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How Many Wine Cooling Units Does a Cellar Need?

How Many Wine Cooling Units Does a Cellar Need?

You're working on the perfect wine collection and have a dedicated storage area in your cellar. Now it's time to choose from the many wine cooling units available to create the perfect aging conditions. Keep in mind that with this unit, you'll be able to enjoy your collection for many years to come.

How Many Wine Cooling Units Does a Cellar Need?

One cooling unit is usually sufficient for most wine cellars, so the question becomes less how many you need and more which one is best suited to your collection. Remember the purpose of these units: to allow you to serve wine at the perfect temperature and give those bottles that aren't yet ready for consumption time to age in a climate-controlled environment.

Wine is complex thanks to its unique content of fruit, alcohol, tannins, and acid. Some have specific characteristics based on how they are aged, such as in oak barrels, while others have a sweetness that hits right at the tongue's tip. Storing these beverages in the proper climate enhances their textures, flavors, and aromas for your enjoyment.

Understanding Your Cellar

Before you choose a cooling unit, you need to understand the sort of wine drinker you are. If you like easy-drinking varieties that are inexpensive, long-term storage considerations may not be as important as if you stay abreast of the best wine futures in Bordeaux. In other words, your drinking and collection habits factor into the cellar you have or will have and your need for temperature-controlled storage.

Likewise, if your cellar walls are already finished, a cooling unit may require ripping out drywall to ensure proper insulation and vapor barrier. You should also decide if you plan to expand your wine collection in the future. This may mean changing your cellar at some point, which could then necessitate a larger cooling unit than the one you currently need. Being aware of these factors will help you plan accordingly for your long-term needs.

Important Considerations

Before you choose one of a variety of wine cooling units, you must consider unit size. Most correspond to generic volumes like 800 cubic feet and are based on assumptions about your cellar that may not be accurate. To illustrate, you may have a small cellar but need a more powerful unit if you have a glass wall or glass door, exterior walls or walls exposed to adjacent high ambient temperature, live in an area with consistently high humidity.

In addition, you shouldn't buy a unit that exactly matches your cellar size; instead, pick one that is slightly larger. And a better approach altogether is to choose a unit based on BTUH, or the energy needed to cool your space to the desired temperature within one hour. This considers more than just size, including your cellar's insulation and ambient temperature and humidity.

Airflow

Wine cooling units rely on fresh air for effective operation. As that air passes through the unit, hot exhaust is produced and must be properly ventilated. Part of your choice, then, includes where and how to vent your unit, and you need to pick from options that include:   
  • Self-contained and non-ducted systems
  • Split units that work like your home air conditioning system
  • Through-the-wall systems, in which exhaust is directed into another room

Noise Level

It's ideal to situate your cooling unit so the background noise it generates is located away from common living spaces. For instance, if your cellar is next to another room, you may opt for a split system that directs the noise into a more remote location.

Project Budget

The money you can invest in this project will factor into the unit you select. Self-contained systems are commonly the most affordable, both in purchase and installation. They can often be self-installed, thereby eliminating the need to pay for professional services. But your cellar's layout may require a ducted or split system, both of which are more expensive.

Heat and Humidification

If the air around your cellar is not currently temperature-controlled and can dip significantly, you may need a cooling unit that can also produce heat. This is an upgrade that will cost more money but also keep your cellar temp right where it needs to be.

Similar consideration must be given to humidity; if your locale is always at a low point, you may need to add humidity to your cellar. Some units, when connected to a water line, can help in this regard. Keep in mind the ideal numbers for wine storage are 55 degrees and 70% humidity. While this may fluctuate slightly based on personal preference, these are solid base targets.

Why Cooling Units Are Important

Wine has a temperamental nature, so understanding its aging process can be equally tricky. But two basic elements - temperature and humidity - can hinder this beverage from achieving its greatest potential. These, of course, are not the only enemies to wine; light, air quality, and odors can also have negative impacts. It is for these reasons that you need a cellar equipped with a cooling unit.

Consistency Is Key

Too often, people think they can keep wine at a cool and comfortable 60 degrees and forget everything else. This temperature speeds up the aging process, which isn't terrible, but the results can be disastrous if that temperature is inconsistent. Cellars rarely stay at 60 degrees every day, year-round, and when temperatures start to fluctuate, even within a four-degree range, wine can be ruined in just a few years.

You also need to keep light to a minimum and prevent normal home odors and smells from passing through the cork and into the wine. These can substantially change a wine's flavor, which is another reason a temperature-controlled cellar can optimize your collection; it keeps unwanted smells at the door.

Choosing a cooling unit that suits your needs isn't impossible but can be challenging. You need to consider your budget, the layout of your cellar, and how you want to vent the unit, among other factors. Having said that, we're here to help. For guidance in selecting a unit that will carry you from now to the future, contact Wine Cellar HQ today.
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