The Heart of Every Vino Space Is the Refrigeration System
Does Your Vino Space Need Refrigeration?
Vino Spaces serve primarily to age and store wine over a long period of time. The reason for constructing and installing wine cellar refrigeration systems is for this very reason. If you plan to store inexpensive wine for a few days or a week, maintaining the perfect temperature may be overkill.However, if you are a wine collector, you will have a significant collection of wines from around the world. Some of the most popular vintage wines come from France, Argentina, Germany, and Australia, not to mention California. The value and prestige of such wines add up over time, sometimes over many years.It is important to keep wine in the right environment to allow it to age well. Maintaining the right temperature for your wine collection keeps it protected.The longer the timeframe, the higher the chances of the wine being damaged or destroyed by being stored in an environment that’s too hot, too cold or messed up by constant fluctuation over years.The average temperature in residential homes and commercial establishments fluctuates far more than most people realize. These fluctuations occur even in cellars built in the basement. Despite day-night fluctuations being mostly cool for much of the time in the basement, it’s not ideal for aging wine. This simply means that building a wine cellar there may be a bit more efficient.It is common for home temperatures to differ by up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit between day and night. The temperature in commercial buildings can vary even more dramatically. In addition to air conditioning and heating throughout the year, the temperature can also differ significantly based on the time of year.Another variable that can damage wine cellars is humidity. When exposed to changes in humidity as the temperature changes, wine corks can become damaged if the variation is sustained over a long period of time.It is because of this that a serious wine collector should consider the cellar climate control system as part of their collection. By managing humidity and temperature, a refrigeration system becomes a climate control system. Furthermore, dampness can cause mold problems in wine corks. It is both common and insidious to have these problems in a wine cellar that is ill designed.The effectiveness of underground cave storage compared with other locations has historically been much higher. It was therefore observed that wine remained reliable when stored in the highly stable environments associated with underground storage.Temperatures deep underground tend to stay between 50 and 55 degrees, no matter where they are located or what the outside temperature is. Our wine cellar storage rooms are designed to simulate an environment like a cave. Another factor to consider is to ensure UV rays are not emitted directly from the sun or even indirectly. Additionally, there should be no external vibrations. Ageing wines using this method is an ancient and time-tested practice.Optimal wine cellar cooling will ensure that the humidity and temperature are maintained at the ideal level with the least amount of manual intervention.
The Optimal Temperature and Humidity for Storing Wine
It has long been agreed that the optimal storage and aging temperature for wine should be 57 degrees Fahrenheit with a humidity level of 55% and does not vary more than +/-5%.Climate control is the system that considers all the components that determine the temperature and humidity of the wine cellar. A poorly designed wine cellar refrigeration unit can cause excessive running costs, mold growth, irritation noise, and ultimately failure of the mechanical systems inside the unit itself.It has been somewhat common for us over the last 20 years to encounter all these problems. Sad to say, all of these could have been prevented. It is not uncommon for the cost cutter and or the generalist to build a poor wine cellar. In the worst-case scenario, it can lead to an irreplaceable collection of wine, acquired over years, being a disappointment or even destroyed.Refrigeration and humidity control units are the mechanical components of a wine cellar climate control system. The whole system, however, is a combination of all those factors plus a few more. Insulation, vapor barrier, and the surrounding walls and ceiling are all included in this. Wine cellar doors are a part of the whole system that are often overlooked. The poor sealing of the door can result in the refrigeration unit running too long or in temperature fluctuations. Using the incorrect type of lighting in the cellar can also produce a lot of heat, especially if left on accidentally.
Refrigeration in wine cellars is different from air conditioning under HVAC systems. It is a device that maintains a constant temperature and humidity level in a sealed room, usually between 50 – 55 degrees F. The system is like the cooling unit of a refrigerator rather than the HVAC system.It is usually a clear sign that the cooling system is mismatched to the room if it keeps failing, dripping water, or working all the time. The type of cooling systems needed for a wine cellar isn’t just determined by the size of the cellar but also by its construction. The workload of the cooling system can be affected significantly by, for instance, the use of glass walls, large double doors, outside walls, ceilings, flooring, and insulation.A proactive maintenance program should be in place for every cooling system. Airplanes don’t stay in the air because engineers wait for something to go wrong before acting. Regular maintenance should also be performed on the refrigeration system.
A wine cellar has become a highly desirable upgrade feature in a new home or as a remodel project. Likewise, commercial refrigerated wine displays are often seen to boost revenues and the quality reputation of restaurants and hotels.
As a result, there is a tendency for general home builders and general contractors to offer to build wine cellars for their clients. Unfortunately, there are no building codes specifically designed to address the construction of wine cellars. As most companies will tend to try to keep costs as low as possible, corners can sometimes be cut to maximize profits.
A great looking wine cellar can, therefore, be constructed that will become a disaster after a year or two of usage. A climate-controlled wine cellar is a sealed room that needs to be maintained at a constant temperature and humidity level. Mismatched cooling systems, poorly implemented insulation, missing or no vapor barriers, inappropriate materials, leaking seals, all contribute to two major problems.
Mold is the worst. A poorly constructed wine cellar is likely to be fine for the first year or two — that period where the builder will typically take responsibility for remedial work. Mold is insidious; it gradually creeps up on the homeowner. At first, taking hold in the walls or corners behind racking systems. Often the smell will not be very noticeable as the room itself is kept at a cool temperature.By the time the mold is noticed it will often have become pervasive covering whole sections of walls, ceilings, and floors. Remedial work usually requires the racking to be removed, walls torn apart, insulation replaced and then everything to the workload of the cooling system the right way. This can be a very expensive process. At the Wine Cellar Designers Group, we believe it’s better to do it right the first time.
A wine cellar refrigeration system is not the same as an HVAC air conditioning system. It is a system that is designed to maintain a constant temperate and humidity level, usually between 50 – 55 degrees Fahrenheit in a sealed room. As such it is more akin to a refrigerator’s cooling unit than an HVAC system.A cooling system that keeps failing, dripping water, or working all the time, is usually clear sign that the system is mismatched to the room. Bear in mind that it’s not just the size of the room but also the type of construction of the wine cellar that affects the type of cooling system needed. For example, glass walls, large double doors, outside walls, type of flooring and insulation types used can all significantly impact the cooling systems workload.Every cooling system should have a proactive maintenance plan. Airplanes do not stay in the air because engineers wait for something to fail before taking remedial action. In the same way, the refrigeration system should be regularly serviced:1. A wine cellar’s refrigeration system is a mechanical system with moving parts that will inherently be working with evaporative water.2. Wine collections will often be valued at thousands even hundreds of thousands of dollars.Put those two facts together, and you can bet that the cooling system will fail when the weather is most extreme resulting in damaged wine, loss of investment and possibly irreplaceable losses.Because all mechanical equipment will fail sooner or later, especially those that work with water, a proactive service plan should be a no-brainer for a wine cellar refrigeration system.