A/C for Wine Storage Room?

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A/C for Wine Storage Room?

Postby YossiD » Tue Jun 18, 2013 2:00 am


I am writing from Israel and cross posting from the Israeli Wine forum in hopes of replies from people with experience doing this. By way of explanation, all dwellings in Israel are required to have a reinforced room to be used as a shelter in time of hostilities. It's called a Mamad, and that's the room I'm considering air-conditioning for wine storage. Hey, if I'm going to be stuck in the shelter I may as well have something good to drink (must make sure to keep some glasses in there). The room is about 7 x 9 ft. Unfortunately my house doesn't have a basement and adding one is not an option. Here's my posting from the other forum.

I'm considering air conditioning the Mamad (shelter) in my house to make it appropriate for wine storage. Up front cost is way lower than a wine fridge (100 - 150 bottles) and use of space is much more flexible. The A/C would also make the Mamad more useful as a pantry.

Another advantage is that the A/C moves the heat outside while a wine fridge essentially adds heat to the room.

For humidity I can either bleed some of the condensate from the A/C back into the room or just have a small bowl of water.

I haven't compared numbers yet, but I know that today's air conditioners are much more efficient than those of yesteryear, so I'm not sure how much more electricity the A/C would use vs. a wine fridge, especially since the Mamad will be closed most of the time.

The A/C guy tells me that most units will operate fine down to 20 deg C in the hot weather, with inverter units possibly going a bit lower (and possibly saving power too).

I don't intend to have very long term storage; with a very few exceptions, five or six years is probably the longest.

Has anyone done something like this? All thoughts and comments more than welcome.


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Re: Wine storage room

Postby David M. Bueker » Tue Jun 18, 2013 2:03 am

While not done as a shelter, I have several friends who keep their wines for mid-term storage (up to 10 years) in 65-68 degrees F with no notable ill effects, so 20 C would not seem to be a problem for a 5-6 year time frame.
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Re: A/C for Wine Storage Room?

Postby Paul Winalski » Tue Jun 18, 2013 11:16 am

Steady temperature is more important than cool temperature for long-term wine storage. The thing that destroys wine is frequent wide swings in temperature.

I have set up something very like what you are talking about in my basement. I use a conventional room air conditioner with its own thermostat bypassed (so that the compressor is in a permanent "on" state) and use an external thermostat to switch the AC power on and off. Here are my findings on this setup:

[1] The most important thing that you can do is seal the room from air leaks and insulate it really well. This cuts down on the duty cycle of the air conditioner.

[2] Room are conditioners are not designed to operate at the low temperatures ideal for long-term wine storage. When operating at 57 degrees F, you may get problems with the radiation fins on the coils icing up, especially if you try to maintain high humidity in the wine room. Also, you are putting a very heavy burden, outside its design range, on the compressor. Your air conditioner will gradually become less effective at cooling and probably will burn out within 10 years. I am on my second air conditioner. I don't really see this as a problem--given the cost of wine cellar cooling units marketed for that purpose, even having bought two air conditioners I'm well ahead of the game financially vs. having bought one of the purpose-built units.

[3] Consider having a HVAC professional install a commercial system such as they use for chilled cabinets in supermarkets. My current air conditioner for the wine room is starting to be less efficient (I have to set the thermostat to 59 degrees to prevent icing up)--the first sign it's going to need to be replaced sometime in the next year or two. I will be asking a HVAC outfit for a quote on a real commercial unit the next time I have to replace the air conditioner.

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Re: A/C for Wine Storage Room?

Postby Eli R » Sat Jun 22, 2013 4:23 am


I can understand all of your considerations as I live in Israel.
Be aware that you are not allowed to simply go thruogh the walls of the shelter room.
Once you have a wine storage room, your storage capacity limit jumps from 130 to 1300 and more!

Few considerations:

1. If you go for A/C - only inverter and not the smallest unit - the unit is less than 3000 NIS, installation may be tricky - see my comment above.
2. Consult with commercial A/C expert about icing and controlling humidity
3. You cannot compare a room to a fridge. Cost can be compared if you store at least 2 large or 4 medium wine fridges equivalents - at least 300 bottles.
4. You need to isolate the walls. Cover them with isolation material
5. A commercial cooling unit will cost 3 to 5 times more than a A/C unit, from 10,000 NIS.
6. Wine fridges are set to 12-15 degrees and power consumption is based on room temperature of 20-25 degrees. At my apartment it goes up to 30 in mid-summer if the A/C is not on.
7. Each degree lower will cost al lot. You need to check the starting room temperature as it is now to have some idea.

All the best,

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Re: A/C for Wine Storage Room?

Postby Jenise » Sat Jun 22, 2013 7:30 pm

We do what Paul outlines in item 3 of his post: use a typical window type air con and bypass the thermostat's 'low' setting. We don't run it continuously but have it on a timer to run only a few hours a day during the coolest parts of the year. Temperature variation is minimal.

Haven't had Paul's luck with ten-year units, though. In fact, as I type, Bob is downstairs installing our 3rd unit. Being that the new one only cost us $99 for the tiny size we need (the first was just $75), it's not a big deal to treat it like a disposable and we're still money ahead long term vs. buying the other kind, especially vs. the cost and time out of service for repairing a 12 times more expensive inverter type.
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