Air Conditioner for Wine Celler

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  #1  
Old 12-05-12, 02:16 PM
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Question Air Conditioner for Wine Celler

I want to install a small (4000-5000 BTU) room (window) air conditioner to cool my wine celler in the summer.

It will have to exhaust into my basement, so I need to hook up a drain line. It seems to me that many room A/C spray the water in with the exhaust air and don't have a drain.

Can I still find one with a drain?

I also need it to run on an external thermostat, so it needs to have mechanical, not digital controls.

Can someone tell me what I should be looking for?

Ken
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Old 12-05-12, 03:41 PM
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WKE Series - breezaire.com


The Breezaire WKE4000 wine unit has a remote thermostat and a drain.

 

Last edited by Houston204; 12-05-12 at 04:02 PM.
  #3  
Old 12-05-12, 03:56 PM
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Probably cost a bit more but they make units specifically for that purpose. Examples: Wine Cooling Units: Wine Cellar Cooling, Wine Storage Cooling - Wine Enthusiast
 
  #4  
Old 12-05-12, 07:56 PM
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The problem is that the cheapest wine celler cooler I could find is $760 plus shipping.

I can get a GE 5000 BTU at Walmart for $100. I could likely find a used A/C for $50.

This is a low budget project.

Ken
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  #5  
Old 12-06-12, 07:43 AM
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Be cautious if you have any wine with natural cork.

If so......you can't use a normal air conditioner for the cellar.

Controlling the right amount of humidity is just as important as the temperature.

The water that the A/C unit drains away is actually being removed from the air.

This process will dry out the air too much and you will likely spoil the wine.



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  #6  
Old 12-06-12, 08:39 AM
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The humidity problem is something I had not considered. The wine celler is about 250 cu ft, minus the shelves and wine. Two of the walls are concrete foundation below grade. The average temperature difference between the wine celler and the basement in the summer would be about 6 degrees F. The maximum difference ever would be about 10 deg F.

I'm thinking that the unit will run so little (in a highly insulated room) that the humidity wouldn't change that much. Am I wrong?

Ken
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  #7  
Old 12-06-12, 09:11 AM
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The temperature between your "cellar" and the basement is not that important as long as the temperature and humidity of the cellar is appropriate for aging and storage. The humidity may not change much, but is the right amount? Your situation may require more or less humidity if the wine is critical for aging or storage.

I appreciate good wine, but have been known to drop an ice cube into red wine to get it down to the "room" temperature for drinking wine. I take it out and a little water will not hurt if it is a wine that depends on temperature for good drinking.

Just rack your bottles.

Dick
 
  #8  
Old 12-06-12, 10:11 AM
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You would need to measure what the actual humidity level is using a hygrometer.

Ideally.....you need to maintain between 50% to 70% humidity @ 55 degrees.

You will likely not be able to achieve that level without intervention.

All the walls and ceiling of the cellar need to be well insulated.....R-19 min.

A closed cell spray foam would be ideal.....and would eliminate condensation problems.

If you use batt insulation.....then you will need a vapor barrier on the outside.



.
 
  #9  
Old 12-06-12, 02:51 PM
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If I had (or could afford) $200 bottles of wine in my cellar, Then I would have R-25 insulation everywhere and a $2500 climate control unit to make everything perfect.

However, that is not my environment. I'm looking to make things better, not perfect.

My walls are R-13 with vapor barrier on both sides. My ceiling is R-19 with barrier on the outside. I took a hollow core door and filled it with foam insulation.

In the Winter, my heating system keeps the temperature exactly at a constant 58 degrees. Current temp in the basement is 51 degrees.
I measured my humidity today. It is currently 39%. This may not be perfect, but it is ok by my standards.

I keep red wine anywhere from 1 to 5 years, with a few going 10 years.
It is very rare that I have had a bottle go bad or significantly go down hill.
If I can keep the temperature in the summer from rising above 60 degrees, I will be very happy.

Basements in New England tend to be humid in the summer.
The temperature difference between the basement and the wine cellar is a reflection of how much time the A/C unit will be working and lowering the humidity. If the A/C unit doesn't have to run too often, I'm hoping that the humidity will not drop low enough to damage corks.

Ken
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Old 12-06-12, 03:04 PM
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Though it sounds counter productive in the summer maybe you could alternate between a humidifier and the AC if you can find a cheap humidifier that doesn't add significant heat (wick type or ultrasonic). Maybe an "either or" relay controlled by the thermostat so the humidifier is only powered when the AC is off. Maybe a humidastat also.
 
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Old 12-06-12, 03:29 PM
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The chiller in my wine room recently died. I briefly considered using an inexpensive window AC somehow but I just kept thinking up reasons why it wouldn't work well. When I built the house we only kept wines for a few years... well that didn't last long so now we've got some doing hard time. The one bit of advice I can offer is to strike Koolspace off your considered list. I don't know of a single one working properly after a couple years. Long ago I ordered one and it arrived not cooling probably due to a coolant leak.

Here's why I did not go the window AC route:

The thermostat on most window AC units can't be set cold enough.

After a power outage most AC's remain off and revert to default settings when you do turn it back on.

When a window AC is on the fan runs continuously, wasting energy.

Most AC's are noisy. Mainly because even small ones are many times larger capacity than a proper wine chiller.

The pretty side would face into my wine room leaving the ugly side facing my game room.

Window AC units are too large so the compressor would only run for a short time.

The window AC would probably dry the air too much in the wine room.
 
  #12  
Old 12-10-12, 08:24 PM
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> The thermostat on most window AC units can't be set cold
> enough.

I purchased an external 110 volt AC thermostat which can be set as low as 45 degrees.

> After a power outage most AC's remain off and revert to
> default settings when you do turn it back on.

Only on newer more expensive models. Low end units and older (used) units use mechanical switches which stay where you left them.

My external thermostat has batteries, so a power outage will not loose the settings.

> When a window AC is on the fan runs continuously, wasting
> energy.

The external thermostat will also cut power to the fan.

> Most AC's are noisy. Mainly because even small ones are many
> times larger capacity than a proper wine chiller.

> The pretty side would face into my wine room leaving the ugly
> side facing my game room.

Noise and looks don't matter to me in an unfinished basement used for storage and a workshop.

> Window AC units are too large so the compressor would only
> run for a short time.

I think this is ok. If it runs for a short time, there will be little dehumidification going on.

> The window AC would probably dry the air too much in the wine
> room.

I guess I will not know until I try.

Thanks for your input.

Ken
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  #13  
Old 12-11-12, 06:36 AM
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I certainly don't think you will loose anything by trying. Even the $1'000 purpose built wine cellar chillers have a horrible reputation for reliability and few people are happy with the warranty support from the manufacturers.

Have you found a AC unit with old fashioned mechanical controls? Around here (NC) even the inexpensive models have digital controls which is the biggest thing that has kept me from trying. I have several temperature controllers leftover from an old brewing rig so the thermostat is not a problem but removing or overriding thermostat portion of the digital controls has been more than I wanted to try.
 
  #14  
Old 12-11-12, 07:05 AM
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I have not done an extensive search for mechanical switch A/Cs, but a quick search on Walmart.COM shows a GE 5000 BTU unit for $100 with mechanical controls and a few others.

Walmart will ship to your local store where you can pick it up and pay no shipping.


I remember in olden days, some manufacturers made 4500 BTU units, but I don't see them any more. Also I noticed the current units use much less energy than the ones from many years ago. Long ago a 5000 BTU used 7.5 amps. Now they seem to be 4.5 to 4.9 amps.

I still wonder about fitting a drain hose on a unit that was designed not to have one.

Ken
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