LI entrepreneur debuts Solar Cooler at CES

Ryan McGann of Shoreham, founder of Solar Cool Ryan McGann of Shoreham, founder of Solar Cool Technologies Inc., presents his solar-powered refrigerating cooler during the International CES conference at The Venetian casino-hotel in Las Vegas. The cooler has solar panels and a rechargeable battery that keep the inside cold enough to make ice. (Jan. 9, 2014) Photo Credit: Erik Verduzco

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A solar-powered cooler developed by a Long Islander is generating some heat at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The Solar Cooler, from Shoreham native Ryan McGann's company Solar Cool Technologies, officially debuted at the world's largest consumer technology showcase this week. The cooler, which McGann said is the first of its kind, is one of a handful of products being introduced by Long Island-based companies at the much hyped event.

The cooler has solar panels and a rechargeable battery that keep the inside cold enough to make ice. There's an outlet to charge phones or operate other electronics -- such as a blender or stereo, McGann, 29, said. Priced at $1,200, it has a 38-quart capacity and weighs 50 pounds.

It's been well received by CES attendees, he said. "People are blown away, the fact that it can make ice while on the beach . . . and a lot of people can't wait to get one for their boat."

McGann, who spoke with Newsday by phone from Las Vegas Thursday, said he barely had time to eat amid the excitement of his first CES. For fun, he had attached one prototype cooler to remote controlled wheels -- which he was driving around the convention floor.

"It's been incredible to see something you designed and created come to life and people excited about it," he said.

This week, McGann plans to start taking preorders for up to 1,000 coolers through crowdfunding site Indiegogo. He said the coolers, which he wants to manufacture in New York, will ship by summer.

The first model was designed with the highest quality materials, which added to the cost, he said; he hopes to develop cheaper designs, and also envisions other uses for the technology, such as storage for vaccines in Third World countries.

"There's a great fit for his next phase -- vaccines, medicine, disaster relief -- above and beyond the commercial market," said David Hamilton, director of business development at Stony Brook University's Clean Energy Business Incubator Program, to which Solar Cool Technologies belongs.

McGann built the cooler as an engineering student at Stony Brook, but took a break to design products for sports accessories maker Oakley Inc. He renewed his efforts on the cooler after raising $800,000 from family and friends and the Long Island Angel Network in late 2011. The company is housed in the Advanced Energy and Technology Research Center in Stony Brook.

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