan onto the lid of the cooler. Make it just a bit smaller than the fan to assure a tight fit. You can trim more later.
  • Do the same on the side of the ice chest for the PVC elbow
  • Fit the fan into the hole in the lid so it just pokes into the chest with a tight fit. The lid might vibrate and resonate, so I put a small pillow on the clear area of the lid and the sound goes away.
  • Fit the elbow into the side for a tight fit so you can adjust it to point where you want it.
  • Place the frozen jugs in the chest and plug in the fan.


While it’s not enough to cool an entire room, if you place the Redneck AC unit close to where you’re working, you will soon feel a bubble of cooler air surrounding you. I’ve moved a thermometer around in my office and have had at least a 8 to 10 degree cooler work space. It’s highly portable, so you can move or aim it where you work —  just keep it nearby and don’t trip on it. Water will condense on the bottles and drip in the bottom, so be certain to keep the fan far from moisture. The bottles last throughout the work day for me, then they go back in the freezer and I start eating Trader Joe’s Soy Cherry Chocolate Sorbet. 

Extra Bonus Beat the Heat Device

Personal cooling neck wrap: I have a neck wrap bandana that is filled with polymers that absorb water like tiny sponges. I soak it in a bowl in the morning for about 20 minutes to get it “charged.” Once it’s “plumped up” I loosely tie it around my neck and the coolness of the water makes contact with the arteries in my neck for instant relief. When the surface against my neck becomes warm, I just roll it to make contact with the opposite side. I use it when I’m working outdoors on landscape jobs, or even on very hot days working indoors. Discovered it one muggy, sweltering September day in Dallas. Haven’t been without one since. Search terms: personal cooling system; cooling neck wrap; evaporative cooling neck band. Shop on line or check out a local travel supply store. 

Stay coolio, boys and girls.

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 641820P agree helpful negative off topic

2015-08-29 02:30 PM

I love it! I was just about to create a new posting "What are SB'ers doing to beat the heat without the luxury of A/C?", only to come across this fabulous work around. Thank you, Billy - will give it a try today!


 COMMENT 641822P agree helpful negative off topic

2015-08-29 02:34 PM

Billy - Thanks so much for your cool posting! Community service at its best.


 COMMENT 641823P agree helpful negative off topic

2015-08-29 02:38 PM

I love the AC unit!



 COMMENT 641825P agree helpful negative off topic

2015-08-29 02:41 PM

I have several of those small neck wraps (more like ties or bandanas, really), and once they're plumped, I keep them in the refrigerator so I can just put a cold one on when the current one becomes warm. I got them on Amazon



 COMMENT 641829P agree helpful negative off topic

2015-08-29 03:03 PM

One solution to beating the heat is to make friends with someone with a pool. Bring over some ice cold beverages and soak away.

Absent that the swamp cooler is a good DIY and another idea to go along with the bandanas as neck wraps is snap it when it gets warm... open it up and snap it as if you're snapping off dirt and sand. A couple of times will do it ... and it's cool again. The key is that the bandana has to wet and sweaty wet works just as well as tap water wet.


 COMMENT 641830 agree helpful negative off topic

2015-08-29 03:04 PM

A big block of ice in front of a fan works too, and with less hassle.


 COMMENT 641834 agree helpful negative off topic

2015-08-29 03:27 PM

Working in a cabinet shop in the South, we used recycled baby diapers for neck wraps. They hold a lot of water and don't drip much. When they got warm, exchanged it for the one that was in the freezer.


 COMMENT 641866 agree helpful negative off topic

2015-08-29 05:55 PM

Those cool wraps can be bought at Bed Bath and Beyond. Great cooler!


 COMMENT 641867P agree helpful negative off topic

2015-08-29 05:57 PM

The simplest way to cool down is to take an ice pack, wrap some sort of not-too-thick material around it and clamp the pack snug into your left arm pit.

I think it's the axillary artery, a major blood-carrying artery, which the pack chills, thereby cooling your blood and providing almost instant relief from feeling overheated.


 COMMENT 641876 agree helpful negative off topic

2015-08-29 06:49 PM

I wish a subsriber would start a "How hot is it?" thread. It hit 96 at my place near Tucker's Grove today and the strong sundowners are still blowing at about 90 degrees. How hot is it inside? - so hot I'm cooling myself with a blow dryer set on low. :-)


 COMMENT 641878P agree helpful negative off topic

2015-08-29 06:52 PM

@876, the Weather Underground weather station at Brandon & Evergreen showed 99 at one point this afternoon, but it felt like 105. Last time I checked it was down to 93 -- a cooling trend!


 COMMENT 641883P agree helpful negative off topic

2015-08-29 07:08 PM

Upper East Side got some light breezes and was probably only 91ºF for a few moments. Temps felt cooler than yesterday, judging by moments in midday, when flesh was subjected to direct sunlight.


 AUNTIE S. agree helpful negative off topic

2015-08-29 08:24 PM

Hey, Billy, I have the exact same neck wrap. Lady in Bozeman, Montana, where my daughter lives, makes and sells them at an artisan's market in beautiful fabrics and they work like a charm. The nice thing is you don't have to keep them cool for them to work. I've worn one that's been sitting in a hot car all day and it still cools. And one will last through three sets of tennis and keep you comfortable. "Cool Cozies"- Pine Creek Designs, Livingston, MT - 406-222-5319.


 COMMENT 641906 agree helpful negative off topic

2015-08-29 08:34 PM

I've been making units like this for 30 years for fun. Only need them a couple of times a year in our climate.


 COMMENT 641927 agree helpful negative off topic

2015-08-30 06:56 AM

I just stick my head under the faucet, soak my hair and viola! Instant cool down (for the next hour anyway)


 COMMENT 641957 agree helpful negative off topic

2015-08-30 10:07 AM

Great idea. A 12v fan powered by a mini solar panel will save on electricity costs as well. Can be had at RV suppliers and radio shack(computer cooling fan)

PS Billy I hope that's non-GMO glyphosate/diquat-free soy in your mock ice cream from trader joes


 COMMENT 641967 agree helpful negative off topic

2015-08-30 10:45 AM

Or, you could just spend a bit more and buy an evaporative (ie swamp) cooler, with all kinds of different settings, timers, modes, speeds, etc. I'ts saved me this last heat wave!!


 COMMENT 641970 agree helpful negative off topic

2015-08-30 11:09 AM

I just turn on the AC. Global warming, its gonna be like this until Octember 32nd


 COMMENT 642014 agree helpful negative off topic

2015-08-30 01:34 PM

Thank you Billy and everyone else who posted these great suggestions, that left armpit trick is GOLD !b.... And i want one of those neck coolers big enough for my whole back :)

And what is it with edhat telling us that the high for the last several sweltering days is 83 or 84 ? ! ........Most of us do not live on an airport runway next to the ocean. It is at least 8-10 degrees hotter at my house ! ..........and no i dont live in the hills. I'm a little bit SE of La Cumbre Plaza.


 COMMENT 650038 agree helpful negative off topic

2015-09-26 10:43 AM

Great idea Billy! This is now my Saturday morning project. Maybe I will take it to work (SMG) on Monday.


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