Solar Cooler chills beverages, makes ice with sun power

No ice, no problem. The Solar Cooler uses solar panels to keep things chill in remote places, on the beach, or when camping out.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read
Solar Cooler
Chill out, man, with the Solar Cooler. Amanda Kooser/CNET

Back in 2004, Ryan McGann, an engineer by training, was sitting on the beach. He was getting hot and his beer was getting warm. He thought to himself that there must be some way to harness the power of the sun to get the beer part of the equation right. That's when he built his first Solar Cooler prototype for his own use.

Years later, he's on the verge of launching the Solar Cooler as a consumer product by way of crowdfunding. The project should be live soon, likely on Indiegogo, to capitalize on the interest he's garnered from showing off a prototype at CES. The 50-pound cooler has solar panels on top, two big wheels to navigate beach sand, charging ports for your gadgets, and a battery that can last up to 10 hours.

The cooler is plenty big. You could stock a whole beach party worth of beverages inside. It gets so cold, you can even make ice. At this point, you may be getting all excited about the concept, but the first round will be pretty much geared for well-heeled early adopters. Each Solar Cooler is expected to retail for about $1,200.

The Solar Cooler isn't just all beer and beaches. The company is also working on a version for medical transportation to safely move sensitive items like vaccines through remote areas, particularly in developing countries where refrigeration is a big issue. McGann hopes money raised from the consumer model of the Solar Cooler will fund development of the medical transportation version.

That sort of makes the Solar Cooler a beer chiller with a heart of gold. It's a fun idea and its super-cold capabilities could make it appealing for people who really are far away from an outlet and don't mind dropping the cash to harness that power.

SolarCooler inside
A look inside the SolarCooler. Amanda Kooser/CNET