Frequently Asked Questions About Wine Cooling Units

We've pulled together a list of the most commonly asked questions we've received on wine cellar cooling systems. Below we have grouped the questions and answers by system type with the answers for specific system manufacturers and models within the answers.

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General Cooling System FAQs

What is the ideal climate for long-term wine storage?

A: The ideal temperature for long-term wine storage is generally 55°F. This allows for slow and proper aging of the wine. A temperature that is too hot will increase the speed of aging and a temperature too low will slow the pace of aging. However, rapid changes in temperature are more damaging to your wine than a steady high or low temperature in the cellar.

The proper humidity level has been determined to be 60 to 65 percent relative humidity. A humidity level any higher (at a temperature of 55°F) will be too humid and cause mold issues and deterioration of labels. A humidity level that is too low will result in a dry cork, which allows the opportunity for oxygen to reach your wine and cause oxidation.

Do I need to install a cooling unit in my wine cellar?

A: If you are planning on long-term wine storage, a wine cellar cooling unit is recommended. Without an active method of controlling the temperature and humidity levels in the wine cellar, you are unlikely to achieve a consistent temperature of 55°F and relative humidity of 60 to 65.

What do I need to do to prepare my space for active conditioning?

A: The most important component in a wine cellar is the wine cellar cooling system. However, there are steps that need to be taken with regards to the preparation of the room before a cooling unit can be installed. View our How To Build a Wine Cellar webpage for the main wine cellar construction considerations and recommendations.

What happens if I do not build out the room properly?

A: If the room is not properly prepared for the cooling system, the system will not operate efficiently and condensation may build up in the walls or ceiling, where the cold air meets the warm wall. This will waste energy and likely cause water damage to your home.

Can some insulations act as the vapor barrier also?

A: Some forms of the blown-in insulation available today can also act as the vapor barrier for your wine cellar. Be sure to discuss this with the installer prior to installation.

If I have concrete walls, do I need to vapor seal and insulate the walls?

A: Yes! It is a common misconception that a concrete wall will provide enough insulation for a cold wine cellar. Concrete is actually a very poor insulator (a 12" block has an R-value of only 1.28) and is very porous, so is not a good vapor barrier either. Therefore, a complete build out with a vapor barrier and insulation is required when concrete walls are present and you plan on actively cooling your cellar.

Why can't I use a regular home air conditioner in my wine cellar?

A: A regular home air conditioner is not suitable for use as a wine cellar cooling system. It is not capable of cooling down to 55°F and will also remove valuable humidity from your wine cellar. A proper wine cellar cooling system is designed to cool to 55°F without removing much of the natural humidity in the wine cellar.

What kinds of wine cellar cooling systems are available?

A: There are a few different types of cooling systems that are available for wine cellar applications. Which one you choose will depend upon a couple of factors, including site conditions at the wine cellar and budget. View our available wine cellar cooling units and learn about their differences. If you have questions, we are always happy to help just ask your Vigilant consultant for assistance.

Which cooling system is right for my wine cellar?

A: Each type of cooling system has certain installation and site requirements that must be met in order for the system to work properly. Choose a system that works best with your wine cellar conditions and fits your budget.

When the wine cellar cooling unit description says that the system controls humidity, does that mean I do not need to add a humidification system to the wine room?

A: When the description mentions that the system controls humidity, it actually means that the system is designed to maintain the humidity level that is naturally found in the space. Condensation created by the cooling process is collected and reintroduced via fan. If additional humidity is needed, a humidification system can supply it in the wine cellar environment. Some systems offer a humidification system option that can be added to the system. Other systems, like through walls, do not have this option, so a separate humidification system is required.

What are the ideal serving temperatures for wine?

A: Wine serving temperature depends upon its weight or body. Serving wine at its recommended temperature will improve flavor, aroma and structure (how it feels in your mouth). A lighter red like merlot and darker white like chardonnay should be served at the mid-50s, while pinot noir and Beaujolais should be served at the upper 50s. Darker reds (cabernet sauvignon, syrah/shiraz and zinfandel) should be served at the low 60s. Lighter whites (pinot grigio, champagne, sauvignon blanc) should be served at the mid 40s.

Can I include a white wine refrigerator in my wine cellar desig?

A: It is possible to include a wine refrigerator in your wine cellar design; however, the refrigerator will exhaust heat into your wine room, which will work against the cooling system. Take this into consideration when choosing a cooling system and make sure it is large enough to accommodate this.

Ducted System FAQs

What is a ducted system?

A: With a ducted system, the actual system is located remotely from the wine cellar with the cold air supply ducted into the cellar and the warm air return ducted away from the cellar.

Can the system sit outside?

A:

The ducted systems are designed to be placed inside in a non-living space such as a mechanical room, closet or basement. There are options for outdoor systems.

How far away can the system be from the wine cellar?

A: When using the insulated flex ducting, the length of duct running from the wine cellar to the system should not exceed 25 feet. If a longer duct run is necessary, the use of rigid ducting can increase the length of the run from 40 to 50 feet. In both cases, if there are numerous bends in the ductwork, that figure decreases.

Does the system require a condensate line?

A: The process of cooling the air in the wine cellar will remove some moisture from the wine cellar, which will take the form of condensation. This condensation must have a place to go, and thus a condensate drain is required.

Where is the best location to place supply duct inside the wine cellar?

A: Because cold air drops, it is recommended that the cold air supply be located high on the wall in the wine room as far from the door as possible.

Does the system add humidity to the room??

A:

Some ducted systems have active humidity control. Ask your Vigilant consultant for information on this.

How loud is the system?

A: The answer varies based on the cooling unit...

The answer varies based on the cooling unit but the ducted units range from 45-55 decibels.

What other options can you add to the system?

Ducted systems have a water-cooled option and low ambient kits for cold weather locations.

What is the difference between the Wine Guardian water cooled system and the air cooled system?

A: The Wine Guardian ducted water-cooled system is an alternative to the self-contained, air-cooled system. Water is used to cool the condenser side instead of cool air. This is useful when the unit must sit in a space that exceeds the suggested temperature and where cool air is not accessible. This is also a good option if no condenser side ducting is desired. This makes the water cooled unit ideal for high-rise and special applications where space is limited. Much like the air-cooled version, this cooling system provides superior performance and aesthetic appeal ideal for any home or commercial setting. Note: Large amounts of water are required so often times, the water cooled unit is not ideal for residential applications.

Does the system require an HVAC professional for installation?

A:

The fully ducted cooling unit does not require installation by a licensed HVAC professional, but all best practices apply.

What are the power requirements?

A:

Wine Guardian Fully Ducted Systems

Electric power is supplied by a single factory furnished cord and plug.

  • Models D025 & D050: 115/1/60
  • Models D088 & D200: 208/1/60 | 230/1/60

WhisperKOOL Extreme Ducted Systems

Depending on the system size, the ducted system requires either 115/1/60 or 230/1/60. A dedicated circuit is recommended. For more information review the WhisperKOOL ducted system specification chart.

What size duct is required?

A:

Wine Guardian Fully Ducted Systems

The duct size varies depending on the size of the system and the number of ducts used. Review our ducting applications webpage for more detailed application instructions.

WhisperKOOL Extreme Ducted Systems

The duct size varies depending on the size of the system and the number of ducts used. Review the WhisperKOOL system specifications and WhisperKOOL owner's manual.

Is the system UL & ETL listed?

A:

All the ducted cooling units we sell are ETL and UL rated.

What is the warranty?

A: The warranty varies by system. Below is a list of the ducted systems we offer with a link to their warranty information.

Wine Guardian Fully Ducted Systems

The ducted system has 2 years parts, 1 year labor warranty. View the Wine Guardian Ducted Warranty for more details.

WhisperKOOL Extreme Ducted Systems

The WhisperKOOL Extreme ducted systems have a limited 2-year product/5-year compressor warranty from the date of purchase. View the WhisperKOOL Extreme Series Product Warranty for details.

Product Warranty
Extreme Warranty
Split System Warranty

Can the system be serviced on site?

A:

Wine Guardian Fully Ducted Systems

In most cases, warranty repairs for the ducted system can be done onsite.

WhisperKOOL Extreme Ducted Systems

In most cases, warranty repairs for the ducted system can be done onsite.

Ducted Split System FAQs

What is a ducted split system?

A:

Wine Guardian Ducted Split Systems

A ducted split system is comprised of the same components as the ducted system. However, with the ducted split, the air handler and condenser are pulled apart and connected by refrigerant lines and communication wires. The purpose of this is to get the heat and noise-producing compressor away from the cellar or living spaces. The air handler can be remotely located up to 25 feet away from the cellar with supply and return ducted into to the cellar. The compressor section can be placed up to 100 feet away from the air handler. The condenser can be located inside or outside (exterior grill cover is recommended).

Can the system sit outside?

A:

The ducted split system compressor can sit outside with a protective housing. The air handler component of the system is designed to be placed inside.

How far away can the system, evaporator, air handler, or condenser be from the wine cellar or evaporator?

A:

Generally, the duct run from the wine cellar to the air handler should not exceed 25'. If there are numerous bends in the ductwork, that figure decreases.

The system condenser can be located up to 100' away from the evaporator/air handler.

Does the system require a condensate line?

A: The process of cooling the air in the wine cellar will remove some moisture from the wine cellar, which will take the form of condensation. This condensation must have a place to go, and thus a condensate drain is required at the air handler location.

Where is the best location to place the cool-air supply duct inside the wine cellar?

A: Because cold air drops, it is recommended that the cold air supply be located high on the wall in the wine room as far away from the door as possible.

Does the system add humidity to the room?

A:

Wine Guardian Ducted Split Systems

There is an option to add a humidifier into the ducted split systems.

What other options can you add to the system?

A: The following options can be added to most ducted split cooling systems:

  • humidification system
  • high and low ambient protection
  • electric heater option
  • exterior housing

Does the system require an HVAC professional for installation?

A:

Yes, most ducted split cooling systems require professional installation.

What are the power requirements?

A:

Wine Guardian Ducted Split Systems

Electric power is supplied by a single factory furnished cord and plug.

  • Models SS025 & SS050: 115/1/60
  • Models SS088 & SS200: 208/1/60 | 230/1/60

For more information review the Wine Guardian Ducted Split system specification chart.

WhisperKOOL Extreme Ducted Systems

The evaporator requires 115v – 15 amp circuit and the condenser requires a 115v – 20 amp circuit. A dedicated circuit is recommended.

How loud is the system?

A:

Wine Guardian Ducted Split Systems

The decibel level for the SS025 ducted split system is 35 to 40 DBA. The decibel level for the larger ducted split systems is approximately 45 to 50 DBA at 3' and approximately 20 to 25 DBA ranges in the wine room with sufficiently sized supply/return grilles and the use of flexible ductwork.

WhisperKOOL Ducted Split Systems

At the evaporator/air handler location, the decibel rating is 54. At the condenser location, the decibel rating is 65.

What are the line set requirements for WhisperKOOL Ducted Split systems?

A: The WhisperKOOL Ducted Split requires a 1/4" copper liquid line and 1/2" copper suction lines.

Does the WhisperKOOL Ducted Split systems come with the line set?

A: No, the line set will be supplied by the installer.

What size duct is required?

A:

Wine Guardian Ducted Split Systems

The duct size varies depending on the size of the system and the number of ducts used. Review our ducting applications webpage for more detailed application instructions.

WhisperKOOL Ducted Split Systems

The WhisperKOOL duct kit requires and 8" duct for installation. The duct size varies depending on the size of the system and the number of ducts used. Review the WhisperKOOL system specifications and WhisperKOOL owner's manual.

Is the System UL & ETL listed?

A:

Yes, all the ducted split systems we sell are ETL and UL rated.

What is the Warranty?

A:

Wine Guardian Ducted Split Systems

The Wine Guardian Ducted System has a 2-year warranty on parts, and a 1-year warranty on labor. An Extended Warranty is available. View the Wine Guardian Ducted Warranty for more details.

WhisperKOOL Ducted Split Systems

A limited 2-year warranty is offered with all WhisperKOOL split systems. This warranty is not activated until the installation documentation has been returned by mail, fax, or email and approved by WhisperKOOL.

View the complete Warranty / Terms & Conditions:

Product Warranty
Extreme Warranty
Split System Warranty

Can the system be serviced on site?

A:

Wine Guardian Ducted Split Systems

In most cases, warranty repairs for the Wine Guardian Ducted System can be done onsite by a licensed HVAC professional.

WhisperKOOL Ducted Split Systems

In most cases, warranty repairs for the WhisperKOOL Ducted Split must be done at the manufacturer's facility.

Ductless Split System FAQs

What is a Ductless Split System?

A:

A ductless split cooling system is comprised of an evaporator/air handler that is mounted on the wall inside the wine cellar and a condenser that is placed up to 100 feet away from the cellar. The condenser is connected to the evaporator by liquid and suction lines and wires.

Why Choose a Ductless Split System?

A: There are numerous reasons to choose a ductless split system. If you do not have a space adjacent to the wine cellar into which you can vent a though wall system, and you have no way to run ductwork for a ducted system, a ductless split system is a good option. If you want to minimize the noise within the wine cellar, a ductless split is a good alternative. If you need to place the condenser outside, the ductless split system is a feasible choice.

What are the benefits of using a Ductless Split System?

A: The ductless split cooling system offers many benefits. The evaporator can be placed on any wall in the wine room, allowing for complete design flexibility. The noise level inside the cellar is minimal. The condenser can be placed inside or outside (with the outdoor condenser option) up to 40 feet away. The system can be serviced onsite by a licensed HVAC professional.

Can the system condenser sit outside?

A:

The system condenser can be placed outside, provided that the outdoor condenser option is selected.

How far away can the condenser be from the evaporator?

A:

The system condenser can be located up to 40 feet away from the evaporator/air handler. However, if there are numerous bends in the line set or if there is a rise in the run this distance decreases.

Does the system require a condensate line?

A: Yes, a condensate line is required at the evaporator location.

Where is the best location to place the evaporator inside the wine cellar?

A: Because cold air drops, it is recommended that the evaporator be located high on the wall in the wine room as far away from the door as possible.

How loud is the system?

A:

WhisperKOOL Ductless Split Systems

At the evaporator/air handler location, the decibel rating is 39. At the condenser location, the decibel rating is 48 – About the same as a room air conditioner.

Where is the best location to place the condenser?

A: The condenser must be placed in a room that is 1.5 times larger than the wine cellar. The condenser does exhaust heat and there needs to be enough area for this heat to dissipate. If the heat builds up, the system will not be able to cool effectively. You also have the option to purchase an outdoor condenser for exterior installation.

Does the system add humidity to the room?

A: The ductless split system will not add humidity to the wine cellar, however, it is designed to maintain the natural humidity level that is in the space. A separate humidification system is required if additional humidity is needed.

What other options can you add to the system?

A:

WhisperKOOL Ductless Split Systems

If you prefer to place the condenser unit outside, the optional outdoor housing is available.

Does the system require an HVAC professional for installation?

A:

Yes, the ductless split system does require installation by a licensed HVAC professional.

What are the power requirements?

A:

The evaporator inside the wine cellar draws its power from the remote condenser. The condenser power requirements are dependent on the size of the system. A dedicated circuit is recommended. View our ductless split instructions for more information.

Does the Ductless Split System come with the line set?

A:

No, the line set will be supplied by the installer.

Does the Ductless Split System come with the line set?

A: No, the line set will be supplied by the installer.

Is the System UL & ETL listed?

A:

All the ductless systems we sell are either UTL or UL listed.

What is the warranty?

A:

WhisperKOOL Ductless Split Systems

A limited 2-year warranty is offered with all split systems. This warranty is not activated until the installation documentation has been returned by mail, fax, or email and approved by WhisperKOOL.

Can the system be serviced on site?

A:

Yes, these systems can be serviced by your local HVAC service provider..

Through Wall System FAQs

What is a through wall System?

A: A through wall wine cooling system is designed to mount through the wall of a wine cellar and vent into an adjacent room. While is installs in a similar fashion as an air conditioner, it is mechanically very different. The unit will be visible in the wine cellar environment and is noisier than a split or a ducted cellar cooling system.

Wine Guardian Through Wall System

For a Wine Guardian Through Wall System, venting is limited to spaces with temperatures less than 95°F degrees.

WhisperKOOL Extreme Through Wall System

For a WhisperKOOL Extreme Through Wall System, venting is limited to spaces with temperatures less than 110°F degrees.

WhisperKOOL Slimline Through Wall System

The Slimline through wall system is designed to mount through the wall and vent into living area just outside the wine cellar. It is designed to fit into the often unused space between the cellar door and ceiling, giving the collector maximum storage capacity.

Can the through wall system vent into living space?

A: Yes, however the system does produce some noise and heat. Additionally a condensate drain line may be necessary on the back of the system.

How big must the room be that the system vents into?

A:

It is recommended that the room into which a through wall system vents, should be two times the size of the wine cellar that it is cooling. The system exhausts heat into the outside room. As the temperature in the room rises, the performance of the cooling unit falls.

Can the system vent to the outside?

A:

Through wall systems are not designed to vent outdoors. Ask your Vigilant representative for your system options for this type of installation.

What is the max/min temp in the room the system vents for the system to maintain 55 degrees?

A:

Temperatures in the exhaust room must be above 50 degrees F and below 85 degrees F.

Can the system be ducted?

A:

There are ducting options for some through wall cooling units. Ducting options depend on your exact specifications, so ask your Vigilant representative for your options.

How loud is the system?

A:

Through wall units produce approximately 57 decibels, approximately the same as a room air conditioner.

Does the system add humidity to the room?

A: A through wall system is designed to leave the majority of the natural humidity in the wine cellar, however it will not add humidity to the room. A separate humidifier is needed if additional humidity is needed.

What other options can you add to the system?

A:

Exhaust ducting kits, exterior ducting kits (on some models), cold air supply kits.

Does the system require an HVAC Professional for installation?

A:

Most though wall wine cooling systems are plug-and-play and do not require an HVAC professional for installation.

What are the power requirements?

A:

Through wall cooling systems run on 110V power and require a three prong outlet. Consult your unit's specification sheet for exact circuit power requirements.

Does the system need a condensate drain?

A:

The Through Wall cooling systems do not generally require a condensate line. However, it is recommended that one be installed in case of excessive humidity and condensation.

Is the System UL & ETL rated?

A:

All the through wall systems we sell are either UTL or UL listed.

What is the Warranty?

A:

Wine Guardian Through Wall System

The Wine Guardian Through Wall System has a 2 year Parts & Labor with a 5 year compressor warranty. Review the last page of the Wine Guardian Through Wall system owner's manual for detail on the warranty.

WhisperKOOL Through Wall Systems

The WhisperKOOL Through Wall Systems have a limited 2-year product/5-year compressor warranty from the date of purchase.

Can the system be serviced on site?

A:

Wine Guardian Through Wall System

The Wine Guardian Through Wall System can be serviced on site by an HVAC professional.

WhisperKOOL Through Wall Systems

Some warranty repairs for the WhisperKOOL Ducted Split must be done at the manufacturer's facility, others can be done on site.

How do I prepare my space for active conditioning?

A: A wine cellar that is going to be actively conditioned must be specially prepared to ensure efficient performance of the systems and to avoid issues with condensation. To learn more about the proper build out of your actively cooled wine cellar review our building a wine cellar and wine cellar conditioning educational pages.

How do I know what size system I need to properly cool my wine cellar?

A: The size of the system is best determined by the cubic feet of wine cellar space that needs cooling. The pricing guide shown on the 'Pricing' tab of each cooling system web page will guide you towards choosing the best through wall cooling system for your application.

Humidification System FAQs

What is the importance of humidification in the wine cellar?

A: Humidity is as important as having the proper temperature in your wine cellar. Without proper humidity levels your wine cork can dry out allowing your wine to escape from the bottle. This can cause oxidation, which can alter the flavor and ruin the value of your wine. Protect your investment by maintaining the proper RH of 60-65%.

How can I tell what the humidity level is in my wine cellar?

A: A hygrometer is a sure way to make sure you are maintaining the optimal humidity levels. If you do not have one and would like to know your cellar's humidity level, contact a Vigilant sales consultant today at 888.812.4427 and for a small fee, one can be sent to you that you can keep in your wine cellar to constantly monitor your humidity levels.

Can I use humidification floor fountains and other water devices sold by other companies?

A: No, these passive humidification systems cannot accurately keep your wine cellar at the optimal level of 60-65% RH. Only an active system that is integrated with digital controls that will trigger the turn on and off of the system when those levels are met.

I purchased a cooling system. Shouldn't that control the humidity in my wine cellar?

A: Unfortunately, most wine cellar cooling systems such as the Breezaire™ or WhisperKOOL™ and Wine Guardian do not have integrated humidification options.