Written by Brad Crawford
Wine cooler refrigeration units are becoming increasingly popular in private homes. You can actually install a wine cooler refrigeration unit anywhere in the home, although this decision will have an impact on the ease of construction and the cost of running and maintaining the wine storage room.
Wine cooler refrigeration units do not have to be placed in the cellar, but they often are for very good reason. It is advisable to place the unit in the coolest part of the home with the most humidity. If your chosen room already has temperatures around 55 degrees – 58 degrees F then you won’t need such a large wine cooler refrigeration. Ambient temperatures in other portions of the home can hover around the 80 degrees F mark. The warmer the natural temperature of the location the larger unit you will need in order to maintain the optimum temperature – think of it like a giant refrigerator, the warmer the temperature outside the harder it will need to work. Cellars are traditionally cold and damp, making them the perfect location considering the optimum humidity needed is between 50 percent and 70 percent.
There are a number of steps which must be taken when you decide to install wine cooler refrigeration in your home, whether you choose to take on the task yourself or call in the experts to see to everything for you.
Concrete walls must be sealed and studded out depending upon which type of construction methods you use. Your chosen room must not only be kept at the correct temperature and humidity, but you must also protect the rest of the house from the vapor, so insulation is vital. The theory is the same as insulating your home to cut down on your monthly outgoings and utility bills. It is also imperative that you check permitting requirements and adhere to all building codes before you start work on your wine cellar. If you choose a professional company to do the job for you they should be able to advise you on what’s needed.
Wine cooler refrigeration unit installation needs to utilize studs and soffits which will cover over the piping, ducting and all other fittings involved in the process. You should also pay attention to the lighting needs at this stage of the construction; the light fittings will need to be insulated.
The next portion of the process to think about is the cooling unit — you will also need some sort of humidification system if you live in an extremely dry climate or choose a very dry room in the house. Some wine cooler refrigeration units have built in humidity management systems, some do not. One other thing to consider is the noise element – some cooling systems can be quite noisy and are best placed outside the home if possible. You will also need to remember that you’ll need an electrical power point close by and possibly a drain line, as a condensation drain may be needed.
Wine Cooler Refrigeration Insulation and Barriers
Most wine cooler refrigeration units use either spray foam or employ a 6ml barrier utilizing fiberglass batts. The most expensive method is generally the spray foam, but this eliminates any potential problems with puncturing the barrier while running wires, inserting screws or installing plumbing.
When it comes to electrical outlets you need to take one or two things into consideration. First of all you must make sure that the location of your electrical outlet is within the parameters set by your local building codes and regulations, the other thing to remember is that once you have installed the racks in your wine cellar you could end up obstructing the electrical outlet. Remember that you need an electrical supply for your refrigeration, humidifying and lighting.
Once all of this technical part of the construction has been completed it is time to think about the wall coverings in your wine room. The materials you choose must be resistant to the humidity necessary for keeping the wine room within its optimum operating parameters – water resistant walls can be used similar to those used in kitchens and bathrooms. Once the wall is screwed into place you should paint with exterior, water based paint – if you use solvent or oil based paints the odor may linger longer than it would in any other well ventilated room in the house.
Once the walling is installed it is time to see to the flooring of the wine cellar. Again, this needs to be resistant to the high humidity levels which are vital for the success of the wine room – carpets are certainly not suitable, you could also have problems with vinyl flooring, as the moisture will eventually cause the mastic used to fit the vinyl to buckle and move around. The best options for flooring in your wine cooler refrigeration room are:
- Porcelain tiles
If you go for the hardwood floor option, leave about a half inch expansion room around the perimeter of the room – if you have the time, leave the wood in the wine cellar for a couple of days before installing it on the floor to give it the chance to acclimatize and adapt to the conditions.
Your wine cellar door should be exterior grade, complete with weather stripping and a door sweep along the bottom – you’ve got to keep the cool, moist air inside the room and the warmer air in the remainder of the house outside the room. Solid wood doors work well; glass doors are fine just so long as you have a panel which has been thermo-paned.
Eventually the time will come when you’ve fitted the wine cooler refrigeration unit and the walls, floor, ceiling, lighting and door are all in position. Then it’s time to choose the fun part – fitting your wine room with racking. Hardwoods which are popular for wine racks include mahogany and redwood – both having the resistant properties needed to withstand the damp, cold environment of the wine cellar.
Now, the only thing left to add is the wine!