The Premise. If there’s anything that can ruin a trip to the beach, it’s a cooler full of warm beverages or or water-logged sandwiches. It’s a scenario that most people have found themselves in at least once or twice, yet it seems unavoidable unless you want to keep running back and forth between the beach and an ice machine. After all, even the best coolers start to lose their cold temperatures after sitting in the sun for a long enough period of time.
The Product. The developers behind the SolarCooler are billing the product as “the world’s first solar-powered refrigerating cooler.” Converting energy from that great gaseous giver of life, the cooler maintains a low temperature throughout the entire day, perfect for keeping drinks and food cold and ready to consume. It even makes its own ice. In addition, the SolarCooler can be used to charge cell phones and other USB-powered devices, making it somewhat of an all-purpose beach workhorse.
The Pitch. The TechCrunch video posted on the SolarCooler’s campaign page does a decent job of explaining what the device is capable of, but it would’ve been nice to have seen a more “produced” video that shows how the device works. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but it makes the SolarCooler team appear a bit less professional than they could. One interesting aspect of the pitch, though, is that the SolarCooler is being touted as a solution to keeping vaccines at the perfect temperature for transport. This makes the product a bit more viable than it would be if it were only used to keep beverages cool.
The Perks. Sunlight may be free, but the SolarCooler is anything but. An “early bird” special price of $950 (delivered in June 2014) may seem exceptionally high as it is, but the cooler will actually be retailing for $1,200. One look at the price is enough to send people running away in a sweat no chilled beverage can aid. But, as the project owners point out, the SolarCooler’s features extend beyond recreation to include the transport of potentially life-saving vaccines. Indeed a $5,000 pledge will allow philanthropists to “adopt” a full vaccine SolarCooler.
The Potential. The price, bulkiness and overall novelty of the SolarCooler makes it less than ideal for those who are looking for a simple solution for keeping drinks cold on a hot day. If there’s any market for this product at all, it could potentially be for vaccine transport. Still, at about 40 times the cost of your average chiller, it’s tough to see demand for the SolarCooler heating up.