Are there any Air Conditioner substitutes?

I live in an old rickety house with old rickety wiring. Now, I’m not complaining, the wife and I were very lucky to procure such a great living space. There’s only one thing that is currently making us ill about our current living conditions:

This feakin’ hot summer heat.

Man oh man, I’m dying here. No matter how many fans we run, it’s impossible to stay cooled down. One can only take so many showers to keep cool. See, the problem is that we can’t have an air conditioner. The landlord told us that it would short the fuse (or something to that extent) because of the old wiring. So herein lies my question:

Is there any kind of small space cooler that one could purchase? Fans don’t really cut it. I mean, a small unit that can be run indoors that doesn’t hang out the window and doesn’t take up as much electricity as an air conditioner. Any ideas? (and links? :))

You mean something like this?

The A/Cs took a dive last summer at the bar. We had a few fans, which weren’t getting the job done–until we draped wet towels over them. We kept spray bottles full of water to periodically (every half hour) dampen the towels. They were like miniature swamp coolers.

I don’t know if that will work where you live. It’s super dry here, but it may not work as well in a humid climate. Just thought I’d throw it out there.

Good Luck!


I don’t know if that link was supposed to go to a specific product or not, but the only thing that I saw there that doesn’t hang out a window that was on the page you linked (there were only two products shown) was a 9000 BTU electronic portable air conditioner. I don’t know how much power it takes up… it might take up as much as a normal air conditioner. I wouldn’t want to chance spending that much money (a whopping $500) just to have it not work on this wiring. :\

I’m definitely going to give it a try. Maybe it’ll tide me over until I can find a product I can purchase that’ll do the job for me.

It runs on 115 volts which is normal house current. There are cheaper ones out on the market. Just google “portable air conditioners”. The link I gave you was just an example, that yes, there are portable AC units.

remisser you might want to think about that. Even small AC units like the one cited pull a lot of amps (current). Does your house have grounded outlets (the three prong variety)? Or do you have to use an adapter or worse pop the third prong off? Adapters are made to get you through a pinch but they are not what I’d call safe. Running a high amperage unit on inadequate wiring causes excess heat and might start a fire. It’s called Ohms Law: Energy = Current X Resitance. In this case high current through small wire (resistance) = waste heat. People do it all the time without causing a fire but fire is a real threat. My 2 cents.

I suspect your landlord may be full of crap. As long as you use a unit which doesn’t have a huge power rating, you should be fine. And it’s not exactly hard to change a fuse anyway. If it’s a more fundamental problem with the wiring, such as it being prone to overheating, then he’s being negligent - possibly criminally so.

hlanelee - we do have the three prong variety.

tiggrkitty - I’m just… having a hard time finding anything that’s good. I don’t understand BTU’s… I just want to find something small, and something that can be used indoors.

Anyone heard of battery operated air conditioners? :wink:

I second GorillaMan’s comment. I can’t imagine sitting around melting in a heatwave so you don’t blow a couple of fuses!

I’d be more inclined to:
A) Get your landlord to get the wiring upgraded (is an electrical system so fragile that you can’t run an air conditioner even safe?)
B) Buy a whole lot of fuses
C) Move

gorillaman - believe me, I thought about the criminal thing too. But… they’re my landlords and friends of the family… and this is a duplex, they live in the other half of the house… I’m sure you get where I’m going there. Any which way, they don’t even have an air conditioner because of that problem. So, instead of flying an air conditioner in front of their face, I have to do something on the sly indoors. Y’know? :slight_smile:

remisser I’d get the portable unit, you can get one for less money if you look. From time to time grab the wire to see if it’s hot (reasonably), just to be safe.

Check out swamp coolers, which are useful in very dry climates.

Also do you have an attic fan, if so make sire it’s running. If not the motor might be seised. You should be able to easilly remove and replace the motor w/ a new one from home depot or the like w/o too much trouble - even if it’s a different model, as the mountings are most likely close enough for you to rig an attachment.

It may also help to keep the hatch to the attic open if you have that fan running as that would suck out the hottest air in the house and create a draft. If you have a basement, you may try to get air from there, which is most likely cooler and damp, up to the living level.

And you could use the hide the a/c method and use it anyway. some models just have an exhaust hose that has to point outside. I think there may be some that use water instead of air to dispose of heat, which can be sent downt he drain.

Dude, I am so with you.

As you can read here I’m in the same boat.

The wiring will be finished in about 2.5 weeks now (note we don’t even have 3-prong outlets right now) then the AC can be put in.

We’re current using large fans. And we freeze gallon jugs of water during the day and place them in front of the fans at night to get the cool air over us.

Instead of freezing water, try using those big blue things designed to use in coolers. They stay frozen longer, can be reused, and don’t create such a mess.

I was going to make this same suggestion. A swamp cooler draws no more power than two fans (often two plugs - one for the fan portion, one for the pump portion).

In the Southwest the vast majority of the people from middle class down use swamp coolers because they are much more affordable in purchasing, maintainance and using.

They do, however, have flaws. Much above 100 degrees, they really are not very effective. If you have much above 10 percent humidity, it doesn’t work too well either (Well, maybe 15 percent - I guess, but I’m used to one and two percent humidity max, so it doesn’t seem effective to me when it gets that high).


So I know, what does a swamp cooler do?

Evaporative Cooling.

Your basic swamp cooler is a fan with a wet towel over it. You have to re-wet the towel when the wetness runs out.

They’re pretty useless in a humid climate, though.

There’s this type of evaporative fan the ad copy says that it will cool the air by 20 degrees (YMMV depending on relativity humidity.)

Another vote for a swamp cooler - they’re relatively inexpensive and work great!

I don’t know if anyone’s pointed out yet though that for the best results, you need to place it where there is good air circulation - I believe when I got mine the directions said to place it in front of an open door or window, and also FACING an open door or window.

It’s very dry where I live, and my houseplants just LOVED the extra moisture in the air - so did my skin.