A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

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ALewis
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A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#1 Post by ALewis » June 28th, 2012, 12:36 pm

I have an old Le Cache Wine Vault that I bought used in which the Breezeaire WKB1060 cooler unit no longer functions. The vault is very similar to the Le Cache Vault 3100 Wine Cabinet on the Le Cache site, although the dimensions are slightly different and the cabinet is unfinished, so not nearly as sharp looking. I have the vault in a garage in Birmingham, AL. and was researching wine coolers to purchase when this site was mentioned in a Wall Street Journal article.

Upon reviewing some of the postings on this site, I was intrigued with some of the wine cellar construction and the “Kenmore” option postings which led me to research whether there was a commercial window AC unit that I could use rather than spending $1000+ for a CellarPro, Le Cache’s recommended wine cooling unit.

This led me to some of the small 5000 BTU window AC units currently on the market although none are the same size, 18w x 16.5d x 10.5h, as the Breezeaire, CellarPro, etc. although I did find one that is narrow enough and is only 3/4 inch taller. There is limited space in the vault, due to the racking for a taller unit. That unit is an LG unit @ Home Depot for $99 (LG Electronics 5,000 BTU Window Air Conditioner, Model # LW5012). But, I have a few questions / topics for those that might have some insight on this site about using one of these units as a replacement wine cooling unit:

1. What are your thoughts about the fact that the unit would be grossly oversized for my vault; i.e., a unit for a 10’ x 15’ room vs. an approximately 55 cu ft vault? Can I simple set it on cold and low fan speed to eliminate / limit the quick cycles?
2. One option that may alleviate the quick cycles would be to install an air splitter in the vault cabinet to regulate air circulation, forcing cold air to the side of the vault cabinet and hot air rising within the cabinet. Thoughts?
3. Since there are height differences, would / should one have any hesitation in cutting a larger hole in the back of the vault, as if this AC unit does not perform very well, I’ll have a 3/4 inch gap to patch and install a CellerPro cooler unit.
4. Because the cold air outlets on the LG are angled and at the top of the unit, there is very limited room between the outlets and the top of the vault. As a result is there anything that I should / might do to the inside top of the vault?

Any feedback is much appreciated. Thank you.

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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#2 Post by Nathan Smyth » June 28th, 2012, 12:50 pm

Is the wine in Alabama?

If so, then I should think that your most pressing concern would be ensuring that you had backup power, and, generally speaking, backup power of that magnitude is not going to be $99 a unit [not even on Craigslist - although Craigslist is certainly where I'd start looking for it - heck, I'd even look for the AC unit on Craigslist before I purchased new].

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A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#3 Post by cjsavino » June 28th, 2012, 12:55 pm

I think the issue you will have with the window AC unit is getting a constant temperature at the levels for your cabinet. Would be hard to believe you can get it running with the standard controls to a set point of 55-60 deg. One option is an external controller. I used a Johnson Controls unit on a cabinet that had a bad thermostat, available from Amazon or Beverage factory. Let's you adjust to a sent point, offset for temp variation, and an anticycle function.
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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#4 Post by D Jorgenson » June 28th, 2012, 1:26 pm

Or you could just trick it with the power supply running a resistor that's taped to the temp sensor of the A/C unit.

I think that the overcapacity issue might cause issues with humidity. Also, the kenmore I have in my cellar cycles every few minutes (maybe every 10) to run air past the temp sensor to see if it needs to cool the room. I think this introduces a fair amount of outside air to the cellar, which in the hot summer would blow hot humid air in which isn't ideal, especially in a small cabinet.
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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#5 Post by JKim » June 28th, 2012, 1:54 pm

I think you should bite the bullet and get a proper Cellarpro unit that's made for the cabinet. I wouldn't want to risk my wine to a workaround solution. Plus commercial A/C units dehumidify while the Cellarpro unit can be set to the proper humidity. By the way, my POS Breezaire just went belly up too. I'm going to just buy a Cellarpro after I move in six months. Just moved all the wine in the Le Cache to my offsite, what a PIA. In my experience, it's better to do the correct solution the first time around vs trying to save money and then eventually having to do the correct solution later on after the cheap solution fails. Just my 2 cents.
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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#6 Post by Sean Devaney » June 28th, 2012, 4:43 pm

Paging Paul Galli...

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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#7 Post by Rick Gregory » July 1st, 2012, 2:12 pm

JKim wrote:I think you should bite the bullet and get a proper Cellarpro unit that's made for the cabinet. I wouldn't want to risk my wine to a workaround solution. Plus commercial A/C units dehumidify while the Cellarpro unit can be set to the proper humidity. By the way, my POS Breezaire just went belly up too. I'm going to just buy a Cellarpro after I move in six months. Just moved all the wine in the Le Cache to my offsite, what a PIA. In my experience, it's better to do the correct solution the first time around vs trying to save money and then eventually having to do the correct solution later on after the cheap solution fails. Just my 2 cents.
I kinda know where the OP is coming from though. The correct replacement for my old Breezaire 1060 is a $1000 Cellarpro (a Breezaire replacement would be the same cost). They put out ~1100btu of cooling. A Kenmore window AC unit that comes close to the same dimensions is.... $160.

I *do* understand the difference in function, but damn, it's annoying when the wine unit is 6x more for 1/5th the cooling power. Yes, it has to deal with lower temps and yes, it has to deal with humidity issues, but still...

The issue for me is exacerbated by the fact that I only need the active cooling for 2, maybe 3 months of the year.
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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#8 Post by Steven Miller » July 1st, 2012, 2:15 pm

I suspect volumes is a major factor in pricing differences. The likely much lower volumes for the wine cellar cooler that does exactly what you need drive the need for greater margins for everyone in the supply chain.

That said there is a *ton* of innovation right now on the electronic control side - and pretty soon the only difference will be the settings in the software.
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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#9 Post by Carlos Delpin » July 1st, 2012, 2:54 pm

Vibration is an issue for window AC units. I would not want all that shaking and rattling close to my wines.

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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#10 Post by Rick Gregory » July 1st, 2012, 2:55 pm

Agreed Steven. And if I were in the OP's shoes, I'd get a Cellarpro since I imagine Alabama is hot enough to require active cooling more or less 12 months of the year. Me, I'm seriously looking at converting a closet and using a thru the wall AC unit to provide active cooling for the 90 days when passive temps sneak high enough to need active measures.

Carlos - vibration isn't a huge issue if you install correctly.
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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#11 Post by D Jorgenson » July 2nd, 2012, 6:54 am

I'm a big proponent of the Kenmore solution and it has worked well for me for the year that my cellar has been up and running. The one thing I don't have an answer for is vibration, though. I'm not sure that vibration is a huge issue (and also I'm not clear how much vibration difference there is between a Kenmore and a wine cellar specific cooler), but I wouldn't take the long term risk if I felt that the A/C vibrations were impacting my wine. In my case, the Kenmore A/C is mounted in the foundation wall rather than the framing that the racking is fastened to. I don't think I would put a wall A/C unit in if it were mounted in the framing itself.

I left myself the option to upgrade to a wine cooler later if necessary but so far I don't have any reason to.
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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#12 Post by Bob Davis » July 2nd, 2012, 8:12 am

Once you get a steady state temp in the cooling unit, an oversized AC unit won't run that long since it's blasting out a lot of cold air. You just need to trick it into getting below 60 degrees. I don't have the wiring diagram handy but it should be easy to google. Also, if the AC unit does not run much then it won't defumidy as much either. Which may be OK since you want higher humidity in the cellar anyway because AC units are designed to it. You can always put extra padding around the AC unit to absorb vibration. Also, can anyone point to definitive studies that say vibration is bad? Or is it just folklore?
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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#13 Post by Rick Gregory » July 4th, 2012, 11:21 am

Bob,

not sure about the vibration issue. I think some of the bias is that great cellars and collections tend to be cool, humid and not vibrate at all. The other issue, of course, is that at some level vibration could keep sediment in suspension and again, we know that it falls out in the traditional good cellar. Since artificial cellars on our homes are usually trying to mimic the classic cool, underground cellar...
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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#14 Post by GregT » July 4th, 2012, 1:01 pm

Yeah but I think Bob has a good point. Moreover, the vibration, if any, provided by the unit still has to travel through the wall and the shelves to the wine. There's a lot of loss along the way. And don't the original cellar cooling units vibrate somewhat?

FWIW, I built a closet in the basement and just put in a small AC unit. I don't need it year round but for June July and August I do, and I usually leave it running unless the basement temps are sufficiently cool. The fan runs but the compressor doesn't unless it's needed. It's been in place for four years now and it's working fine but I picked up a new unit this year. The setting on that unit already goes down to 60 so I don't need to trick it all that much but I'd like to get a couple of degrees lower if I can. One thing you can do to trick it w/out even using a resistor is to pull the temp sensor out away from the unit. You have to feed it through the grill but when it's in the more open air, especially if it's near the top of the cellar, like mine is, it drops the temp another degree or so. Oh, and don't forget to direct the air away from it.

The technology is exactly the same for an AC or a wine unit or a fridge or any kind of cooling unit really. It's just tuned differently - compressor, condenser, evaporation coil, thermostat. But the more I think about it and the more I'm satisfied with the results of my existing arrangement, the more I'm convinced that there's no reason at all to pay for a "wine" cooler if you can use an AC. Even if you buy a new one every few years just to be safe. I built my own cellar, my own door, and my own racks and the entire cost was under $1000.

I get the hesitation, but it's really not necessary!

However, the OP has the unit in a garage in Alabama? The wine fridges are sealed and insulated, but somehow I'd be pretty nervous about that arrangement.
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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#15 Post by Rick Gregory » July 4th, 2012, 1:06 pm

greg -

like you, I only need to cool my wine 3 months out of the year. Frankly, I'm not that worried about the temps being in the low 60s for 25% of the year since they're in the 50s (low to mid) the rest of the time. I'd worry about using AC year 'round mostly because it dehumidifies... I'm not sure that I'd like it if the closet was always low humidity. But, again, for 3 months a year? eh.
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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#16 Post by Robert.Fleming » July 4th, 2012, 2:06 pm

Bob Davis wrote:... can anyone point to definitive studies that say vibration is bad? Or is it just folklore?
Matt Kramer, in Making Sense of Wine, says that Dr. Vernon Singleton of U.C. Davis studied the effects of vibration on wine, and concluded that vibration is of no measurable consequence unless it is violent enough to produce cavitation - and that "the vibration necessary to cause cavitation in a bottle of wine, one may be sure, is far removed from everyday life."

Cavitation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cavitation

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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#17 Post by Thomas K. » July 4th, 2012, 6:35 pm

Steven Miller wrote:I suspect volumes is a major factor in pricing differences.
+1
I don't think the wine cooler people are extorting us. They just don't have the volume to price their units any lower. that said, that is a reason for them to go out of business as we all switch to Kenmores....

To me vibration is not an issue, and living in DC, humidity is not a problem...
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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#18 Post by GregT » July 4th, 2012, 7:36 pm

Rick - if you're using an oversized unit, which you will be since the smallest ACs are designed to cool rooms much bigger than the typical wine cellar, you may not have a humidity issue. One of the reasons to "size" your AC window units is to ensure that they're also dehumidifying. If the unit is too large, it will shut off before it dehumidifies and the dehumidifying helps us feel cool. In your wine closet, you don't care and in fact, you appreciate the fact that the unit isn't adequately dehumidifying the space. It's not good for you, but it's good for the wine.

I'm a bit envious if you really have temps in the fifties so much of the year tho. I get them in the winter months only. But if you're on the west side of the mountains, you should be good.
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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#19 Post by Ed Bernasky » July 4th, 2012, 7:48 pm

I have used a Kenmore like solution for about 8 years. The unit does not touch my wine shelving and does not transmit any vibration. I can easily keep my cellar at 60F but at about 58F, I have had trouble with the coils freezing up. Thus, I just keep it at 60F. $400 or $5000. No brainer for my part of the country. In the South, I would want a commercial unit with a backup generator unless the cellar was very deep.

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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#20 Post by Paul H Galli » July 5th, 2012, 6:45 am

I've used cheap, throwaway Home AC's for the past 30 yrs.

Just make sure you super insulate your cellar and buy the biggest AC that will fit.
The added headroom will cause the AC to cycle less.

There WILL be a problem with water collecting at the bottom of the AC.
I roll up a paper towel and stuff one end into the lowest interior corner of the AC.
The other end is directly above a container to collect the dripping water created by the wicking effect.
If the air is too dry for your taste, keep a small bucket of water in a corner to add some humdity.

I've never found the vibration to be excessive.

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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#21 Post by Bob Davis » July 5th, 2012, 12:49 pm

Robert.Fleming wrote:
Bob Davis wrote:... can anyone point to definitive studies that say vibration is bad? Or is it just folklore?
Matt Kramer, in Making Sense of Wine, says that Dr. Vernon Singleton of U.C. Davis studied the effects of vibration on wine, and concluded that vibration is of no measurable consequence unless it is violent enough to produce cavitation - and that "the vibration necessary to cause cavitation in a bottle of wine, one may be sure, is far removed from everyday life."

Cavitation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cavitation
Robert,
Thank you! I now remember reading this many years ago. I just could not remember who said it.
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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#22 Post by AndrewH » August 6th, 2012, 7:15 am

I'm puzzling over my cooling using the Kenmore approach, including a resistor. I've been tracking the temperatures (air and liquid), and both go down in the night and back up the next day, with about a 2 degree fluctuation. That seems intuitive--it's cooler at night! But this is in the basement of an air conditioned house, and in fact the basement temperature increases slightly at night because the first floor A/C zone is set to a higher temperature from about midnight to 6a.

Clearly the two are related--as the exterior temperature increases the interior (wine cellar) temperature decrease. But why? Is it simply that the unit is running slightly more often? That alone doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Is it possible that the outside heat is transferring through the A/C unit to hit the temperature sensor, and make it think the temperature is higher than it is? Should I pull the sensor out from inside the filter/grill and put it more inside the cellar?
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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#23 Post by T Halverson » August 6th, 2012, 10:22 am

On a related question: Has anyone tried using one of the relatively inexpensive split systems such as those made my Toshiba, Mitsubshi, Frederich and a host of others? I assume the same principle would work vis a vis tricking the thermostat to make it run at cooler temperatures. It appears the smallest units are about 3/4 ton. Is that absurdly large for a small 64 sq ft cellar?
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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#24 Post by Neal.Mollen » August 6th, 2012, 10:45 am

As trollish as Paul G is, he is also God of the Kenmore Nation and (in this respect) my leader! I've been using his set-up for years without problems (although I am afraid my 1st throw-away Kenmore may be reaching throw-away age; some icing issues this past beastly summer). Some issues dispelled:

1. The temp in my cellar is ridiculously constant, measured at the floor and the ceiling.

2. Vibration? The thing is mounted into a wall that is (a) brick on the outside; (b) 1/2 buried in the dirt (it is in a walk-out basement); and (c) not connected to the racking. Oh, and the floor is poured concrete. To the extent the a/c vibrates, it has NO impact on the wine at all.

I have (had) much less confidence in the cooling unit of my wine closet, which I eventually turned off altogether. Those things are preposterously expensive and do precisely the same work a $250 Kenmore does. The only conceivable reason I can see for buying a split or other "wine-specific" cooling unit is to make a cellar look pretty, but as I said, this is in a basement that is otherwise full of all the crap we never use but can't seem to bring ourselves to throw away.
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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#25 Post by AndrewH » August 6th, 2012, 12:06 pm

T Halverson wrote:It appears the smallest units are about 3/4 ton. Is that absurdly large for a small 64 sq ft cellar?
If I searched well, that's ~9000BTU. The smallest Kenmore or similar is about 5000 or 6000 BTU, and the next size up is usually about 8500 BTU, so it's not wildly oversized.
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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#26 Post by Rick Gregory » August 6th, 2012, 4:21 pm

I did what the OP suggested after I figured out that the Breezire couldn't be repaired without drilling out the rivets (that's right, it's deliberately made so that you cannot disassemble it... ) etc. So... my cabinet is now cooled by a $99 GE window AC unit. With no modifcations at all it kept the temp at 66 yesterday when the outside air was 90. I'll mod it to go lower, but that's not bad for an off the shelf $99 unit and I'm comfortable with the wine at 66 for a couple of days.

AC units like this have another very real advantage over wine-specific units. Let's say your wine compressor unit dies in the middle of the summer heat. I'm betting you don't have a store that sells a replacement near you. I know I don't. An AC unit? I drive 5 miles to Home Depot and get a new one. Hell, if I'm worried that they'll discontinue the model I have and new ones won't fit the opening I can buy two or even three and have backups. Lessee... two AC units that work fine for $200 and give me redundancy... or $1000 for a unit that might die in a few years. Hm...
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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#27 Post by Peter Simpson » August 7th, 2012, 6:58 am

I had to replace my 5,200 BTU Kenmore earlier this year. The new model is more energy efficient than the old one. The fan turns on for about ten seconds at approx ten minute intervals and checks the air temperature. If the air temp is too high the compressor turns on...so in my case the compressor only turns on every half hour or so. I think this new control system also solves the short cycling issue, the compressor runs only when needed.

! too gained a couple of degrees by detaching the unit's temp probe and pulling it thru the grille. I tied it to the electric supply cord such that the tip of the probe is about 4" below the unit. I also adjusted the cold air oulet vents on the unit so they direct the cold air upwards and to the sides away from the unit. The cellar is 58° at the floor and 59° at the ceiling.

There are no vibration issues with the Kenmore.
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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#28 Post by Reese Ferry » August 7th, 2012, 8:32 am

Due to space restrictions, I built a cellar that is about 1 bottle deep, 8 feet wide and fronted by french doors. I switched to a $100 Frigidaire air conditioner about a year ago and I am very happy with it. Previously, I was using a Koolspace AC which seemed to need replacing every 3 -5 years.

As a variation to the thermostat tricking methods mentioned above, I took my unit apart and hard wired the thermostat so the unit cools constantly (This procedure is simple for my unit and takes about 10 minutes). Then I hooked the AC into an external line thermostat on the other side of the wine closet. So the unit does not run constantly and it does not seem to cycle too frequently.

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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#29 Post by Jeff Fish » August 7th, 2012, 9:10 am

Not directly related to the OP, but I just replaced my 3 yr old 6000 btu Kenmore unit with a 6000 btu Frigidaire for $169 - it was starting to fail, icing up regularly and not cooling the room. Within 3 hours the cellar was down from 67 to 60 degrees (which is the lowest setting on the a/c), which the Kenmore couldn't do (never below 61) and is good enough for me.
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Re: A twist to the

#30 Post by mike pobega » August 7th, 2012, 10:25 am

cjsavino wrote:I think the issue you will have with the window AC unit is getting a constant temperature at the levels for your cabinet. Would be hard to believe you can get it running with the standard controls to a set point of 55-60 deg. One option is an external controller. I used a Johnson Controls unit on a cabinet that had a bad thermostat, available from Amazon or Beverage factory. Let's you adjust to a sent point, offset for temp variation, and an anticycle function.
And I now own that exact unit and controller and can attest to its usefulness. if you are gonna get a used wine cabinet, best to get one from an engineer...... [cheers.gif]

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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#31 Post by jordan whitehead » August 7th, 2012, 10:41 am

I bought a refurbished unit for a le cache 1400 for $360 delivered from westsidewinecellars.com.
www.annaswish.org

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Re: A twist to the

#32 Post by Neal.Mollen » August 7th, 2012, 10:48 am

mike pobega wrote:
cjsavino wrote:I think the issue you will have with the window AC unit is getting a constant temperature at the levels for your cabinet. Would be hard to believe you can get it running with the standard controls to a set point of 55-60 deg. One option is an external controller. I used a Johnson Controls unit on a cabinet that had a bad thermostat, available from Amazon or Beverage factory. Let's you adjust to a sent point, offset for temp variation, and an anticycle function.
And I now own that exact unit and controller and can attest to its usefulness. if you are gonna get a used wine cabinet, best to get one from an engineer...... [cheers.gif]
Mike, is this like the one you use? They don't show a Johnson Controls one

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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#33 Post by AndrewH » August 7th, 2012, 10:50 am

Not Mike, but here's a JC unit:

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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#34 Post by Neal.Mollen » August 7th, 2012, 11:10 am

Thanks not-Mike
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A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#35 Post by cjsavino » August 15th, 2012, 4:29 pm

A. H e i m e r t wrote:Not Mike, but here's a JC unit:

Yes that is the unit, works well.
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A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#36 Post by cjsavino » August 15th, 2012, 4:32 pm

While you are at it go full wine nerd and add a Lacrosse Alerts unit for temp and humidity.

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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#37 Post by Ben Argov » October 21st, 2012, 8:55 pm

Full disclosure: I am one of the owners of CellarPro Cooling Systems.

That said, I thought the following notes, which we published on our blog and originated from our engineering team, would be interesting given the nature of this thread. If you have any questions or would like clarification, I'll be happy to get answers and post them here. We have no quarrels with Kenmore!

Btw the difference in price between our units and the 5000+ BTU units made by Kenmore et al is due to volume and manufacturing location. We produce thousands of units annually, whereas the big guys produce millions of units annually. Moreover, our units are manufactured in northern California (go Giants!), whereas the big guys make their units in China.
There are two types of systems used for wine cellars: conventional refrigeration systems and HVAC systems. Whereas conventional systems are designed to maintain proper temperature AND humidity conditions, A/C systems are designed for human comfort, and therefore are not designed to maintain ideal humidity levels for proper wine storage and aging.

Conventional refrigeration systems, like those made by CellarPro Cooling Systems, are specifically designed for wine storage applications. Conventional systems use condensing units with single-speed compressors and thermostatic expansion valves that are located in the evaporators, and are designed specifically for use in wine cellars and wine storage applications.

In contrast, home air conditioning systems use variable-speed compressors and electronic expansion valves that are located in the condensing units. The catalog design limit for most A/C equipment is 67°F DB, which is significantly higher than the optimal wine storage conditions of 55°F DB. In most cases, A/C controllers cannot be set below 60°F, and therefore must be rewired and retrofitted to achieve desired wine storage temperatures. Under these circumstances, the manufacturer’s warranty may become void. Moreover, after A/C systems are retrofitted, the coil temperatures necessarily will operate below the manufacturer’s recommended minimum temperatures, and therefore will reduce coil temperatures below the cellar dew point. This is likely to result in frosted conditions, thereby extracting moisture from the room and reducing the cellar’s humidity below ideal levels.

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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#38 Post by Paul H Galli » October 22nd, 2012, 6:32 am

Ben Argov wrote:Full disclosure: I am one of the owners of CellarPro Cooling Systems.

That said, I thought the following notes, which we published on our blog and originated from our engineering team, would be interesting given the nature of this thread. If you have any questions or would like clarification, I'll be happy to get answers and post them here. We have no quarrels with Kenmore!

Btw the difference in price between our units and the 5000+ BTU units made by Kenmore et al is due to volume and manufacturing location. We produce thousands of units annually, whereas the big guys produce millions of units annually. Moreover, our units are manufactured in northern California (go Giants!), whereas the big guys make their units in China.
There are two types of systems used for wine cellars: conventional refrigeration systems and HVAC systems. Whereas conventional systems are designed to maintain proper temperature AND humidity conditions, A/C systems are designed for human comfort, and therefore are not designed to maintain ideal humidity levels for proper wine storage and aging.

Conventional refrigeration systems, like those made by CellarPro Cooling Systems, are specifically designed for wine storage applications. Conventional systems use condensing units with single-speed compressors and thermostatic expansion valves that are located in the evaporators, and are designed specifically for use in wine cellars and wine storage applications.

In contrast, home air conditioning systems use variable-speed compressors and electronic expansion valves that are located in the condensing units. The catalog design limit for most A/C equipment is 67°F DB, which is significantly higher than the optimal wine storage conditions of 55°F DB. In most cases, A/C controllers cannot be set below 60°F, and therefore must be rewired and retrofitted to achieve desired wine storage temperatures. Under these circumstances, the manufacturer’s warranty may become void. Moreover, after A/C systems are retrofitted, the coil temperatures necessarily will operate below the manufacturer’s recommended minimum temperatures, and therefore will reduce coil temperatures below the cellar dew point. This is likely to result in frosted conditions, thereby extracting moisture from the room and reducing the cellar’s humidity below ideal levels.
And I have no beef with CellarPro or any other wine cooler. (other from the fact that the one's I had previously were unreliable with a limited life)
I had two specialty wine coolers at the beginning of my wine storage career. (made in the 70s and 80s they were likely not as good as those built nowadays).
When a Kenmore fails, it does so gradually, so one has time to get a new one to replace it. (plus they are easy to procure)
The two specialty units I had died quickly and without warning, putting my wine in jeopardy.
Again, don't know if todays' units give you some warning so you can get a replacement before it's demise.
This was the main reason I tried a home AC. (and I haven't looked back since)

Question for Ben:
You say that "after A/C systems are retrofitted, the coil temperatures necessarily will operate below the manufacturer’s recommended minimum temperatures,
and therefore will reduce coil temperatures below the cellar dew point.
This is likely to result in frosted conditions, thereby extracting moisture from the room and reducing the cellar’s humidity below ideal levels".

How does a specialty wine cooler avoid this problem?

TTT
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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#39 Post by Frank Drew » October 22nd, 2012, 7:40 am

I don't think that a window ac would vibrate too much to be used in a wine cabinet; the term "window rattler" is more poetic than actual. In any case, if it's a concern it wouldn't be very difficult to mount the cooler with adequate vibration damping.

Only problem I can think of with a modern ac is that after even a brief power outage the electronic controls on some of them default to a higher temperature setting when they restart, say 75º rather than 60º or whatever their lowest setting produces; they don't "remember" where they'd been set before the outage. If you're not aware that this has happened you could have a period of time with your wines warmer than you'd like.

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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#40 Post by Ben Argov » October 22nd, 2012, 4:17 pm

Paul,
I forwarded your question to the our engineering department, and here's the reply:

The critical components of cooling systems are optimized for their application and temperature ranges, and do not function properly outside of them. A/C systems are designed with a wide TD (temperature drop): the difference between the air temperature entering the coil and the temperature of fins on the coil. The TD for A/C systems is 35F, so at a 67F air entering temperature, the coil is 67-35=32F. This is done to strip out as much moisture as possible for comfort cooling without freezing the condensate on the fins. CellarPro systems are designed with a TD of 20F, and have fin design and defrost features to prevent ice from forming on the fins. This lower TD reduces the amount of moisture stripped from the air, which is desirable for wine storage. If an A/C system is used in the cellar temp range of 47F to 62F, the wide TD will result in more moisture removal and risk of freezing the coil compared to a properly designed cellar system.

If you have additional questions, let me know.

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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#41 Post by AndrewH » October 23rd, 2012, 7:59 am

I don't fully understand this explanation . . . the evaporator coil (cold side) in AC should be designed to operate at a relatively constant temperature, typically ~40 degrees, not a differential from the outside temperature. Typical room A/C units allow for a setting down to 60 degrees, so on your explanation they would cool the coil to 25 degrees, which of course would lead to frosting/freezing. When I set a unit cooler, it means it runs more often - if the intake air is 90 degrees, the air will have to pass over the coils more frequently than if the air is 80 degrees in order to reach my set point of, say, 70 degrees. But that's why AC runs more when the inside is hotter (or when it's hotter out and more heat is being added to the inside of the house.
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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#42 Post by Ben Argov » October 23rd, 2012, 1:41 pm

Andrew, great question! In fact, as you lower the temperature setpoint and drive down the cellar temperature, the coil temperature will drop too - leading to frost and removal of humidity.

For more information, take a look at the chart attached, which shows the balance point between the compressor capacity and the evaporator capacity at different entering air temperatures. The system operates where the lines intersect. As you can see, the saturated suction temperature is not constant - it balances out with the compressor operating curve based on the entering air temperature of the evaporator coil.

There are four distinct areas of design for cooling systems.
1. A/C which is designed for latent (humidity) and sensible (temperature) cooling,
2. High temp refrigeration which is designed for sensible cooling with minimal frosting (ie wine cellars)
3. Medium temp refrigeration for sensible cooling with some frosting,
4. Low temp refrigeration for sensible cooling with constant frosting.

Compressors and evaporator coils have different design features for each of these applications, and each given system is optimized for only one of these application areas.

Let me know if you have any additional questions!
Attachments
refrigeration-crossplot.JPG
Refrigeration Performance Chart
refrigeration-crossplot.JPG (63.95 KiB) Viewed 1236 times

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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#43 Post by Paul H Galli » October 24th, 2012, 6:42 am

Interesting stuff ben...

One more question for your experts:
When an AC starts to lose refrigerant, why is freezing more likely?

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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#44 Post by Chris Kravitz » October 24th, 2012, 8:38 am

Paul H Galli wrote:Interesting stuff ben...

One more question for your experts:
When an AC starts to lose refrigerant, why is freezing more likely?

TTT
Refrigerant has a pressure temperature relationship as the pressure goes down (as in a leaky or undercharged system) so does the temperature. Ie. a coil in a freezer runs at a lower pressure than a coil in a refrigerator. Once the compressor no longer has enough gas to compress all capacity is lost.
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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#45 Post by Mark C » October 24th, 2012, 8:43 am

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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#46 Post by Ben Argov » October 24th, 2012, 11:19 am

Paul H Galli wrote:Interesting stuff ben...

One more question for your experts:
When an AC starts to lose refrigerant, why is freezing more likely?

TTT

Paul,
Here's the technical reply from our engineer department:

When refrigerant leaks out there is not enough refrigerant to feed a solid column of liquid to the thermal expansion valve (or other metering device) and it becomes a mixture of vapor and liquid. The vapor binds the orifice inside the expansion valve and does not allow as much flow through it, the effect is the same as if the valve closes down. This valve regulates the pressure change from the high pressure side to the low pressure side, so the more it is closed the lower the pressure becomes on the low side. Pressure and temperature move together, so a lower suction pressure means a lower coil temperature, and it can reach a point where it is below freezing. A symptom of this is that the bottom of the coil ices up because the limited amount of liquid let through stays at the bottom of the coil and evaporates, and the remaining vapor is superheated through the top of the coil.

Let me know if you have additional questions.

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Re: A twist to the "Kenmore" wine cooler option

#47 Post by D Jorgenson » October 24th, 2012, 12:34 pm

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