10 DIY Swamp Coolers That Are Surprisingly Effective

Have you ever been to a place with so much humidity your hair turned into one of those poof balls kids use for their art projects?

If so, you’ve probably noticed that it is really hot, and you sweat more than usual. Your body turned the moisture in the air into a sweat to try to cool you down. A swamp cooler works in a similar fashion.

What are Swamp Coolers?

A swamp cooler also referred to as an evaporative cooler, is an inexpensive and eco-friendly way to cool indoor and outdoor areas. Most commonly, they are used to provide cool air to outdoor patios, garages, warehouses, covered porches, and more.

How Do Swamp Coolers Work?

There are only four steps in how a swamp cooler works. The first step is the water supply valve bringing water into the swamp cooler and covering the bottom. This happens when you turn your swamp cooler on. The water will keep flowing into the cooler until the float reaches a certain level, signaling the water supply valve to close. 

Next, the pump brings the water up and pours over the evaporative pads. When the float reaches a certain point, the pump will pull the water through distribution lines.

The distribution lines sit on top of the evaporation pads and pour water into them. If you feel that your swamp cooler isn’t working efficiently, you can switch to pump mode, and the pump will pull more water.

After that, warm air gets pulled through the evaporative pads. As the warm air makes its way through the cooling pads, the moisture cools and cleans the air. This process is known as evaporative cooling. It works the same as if you were sweating and had a fan blowing on you to cool your skin.

Finally, the blower pushes the cool air through the vent. Once the air has been cooled by moving through the evaporative pads, the blower moves the cool air through the ducts and vents and out into your house. 

Benefits of Swamp Coolers

Air Quality

Swamp coolers only use water to cool down your home, so there is nothing extra that goes into the air. As long as the water you are using for the swamp cooler is clean, you will have good air quality. 

Water is also good at collecting dust, which will clean the air as well. Also, the water will contribute some to the humidity in your home, and you will be able to maintain a healthy humidity level.


Swamp coolers are a very inexpensive way to cool your home when it gets hot in the summer. They are known to save you about ninety percent on energy costs when compared to a typical air conditioning unit. These coolers are also not very expensive to purchase.

Easy Installation

When it comes to installing swamp coolers, all you need to do to hook it up is connect it to a water connection and plug it in. This is a much easier process, and it will save you money. There is no need to hire a professional to help you install a swamp cooler. 


Swamp coolers can be used just about anywhere to help you cool down your space. Some models might be heavier than other ones, but the larger ones will usually have wheels on them so you can move them around easily. When you need to move your swamp cooler from one location to the next, you can with ease.

10 DIY Swamp Coolers

If you need to make a swamp cooler quickly, you probably wonder how you can do it. Luckily, there are several ways that you can make your swamp cooler.

1. Styrofoam Cooler

You will need a Styrofoam cooler, a PVC pipe elbow, a small, battery-powered fan, and ice. Trace the fan and PVC pipe elbow on the lid to know how big of holes you need. 

Stick the PVC elbow through the hole you cut for it and sit the fan on top of the hole you cut for that. Add the ice to the cooler. The fan will blow the cool icy air out of the PVC elbow and cool your room.

2. Towel and Rack

You will need towels, clothes drying rack, and a box fan. First, you need to soak the towels in cold water and wring them out. You will need to drape the towels over the clothes drying rack in a W shape. Next, place the box fan on one end of the drying rack and turn it on. That’s all you need to do!

3. Super Cooler

You will need a bucket to hold water, a fountain pump, two-foot-long PVC pipe, two-foot-long piece of a Styrofoam cylinder, a box fan, a 10-foot 2×3 piece of wood, 12 2.5-inch wood screws, a heavy-duty “CoolPad Ice,” one roll of 2-foot by a 5-foot metal screen, and PVC connectors.

First, you will need to cut your wood board. You will cut two each of 3 1/8, 7 3/4, 15, and 24-inch pieces. You will then need to mark and drill the holes to connect the wood pieces to stand. 

Once you have your stand, cut the metal screen down to 20 by 25-inches twice for a front and back screen, then staple that to the wood.

Run the fountain pump through one of the sides of the stand and connect it to the PVC pipe, running along the top of the stand. Measure and cut the cooler pad, then place it between the metal screens. You need to add the bucket for the water, run the tubing, and put the fan in front.

4. Planter Box

You will need a plastic planter box, a towel, a 2×3 board that is 8-foot, 12 wood screws, a 4-foot, 3/4-inch wooden dowel, water, and a box fan. 

You will cut the wood into two, each 3.5-inch, 4.5-inch, 15-inch, and 25-inch pieces. You will also need to cut the wooden dowl into two 19.5-inch pieces. Attach the pieces of wood using the wood screws to make a stand.

Next, you will need to place your stand inside the plastic planter box. Fill the plastic planter box with water and put the end of the towel in it, draping it over the stand you made. Place the fan behind the towel and run it. 

5. Sponges

You will need a small fan, sponges, and an aluminum pan. This one is super simple; all you need to do is fill the pan with water, place the sponges in the pan, and turn the fan on behind. 

6. Washcloth and Hanger

This is another super easy method. It would help if you had a metal hanger, a washcloth, and a small fan. You will need to bend the hanger into a triangle so it can stand up on its own. Next, wet the washcloth and drape it over the hanger. Then, all you have to do is turn the fan on.

7. Box Fan Conversion

You need a bucket, cooling pad, fountain pump, and a box fan for this method. Measure the cooler pad and cut it to fit the box fan. Attach it to the box fan and attach part of the pump hose to the top of the cooler pad. Next, place the pump in the bucket of water and turn both the pump and fan on.

8. Five Gallon Bucket

This one is similar to the Styrofoam cooler method but slightly more advanced. You will need a 5-gallon bucket, a cooler pad, a fountain pump, and a small fan.

You will cut a hole in the lid of the bucket that is the size of the fan. Place the fan in the lid, so it is blowing out, not in.

You will then line the bucket with the cooler pad and fill the bucket with water. Put the fountain pump in the water and run the hose to the top of the cooler pad.

9. Mister Style

For this method, you will need a misting tube and a box fan. You will lay the fan flat and lay the misting tube on top of it in a loose spiral. You will zip tie the tube to the front of the box fan.

If you want, you can add misting extensions, too. The extensions will help keep the mist away from the fan and blow it forward.

10. Cube Style

You will need 1/2-inch PVC pipe, PVC connectors, a blue cooler pad, a radiator fan, a small water pump, a plastic container, a thin piece of wood, and 8-inch metal tubing. 

You will need to build the PVC to make a skeleton for the blue cooler pad. You will want to cut tons of little holes in the PVC pipe to act as a sprinkler. Cut down the blue pads into four pieces and connect them to the PVC pipe.

Cut a hole in the thin piece of wood for the metal tubing and the fan. Connect the pieces and place them on top for venting. Place the skeleton inside the container and fill it with water. Connect the water pump to the PVC pipe so it can pump water down onto the blue padding. 


If you experience a lot of dry heat, you might be wondering what the best way to cool down your home is. You will find the answer is a swamp cooler. This is because they can add moisture back into the air to cool down the air effectively.

You can purchase a swamp cooler, or you can try your hand at making your swamp fan using one of the methods described above.