Cool yourself with a CPU cooler and beer fridge

We have arrived once more at the time of year when penniless (or bored) hackers try to figure out how to keep the place cool without buying an air conditioner. [Paul Stacey] sent us his solution of pairing up a CPU cooler kit with a beer fridge. The CPU heat sink is cut out of a liquid cooling kit and discarded. In its place a loop of plastic tubing enters the freezer of the beer fridge where it exchanges salt water from a reservoir. The cold liquid circulates through the radiator of the fan kit and gives up it’s cool goodness through the fan unit seen above. This method puts a cold-air fan right in front of you with a digital temp and fan speed readout on the LCD.

Our biggest concern here is that this might heat up the beer in the fridge. Still, it’s more automatic than using a homebrew swamp cooler. Then again, we’ve always had a soft spot in our hearts for our favorite gravity fed cooling method. Anyway, check out [Paul's] build methods after the break where he makes it look quick and easy.

Comments

  1. Rattigan says:

    Unless the beer cooler is located outside the room, the net effect will actually be to warm the room! The heat energy removed at the CPU cooler will just get dumped back into the room at the condenser coils on the back of the beer fridge, along with all the heat generated by the compressor.

  2. Einomies says:

    What does he do with the hot air coming out of the back of the fridge?

    It creates at least 1.2x hot versus cold air, so he’s actually heating his home instead of cooling it, compounding the whole problem by having the fridge running constantly.

    And a fridge isn’t powerful enough to work as an air cooler anyways. Put a 100 Watt light bulb inside a fridge, and no matter how hard it runs the temperature keeps rising.

    And that salt will play havock with the cooler core and the pump. I’d rather hold this video as “Do not try this at home” because what he does is a very bad idea.

  3. Brett says:

    Einomies pretty much said it all I think. I can’t believe you published this as a valid hack, and not as a mockery of what not to do.

    HACK: 0, FAIL: 2

  4. Doug says:

    Not only that, but a cheap AC is maybe $50 on CL or hundred or so new… how much is a liquid cpu cooling setup? Me thinks the beer in the fridge came heavily into play while conceiving this one.

  5. fartface says:

    nice to see fools spend 4X the money to buy a simple $89.00 window air conditioner that will work 80X better than the junk they come up with.

    What’s next? how to recycle $100.00 bills into sound insulation?

  6. sellout says:

    His beer fridge is also using thermo-electric cooling, which is way less efficient than a compressor.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This would make a lot more sense if you use a big bucket full of (unsalted) ice water instead of the fridge.

    As others have said, the heat coming out of the back of the fridge is pouring into the same room he’s trying to cool, and the condenser adds heat on top of that. Refrigerators and freezers work because they remove heat from a relatively small area (inside) and dissipate it into a larger one (the room). This project is like leaving the fridge door open all the time.

    Putting the fridge outside would solve at least that problem, but then you’ve just made a very inefficient window air conditioner.

    If you replace the CPU cooler with something more substantial, say a box fan with an old fridge radiator mounted to the front, the cooling potential increases. (However the effective life would decrease and you would have to top the ice off more frequently.)

  8. kirov says:

    looks like somebody doesn’t understand thermodynamics….

  9. Dave says:

    Thermodynamic fail. A fridge doesn’t ‘create’ coldness, it just pumps heat from inside to the coils on the rear.

    If you wanted this to make any thermodynamic sense, you need to have the coils outside so you are at least pumping heat out of the room.

  10. Whatnot says:

    As if not half the hacks aren’t a bit silly, and often more expensive than a commercial variant.
    Plus this is not to cool the room, which takes hundreds of watt, but to get a directed local cool stream, which take a whole lot less power I bet, so if you can’t use so much power it’s a cute homemade hack.

  11. arcnemisis says:

    I second the FAIL count:
    1 for the author of project
    1 for the poster

  12. lwatcdr says:

    I would have to say this is all pretty iffy at best.
    A nice big fan would probably do as much or more.

  13. Jimmy Sultan says:

    Some people seem to misunderstand the point, it’s not meant to cool the whole room so he could care less about heat coming out of the back of the fridge. It’s mean to simply be a directional cooling fan that he can aim at himself when he’s sitting at his desk. And if you have all those spare parts just laying around anyway as many of us do, why the hell not?

  14. Steve Webb says:

    The “wait a minute” moment hit me first thing when I saw this headline. Heat-exchanger battle! :)

  15. Phil says:

    Entropy fail.

  16. Jake says:

    HAHA, this is a hack FAIL. I think everyone already pointed it out, but damn, this is an incredibly epic flavor of fail and I just *had* to restate it.

    Also, another fail: Why the hell would you waste a CPU cooling system for this? Just go buy a cheap liquid pump and some tubing. For a heat exchanger, get a $10 heater core from your local parts store. That would work better, and you don’t waste an expensive CPU cooler in the process.

    @Jimmy Sultan – He can’t cool himself when he is heating the room. He would be better off to point a simple fan at himself, minus the “hack”.

  17. stib says:

    Buy an electric fan, and spend the leftover money on beer. Much cooler.

  18. Bob says:

    This is a heater, not a cooler. Place the cold elements against the window on a cold day and it’ll be more efficient than any other electric heater.

    This guy would be better off with a desk fan (which will also heat the room but less so than this device.

  19. Jimmy Sultan says:

    When he’s in a direct stream of air flowing through the little radiator which at 50 or so degrees, yes, the air will be cool. Those litle fridges don’t create that much heat, not enough to have an effect on a fan that is 2 feet away from him.

  20. Luke says:

    Fail for sure, all the reasons already mentioned (actually makes room hotter, more expensive than A/C, etc.). This window unit is the same price as the water cooling kit alone and would exchange the heat outside.

    http://www.google.com/products/catalog?hl=en&q=air+conditioner+window+unit&cid=14585362080746310914&ei=5Z38S8mJNYODlwfOx-XYBw&sa=title&ved=0CBIQ8wIwAzgA#p

    This would have been better for April Fool Day!

  21. Blaze280 says:

    Bogus. Salt will eventually eat the radiator. Fridge constantly running will actually heat the room up and worst of all the beer in the fridge may go warm. No blue mountains for you guys!

  22. Jake says:

    @Jimmy Sultan

    Take a thermodynamics class. You don’t seem to understand how a refrigerator works ;)

  23. loans says:

    @jake

    He’s kind of got a point. Yes, the net effect will be to warm the room, but the stream of cool air pointed right at the user of the system will probably be perceived as a net cooling effect.

  24. Jonas says:

    “Our biggest concern here is that this might heat up the beer in the fridge.”

    The beer is probably beeing cooled by a jet engine: http://www.asciimation.co.nz/beer/ (old link, i know)

  25. strider_mt2k says:

    Not to mention the fact that it’ll back up into the mains and killa guy.

  26. Jim says:

    “Its” not “it’s”.

    Silly illiterate Mac users :3

  27. Einomies says:

    @loans
    “He’s kind of got a point.”

    No he doesn’t. The fridge doesn’t have enough cooling power to work even as a spot cooler.

    As testified by the many who have tried the opposite and put a radiator inside the fridge under the assumption that it would supercool their CPU.

    If it can’t cool a 70 Watt CPU, it can’t cool the airflow significantly either. Perhaps a 1 degree drop is possible, but not much more.

  28. loanshark says:

    FFS just buy an airconditioner, the device itself cost nothing but the power it will consume will be insane. Still worth it unless you like sweating through autumn and the summer.

  29. IsotopeJ says:

    Yet again, HAD readers posting before actually reading the source.

    Your FAIL = FAIL.

    He addresses the laws of thermodynamics and acknowledges the inefficiency. He is also venting the fridge coils out the window.

    So there.

  30. Tom says:

    This ‘hack’ gave me typhoid because it was so bad.

  31. IsotopeJ says:

    from his youtube page…

    The fridge is located next to the window shown in the video and when open I can put the blinds on it in such a way that the majority of heat from the coils is deflected outside. airflow in this place is generally front to back so it works in this case, but rules of thermodynamics say it’s a generally flawed notion to do this as the coils on the back of the fridge will produce more heat than the cooling gained.

  32. Jake says:

    @loans – I disagree completely. This “localized stream” will not be much cooler than the air in the room, and will be hardly noticeable at any measureable distance. This is not an A/C unit with below-zero degree refrigerant pumping through it – It simply has some sorta cool water in it.

    This “hack” is not a hack but actually a fail, and judging by the size of the fridge, I would say that this fail actually consists of about 5 gallons of fail.

    That’s not a ton of fail, but it is a lot of fail.

  33. Jim says:

    ITT: the kind of people that drink warm soda to reduce entropy.

  34. Jörn says:

    “Entropy Fail”

    ROFL
    Nice term!

  35. Whatnot says:

    @jake if he made it and posted it I’m assuming it DOES make cool air, else he’d go back to the drawingboard obviously since he would notice it dd not work.
    @stib beer has alcohol and that makes you feel even hotter.

  36. Jake says:

    Hey man, all I’m saying is that this is more or less a large-scale fail. The dude gets +1 for the effort, but -1 for thermodynamically fail boating.

  37. GuruBuckaroo says:

    OK, if you really want a personal cooling device that’s going to do a lot more for you than this … attempt, just take an old CPU cooler (heatsink + fan, small, say early pentium or even older), hook it to a battery pack, and attach it to a sweatband or scarf (yes, ironic, but let me finish). Position it so that the base of the heatsink is touching the back of your neck. Turn it on. Voila. Cooled self. For even more cooling action, put two on, and position them so they are just to either side of the spine on the back of your neck, over the veins. Cooler blood returning to your body, excess heat extracted and blown away.

  38. crusty says:

    @GuruBuckaroo. you forgot the thermal paste between you and the heat sink

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