Wine Cellar Cooling Tips

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What's the best temperature to store my wine?

The Ideal Wine Cellar Environment

The ideal wine cellar environment is about 50 to 55 degrees. However, if you want to hold wines in their current state without adding to the aging process, you may want to hold them as low as 45 degrees. Temperature is important, but so is humidity.

The ideal relative humidity in a cellar is 60 to 70 percent. This high humidity helps keep moisture inside the wine bottle, rather than allowing it to eventually travel into the cork and ultimately evaporate. Thus, especially if you live in a low-humidity area, your cooling system should include a humidifier to add much-needed moisture to your cellar environment.

   
What Should I Do To My Wine Cellar Before Installing A Cooling Unit?

Tips for Prepping Wine Cellars for Wine Cooling Systems

The most important aspect of a wine cellar is the wine cellar cooling unit. However, you cannot simply install the unit without properly preparing the wine cellar first. There are two factors to consider before you take the step of installing the wine cooling system.
1. The interior walls of the wine cellar should be covered in R-11 insulation and the exterior walls should be covered in R-19 insulation.
2. Walls should contain a vapor barrier. Vapor barriers are made of polyethylene plastic sheeting. Installed on the warm side of the wall, it serves as a barrier between the wall and the condensation that gathers because of the wine cellar cooling unit.
3. Flooring elements also need vapor barriers. Concrete wine cellar floors only need a vapor barrier with a concrete sealant. Other types of flooring need a vapor barrier and R-19 insulation to protect them from condensation.

   
I live in a cool climate. Why do I need a wine room cooler and humidifier?

Do I Really Need a Wine Room Cooler and Humidifier?

Yes, the bottom line is -- if you care about your wine and your investment in it, then you need a wine room cooler and humidifier. Even if you live in a cool climate, you still need to carefully control the climate inside your wine cellar to make sure your wine is happy at all times. Too warm or too cold a temperature can harm your wine, and not enough humidity can dry out the corks and spoil the wine. Inside, heating tends to dry out interior woods, so think what it will do to your wines and wine corks. Everything needs to be in balance for your wine to be content. So, invest in a wine room cooler and humidifier when you build your wine room, and you won't regret it later.

   
Do I need a wine cellar cooler that manages relative humidity, too?

All Wine Cellar Coolers are not Created Equal

There are many different methods by which you can cool wine in your wine cellar or chill your wines. You'll hear terms like refrigerator, wine cooler or wine cooling system - but what do they all mean?

For instance, some wine cellars are kept at the optimal temperature, but this is not a cold enough temperature at which to serve white wine. In many cases, a person will install a small refrigerator in their wine cellar just to keep white wine on hand for drinking.

Then we move on to "wine coolers" or "wine cooling systems". When we say cooler, we aren't talking about the styrofoam portable cooling unit for your beer during the summer.

Wine cellar cooling systems are designed to keep an entire room at a certain temperature (usually between 55 and 65 degrees). Most of these, however, do not have humidity controls. If they can control the relative humidity in your wine cellar, the system will probably be expensive.

Why is controlling the relative humidity important? Although 90 % of existing wine cellars do not have relative humidity controls, this can be damaging to your wines.

Choose a wine cooler, or wine cooling system that meets your needs in the following categories:

  • Budget
  • How large is your space?

Then consider adding a humidity control unit after the fact.

   
What size wine cellar cooling unit should I buy?

The Wine Cellar Cooling Unit

Remember when you install a wine cellar cooling unit that it can be noisy and create heat. The ideal situation is to install the unit so it vents through an outside wall, or into a storage or other unused room.

Some units are one-piece, and some are two-piece. What works best for you depends on the size of your cellar, where it's located, and how many bottles you expect to keep there. Wine cellar cooling units come in so many sizes, there's one that's just right for every cellar.

The wine cellar cooling unit is essential in most wine cellars, but if you invest in a high-quality unit, you will enjoy years of stress-free wine storage and enjoyment.

   
Should I worry if my wine cellar gets too cold?

Low Ambient Protection

Many people have to worry if their wine cellar is too warm. However, a wine cellar that dips below 40 degrees can also harm fragile fine wines. Wine cellar refrigeration in areas that experience cold temperatures need to have a low ambient protection feature. This is a compressor that will warm the wine cellar cooling unit if the temperature in the cellar dips to 40 degrees or below. If your wine cellar can be affected by cold temperatures, be sure to look into a wine cellar refrigeration system that includes a heater and/or low ambient protection.

   
Do I really need a wine cooling system?

Do You Need a Wine Cooling System?

Many people believe a basement wine cellar may not need cooling. In some parts of the country that may be true, but for the most part, modern basements are simply too warm and dry to effectively serve as coolers. That means you'll need to install a wine cooling system in a basement cellar, just like any other cellar room.

Choosing the right cooling system for your home and your collection isn't daunting, you just need to know a few wine cooling system basics. There are many different cooling systems to choose from. Your collection, the size of your cellar, and the location in the home are all things to consider when choosing a wine cooling system.

   
Do I need to actively condition my wine cellar or wine room?

Actively Conditioning for Your Wine Cooling System

If your basement or wine cellar has less than ideal conditions for wine storage, you'll need to actively condition the room by installing a wine cooling system. This cooling system will keep your cellar at the optimum temperature without relying on outside temperatures or humidity.

A wine cooling system is the best option for most homes, because it means you can install your cellar just about anywhere you choose, not just in a basement. When you actively condition your wine cellar, it takes the worry out of preserving your collection.

Don't rely on mother nature and old-fashioned technology! Install a wine cooling system in your wine cellar or wine room to ensure your collection is safe.

   
Are digital controls available on my wine cellar cooling equipment?

Digital Wine Cellar Cooling Equipment

How can you be sure your wine cooling equipment is running at the optimum temperature for your cellar? Look for digital controls on your wine cellar cooling equipment for the most accurate results. Digital controls allow you to set and monitor both cooling and give you an instant read-out of your wine room's temperature and humidity. They are easy to monitor and even easier to maintain. So, if you want to keep a close eye on your wine cellar cooling equipment, make sure you invest in a wine cooling system with digital controls.

   
Why is humidity control important in wine cellar coolers?

Why Humidity is Important

If there is something missing in most wine cellar coolers, it is humidity control. Many people just don't realize they need to control humidity as well as temperature in their cellars. However, humidity is crucial to fine wine storage. Why? Because humidity helps keep the cork moist, even on the dry side. In a cellar with no humidity, the dry side of the cork can dry out even further, and "capillary pull action" can actually pull wine through that dry cork and eventually add air to the bottle. This can produce a moldy wine. Corks won't dry out in the right humidity conditions of about 65 percent. That's why humidity control is part of the whole picture when it comes to wine cellar coolers.

   
Can I use an air conditioner as a wine cellar cooling unit?

Any Air Conditioner Will Do?

No! An efficient wine cellar cooling unit is NOT an air conditioner! They are simply not one in the same.

A good wine cellar cooling unit is specifically designed for a wine cellar. For instance, some are designed to handle humidity as well as temperature.

Air conditioners can dry the air, which could dry out your corks and contaminate or evaporate your wine collection. Don't make the mistake of installing an air conditioner in your wine cellar or room. Get professional advice and choose a wine cellar cooling system just right for your specific needs and collection.

   
What about those small, portable, wine coolers I'm seeing everywhere?

Portable Wine Cellar Refrigeration

Have you seen those small, portable, wine coolers that hold a few bottles at a time? They look great, and are a nice alternative for storage in a kitchen or dining room. Many of them offer different "temperature zones" for cooling reds, whites, and blushes. However, hardly any of these small coolers offer humidity control. They are a nice alternative for short-term storage of a few bottles you might want to serve with dinner, but for long-term storage, you need a real cellar with a professional wine cellar cooling unit.

   
Do I need a professional to install my wine cellar cooling equipment?

Wine Cellar Cooling Equipment

In some areas, wine cellars are built underground or in basements, and they may never need cooling equipment. However, most wine cellars don't fit into that category.

In addition, wine cellar cooling equipment allows you to place a cellar just about anywhere in the home. As long as you can vent the equipment to the outside, or another room, you can install it in just about any wine cellar or wine room.

Wine cellar cooling equipment creates heat and noise, so you don't want to install it in a lived-in room. Some systems require ducting and installation by a professional, while others don't require ducting and can be installed by just about anyone. No matter what your needs, you can find the right wine cellar equipment!

   
What wine cellar refrigeration system is right for you?

Choosing the Right Wine Cellar Refrigeration System

There are many wine cellar refrigeration systems on the market today. Choosing the right one depends on a number of things, from the size of your cellar to the types of wine you store there. It also depends on where your cellar is located in your home.

Some systems need to be ducted, while others install directly into your cellar. The right system also depends on where you live. In the arid West and Southwest, you may need additional humidity in your cellar. During the winter, if you live in the North or Northeast, you'll need to add humidity, while in the summer you may not need as much.

No matter what kind of wine cellar you have, you can find the right refrigeration system to fit your wine collection.

   
What Should I Do If I Cannot Afford A Cooling System Outside Of My Air Conditioner?

Take Extra Steps to Control Temperature and Humidity

If you cannot afford a proper wine cooling system and cannot control humidity in your wine cellar, take additional steps to protect your wine stock.
Avoid storing your wine in cardboard of any kind, because cardboard rots easily. Lightly coat each bottle label in a scentless hair lacquer to avoid the humidity and high temperature rendering your labels unreadable. You can also install a humidifier in the room to control the moisture and thickness of the air.

   
How Can I Figure Out The Actual Temperature of My Wine?

Use Finder To Gauge Actual Temperature of Wine

A wine cellar cooling unit will regulate the temperature of your wine cellar.
However, the temperature of your actual wine will not be the same as the room. There are products available to assist you in attaining the actual temperature of your wine. The most popular model comes in a glass vessel that will display the properties of the wine bottle. The temperature finder uses scientific thermometers made for glass and specially calibrated. It can measure the temperature of the fluid inside of the bottle without disturbing the contents inside of the bottle.

   
Can I store white wines with my wine cooling system?

White Wines and the Wine Cooling System

If you store your white wines in your wine cellar, you may find they are not chilled enough to your liking. In that case, it's a good idea to bring your white wines out of the wine cellar cooling system before you serve them. Many people put their white wines into the refrigerator for about an hour before they serve them, even if they've come out of a wine cellar. Champagnes definitely need to cool down in the refrigerator before serving, too. White wines stored in the wine cooling system will keep quite nicely, so it's a good idea to store reds and whites in your cellars, just be aware your whites may need additional chilling to be at their very best.

   
Do I Need A Wine Cellar Cooling Unit?

Purchase Proper Cooling Equipment

Maintaining the temperature of the wine cellar is the main function of the wine cellar cooling system. This is why it is important to purchase a cooling system specifically for your wine cellar. Normal air-conditioning and refrigeration units dry out the air in the room while cooling it and will likely malfunction in a wine cellar. To maintain the desired environment for wine storage, purchase proper cooling equipment and regularly monitor temperatures in the wine cellar.

   
How Quickly Should The Cooling Unit In My Wine Cellar Adjust Temperature?

Cooling Unit Should Adjust Temperature Gradually

Temperatures that frequently fluctuate can “shock” your wine. It is important that your wine cellar cooling unit gradually and gently maintain the balance of humidity and temperature. Traditional air conditioning units drop the temperature quickly. However, this can have an adverse affect on your wine stock. A wine cooling system will manage slow, easy changes in temperature without affecting the quality of your wine.

   
Do I Need Air Conditioning In My Home Wine Cellar?

Properly Working AC Unit Important To Wine Cellar

A properly working air conditioning unit is a significant addition to your home wine cellar. Temperature variations can affect wine greatly. Most wine cellars are insulated to protect against unnecessary temperature chances. An insulated environment will keep cold bottles cold longer and warmer bottles warm longer.
If the temperature rises above what it should be in your wine cellar, the insulation will trap the heat, which will likely affect the taste of your wines. A properly working air conditioner can help combat this problem and keep your wine at a cooler temperature, even if a problem develops that increase the temperature of your home wine cellar.

   
What is a wine cooling system and why do I need one?

What is a Wine Cooling System?

A wine cellar cooling system is much more than cool air circulating around your wine collection. It is a sophisticated blend of cooling, humidity control, and the option to maintain the ideal temperature and conditions to keep your wine in prime shape. Cool air is an important part of the wine cooling system, but humidity control is just as important for long-term storage. In addition, if your cellar gets too cold, it can also affect your wine. So, for the right wine storage for all your fine wines, make sure you invest in a sophisticated wine cooling system that will keep your wines in the right conditions for years to come.

   
Does It Matter What Kind of Cooling Unit I Install In My Wine Cellar?

Focus on Efficiency

Properly constructed wine cellars should focus on efficiency first and the overall look of the space second.
Your wine cellar cooling unit should be properly installed and provide the right atmosphere for wine storage, even if the outcome does not look as nice as the rest of the cellar. Many people simply decorate around the unit and understand that the bulky piece of equipment is necessary to maintain the integrity of the wine. True wine cellar cooling units have a different look and sound from traditional household refrigeration units. It is important to focus on the health of your wine using proper storage machinery instead of the esthetics of your wine cellar.

   
What Is The Purpose of a Temperature Display?

Temperature Displays For Wine Cellars

A wine cooling system acts as a monitor and regulator for the temperature and humidity of the wine cellar. A temperature display should be included in the purchase of your wine cellar cooling unit. The temperature display is located just outside of the wine cellar. It displays the exact temperature of your wine cellar and sends a signal to your wine cooling system if the temperature is not within the desired range for wine storage. The signal prompts your wine cellar cooling unit to automatically re-adjust the temperature. The wine cooling system's temperature display should constantly relay accurate readings and monitor humidity.

   
When Should I Install A Refrigeration Unit In My Wine Cellar?

Split Installation Process of Refrigeration Units

Most wine cellars have refrigeration units to store bottles of wine in addition to the wine cellar cooling unit, which keeps the cellar at the proper temperature. Any wine cooling or refrigeration system should be installed in the wine cellar ONLY after the room has been completely dry walled. However, if possible, the initial wiring for both systems should be run while the wine cellar is in the rough framing process. If you plan to run both systems, focus more on efficiency and the correct process of installation versus the cost of splitting up the initial process. This will benefit you most once the wine project has been completed.

   
Do I really need to store red wine with wine cooling equipment?

To Cool or Not to Cool

Some collectors don't feel the need to cool their red wines, since they are served at room temperature anyway. However, cooling is also a way to age wine and store it over long periods of time. Thus, if you really want to invest in red wines, sooner or later you're going to need wine cellar equipment to make sure your wines are stored in the right conditions. They'll last longer that way, and be more enjoyable to drink, too. Reds can be kept at a bit warmer temperatures than whites, and they should warm up for an hour or so when they come out of the cooler before you serve them. Otherwise, they should be stored in a cool, moist environment, like a cellar or wine room.

   
Should I Install Waterproof Materials In My Wine Cellar?

Install Moisture-Resistant Materials

For added protection, install a moisture-resistant sheetrock to add to the durability of your wine cellar. It should be waterproof and can be covered with a non-aromatic paint. Your wine cellar is dark and damp much of the time. Some of this can be attributed to the location of the wine cellar and some can be attributed to the wine cellar cooling unit. The more materials you can use that are moisture-resistant or waterproof, the longer your wine cellar will last without requiring major improvements.

   
What Are The Different Kinds of Cooling Units?

Wine Cellar Cooling Units Vary

Wine cellar cooling units are just as varied as other aspects of the wine cellar. There are different types of coolers that have different functions. They can include:
Through-the-wall wine cooling systems: This unit is mounted through the wall of the wine cellar and releases the exhaust into another room. The adjacent room must be air conditioned to dissipate the heat from the wine cooling system exhaust.
Split Refrigeration: This unit is similar to the one above. The main difference is that the evaporator coil is in the room with a split refrigeration unit and the condenser is placed in another room or outside of the home. This system also needs a drain for the excess condensation. A split refrigeration unit works best with a humidifier, to allow you to control the humidity of the room.
Split Air Handler: This wine cooling unit runs through the air ducts of the home. You can add a humidifier to control humidity as well as a temperature alarm to closely monitor temperature changes in your wine cellar.
Water Chiller System: Installed in an indoor space, a water chiller system uses chilled water to cool the coils in the unit. It uses water instead of refrigerant and creates cold air with an air handler. The chiller system has a reservoir for the water, which should be monitored regularly.

   
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