Around this time of year, the dead of winter, I become all wistful thinking about how much I miss it when temps climb above 60°F. I want it so bad I nearly start to pine for the more unsavory aspects of hot days in New York City … sweltering subway platforms; open-toed shoes; giant cockroaches; the stench of the Gowanus after a heavy rain; that disconcerting feeling you get when you’re not sure if it’s raining, you’re sweating, or if an AC unit is dripping all over you from a window high above. 

Summertime “AC drip” in NYC is one thing that always gets to me. On really hot days after I’ve received numerous baptisms on the street from other people’s AC window units, I can’t help but think about how much condensation those constantly chugging AC units produce. I bet a small body of water could be created with all the AC runoff produced by city air conditioners during the summer … Lake Frigidaire.

H2O-wise inventor Jim Pohlman has also thought long and hard about the water produced by outdoor air conditioners and how to reuse it. His product, the AIR-igator, revolves around the recycling of that pesky condensation: it allows homeowners to capture non-potable air conditioner runoff water and store it so it can be reused to irrigate a garden.

The AIR-igator, basically a rain barrel for drippy central air conditioners, is an eco-boon for homeowners that want to conserve water but live in hot, dry areas where rain barrels rarely receive any action and the AC is perpetually running on high. The water produced by air conditioners — standard units with efficiencies of 16-18 SEER produce 3 to 5 gallons of water per ton, per day — is again, not drinkable, but it is mineral-free (not to mention cost-free) making it ideal for garden irrigation.

The AIR-igator consists of a 65-gallon reservoir that should be buried near the air conditioner condensate drainpipe since the drain is plumbed directly into the reservoir. When enough water is collected in the reservoir, a pump kicks in and the AIR-igator begins distributing water to your garden via low-flow drip tubing. The drip irrigation system uses “emitters” so that water is distributed directly and efficiently at the base of a tree or plant. The AIR-igator also includes a signal timer if you want the water to be distributed at a specific time. 

The AIR-igator retails for $495 and comes in a variety of colors (including, oddly, pink) in the event that you don’t want to bury the reservoir. 

Via [Los Angeles Times]

Photo: AIR-igator

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

AIR-igator on the prowl
Rain barrels not doing the trick? Capture water vapor produced by outdoor AC units and reuse it to irrigate your garden with the AIR-igator.