While you need to make sure that the temperature and humidity in your wine cellar is maintained at the right levels, there are different ways you can do this. When you set out to build a wine cellar in your home (or have one built), you will more than likely hear about different cooling options. The major options include self contained, ductless split and ducted split systems. Which system you go with will depend on your needs. Before deciding, consult with an expert. They can help you decide in which direction to go, and may be able to offer services with regard to putting the cellar in place. Most cellars, if done correctly, will need little long-term maintenance, so an initial expense may be worth it if your later costs are minimized.
As mentioned in a different blog post, a wine cellar is not going to keep any white wine you serve at a temperature desirable for serving. You must remember to take out the white wine and chill it before serving. So while a cellar is the best place in which to store white wine, some people also install a wine refrigerator somewhere else in the home in which to keep white wine that you intend to serve and drink soon. You do not want to put a wine refrigerator inside the cellar itself. The motor will give off heat and combat the cooling system, making it take more energy to cool the room.
A wine cooler is not the drink you can buy and it is not some type of cooler you take with you on a picnic or to the beach. However unfortunate the use of the term is, a wine cooler, or cooling unit, is desirable because it will help keep your cellar at one steady temperature. For storing wine, temperatures should be close to a constant 55 degrees. Most cooling units you can buy will not come with a humidity control device on the unit. However, they all will help to control the humidity by getting rid of the excess. There are some units which claim to re-route the moisture and add it back into the cellar when needed. These units have “humidity control”. In most parts of the country low humidity is not an issue. When the room has a proper vapor barrier and insulation and the unit is cooling the room, the humidity will naturally rise higher than the air outside of the cellar.
If humidity is a factor for your wine cellar, you can install a humidifier, use a unit that has humidity control, add a fountain, or try the poor man’s method of adding a container of water to the opposite side of the room as the cooling unit. The unit will draw the moisture up through the air adding extra humidity to the room.
There are several ways to keep your cellar cool. The most cost effective is a self contained unit which goes through the wall and into the next room. You have to have a room that is at least twice the size of the cellar and heat and air conditioned for this type of unit. The exception is if you duct the exhaust out of the 2nd room to another area. Some units allow for this option. There is also a unit made that can vent to the outdoors. It is meant for extreme conditions. Be sure that you have the correct unit if placing the unit in an outer wall. This type of unit can be installed by anyone. However, it is the noisiest of all of the systems, as the fan and compressor are both in the one unit. Another unit is a ductless split system. With this unit, the evaporator, or fan coil is placed inside the cellar and is connected via two copper lines to the compressor which can be placed either in another large room in the house or outdoors. A third type of cooling unit is a ducted split system. This is a system where the evaporator and the condenser are both located remotely and the cool air and the return air are ducted in and out of the room. Both the ductless and the ducted split systems must be installed by a licensed HVAC/R contractor.
There are other types of units on the market as well. Consult with a wine cellar specialist when choosing your unit. Purchasing the wrong unit can be a costly mistake. A properly installed wine cellar can be located anywhere in your home where one of these units can be installed.