Wine Cellar Coolers: Choose Wisely

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We all know wine should be stored and enjoyed at a cool temperature. Some wines are intended to be slightly chilled in a wine cooler/refrigerator while others are best if stored in a natural wine cellar that maintains a temperature in the high 50s or low 60s, for example.

A few fortunate individuals might actually have a wine cellar – a room in which the temperature is naturally controlled. For many wine lovers, however, wine cellar coolers are the answer to their storage needs.

Well-made wine will have a better aroma and flavor when stored properly. Many manufacturers of wine coolers, refrigerators and wine cellars design their products to maintain a steady temperature of 55 degrees or slightly above.

Correct storage conditions are possible with many modern wine coolers, cellar coolers and refrigerators that treat as few as four bottles of wine, 100 bottles, 500 bottles and more.

Technology Ideas

Some of the top names in free-standing wine coolers use thermoelectric cooling. Wine cellar cooler companies such as WhisperKOOL, EuroCave and Grand Cru often use convection cooling or forced air. (Brand names are used for example only, not as a recommendation or review of specific products.) Larger cellar coolers may use forced air to achieve more efficient cooling levels. The variety of cooling processes should be carefully considered when shopping for wine cellar coolers.

In thermoelectric cooling a heat pump transfers warm air and heat from one area to another. The basics for thermoelectric technology were developed several decades ago by an engineer/scientist named Peltier. One benefit of thermoelectric operation is lack of noise. These units don’t use classic compressor-and-fan technology so the unit can operate quietly in any setting.

Thermoelectric wine coolers may be a bit less efficient over a period of time, in terms of energy cost. However, they usually require less maintenance.

Add 20 Percent or More

Some wine lovers choose a wine cooler or chilling unit that stores as few as four bottles or six bottles. But one of the most important pieces of advice you can get from experience wine collectors is that wine coolers should be purchased slightly larger than you think you might need.

NewAir AW-320ED 32 Bottle Thermoelectric Wine Cooler
Most aficionados find that they have purchased a unit that is too small for their growing collection. A good rule of thumb is: add at least 20 percent. If you think you will need a wine cooler that holds 25 bottles or so, purchase a product that holds at least 30 bottles, if you can fit it into your budget.

The same size rule might need to be applied to wine cellar coolers. For example, cellar cooling units are described in terms of the number of cubic feet of room space they will cool.

If your cellar has 800 cubic feet of air space you should probably look at a cooling unit designed for 1,000 cubic feet.

Prices for cellar cooling units vary quite a bit

Grand Cru offers a 250-cubic-foot unit for $500. Grand Cru cooling units tend to be at the extreme low end of the price range.

Grand Cru 1600 Wine Cellar Cooling Unit (Black) (Max Room Size = 250 Cu Ft)

WhisperKOOL has a 1,000-cubic-foot unit for $1,709.

WhisperKOOL XLT 4200 Wine Cellar Cooling Unit (up to 1,000 cu ft)

Wine Guardian’s 1,500-cubic-foot model is listed at about $4,195.

Wine Guardian 5300 BTU Wine Cellar Cooling Unit (Black Finish) (1500 Max Cu. Ft.)

Finally, there's the Breezeaire’s 1,000-cubic-foot unit costs about $1,700.

EuroCave’s INOA 600 (850 cubic feet) carries a price tag of $3,495.

Planning Basics

To get the most efficient use of wine cellar cooling units you should install them in a carefully insulated room. Recommendations from manufacturers and professional installers state that the insulation “R coefficient” should be above 2.66.

With careful planning you can convert almost any room into a wine cellar. It’s important to use water-resistant materials as much as possible when choosing insulation products.

Manufacturers and builders recommend polystyrene (high density), celotex and one or two other material types. If you budget $3,000 or $4,000 for a high-quality wine cellar cooler, plan to spend $500 or more on insulation material then add in the installation costs and costs for lumber, wall board etc.

If you would devote a lot of time to researching and purchasing a free-standing or built-in wine cooler, plan to devote a bit more time to buying and installing wine cellar coolers.

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