Electric Drink Cooler - Part 1


I usually have a can/bottle/cup of soda on my desk while I'm working on my projects. The problem is that it always gets warm before I'm done with it. I don't want to add ice to it since that will water it down, keep it cold for a limited time, and would not be a simple solution for cans and bottles. Thermal insulating sleeves have similar problems. I decided that I should build myself a cooler out of spare parts that I had.


The design is pretty simple. It consists of three major parts: the power supply, the heat sink, and a thermoelectric cooling plate (TEC). Pretty much everything else is chassis/framework.


When power is applied to the TEC, side A will become hot and side B will become cold. If the polarity is reversed, side B will become hot and side A will become cold. In theory if I reverse the polarity of my drink cooler, I can keep coffee warm. The major problem is when the TEC isn't properly heat sinked. In this case the hot side becomes hot enough to heat the cold side, potentially destroying the TEC over time.

So the first step was to plug it in to an old ATX power supply and determine which side is which. The ATX supply was used because TECs draw a relatively high amperage, and I didn't know just how many amps my TEC required. The amperage required and cooling effect is exponential with the supplied voltage. I used the 5V line of the power supply because of this.

TEC test

TEC Test Closeup

The heat sink is from an old PC CPU that I once had. The fan is a spare PC case fan that I had lying around.

Now that I had the basic functionality and electrical laid out, it was time to start building a frame.