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Wine Cooler Tips: Learn Everything About Storage, How They Work, and More!

Pouring Red Wine

1. Can a wine cooler be used in a built-in space?

There are two types of wine coolers: built-in and freestanding. A freestanding wine cooler is designed to stand alone while a built in option is designed to be built into your existing cabinetry and counter space. Typically a freestanding unit vents heat through the back, so if you install this type within your cabinetry, it could overheat. This overheating decreases the wine coolers chilling capabilities causing the compressor to overwork itself and eventually get too hot.

If you want to put a wine cooler in a built in space, you want to purchase a front venting unit. Like a standard sized refrigerator, the unit must have a place to vent. If the unit you purchase doesn't have a front venting system, you need to make sure there is sufficient clearance on all sides of the unit, including the top and bottom. The general rule is 3" on all sides.

2. Do wine coolers fit all bottle sizes?

Most wine coolers are built to accommodate standard wine bottles. This doesn't mean you can't store larger beverages. For larger bottles like champagne you can use the bottom shelf or remove wine racks to allow more space. Most units include removable racks for storage versatility.

3. Which saves more energy thermoelectric or compressor?

Winery Storage Room

Due to the lack of a compressor, thermoelectric coolers are vibration free which results in less instability among the sediments within the wine bottles you're storing. Thermoelectric wine coolers are not completely silent as internal fans are needed to distribute the cold air within the cooler. These fans do produce some noise; however, they are substantially quieter than compressor models.

Thermoelectric wine coolers are more energy efficient. There are less moving parts and a lower energy draw. However, this cooling system has limitations as they only cool the wine about 20 degrees less than the ambient temperature outside the unit. Compressor coolers don't have the same restriction

The type you choose should depend on how you plan to use it. If you'll be purchasing a freestanding cooler, you plan to store two cases or less, and the room you plan to keep it doesn't get too warm, then thermoelectric cooling is a good choice for you. If the room you're using is warmer and you want a larger collection, you should use a compressor cooler. Most built in models are compressor cooled, so it's important to make that determination on the onset of your purchase.

Sparkling White Wine

4. Which wine cooler has a longer life expectancy?

Compressor wine coolers have a longer life expectancy. The cooling method is the same as a refrigerator. It lowers the temperature inside the storage compartment by compressing the refrigerant vapor and spinning it in a centrifuge.

The refrigerant liquid absorbs heat from the heat exchanger through the evaporator coils, converts back into a vapor, and returns to the compressor to repeat the process. This process causes some vibration that some wine collectors may not like.

Thermoelectric cooler contains a heat pump that transfers heat from one side of the devise to the other. When operated as a cooler, an electrical current is applied across the device, and as a result, a difference in temperature builds up between the two sides. Typically this kind of cooling is better for wine storage because it reduces vibration, and therefore, keeps sediment in the wine bottle to a minimum.

These cooling systems are generally 5-10% efficient whereas a conventional compressor is 40-60% efficient. Both are effective and promise to store your wine at an ideal temperature.

5. Single Zone vs. Dual Zone Wine Coolers

Single zone wine coolers have one cooling temperature and a storage space that's undivided. This kind of cooler is ideal for storing either red or white wine but not both. White wine is stored at a temperature ranging 46-56 degrees F.

Red wine needs to be stored at temperature between 58-68 degrees F. For this reason, if you plan to store both red and white flavors you should use a dual zone wine cooler.

Dual zone wine coolers feature two separate compartments; therefore, you can maintain two distinct and separate temperature zones inside the cooler. Some coolers will offer one larger compartment and one smaller compartment, so make sure you choose a model to accommodate your wine collection.

A Few Troubleshooting Tips

Three Wine Bottles

Temperature problems

  • If your wine cooler is not getting cool check to make sure it's plugged in and be sure the voltage on the unit matches the voltage in your home. Also, check to make sure a fuse is not broken, if so, have it replaced.
  • If the unit is not getting cold enough, make sure you've set the temperature to the correct settings. Make sure the wine cooler is not placed too close to a heat source: direct sunlight, strong UV lighting etc.
  • There may be insufficient ventilation. Remember that some models are front vented and others rear vented, so following manufacturer instructions, make sure the unit is setup as directed.
  • Make sure the door is securely closed and the door seal is working properly

Too much noise

  • Make sure the unit is installed on a flat level surface. You can adjust the unit's feet to make sure it is level
  • There may be insufficient ventilation, making the unit work too hard to keep cool. Make sure there is enough clearance, at least 3" all around.
  • It could be too close to a wall or other surface. Always allow for sufficient clearance around the unit

Frost is building up in the unit

  • If there is excess humidity or the interior temperature is too low frost might build up in the unit. If this is the case turn the unit off, unplug it, and remove the frost build up manually. Reconnect the power and setup it following all appropriate guidelines when the ice has thawed.
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