At Cool Cat Cooler your options are as plentiful as there are reasons for using a cooler. This guide is designed to offer you a bit of insight into our world with the goal of helping you make an informed decision before you buy.
Indoor coolers are designed to be additional spaces for cooling food and drink in your home or office. These can be broadly grouped into two categories: compact fridges and wine coolers.
Compact Fridge: This can be as basic as a small beer or soda cooler in your rec room or office to being more sophisticated like a soda-can cooler and dispenser. We even carry a model where a small fridge is built into the lower compartment of a mechanic's toolbox for the workshop.
Wine Coolers: Wine reacts more to temperature changes than do most drinks, so our coolers are temperature controlled to maintain the ideal climate within for your bottles of wine.
Outdoor Ice Chests:
Outdoor ice chests are exactly what their name implies. They are insulated chests that you fill with ice to keep your items cold.
Hard Sided Ice Chests: These chests are sturdy and typically have a stainless steel outer casing with insulation within. These are tremendously durable and are well designed to take all the abuse that a campout might bring, and more.
Soft Sided Ice Chests: Again, their name speaks for themselves. Though they may not have the strength of their hard-sided cousins, these chests are both durable and designed to be light. We even have a model that is designed to be used as saddlebags for your motorcycle.
Hybrid Ice Chests: These chests are made with lightweight soft materials on the outside but with rigid insulation within. They are designed to combine the best of both worlds.
Handles, Straps, or Wheels: Typically, hard-sided ice chests come with handles by which they are carried. Soft-sided and hybrid ice chests typically have either handles or straps. We do offer a model where a hard-sided cooler is based under the seat of a scooter for ultimate portability.
In other words, how do you plan to power the cooler? Will you be running an extension cord from a power outlet somewhere or will you be seeking some other source? Outside of an extension cord, you have several options.
DC Power Jack: Automobiles are almost universally equipped with DC power ports within. Some coolers are designed to plug directly into that jack to draw the electricity they need for cooling.
Generator Power: Some coolers are designed to be run off of a small generator. Most modern generators are designed to be relatively quiet, but they still require fuel.
Solar Power: If you truly want to go "off grid," these are the coolers for you as they have batteries recharged with a solar panel, providing limitless stores of energy. They are quiet and efficient and require no fuel other than sunlight. Most have a DC power cord just in case there is not enough good sunlight to effectively recharge the battery.
Some cooling technology is rated based on its ability to cool food below the ambient air temperature; others are designed with built in thermostats and can cool independently from the air temperature. Depending on whether you are just trying to keep food and drinks cold or whether you are trying to keep them frozen will determine which you choose here.
Thermoelectric: Essentially this is the same technology as is found in a home dehumidifier or window air conditioner. Electricity is run through a thermocouple, causing heat to be removed from inside the device and to be dissipated outside of the device. In almost all cases, these will work exceptionally well for keeping food cold on a hot day, but not frozen. This is often the least expensive option in electrically powered coolers. Note that thermoelectric coolers can be set up to heat instead of to cool, depending on which is needed.
Absorption: This is the technology that was found in early refrigerators which employs a liquid coolant that evaporates and then reforms. In this cycle, it cools that which is inside of the cooler. Like the thermoelectric models, these coolers work well for keeping things cold but they are not designed to freeze things or keep them frozen. Typically, these units (as well as thermoelectric ones) can cool your food down to about 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit).
Compressor: This is the technology found in your modern day refrigerator and is the only technology that works independently of ambient temperature. A compressor condenses a coolant and passes it through coils, transferring the heat from inside the cooler to outside. Many of these units are designed to hold a temperature as low as -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit). These work well with solar panels.
So, how long will you be traveling? Are you packing a cooler for an afternoon picnic or for a week-long adventure? Most coolers are measured by internal capacity in quarts. We offer coolers as small as four quarts for maximum portability and we offer coolers as large as 54 quarts for longer outings. Be aware that the larger the cooler, the heavier it will be, especially once it is packed with food and drink. Thus, how you plan to transport it becomes an important factor as you wrestle with options.
- Will you be carrying this cooler on foot any great distance? Perhaps you might want a smaller one with backpack straps.
- Do you want a cooler to sit on the passenger seat for cold drinks on a road trip? If so, you definitely want one powered through a DC cable.
- Will you be taking it fishing or hunting? Then you might want one that is as quiet as possible. Though most of the technology is relatively quiet, absorbtion technology is the quietest option and won't scare away the wildlife.
- Do you need a cooler with a thermostat to control temperature? Our options that use compressors will have such.
- How hard will it be to clean? While all of our coolers can be cleaned, some are designed for extra-quick cleaning.
- Is wildlife a threat to your food? If you have bears or raccoons near where you are camping, you will want to avoid soft sided coolers.
Deciding on the right cooler for you begins with making several decisions:
- Are you looking for a cooler for indoor or outdoor use?
- If this is an outdoor cooler, are you looking for an ice chest or one that is electrically powered?
- If an ice chest is what you are looking for, do you want one with hard sides, soft sides, or that is a hybrid of the two?
- If you are powering with electricity, what is your desired source of power?
- Is your goal cold drinks or frozen food? What technology should you use?
- How large of a cooler will you need?