How to Size a Wine Cellar Cooling Unit

This image is to illustrate the importance of sizing your wine cellar cooling unit correctly.

Sizing a Wine Cellar Cooling Unit: Getting Started

Calculating the heat load of your cellar may at first seem straightforward. But there are numerous things you can do to ensure success before you begin. First, you should always consult a wine storage professional. Before you make a purchasing decision, speak with this professional to get necessary information about the feasibility of your desired cellar location. The professional will give you valuable insight into wine cellar cooling and the steps you can take to prepare your space properly.

Assuming that you’ve consulted a wine storage professional, and your planned installation is sound, make sure your cellar is constructed adequately. First, your cellar should be below ground if possible. Wine enthusiasts should avoid cellar construction materials like stone, glass, brick, or cement. These are not good insulators. The best insulation is ordinary sheetrock walls with 2×4 or 2×6 studs, properly insulated. (Depending on the type of wall and its construction, the necessary insulation could be anywhere between R-13 and R-30.)

It is also vitally important that you install a vapor barrier. A vapor barrier is a thin layer of plastic sheeting installed on the warm side of the cellar wall. The vapor barrier prevents the migration of moisture from the exterior of the cellar to the inside and vice-versa.

Follow this link to watch a brief video on the proper construction of a wine cellar.

Once you’ve made sure that your cellar’s construction is sound, it’s time to calculate your cellar’s heat load.

Using a Heat Load Calculator

Our heat load calculator, known as the Cellar Wizard™, takes the parameters of your cellar and estimates the heat load. The heat load of a cellar is the amount of heat which enters your cellar every hour. It’s a well-known fact that heat and temperature fluctuations can damage fine wine and cause it to lose its flavors and aromas. WhisperKOOL units keep the temperature of your cellar cool and constant by meeting the heat seeping into the cellar with a wall of cool air. Heat load is measured in British Thermal Units, or BTUs, per hour—BTU/h.

The Cellar Wizard will ask you to enter information about your cellar. This information will include the dimensions of your cellar, the rating of the insulation in the walls, floor, and ceiling, the number and dimensions of doors and windows, etc. Once the Wizard obtains this information, it will make a scientific computation. This computation is based on thermodynamic principles and the number of hours the cooling unit will run each day. The Cellar Wizard will then give you your results. The number (most likely four digits) will be the estimated heat load of your cellar. Due to the variance in wine cellar construction, it’s important to note that this number is not an official recommendation from WhisperKOOL. It’s a benchmark you can use as a guide when you’re selecting a cooling unit.

Selecting Your Unit

Even after you’ve computed the heat load of your cellar with a heat load calculator, one step remains. You should decide what the best type of unit for your intended application is. WhisperKOOL products come in four different families:

– Self-contained (the evaporator and condensing unit share the same housing)
– Fully ducted self-contained (the unit is fully ducted—instead of being mounted in the cellar, it is installed elsewhere and the air is “ducted” in and out of the cellar)
– Split system (the evaporator is in the cellar, and the condensing unit is outside or in an attic or adjacent utility room; a line set connects the two halves of the system)
– Fully ducted split system (the evaporator unit and condensing unit are ducted)

The fans of self-contained units and non-ducted split systems will generate noise. If you prefer a quiet cellar environment, you should select a fully ducted system. Fully ducted units have more versatile installation options as well, but they can be more complicated to access for routine maintenance. For more assistance with selecting the correct unit for your application, feel free to contact our helpful sales team at the number below.

To conclude: before purchasing a cooling unit, there are certain steps you should take.

– First, always consult a wine cellar professional.
– Second, make sure your cellar’s construction is complete and sound.
– Third, use a heat load calculator to estimate the heat load of your cellar.
– Fourth, make sure to select the correct unit for your desired application.

If you complete these steps, you will ensure that you select the correctly sized wine cellar cooling unit for your application.

Get a unit size recommendation from our helpful sales team today by dialing 1 (800) 343-9463, ext. 802.

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