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Air Cooler/Conditioner Question

  1. Jun 7, 2008 #1
    So, here’s the situation. My roommate and I live on the third floor of our apartment complex. As you walk into the building and begin to climb the stairs to the third floor you would notice a tremendous increase in temperature regardless of the weather. We have air conditioning but its not central air, and the wall unit only cools our living room if we’re lucky.

    We can’t have our own wall units in our bedrooms so we’re looking at other options. Portable air conditioners are expensive with the average ones being around $300-500. Air coolers/dehumidifiers are most likely our next best option but reviews on amazon.com seem to be mixed. Lastly, and most strangely, I was wondering if it would be at all possible to use a small wall AC in conjunction with a tote or something for water collection as a solution.

    I’m personally in favor of the last idea, but I have no idea of knowing if it’s a viable option. Wall AC units would be approximately the same cost as an air cooler however I don’t know if it would work. I know that AC condenses water and produces heat, but I’m wondering if it would be able to cool both the ambient air and the heat with it produces itself. I would only be using it for around 8-10 hours a day.

    If that wouldn’t work at all, what are your opinions of air coolers or maybe someone could recommend an economic portable air conditioner.
     
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  3. Jun 7, 2008 #2

    russ_watters

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    No, the heat it produces is much greater than the amount of cooling it produces. That's a biproduct of the 1st law of thermodynamics. The condenser section of the a/c unit must discharge its excess heat to the outside.
     
  4. Jun 7, 2008 #3

    Moonbear

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    In terms of comfort rather than cooling, a dehumidifier and fan to help move some of the air would probably be your best option if you have no way to vent heat out of the room. Keeping the shades pulled down on windows during the day will help keep some of the heat out too, especially if you're not home and don't need the light.
     
  5. Jun 7, 2008 #4

    russ_watters

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    Well, no - your basic self-contained basement type dehumidifier is just an air conditioner that doesn't discharge its heat to the outside. It dehumidifies, but also heats up the space.
     
  6. Jun 7, 2008 #5
    Could you replace the room air conditioner with largest BTU you can support(money and power) and set up a series of pedestal fans to blow the cold air throughout the apartment?
    I used this method to cool my house when my central AC malfunctioned one summer. I put a large pedestal fan directly in front of the window unit in the kitchen and aimed it toward the room I wished to cool. Then I put another pedestal fan in the door way of the kitchen and directed the cool air into the bed room or living room. It worked quite well.
     
  7. Jun 7, 2008 #6

    Evo

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    When my air conditioner frapped out a few years ago, I bought a room air conditioner for my bedroom. Since I didn't have any way of removing the storm window or screen from the outside, I just placed the unit on a small end table that was just tall enough to raise the bottom of the unit to the level of the windowsill. I pushed the unit flush against the screen and closed the window down on the unit. I bought a thick sheet of foam from the hobby store and cut it and made a collar around the unit so that the air vents on the sides and top where between the foam and the window screen. You could do much better, but you get the idea. The hot air vented outside and the room cooled off beautifully. You could not tell that there was a window unit from the outside because nothing stuck out.

    Of course in an apartment building you have a lot of neighbors and they will probably notice you've got something going on, but being on the 3rd floor perhaps not.

    So, it does work.
     
  8. Jun 7, 2008 #7

    Chi Meson

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    I would agree with Larkspur, except I'm guessing you are renting. If you install anything in a rented apartment, it usually becomes the property of the owner (unless specifically stated otherwise in the lease).

    By "wall unit" do you mean "Through the wall" or "window unit"? Big difference. Are you allowed window units?

    If so, I'd go for the smallest window units, 3000 BTU's or so, and get one per room. ACs are most efficient when on full power, so a large one running on "low" is not such a good idea. Small ones are easier to move too, and don't require any support structure on the outside of the window.

    And as far as the condensed water, most AC units take that water and dribble it over the "hot" exhaust coils to increase the amount of heat taken away. There is very little dripping water (except in the most humid situations).

    If you go with a portable option, be absolutely certain you get a TWO-HOSE option. The single hose portables draw indoor air through the hot coils, and then exhaust it. So outside air must be pulled in from the outside through some crevice or open window. Efficiency drops significantly there.
     
  9. Jun 7, 2008 #8

    Moonbear

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    Hmm...I was assuming there weren't windows in the bedrooms, not that there was a prohibition against installing a window unit A/C.
     
  10. Jun 7, 2008 #9

    Evo

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    Hmmm, no windows would be really bad.
     
  11. Jun 7, 2008 #10
    If you have a window in the bedroom, the method Evo described will work. There are a lot of inexpesive small A/C's on the market.

    It seems to me there was an episode of Seinfeld where Kramer installed an A/C and it fell out of the window.:cool:
     
  12. Jun 7, 2008 #11

    Chi Meson

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    That was a good one: Kramer put the unit in the open window, dropped the venetian blinds down on it, and announced "Installed!

    Synchronistically (I don't Gve a dm if that's not a word!), we just went from 60 degrees to 90 degrees in five hours here in Connecticut today. I just got the little AC unit out of the garage. More heat tomorrow.
     
  13. Jun 9, 2008 #12
    My apartment is in the absolute best location possible. I live in Tucson, Arizona and the temperatures are getting past 100 degrees. However, I can leave my A/C off all day, and it won't get above 76 or so.

    I like to sleep in colder conditions so I just use the AC at night to get it down to around 68 degrees.
     
  14. Jun 9, 2008 #13

    Moonbear

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    Do you live in the basement, or are surrounded by polar bears who keep their units frigid enough to cool yours too?
     
  15. Jun 9, 2008 #14
    I'm on the first floor, the sun never hits my exposed wall. On the other side of every other wall is another apartment. I have friends who have their AC on the entire day and cant even get it cold enough.
     
  16. Jun 10, 2008 #15
    Hell, Tucson, the humidifier idea would work well I'd think cause there's so little humidity. Also, make use of the cool night air. Open your windows during the night, and close them as soon as it warms up, depending on the insulation in your pad, it should work well to keep it cool during the day.
     
  17. Feb 2, 2010 #16
    I am a Davie ac service technician and I have seen it all. I saw something once that would be perfect for you. I asked the person using it how much it cost and they said $10 or $12.

    It is a little device that holds a good sized water bottle and has a rotating fan on it. The water bottle is like one of the big ones you use for the gym or working out. The trick is you freeze the water bottle and hook it up in the device and the fan blows COLD air at you.

    It worked pretty darn well and for $10 or so this is your ticket. Do some searches online and type in words that describe what I have mentioned and see what you find.
     
  18. Feb 2, 2010 #17
    Even if you can't set up fans, just having the bedroom doors open helps a ton. Fans+door is the method used at my research lab (servers/machines accumulated without any ac upgrade, there are no windows and no other way to vent) and it's generally somewhat tolerable. Depending on how long your hot season is, there's also the option of camping out in the living room.

    In this vein, my lab mates have used bags of ice in front of fans to cool down melting servers. Even if you can't find the device, you may want to try rigging up a system with a box fan and a frozen water hug.
     
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