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How Do You Ventilate an Underground Wine Cellar?

How Do You Ventilate an Underground Wine Cellar?

When it comes to storing and aging your wine, you don't take any chances. The combination of acids, tannins, and alcohol present in the wine needs special care. Your wine is an investment, which is why it's so essential to use the proper storage techniques and methods to keep the climate in the right conditions. If you have an underground wine cellar, you might be wondering how to ventilate it so you can store your wine long-term. Using a cooling system is a great way to accomplish this.

Why Does an Underground Wine Cellar Need Adequate Ventilation?

If you have an underground wine cellar, then you're most likely aware of the unique challenges of properly ventilating it. Wine cellars need adequate ventilation to create the perfect aging conditions for wine. Every wine cellar needs a cooling system to get those ideal conditions, and the one you choose should be able to cool up to 55 degrees cooler than the temp on the unit's exhaust side. In fact, how your wine is stored has a significant impact on how it tastes.

For example, if you want to maintain a temperature of 50 degrees in your cellar, then the room where you have your exhaust should never be higher than 100 degrees. You need to ensure that your wine cellar provides ample ventilation for the cooling system's exhaust so that it can sustain the right temperature at all times. Ventilating the heat that a cooling system generates is crucial to maintaining your wine cellar's proper temperatures and climate conditions.

Humidity Is Important, Too

Do you live in a climate with high humidity most of the time? If so, select a cooling system that can keep a relative humidity of about 50% to 70%. A premium-grade cooling unit can get the excess moisture out of your cellar via condensation or a drain line. Even if you live in a dry climate, it's still important to consider humidity. Some factors that impact the level of humidity in your wine cellar include:

  • Climate
  • Temperature
  • Season
  • Region/Geography
  • The quality of your cellar

Cooling systems can't create humid air, but you can accomplish that with a humidifier (non-heated) or even a small water fountain. Humidity is also important because it keeps the cork from shrinking and drying out. If your cellar is too dry, the cork becomes shrunken and damaged from the lack of moisture, which then lets in air and ruins your wine by literally turning it into vinegar. Too much humidity can also lead to mildew and mold, which is why it's vital to keep your wine cellar at the perfect relative humidity level.

Passively Cooled Wine Cellar Systems

What's the difference between a passively cooled system and an actively cooled system? Passively cooled wine cellars are in rooms that are naturally cool, humid, and chilly. This is going to be your wine cellars that are deep underground, as opposed to those above ground.

However, most people don't live in the right climate to have a passively cooled cellar. That's why it's so important to invest in an innovative, high-quality ventilation system to protect your wine and your investment.

Actively Cooled Wine Cellar Systems

An actively cooled wine cellar needs a cooling unit and insulation to achieve the proper temperatures and humidity. Some required components for an actively cooled wine cellar include a ventilation and cooling system, a vapor barrier, and adequate insulation.

Actively cooled wine systems require more maintenance and upkeep than a passively cooled system, but they allow for much easier control of the temperature, humidity, and refrigeration levels.

How to Ventilate: With a Proper Cooling Unit Designed for a Wine Cellar

Maybe you think that the spare air conditioner you have would be the perfect solution to keep your underground cellar nice and cool. As tempting as it might be to save a few bucks, using an air conditioner will ruin your wine 100% of the time. A conventional AC. cools down a room too quickly, which is very damaging to the wine and strips the humidity right out of the air.

When you invest in a proper ventilation cooling system for your wine cellar, you benefit from a controlled cooling rate, which should be much slower than the speed at which a traditional air conditioner cools a room. A high-quality cooling system brings your wine cellar to the perfect temperature without removing the humidity from the air. A vapor barrier is essential as well, as it will keep mold, mildew, and fungi from infiltrating your cellar.

Cooling System Types

When it comes time to shop for a cooling and ventilation system for your underground wine cellar, it's essential to consider the different systems available today. Your particular climate and cellar will also affect which type of design you should choose. There are three main types: fully ducted, split, and through-wall.

Split Systems

A split system works by separating the evaporator from the condenser. This puts the condenser where the engine noise won't be as loud, making it a prevalent choice. The condenser tends to be the noisiest part of a cooling unit, and a split system cleverly places the condenser out of the way so the engine noise won't be as disruptive. This style of system is also relatively simple to install.

Fully Ducted Systems

Fully ducted systems come available as split systems or a completely self-contained unit. While these are the most expensive system, they are very easy to install and provide the least disruption. Many people choose this cooling system design if their wine cellar is underground, as they are of exceptional quality and allow for the greatest level of control in their operation.

Through-Wall Systems

If you're looking for an inexpensive way to ventilate your wine cellar, a through-wall system is an excellent choice. These are typically installed between the wall studs in your cellar and are entirely self-contained. If your wine cellar is located in a basement, a through-wall system is ideal, particularly if you have an unused room where it can vent.

If you have a wine cellar, it's crucial to keep it adequately ventilated, cooled, and climate-controlled, no matter if it's located deep underground, in a basement, or in a spare room. The temperature, climate, and humidity of your wine cellar affect how the wine ages and how it will ultimately taste. Take every factor of your particular wine cellar into consideration when selecting the right cooling unit for your wine. Contact us here at Wine Cellar HQ and check out our collection of superior quality cooling systems to protect your investment and properly age your wine.
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