GoSun Chillest vs. EcoFlow Glacier: Which Is the Better Electric Cooler? – CNET

Where there was once a skill to perfectly packing a cooler with ice so food and drinks didn’t freeze or get too warm, electric coolers seek to eliminate that artform altogether. Instead of dealing with melting ice, an electric cooler can be set to a specific temperature and hold it.

If it helps, you can think of electric coolers as portable refrigerators and freezers. They can be powered by a battery or electric outlet, and some can even be connected to a solar panel in certain conditions. The point of these products is to have a more consistent chilling experience for your party, picnic, or adventure, all without needing to do an ice run to the nearest minimart.

CNET is keeping an eye on this powered part of the cooler category, but for now, we’re comparing the GoSun Chillest and the EcoFlow Glacier to provide a direct comparison between two viable electric options. Both provide plenty of ways to be powered, but each takes a unique approach to design and functionality.

The GoSun Chillest electric cooler sits in a shady patch of grass with its lid closed.

<span class="g-color-text-meta u-inline-block g-text-xxxsmall">Ry Crist/CNET</span>

Rather than rethink what it means to be a cooler with electrical power, the GoSun Chillest sports a traditional cooler design with added electrical components. It also doubles down on utility. We think that’s a valid approach, and it allows for useful analog features like trash bag hooks and a general-purpose pole clamp.

The Chillest has two completely divided internal sections that can be set to two different temperatures — or both set to the same temperature. Because the cooler can reach freezing temps as low as -4 degrees Fahrenheit, water in an ice cube tray can also make ice for drinks if you want to attempt that.

This product might not be traditional in its use of electronic components, but the Chillest very much intends to be a cooler that’s used for tailgates, backyards and out on the pier as a typical cooler might be. Plus, if you do need to pack it with ice, it can still do that, too. It has a built-in telescoping handle and two semirugged wheels to help move it around. Those wheels aren’t just for show either. With an empty weight of 50 pounds, most people will need the assistance of wheels to maneuver it.

The GoSun Chillest isn’t the prettiest cooler ever designed, but we can recognize its utility. We wouldn’t have thought to add a pole clamp to hold a fishing pole or sun umbrella, but it’s a practical addition that doesn’t get in the way of being an effective cooler.

Capacity: 45L – dual-zone
Weight: 50.6 pounds
Temperature range: -4°F to 68°F
Battery size: 87Wh (Included)
Included items: AC Adapter, battery, and 12 Volt Power Cord
Retail price: $899

The EcoFlow Glacier electric cooler sits in some grass with its lid open.

<span class="g-color-text-meta u-inline-block g-text-xxxsmall">Steve Conaway/CNET</span>

The EcoFlow Glacier is an electric cooler at its heart, but since it can reach temps as low as -13 degrees F, it can perform just as well as a freezer too. Mentioning freezing, the most notable feature of the EcoFlow Glacier might be its dedicated ice maker that EcoFlow claims can pump out 18 solid ice cubes in 12 minutes or 90 cubes in an hour. There’s no need to wait for an ice tray to freeze here.

While a dedicated ice machine on board is nice, that capability does take away space from internal storage. The Glacier cooler has less capacity than the Chillest, so you’ll need to decide how important making ice regularly is to your activities.

The EcoFlow Glacier has an attractive look, thanks partly to its modular design. The wheels and pull handle are optional and don’t come with it by default. That’s a shame too, because the cooler weighs a beefy 50 pounds when empty. Even keeping the snap-on modular design, the wheels and pull handle should have been included. The cooler forgoes some utility features in the name of profit margin and aesthetics. 

Capacity: Single zone: 38L; Dual zone: 36L
Weight: 50.7 pounds
AC Input: 100-240V, 50/60Hz, 180W
Temperature range: –13°F to 50°F
Battery size: 298Wh (Not included)
Included items: AC power adapter, car charger, ice shovel
Retail price: $999

The GoSun Chillest electric cooler sits in a sunny patch of grass with its lid open.

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="28"></p> <p>The GoSun Chillest features a design with two separate internal compartments that can each be set to their own temperature.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">Ry Crist/CNET</span>

Electric cooler design

At first look, the EcoFlow Glacier has a sleeker, more modern design than the GoSun Chillest. The Glacier’s bigger display for seeing temperatures and controls is nicer looking, too. It’s not really a contest in terms of appearance. Both coolers are designed for functionality, but EcoFlow’s cooler is simply better at disguising its utility.

The EcoFlow Glacier electric cooler sits in some grass with its lid closed.

Enlarge Image

The EcoFlow Glacier electric cooler sits in some grass with its lid closed.

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="29"></p> <p>The EcoFlow Glacier is a great-looking electric cooler &#8212; but the wheels, handle and the battery are all sold separately.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">Steve Conaway/CNET</span>

Part of the way the EcoFlow Glacier maintains a better appearance is by getting rid of pieces that hang off of it like a telescoping handle. Unfortunately, each of these modular pieces is an add-on cost to consider. The battery, the wheels and the handle are all extra accessories that aren’t part of the core product. The benefit, however, is that if you don’t need those items, you don’t have to buy them or have them in the way.

Alternatively, a telescoping handle and rugged wheels are built into the GoSun Chillest. Those pieces add bulk to the cooler, but being able to move a heavy cooler will be critical to nearly all people’s experiences so we think it’s vital to have those parts included and always available — without an additional cost.

The GoSun Chillest has external dimensions of 30 by 20 by 22 inches, while the EcoFlow Glacier measures 30.6 by 15.2 by 17.5 inches. The internal capacity of the Chillest is 45 liters in total, while the Glacier is listed at 38 liters. The Chillest has two permanent internal temperature zones, while the Glacier can be a single cavity or divided into two cooling zones with an included divider accessory.

Design is about more than visual aesthetics — you have to consider usability, too. The Glacier cooler is certainly sleeker and more attractive, but it offers less usable storage. And, given that each of these electric coolers weighs more than 50 lbs. before you even start loading them up with drinks, we’re going to opt for the one that comes with wheels included.

Winner: GoSun Chillest

A top-down look at an opened EcoFlow Glacier electric cooler reveals a 38L interior with a moveable divider splitting it into two sections, as well as a dedicated icemaker compartment.

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="29"></p> <p>The EcoFlow Glacier includes a divider that can split the internal cavity into two separate cooling zones, as well as a dedicated icemaker (the dark-colored compartment on the right).</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">Steve Conaway/CNET</span>

Features and accessories

The EcoFlow Glacier and GoSun Chillest electric coolers can both be powered via 12-volt or 24V DC, AC, solar, or battery. Solar is an add-on accessory for both products, and the battery is an add-on for the Glacier. Be warned that while using a solar panel to power an electric cooler seems like a great idea, the panel can add a lot of bulk to your load while usually not providing as much power as you may want. (It can also add a lot of cost for not a lot of value.)

The 87-Wh battery built into the Chillest didn’t provide a very long runtime in our tests. It really only lasted about 6 hours before giving up the ghost. Still, it’s nice to have as a backup for temporary power in a pinch.

EcoFlow’s design includes a dedicated ice maker. It’s a nice flex for an electric cooler like this one, but keep in mind that it also means that you’ll have about 15% less room for drinks in the cooler itself. The Glacier also includes Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, which lets you control the cooler via a mobile app. It may seem like a luxury when you can adjust temperatures or check the cooler by tapping on its built-in display, but being able to adjust settings and other controls remotely is very handy.

We’ve tried other smart, electric coolers like the Dometic CFX3 35 and found using an app to be much better than navigating the display’s minimal controls. Often, apps like these will also show you the cooler’s temperature history. While an electric cooler might not need remote connectivity to be useful, getting a notification when something changes on the cooler is helpful. It’s also helpful for adjusting settings.

Winner: EcoFlow Glacier

The EcoFlow Glacier electric cooler sits closed within a climate-controlled test chamber at the CNET Labs product testing facility. A temperature-tracking thermocouple wire inside the cooler tracks how cool it is inside on a minute-by-minute basis as a controlled amount of ice slowly melts.

<span class="c-shortcodeImage_caption g-inner-spacing-right-small g-text-xxsmall" readability="32"></p> <p>To test each cooler&#8217;s natural ability to keep things cold, we loaded each compartment with ice equivalent to 10% of its total capacity within a climate-controlled test chamber, then used temperature-tracking thermocouple wiring to track how cold it stayed inside on a minute-by-minute basis over multiple days.</p> <p></span> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">Ry Crist/CNET</span>

General cooling performance

In our testing results, you’ll see both GoSun Cooler and GoSun Freezer, as well as the EcoFlow Glacier. This is because the GoSun Chillest has two dedicated areas permanently separated, so we tested each zone separately. Each area can be set to the same temperature or set individually. The EcoFlow Glacier’s interior can be split with an included divider accessory, complete with separate temperature settings for each section, but for this test, we left the divider out to get a sense of how well the cooler’s walls retain the cold. We tested both areas of the Chillest, but we focused on the results of the larger “cooler” section.

First, we started both coolers off with an ambient air temperature of 76 degrees and, on AC power, measured how long it took each one to reach a target temperature of 50 degrees. The EcoFlow took almost exactly one hour while the GoSun took twice as long, at about 2 hours and 20 minutes. Drinks and other items will still be chilling in both coolers when they’re plugged in, but the EcoFlow Glacier was more efficient at reaching its target temperature.

Second, we wanted to test each of these coolers’ insulation to see how they performed as traditional coolers. How well do these coolers work if the power goes out or there are no outlets available? To do this, we filled each section) with 10% ice and placed a probe in the center to measure the internal temperature on a per-minute basis.

A line graph shows the temperatures inside two electric coolers during a controlled, two-day test, each one filled to 10% capacity with ice. The GoSun Chillest cooler held its minimum temperature significantly longer than the EcoFlow Glacier.

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A line graph shows the temperatures inside two electric coolers during a controlled, two-day test, each one filled to 10% capacity with ice. The GoSun Chillest cooler held its minimum temperature significantly longer than the EcoFlow Glacier.

<!----> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">Ry Crist/CNET</span>

Both of the coolers with ice inside dropped to between 48 and 50 degrees in around 3 hours. Both of the coolers were then able to hold that temperature steady for about 18 hours. The first one to deviate with a rise in temperature was GoSun’s smaller “freezer” section (the blue line in that graph above) — but the EcoFlow Glacier (green) was right behind it, and it was actually the first cooler to return to 70 degrees internally.

Ultimately, our test showed that with a proportional amount of ice inside and no electrical components running, it took the EcoFlow Glacier around 28 hours and 38 minutes to reach 70 degrees, and it took the small section of the GoSun Chillest around 30 hours and 40 minutes. Meanwhile, the Chillest’s larger section (the yellow line) did the best at retaining the cold. At 28 hours, when the other two sections were approaching 70 degrees F, it was still below 55. In total, it was able to go about 44 hours before rising to 70 degrees.

These coolers can still function as traditional coolers if you do want to use ice or there’s no power available, with the edge in our ice retention tests going to GoSun. Just be aware that both these models don’t have as much space and are heavier than standard, non-electrical, coolers.

Winner: GoSun Chillest

Electric cooler battery test

To get a sense of how each of these coolers might hold up when you’re relying on battery power, we charged them to full capacity, set the temperature to 40 degrees F (FDA recommended for food storage), and let them run until the power was exhausted.

The default battery size for each of these coolers is different so we weren’t trying to see which one ran longer — we knew the EcoFlow, with its battery nearly 3.5 times bigger, would last longer. Instead, we were interested to see if these default battery sizes were beneficial to a portable experience.

In our lab tests, it took the EcoFlow about 2 hours and 40 minutes to reach its 40 degrees target temperature, and it was able to maintain it for about 21 hours and 50 minutes. GoSun’s cooler, on the other hand, never reached its final target temperature. It took just over 4 hours to reach 42 degrees, at which point the battery ran out. Even though the GoSun’s battery capacity is 3.5 times smaller, the EcoFlow battery still outperformed the difference in size, lasting around 5.5 times longer.

GoSun’s battery didn’t have the best showing, but we do think it could still provide several hours of mild cooling for drinks while away from the house. We wouldn’t recommend counting on the battery for storing perishable foods, however.

The EcoFlow battery performance was impressive, by comparison. Even beyond tailgating or a party, it might even be able to provide assistance during a blackout or other emergency. It’s just a shame that it doesn’t come included with the cooler.

Winner: EcoFlow Glacier

Electric cooler value

The GoSun Chillest cooler retails for $899 while the EcoFlow Glacier has a retail price of $1,099. As of June 6, the Chillest was down to $599 and the Glacier was selling for $999. That’s a significant price difference. It’s an even bigger difference when considering that GoSun’s option comes with an 87-Wh lithium-ion battery and EcoFlow’s cooler doesn’t include a battery at all.

Currently, adding a battery to the EcoFlow Glacier costs an additional $200 if packaged in a bundle, which is what we’d recommend, given how well that battery performed in our tests. If bought separately, the battery retails for $299.

Beyond the battery, the Glacier doesn’t come with wheels or a pull handle, either. Those accessories cost $99 each, adding possible extra expense to the total price.

Out the door, the GoSun Chillest is the better value when comparing these two products. The price difference was a greater divide between these two than the overall comparable performance. Unless you specifically want a cooler without wheels or a battery, perhaps to live inside an RV, the Chillest has all the pieces to make it versatile, including a significantly lower cost.

Winner: GoSun Chillest

The GoSun Chillest electric cooler sits in a climate-controlled test chamber. A temperature-tracking thermocouple wire inside the cooler keeps track of how cold it's keeping a controlled amount of ice on a minute-by-minute basis over multiple days.

<!----> <span class="c-shortcodeImage_credit g-inner-spacing-right-small g-outer-spacing-top-xsmall g-color-text-meta g-text-xxxsmall">Ry Crist/CNET</span>

The verdict

Price doesn’t always dictate a comparison winner, but it usually plays an important part. With unlimited funds or very specific needs, the EcoFlow Glacier is a great electric cooler. The problem is that its designed features make it more expensive and less versatile than the GoSun Chillest.

With all the accessories, the EcoFlow Glacier is a force full of cold air. It’s remarkable what it can accomplish. We just don’t see the dedicated ice machine, extra-low freezing temps, and lack of an included battery as beneficial for most people looking for a general-purpose electric cooler.

Winner: GoSun Chillest

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