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Improvised air conditioning for the smart home: heat self-test in the office

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The record summer temperatures have also arrived at the NextPit office—despite super-cool employees and ice-cold drinks in the editorial fridge. So I searched the Internet for tips on how to build your own air conditioner and came up with a "life" hack. After all, a towel, a fan and a conventional faucet can probably be found in every household. Let's give it a try!

You've probably already noticed that half the world is currently being swept by a heat wave. And although most of the employees at NextPit have cleverly stayed in their home offices, I got on my bike this morning and rode to the office. Because we're getting a particularly heavy package and someone has to be on site for it. To my misfortune—today of all days—the elevator broke down.

But that's not the point, because for our iced coffee break today, I set myself the goal of cooling down the office a bit. I have found a trick on the Internet—our colleagues from the Berliner Kurier even call it a "Clever trick", hear, hear—that I wanted to share with you briefly. All you need is a fan, a towel and access to reasonably cool water.

DIY air conditioner / humidifier - here's what you need to do

If the heat has left you with little brain power, you can almost guess what to do. The instruction steps are very simple:

  1. Moisten the towel with water so that it is damp, but not dripping.
  2. Hang the towel in front of the fan with a clothes pin, a clothes rack or other fastening options.
  3. Turn on the fan.

The towel should now release small drops of water into the air and this should provide a cooling effect. Of course, you can also make the whole thing smart - for example, I recently tested the Switchbot bot, which allows you to automatically turn off your fan after you go to sleep, for example.

After half an hour of trying it out in the office, I'm surprised by the effect of the DIY air conditioner! The fan is pointed directly at me and the air is cool enough that I activate the oscillation function to avoid getting cool air permanently.

Have you tried the towel trick yet? If so, what are your experiences with it? Let me know in the comments!

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Benjamin Lucks

Benjamin Lucks
Head of Editorial DE

Ben has been working in tech journalism since 2018, was a freelancer in the middle of the CoVid-crisis and has been full-time at NextPit since November '20. Since then he has tries to find the right mix between professional competence, humor and fresh perspectives in reviews and texts.

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  • 49
    storm Jul 20, 2022 Link to comment

    This is highly dependent on your local humidity. This sort of AC has been widely used here in the US desert southwest where the air tends to be dry. I've lived with an Evaporative Cooler (as they're called--also swamp cooler) as my primary AC for more than 50 years. I only recently went to a central air system.

    Most of these work best with a high surface area wind interference mesh--shredded aspen strand. The water flows on to these pads of aspen strands. The fan draws air over these pads of strand, evaporating water and thereby giving up heat for the phase change of the water. The consequence is that this cooled air now carries much more humidity. You can achieve about a 22 degree temperature drop in a well balanced system. But once the air temp is above 95 F the cooling effect drops--you're just not cooling the air enough. Also your aspen pads tend to clog with the deposited minerals from the evaporating water. So it gets less effective as the hot season wears on. Further, your water is recycled in these systems, so they tend to concentrate minerals in the water, accelerating the calcification of the pads.

    But it doesn't work well as the humidity rises. I can't imagine that most of your writers live where this would work decently.

    Stefan Möllenhoff