The Koolspace KoolR PLUS stands is arguably, one of the best wine cellar cooling unit available. This article outlines why and offer much more in the way of what you need to know before purchasing a cooling unit.
To oenophiles, wine connoisseurs, the importance of wine cellar cooling units cannot be underscored enough. If you are new to the field of wine storage and are wondering why one would need a wine cellar cooling unit, you are in the right place. Look no further.
While some wine cellars are built in basements or underground caves whose temperature and humidity levels are not only at a constant but also ideal for wine storage, most wine cellars built into our homes are hardly suitable for wine storage for maturity. The former has optimal ambient temperature and humidity levels for wine storage. Fluctuations in temperature and humidity levels adversely affect the maturity of wine rendering its flavor bland. Most wines should be stored between 45° F and 65° F. A good number of premium wine matures well at 55° F. Humidity should be kept between 55% and 75%. Anything lower will have your corks dry out which then allows oxygen into your bottle. Oxygen oxidizes your wine which results in off-putting flavors. Higher humidity levels may provide a conducive environment for the growth of molds on your corks and peeling of labels.
What are wine cellar cooling units?
This question also answers why most wine cellars need cooling units. A wine cellar cooling unit is an appliance that regulates temperature and humidity levels within a wine cellar for the sole purpose of providing perfect conditions for wine storage and maturity. Yes, your wine cellar may be adequately insulated but is it susceptible to fluctuations in temperature and humidity? If so, you desperately need a wine cellar cooling unit. Considering the average cost of building a wine cellar and the amount you’ll spend on your reds and whites, a wine cellar cooling unit will save you a lot of money.
Wine Cellar Cooling Unit vs Air Conditioner
A common question among newbies to wine storage is: why should I spend that much money on buying a wine cellar cooling unit when I could just run a duct from my standard air conditioner to my cellar? Great question that, on the surface, seems very logical.
First, standard air conditioners for your home can only reach a specific temperature on the lower side, mostly 65° F. As mentioned above, most bottles of premium wine mature well when stored at 55° F. 65° F won’t be ideal for your white bottles of wine. A 5-degree variation may just be the difference between good and great taste.
Secondly, standard air conditioners operate by swiftly extracting air from a room and in the process, draws out humidity too. Wine cellar cooling units operate by slowly cooling cellars and in the process, maintain appropriate humidity levels. We’ve already established that wine needs favorable humidity for perfect maturity. It’s therefore, not prudent to substitute wine cellar coolers with standard ACs.
Think of a wine cellar cooling unit as a stone that kills two birds. One, it cools your cellar down to the favorable temperature of 55° F. Two, it maintains the right levels of humidity.
What’s a Wine Cellar Humidifier?
When researching appropriate wine storage conditions and cellars, you are probably going to bump into a wine cellar humidifier. Cellar humidifiers are devices used to increase humidity in residential or commercial cellars. There are relatively inexpensive ways to raise humidity levels. You could place a bowl of water in your cellar or moisten your racks. Most wine coolers maintain ideal humidity levels. It’s only judicious to purchase a humidifier if you are certain about perfect temperatures but uncertain about humidity levels. Even so, a $10 humidity gauge, most of which measure both temperature and humidity, should be handy before you decide to spend a couple of dollars on a humidifier.
Types of wine cellar coolers
There are three types of wine cellar coolers:
Self -contained through-the-wall Wine Cellar Cooling Units
These wine cooling units operate host a compressor and an evaporator in one enclosure. They function similarly to window air conditioners. (Note that only their operation, and not the desired result, is synonymous to window air conditioners.) It supplies cold air into the cellar and extracts hot air to an adjoining room. The adjacent room has to be well-ventilated and rarely used because that end of the cooling unit produces noise. The importance of ventilation and air flow is so that the cooling unit doesn’t have to maintain a higher temperature difference than it was designed to attain. For example, if a cellar is kept at a temperature of 55° F and the cooling unit designed for a 40-degree differential, your ventilation room cannot get over 95° F. `
These are the cheapest cellar cooling units and should be bought by those who are operating on a low budget. Be sure to check the installation manuals since most through-the-wall cooling systems have specific installation requirements on wall placement location requirements and structural integrity of the wall. The latter ensures that the wall doesn’t buckle under the weight of the cooling unit. These cooling units are usually sealed by the manufacturer hence can be difficult to service and maintain.
Split Wine Cellar Cooling unit
As their name implies, they contain two separate components: a compressor that also houses the condensing fan and coil and an evaporator. The two are connected by a refrigeration line (normally made of copper) and electrical one. The condensing fan can be placed outdoors or in an attic while the evaporator coil enclosure installed in the wine cellar. Ensure that the condensing fan is housed in a protective enclosure when placed outdoors to protect it from the elements.
This unit is quiet when in operation and offers you great installation flexibility. It also has a ductless variant. Both ducted and ductless units of the split wine cellar cooling unit will serve you for many years without any need for servicing and maintenance but are quite expensive.
Ducted Cooling Unit
Ducted cooling units are great because they offer you greater installation location flexibility because they can be ducted as far as 50 feet away from the cellar in an attic or mechanical room. Here’s how they work: both the compressor and evaporating units are housed within the same enclosure but have a venting duct that runs from the cellar to the enclosure and returns ducts for air circulation through the system. Some include a humidifier.
Wine Cellar Cooling Unit
Factors to Consider When Shopping for A Wine Cooling Unit
The following factors are to be considered when shopping around for a wine cooler.
- Appropriate Size
The cooling capacity of a wine cellar cooling unit is arguably the most crucial factor. A cooling unit that will meet your cellar size requirement should be chosen based on the size of the room in cubic feet, type of insulation used in the cellar, length of ducting and the installation location. All cooling units come with information on the appropriate size in cubic feet the cooler can efficiently cool the cellar.
You could use thermal load as a way to select a unit size. Thermal load is the amount of energy needed to cool an area in an hour to the desired temperature. Most wine cooling unit manufacturers offer to calculate your thermal load for free. A common unit of measurement is BTUH which defines a cooling unit’s performance.
A “large” cooling unit servicing a small cellar may cool the cellar swiftly and lower humidity levels. A “small” one doesn’t offer sufficient cooling power and will be worked up as it struggles to keep constant room temperature. The result is fluctuations in cellar temperatures.
You don’t want a wine cellar cooling unit that will inflate your budget, but you also don’t want one that won’t meet your requirements. You have to strike a balance between the two. The price includes service and maintenance costs, shipping costs and the cost of hiring a licensed HVAC technician to install it if you aren’t technically gifted to go about it.
- Power Consumption
This is part of operational costs. You need to know whether running your cooling unit will increase your power bill and to what extent. Purchase those that have Energy Star rating: you are certain of lower electricity costs and less impact on the environment.
- Ease of Installation
Thanks to the internet, you can now easily DIY an installation. However, if in doubt, do yourself a favor and hire a licensed HVAC technician mainly when installing a self-contained cooling unit. A HVAC technician, heating ventilation and air conditioning, is one whose work is to install, maintain and repair refrigeration and air con appliances. These are the guys you should hire when unsure about your technical installation skills.
Loud cooling units should be installed in unused rooms or an attic. Ducted and split wine cooling units produce low levels of noise and are an excellent fit for those looking for wine cellar cooling units will low decibel ratings.
- Temperature Differential
This applies mostly to through the wall cooling units. As mentioned above, the temperature differential shouldn’t exceed the intended design range. The cooling unit needs to provide an adequate counterbalance between the heat generation and absorption.
- Return Policy and Warranty
The importance of a return policy agreement cannot be overemphasized. It offers you a safety net that might save you if you aren’t satisfied with what’s on paper vs what the product delivers when in operation. Warranties, on the other hand, depending on its validity period, might save you money should your wine cellar cooling unit break down.
- Ambient Conditions
This is crucial but often ignored when making a purchase. Cellars located in areas with ideal ambient temperatures for wine storage and minimal fluctuations may not need a wine cooling unit in the first place.
The materials used in the cellar design may not offer the right insulation needed to ensure optimal cellar conditions. Materials such as glass, stone and concrete are suspect. For this reason, consumers are advised to purchase wine cellar cooling units with slightly larger capacities. It’s the only sure way of compensating for the limitations mentioned above.
The Best Wine Cellar Cooling Units
We have spent hours researching on the best wine cellar cooling units. This list will make it easier for you to choose from a wide range of wine cellar cooling units in the market currently.
Koolspace koolR PLUS Wine Cellar Cooling Unit
The Koolspace koolR PLUS ranks among the best wine cellar cooling units for many reasons: the most important ones being the plethora of features its packed with that make it ideal to maintain ideal temperature and humidity levels. Features which include:
- A backlit display that doesn’t necessitate your entry into your wine cellar
- A top of the range digital temperature sensors which automatically regulates energy levels means you don’t need to alter the power and fan settings.
- Multiple levels of vibration reduction systems that protect the sediments in your wine from disturbance.
- A warning system that alerts you when temperatures and humidity exceed the maximum limits.
- Acoustic and thermal insulation that caps it off because of its energy efficiency.
- No-noise when in operation.
- Its capable of serving a 600-cubic foot enclosure at a cooling capacity of 3000 BTU/hr.
The user manual should guide you to the exact location to mount it through the wall. Do so in such a way that the temperature display is outside your wine cellar. At an affordable price of $635, this is an excellent choice for small-sized wine cellars.
Judging from customer reviews, the Koolspace koolR does its job well although some had issues with it. One opined, “This our second Koolspace cooling unit. It is relatively quiet so we can watch TV in the room it vents into and it keeps our wine room cool. We had the first one professionally installed, so were a little concerned about replacing the unit, but it was pretty easy, and our wine is back in the wine room. The only way we knew it was time to replace was the unit was working all the time, and the temperature was rising…”
Another lauded it saying, “My fathers [sic] wine cellar was always warm and would have a bad effect on his wine. Since we bought this unit about three years ago, the wine cellar stays at a steady 58 degrees, and his wine tastes great!!!!! The install took me about 1 hour and was very easy. I would recommend this cooler to family and friends!”
WhisperKOOL 3000i Wine Cooling Unit
The WhisperKool 3000i easily finds its way on the list of the best wine cellar cooling units for reasons that combine both design, functionality and ease of use. According to the manufacturers of this cooling unit, everything was built based on the feedback from both customers and installers. It only needs a single piece bracket for mounting which negates the need for a support shelf which at times, interferes with the overall cellar design. It also fits between normal-sized wall studs.
- A liquid bottle probe that measures the precise temperature of the wine and also prevents on and off cycles which affects the longevity of the system. They control your cellar’s temperature based on the liquid rather than the cellar’s temperature.
- Power can be supplied to one of either the front or back of the cooling unit. A big plus since this is a big issue when building your cellar and locating the cooling unit.
- State of the art digital controller that makes it easy to monitor temperature changes. It also has an alarm system that’s sounded when temperatures are high.
- Dynamic airflow makes it possible to maintain consistent temperature in the cellar by improving air circulation. The cooler achieves this by mounting fans at a 45° angle. This way, air circulates upwards.
- A through the wall installation
- A 30°F temperature differential.
- A 650-cu. Ft. capacity.
- A coated evaporator that prevents corrosion which simply means the cooling unit will last longer.
- A 2-year parts and labor limited warranty or a 5-year one for the compressor.
For all the features it has, $1849 is a great bargain.
The feedback and reviews from the customers are overwhelming, one customer said, “I bought this unit to replace a commercial assemblage of components that had failed repeatedly. The wine room is 8X10X4, for roughly 320 cu. ft. The unit works as advertised, cooling the room to less than 55 degrees in the startup but bringing the bottle temperature to 55 degrees exactly. As it stabilized, the room temperature is gradually coming up to the same as bottle temperature (55). I had it professionally installed, and though not necessary, it worked out well for my installation. I recommend spending the extra money for your local refrigeration company to install it. Very pleased with the performance, looks and quiet [sic]. My neighbors and my wife both appreciate the last element.”
Another client says that “This new model has one improvement over the old one in that its thermostat is digital. We haven’t had the new one quite two months yet, but it is performing just fine. The old one needed to be sent to a factory repair centre about halfway through its life. That was frustrating because they had the unit for six weeks to repair a leak in the refrigerant lines. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for this new model. WhisperKOOL is about the only game in town for small wine cellar climate control. We were pleased that the dimensions of the new model were identical to the old ones, so we did not need to modify our cellar wall opening to have it fit properly…”
CellarCool CX4400 Wine Cellar Cooling Unit
Priced at $1699, the CellarCool CX4400 ticks all the boxes for maintaining your cellar’s temperature and humidity levels which are vital for the fine ageing and maturity of wine. They are calibrated to ensure accurate temperature readings, durability and longevity.
- Advanced dynamic airflow made possible by angled fans. The advantages of having the two have been mentioned above.
- When purchasing, customers can choose from one of either a front or rear power connection.
- An advanced digital controller.
- Through the wall installation that is so simple, it can be installed without the help of a technician
- A temperature differential of 30 degrees.
- A flexible mounting bracket.
- 1000 cu. Ft. cooling capacity.
- 2-year warranty
Cellar cool has a wide range of alternatives to the CX4400 that can cool cellars sized between 300 to 2000 cu. Ft. priced between $1245 and $1995.
“Working like a champ! Keeping my 350 bottles nice and cool. I know this was built for a larger cellar, which is the long-term goal, however with the price difference I couldn’t see getting a smaller unit. Worked right out the gates at 55 degrees, the temperature is still evening out in the bottles, but this turns on half the time the old one use to turn on!”
Vinotemp WM-1500-HTD Wine-Mate
The Vinotemp WM 1500 is a self-contained cooling system that is great at what it does: maintaining, 50-70% humidity and a 50-65°F temperature range made possible by a digital control unit and a condensate drain tray ideal for controlling humidity levels.
- Reasonably noiseless when in operation.
- Alarms that are sounded when something isn’t right.
- 90 cu. Ft. storage capacity.
- An optimized flow of air for ideal temperatures.
- Simple installation
- Dual air exhaustion options: top or rear.
Like most wine cellar cooling units, it has alternatives with greater cooling capacities that are obviously more expensive.
“Since I’ve expanded my wine collection to my basement, I’ve constantly worried about them getting overheated. I also hate that I’m not able to go get out a bottle of wine and drink it. I have to take the time to chill it for hours. I felt such pressure to do something. So, I started looking for a way to keep my collection safe and enjoyable at the same time. And met with a contractor who converted the area to add racks and this cooling unit. I found this VinoTemp cooling system and though hesitant at first, I thought the project was a bit complicated, but I am so appreciative that I did it. This unit accurately cools my wine and maintains humidity levels within my basement along with the temperature. I highly recommend this product to anyone who is working on building a wine room.”
While customer reviews are a great way to source for real user information, you are likely to get some that are severely critical and negatively so, you need to understand that not all customers adhere to the rules of wine storage. Even the best of wine cellar cooling units might be on the receiving end of scathing attacks if not accompanied by proper wine storage practices. The list of wine coolers that have been listed herein are the best wine cellar cooling units in the market. Hope this list will make light your load of choosing one.