DIY chook fan and air conditioner

in Hive Diy8 months ago

It gets hot here in Oz in Summer, so I thought I’d give the girls a little treat.




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It’s a very simple job, just a 12V box fan salvaged from a wrecked computer and wired straight to a spare 5W panel that we had lying around. No need for regulators or switches, it runs when the sun is shining and the Summer heat is on. It'll run in Winter too, helping keep the air in the run fresh and reducing the chance of condensation and mold.

How to wire a fan to a solar panel

Wiring a small solar panel to a fan is really easy. This is a DC circuit with very low current and voltage, so you won't get electrocuted and getting the wires around the wrong way won't destroy anything - both components are pretty robust.

Make sure you have a 5V, 6V or 12V fan and use as low a wattage (W) 6V or 12V solar panel as you can - too much power will be wasted. Small panels are relatively cheap and easily available. We use a 5W here for now but a 3W can do the job.

Make sure you know which way the fan blows. There are usually two little arrows on the fan casing which show direction of air flow and direction of blade rotation.




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Connect the + (red) wire from the panel to the + (red) wire from the fan and do the same for the - (black) wire from the panel to the - (black) wire from the fan.
Some fans and panels will have different coloured wires, there may be grey or white instead of the red. Connect up one of these wired to the red of the other device and the other wire to the black then check to see if the fan spins. If it doesn't, reverse the wires and put the wire that was on the red onto the black and the wire that was on the black onto the red. The fan should spin.

Now, mount it safely, making sure the blade rotation and air flow are unimpeded. I put some leaf guard mesh (that I had left over from when I fixed the gutters) around the fan case to stop things getting stuck in the blades (like chook beaks!) and I mounted the fan somewhere slightly outside of the run to make doubly sure so that curious chooks don’t get their beaks hit by the blades.

It keeps sticks and leaves, which could jam the fan, out too.

Make it an evaporative air conditioner

An evaporative air conditioner blows air over a moist surface. The evaporation of the water from the surface cools the air. The most basic way to convert your chicken fan into an evaporative air conditioner is to make wet the soil in the path of the air flow. That’s the easiest and it works but let's not stop there.

We can make the setup more elaborate by introducing another surface into the design and a way to keep it constantly damp. There is an Aussie invention called a Coolgardie Safe that works on this evaporative principle.

What we need to do for our chook air conditioner is to place a deep tray above the level of the fan and from this tray, suspend a wet piece of fabric (old hessian sacks work perfectly) down into the path of our airflow.

We fill the tray with water and make sure that a few inches of the sack are submerged at all times. This will draw water from the tray and throughout the fabric and as the air flows through the sack, it is cooled by evaporation and you have your chook evaporative air conditioner.

An additional step is to place a pan or tray at the bottom of the sack and add some water to that. This addition isn’t necessary but helps to keep the sack evenly damp.

Of course, you’ll need to top up the water in the trays from time to time and as a special treat, you can add ice to the top one.

It took the chooks a little while to become confident with the setup but on hot days they will love me for it. They take turns standing in the breeze, their feathers ruffling in the wind.

PS - if the fan won't spin at any time, make sure it is 5V, 6V or 12V. Check that the solar panel is in full Sun too!




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Very cool idea!

When it gets hot here in New England (nowhere as hot as you guys), I keep huge bowls of ice with attractants in the big freezers. Attractants can be herbs, flowers, vegs, etc. I set one out in the coop in the afternoon and they love messing with it.

Another thing I do is their lap pool. It's a sturdy seedling tray filled with water and a couple of pint sized ice cubes floating in it. They fight over who gets to do laps in it. I also put some f the ice cubes in their water as they won't drink enough if the water temp is too high.

They love any kind of cooling at our place. We freeze scraps for chooks and worms and we get frozen scraps from the local juice bar too. The girls love the frozen watermelon skin!