Portable refrigerators, aka electric coolers, are becoming a mainstay of car camping. And today, the brand GoSun launches a new model with some unique features, from built-in Bluetooth to an onboard battery. Here’s what you should know about the GoSun Chillest solar cooler.
I have to hand it to GoSun. Since launching its latest product on Indiegogo, the brand has sold nearly $60,000 in electric coolers — this morning. But as someone who’s quite familiar with electric coolers, I have to also give the brand a nod for differentiating itself from the competition with some clever features.
The GoSun Chillest is, in short, a portable refrigerator/freezer. It runs on electricity stored in a battery, not directly from the sun (although the sun can charge the battery).
So the term “solar cooler,” to me, is a little misleading. However, that’s how the brand poses the product online.
Much like other coolers from popular brands like Dometic and ARB, the GoSun runs on electrical current to cool the interior. It has two chambers, and the user can set the temperature of each individually. So you can have one side as a freezer and one as a fridge, or both as a freezer or refrigerator.
None of this is unique to GoSun, but it’s certainly great for campers who want to keep fresh foods at the campsite. Still, GoSun does have some standout engineering. Here’s where it’s different.
GoSun Chillest: Built-In Battery
Among high-end portable refrigerators (I’m talking about those by overlanding brands that pioneered the category), very few, if any, have built-in batteries. Instead, they opt for an easy connection to your vehicle’s electrical system, which in many cases can power the cooler for days on end, or even indefinitely if you drive regularly.
The GoSun Chillest is different here. It has a built-in lithium-ion battery that the brand claims can run the cooler for up to 10 hours on a charge. While the number of hours it will run per charge will vary dramatically depending on the outside temp, as well as the inside temp setting, it’s still a nice idea for simplicity.
Just plug your cooler in at home to charge, and then use it for the day.
But after 10 hours, what’s next?
Here’s where the GoSun starts to look more like other brands. GoSun offers an external battery for sale as an add-on. GoSun calls it the Power 266 portable power bank. It gives the Chillest 30 claimed additional hours of power. Of course, you can charge the battery at home.
And you can also charge the battery off solar panels.
And like other battery packs, you can use the Power 266 to charge your phone or ostensibly other electronic gizmos. This is, again, not at all different from other products on the market.
Solar ‘Table,’ Bluetooth
Now, this is different! Customers can buy a Solar Table to go with their GoSun cooler.
I have not seen this design anywhere else. In essence, it’s a solar panel that mounts directly on top of the cooler. The brand claims it will charge the internal battery or extend the run time.
I’m personally curious if it is big enough to shade the cooler from the hot sun, as setting the cooler in the direct sun seems counterproductive.
Again, there are other solar solutions to running a cooler. For example, you could buy a Goal Zero battery pack and a solar panel, and then set them up anywhere to run your 12-volt system.
However, the Solar Table is a unique and clever design. It also allows you to use the panels as a table for setting out food, playing cards, or whatever you might need. As long as the panels are significantly durable, it seems like a cool add-on.
The Chillest also has Bluetooth connectivity. That means you can set the temps from your phone. While not a big deal, that’s pretty nice and may save you from crawling around inside your packed vehicle if you want to check out or reset your cooler’s temp.
Finally, it also has wheels and a handle. Both those have pros and cons, but it does set it apart from many of the coolers on the market.
GoSun Chillest Pricing
Shall we get down to brass tacks? The Chillest isn’t all that unique in terms of design. But how does it stand up in terms of pricing? In short, pretty well.
The 45L cooler rings in at $599 on Indiegogo. Compared with a lot of the market, that’s a steal. It’s also worth noting that the Chillest will retail at $899, which is about par for the course.
In comparison, Dometic’s 45L offerings retail from $850 to $960 but do not include a built-in battery. I’ve never found the lack of a battery to be an issue, as I just plug the Dometic into my truck.
The GoSun 20-watt solar panel costs $129 on Indiegogo or $100 retail. Other add-ons include the Power 266 power bank ($226 on Indiegogo, $349 retail) and a Bluetooth speaker ($49 on Indiegogo, $79 retail).
We haven’t seen this product in person yet, so we cannot vouch for its performance. Many of the specs align with other products currently available at Home Depot.
But with GoSun’s history of unique sun-powered products, it has some potential to stand out from an otherwise crowded market. Learn more at Indiegogo.