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Is Wine Cellar Cooling A Scam?

With so many wine cellar companies pushing cooling on clients as a necessity and wine fridges selling like gang busters it’s a logical question really. Is this whole wine cellar cooling thing just a scam or a money grab? The truth is, it can be!

Not every space is going to need to be cooled. How you use the space and what’s going to be stored in it as well as for how long will wine bottles live there all play a part in determining what’s the correct answer. If you weigh the factors yourself you can decide to overlook the hype and opt for an uncooled space with the option of adding cooling later if your tastes change. A reputable wine cellar company will review the space you’re hoping to use with these options in mind and help you decide the best approach both for short-term and long-term evaluation.

When Should A Wine Cellar Be Cooled?

Why then all the fuss about cooling units? Simply put, a cooling unit allows the space to maintain a constant temperature and controlled humidity levels that are best for long term storage of wine. Remember that ancient cellars were often underground caverns where the ground temperature is constant and the environment pretty stable. Both barrels and bottled wines were allowed to age undisturbed for the most part by variable temperature fluctuations, vibrations and light.

The same considerations are still a matter of concern for those wishing to keep fine wines for longer periods of time to allow for them to reach their optimum age before drinking, or selling them. Light, uncontrolled humidity, spiking temperature variations and vibration are all to some degree at least elements to diminish or eliminate where possible. With the advent of affordable wine cellar cooling units at least 2 of those elements are controllable. Keeping your wine cellar at around 15 degrees C or 55F +/- is generally agreed upon as an optimum long term storage temperature. Humidity ranging from 65%-70% eliminates much of the concern of mildew and mold on labels and corks.

For the most part, collectors who are keeping valuable wines for longer periods of time see the cooling element of a wine cellar as inexpensive insurance for the often very valuable contents.

Wine Cellar Cooling Systems Options

 There are a couple main methods of cooling a wine cellar. There is the “Through-the-wall” (TTW) type of unit and then there’s a split system. The “Through-the-wall” (TTW) is a self contained cabinet or box that is placed in a wall cutout where one side of the wall is inside the cellar and the other side is a wall of another adjacent room. Air inside the wine cellar is cooled by the internal fans passing the cellar air through a condenser that works very similarly to a home window air conditioner and blowing it back into the room after being chilled.



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A split system separates the functions into 2 locations – a condenser unit similar to a household A/C unit that sits outside the home and an evaporator unit which is located inside the wine cellar, usually mounted on the ceiling. This type of system can also be used as a ducted system. The 2 units are connected by electrical controls and cooling fluids lines to exchange the cooled fluids for the heated fluids over which fans then blow air to cool the air in the cellar. The moving air from the fans and the exchange process also help to control humidity levels and the development of any mildew buildup.

TTW units have a limited capacity for how many cubic feet they can effectively cool but work very well for smaller closets and cellars and up to the 1500 cu. ft. range with some going as high as 2000. Split systems and ducted systems can be effectively used on small storage areas up to 5000-8000 cu.ft or more.

We work with cooling system designers and HVAC specialists as well to determine the best fit for your wine cellar requirements.


Cost Of System To Cool A Wine Cellar?

Rest assured that wine cellar cooling doesn’t have to prohibitively expensive. However, with the variety of room sizes, cooling capacity, system design and brands available it is impossible to give pricing ahead of time in an article like this. The TTW units for smaller spaces from several manufacturers can start as low as $500-$600 and go up to $3500-$5500. Each wine cellar is evaluated for its particular needs and recommendations are offered when the designing begins based upon cubic foot of cooling, budget and other factors.


Final Thoughts

Since each wine cellar needs to be individually evaluated we can’t say cooling your wine cellar is a good idea or overkill. We can however help you make an informed decision with a short consultation if you have the facts available.

Have in mind a few key points like …

  1. How much of your wine do you plan on storing for a long time?
  2. What kind of temperature and humidity is present in the space you want to use?
  3. Can you test the space for a few weeks get some data?
  4. Is the space darker or is there going to be a lot of light in it?
  5. How much will you be valuing your collection to be worth?
  6. Is the space upgradeable later should you decide to cool it then?


Simply put, many folks who already have or plan on acquiring a respectable collection consider the installation of a cooling unit to insure the constant temperature and humidity of their wines a very reasonable insurance policy. If you’re unsure and would like to discuss the options more please contact us and we’ll be happy to help you decide.