Wine Cooler Refrigeration Basics

What is the difference between a freestanding and an under counter unit?
A freestanding unit is designed to stand alone while an under counter (also called a zero clearance or built-in) unit may be built into existing counters and cabinetry as they include a front vent located under the door that will channel heat forward away from the unit.

What would happen if I installed a freestanding cooler under my counter?
Since a freestanding unit does not include a front vent the heat produced by the unit during operation will remain within the built-in enclosure and eventually overheat the unit. This overheating will in turn noticeably decrease the coolers ability to maintain its internal temperature and cool your wine. The unit’s compressor will attempt to overcompensate for the overheating unit and may eventually burn itself out. At the very least you run the risk of shortening the coolers overall lifespan as the compressor is continually overworked. You also run the risk of invalidating the manufacturer’s warranty by operating a freestanding unit in a built-in space.

Are there any options that will allow me to install a freestanding unit under my counter?
Yes, if you allow sufficient space around the unit for the heat produced during operation to properly dissipate you will be able to install a freestanding unit into a built-in space. We strongly suggest leaving a gap of 2 to 3 inches on each side of the cooler as well as on top and in the back to create the needed airflow around the unit. You will not be able to achieve a true built-in appearance with these gaps but this should allow you to utilize a freestanding unit within a built-in space.

What exactly is thermoelectric cooling?
Many smaller wine coolers employ thermoelectric cooling instead of utilizing a traditional compressor and refrigerant. A thermoelectric wine cooler will contain what is referred to as a cooling node which is simply a ceramic tile that has electrical current passed through it. As the electrical current is passed through the cooling node the outside of the tile will heat up and the other side (the side facing into the cooler) will cool down. Typically, a thermoelectric wine cooler will contain small fans inside the unit which help to evenly distribute the cool temperatures being created by the node throughout the interior of the unit. Due to the lack of a compressor, thermoelectric coolers will produce fewer vibrations which in turn will equal fewer disturbances of the sediments within the wine bottles. Please keep in mind that thermoelectric wine coolers are not completely silent as the internal fans needed to distribute the cold air within the cooler will produce some noise. Overall, they are usually quieter than compressor driven models.

What is the best way to store white and red wines in the same cooler?
Typically, white wines should be stored in the temperature range of 46ºF to 56ºF and red wines will be stored between 58ºF to 68ºF. The best way to accommodate both wines within the same unit is to purchase a dual zone wine cooler. A dual zone cooler will allow you to maintain two distinct and separate temperature zones within the same cooler. Many times a dual zone unit will offer a larger storage capacity for one style of wine over the other so be sure to purchase the unit that best suits your individual drinking preference. You may of course store both red and white wines together in a single zone unit. By placing your red wines in the top shelves of the unit you will be storing them in the warmest section of the cooler. There is usually only a 5 to 8 degree temperature difference between the top of a single zone wine cooler and the bottom so ultimately either your red wines will be too cold or your whites too warm depending on how you choose to set the master thermostat of the unit.

May I use a wine cooler to store my other beverages?
The average wine cooler will not offer temperatures below 46ºF degrees. Due to this limitation we suggest purchasing a dedicated beverage cooler or traditional refrigerator if you wish to store beverages other than wine.

What is the difference between a wine cooler, beverage cooler and refrigerator?
A wine cooler is set to a higher temperature range than a refrigerator or beverage cooler because wine should not be stored as cold as other beverages. On average a wine cooler will not offer temperatures below 46ºF degrees. A beverage cooler and refrigerator are similar to each other, but beverage coolers frequently do not offer the adjustable shelves or door storage that a refrigerator will, and they often have glass doors in order to display the contents. A wine and beverage cooler has a wide temperature range so it may be used for either, but keep in mind if you want to store both at the same time you will either have too-cold wine or too-warm drinks depending on how you choose to set the internal thermostat.