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Portable Ice Chest, U.S. Patent # 2,663,167 (1953)

A cooler, portable ice chest, ice box, cool box,[1] chilly bin (in New Zealand), or esky (Australia) is an insulated box used to keep food or drink cool.

Ice cubes are most commonly placed in it to help the contents inside stay cool. Ice packs are sometimes used, as they either contain the melting water inside, or have a gel sealed inside that stays cold longer than plain ice (absorbing heat as it changes phase).

Coolers are often taken on picnics, and on vacation or holiday. Where summers are hot, they may also be used just for getting cold groceries home from the store, such as keeping ice cream from melting in a hot automobile. Even without adding ice, this can be helpful, particularly if the trip home will be lengthy. Some coolers have built-in cupholders in the lid.

Insulated beverage cooler

They are usually made with interior and exterior shells of plastic, with a hard foam in between. They come in sizes from small personal ones to large family ones with wheels. Disposable ones are made solely from polystyrene foam (such as is a disposable coffee cup) about 2 cm or one inch thick. Most reusable ones have molded-in handles; a few have shoulder straps. The cooler has developed from just a means of keeping beverages cold into a mode of transportation with the ride-on cooler. A thermal bag or cooler bag is very similar in concept, but typically smaller and not rigid.


The portable ice chest was invented by Richard C. Laramy of Joliet, Illinois. On February 24, 1951, Laramy filed an application with the United States Patent Office for a portable ice chest (Serial No. 212,573). The patent (#2,663,157) was issued December 22, 1953.

The Coleman Company popularized the cooler with its initial offering of a galvanized cooler in 1954. Three years later, Coleman developed a process to make a plastic liner for coolers and jugs.

Thermoelectric coolers[edit]

Some modern coolers are thermoelectric, plugging into a car's cigarette lighter socket. Rather than using a compressor and refrigerant such as a refrigerator or other heat pump, these use the Peltier effect along with an external fan to draw away the heat. By reversing the current, this concept can also heat the contents instead of cooling them, useful for keeping meals hot from a drive-through, or even to keep items from freezing in severely cold climates.

Thermoelectric coolers typically can drop the temperature by about 40 °F or 22 °C below ambient temperature, or can raise it by at least that much; this is really a function of the effectiveness of the box' thermal insulation. Some better units even have digital thermostat controls. They do draw a significant amount of power, however, and can drain a non running car's battery so much so that it cannot start. Most electric coolers have an undervoltage shutoff at around 10 or 10.5 volts to prevent this. Many come with power adapters, which use an electronic transformer to convert AC mains or line voltage down to 12 volts, with a lighter-like socket for the cooler's cord to plug in. Some also have a crossover-connection device to reverse the current for heating service.

Rotationally molded coolers[edit]

Rotationally molded (roto-molded) coolers have become popular in recent years. Roto-molded coolers are manufactured using a process called rotational molding,[2][better source needed] a process by which a heated and softened material is applied into a slowly rotating mold. The mold continues to rotate during the cooling phase, producing a thick and uniform final product. In the case of roto-molded coolers, the heated liquid plastic is applied over a thick layer of insulation. The resulting product has no seals or imperfections and is much stronger and more durable than traditional coolers. Examples of roto-molded coolers[3] include YETI,[4] ORCA[5] or Grizzly coolers.[6]

Ride-on coolers[edit]

A ride-on cooler is a means of transportation that can store and cool beverages and other food products. There are two main designs for the motor in the cooler: the electric motor, and the gas-powered lawnmower engine. The ride-on cooler is a combination of a low power, or small electric, engine with a go-cart frame which uses the cooler as a seat.


Gas engine options include 5 and 6.5 hp (3.7 and 4.8 kW) Briggs engines, 6.5 hp (4.8 kW) OHV greyhound Harbor Freight engines, and 6.5 hp (4.8 kW) Honda engines. These small engines can be very powerful, making them suitable for homeowners, recreational users, light-duty professional users, and even racing enthusiasts. The fastest ride-on coolers use modified racing cart engines that produce over 14 hp (10.4 kW) and are capable of speeds exceeding 70 mph (110 km/h).[7] Another option is an electric motor ranging from 250 to 2,000 watts (0.3 to 2.7 hp). The electric motors can be lighter, more energy efficient, and quieter than most gas motors. Without the excess weight of the fuel tank and its contents, the electric-powered coolers can be lighter and silent.


The frame also has two design styles: three wheels with a single steering wheel out front, or four wheels, as in the average go-cart. The steering column of a gas-powered ride-on cooler is very similar to that of a go-cart. One major difference is the position of the steering wheel. For the go-cart, the steering wheel is angled toward the driver, enabling him to sit lower to the ground and maintain control at higher speeds. For the ride-on cooler, the steering column is vertical because the seat is higher and the driver sits more vertical.


The ride-on cooler has the ability to transport food and drinks short distances and can be used in a small backyard, a neighborhood, or at large outdoor parties. The ride-on cooler can be equipped with a trailer hitch, allowing it to tow an extra cooler as a trailer. The extra trailer has more holding capacity than the drivable cooler due to the lack of an engine. The electric ride-on coolers are advertised as being capable of holding 24 12-ounce cans and a bag of ice. The trailer can hold up to 72 of 12 US fl oz (355 ml) cans and a bag of ice. Larger gas-powered coolers are capable of carrying up to 72 drinks and 15 pounds (6.8 kg) of ice in the front cooler compartment.


Both the gas and electric motors can have a wide range of power. The electric motors range from 250 watts (0.3 hp) to 2,000 watts (2.7 hp) and generally use 12- to 60-volt[8] batteries. However, the gas-powered engines range from 33 to 205 cubic centimetres (2.0 to 12.5 cu in). The gas-powered Cruzin Cooler[9] is advertised as having a top speed of 13 miles per hour (21 km/h) and up to 30 miles (48 km) of travel on a single tank of gasoline.[10] It holds up to 1 US gallon (3.79 l; 0.83 imp gal), therefore, the mileage is 30 mpg‑US (7.8 L/100 km). builds a race version with a top speed of 70 miles per hour (110 km/h) and a gas tank with enough capacity to last from several hours to all weekend, depending on the speed and terrain to which it is subjected. The size of the engine greatly affects the initial weight of the cooler. The smaller electric engines can weigh as little as 65 pounds (29 kg), and the larger engine's unloaded weight can reach almost 100 pounds (45 kg). Most of the ride-on coolers can support up to 300 pounds (140 kg) while still running at full capacity.

Legal status[edit]

The legal status of the ride-on cooler varies from country to country and in the US from state to state. In some jurisdictions, a driver license is required to operate any form of motor vehicle on public roads, and a driver can be convicted of driving under the influence for riding one.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "coolbox - definition of coolbox by Macmillan Dictionary". Retrieved 2013-07-11.
  2. ^ Rotational molding
  3. ^ Head, Tool (2018-03-25). "These 10 Awesome Coolers Are Perfect For Your Next Outdoor Adventure". ShedHeads. Retrieved 2018-11-24.
  4. ^ "YETI | Premium Coolers, Drinkware, Gear, and Apparel". Retrieved 2018-11-24.
  5. ^ "ORCA COOLERS". ORCA. Retrieved 2018-11-24.
  6. ^ "Fishing Coolers | Hunting & Camping Coolers, Soft Coolers | Grizzly Coolers". Retrieved 2018-11-24.
  7. ^ "Home of the World's Fastest Cooler". Retrieved 2014-02-09.
  8. ^ Coolermods
  9. ^ "Cruzin Cooler Official Site". Retrieved 2014-02-09.
  10. ^ "Cooler Scooter Direct. Cooler Scooters for sale". Retrieved 2014-02-09.
  11. ^ "Video: Australian man convicted for driving motorised cool box while drunk". Telegraph. Retrieved 2014-02-09.

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