What are Wineadors?
Wineadors are wine coolers that have been modified tostore cigars. They provide cigar collectors with expanded storage space and superior temperature control, beyond what a cigar humidor can provide. To convert a NewAir wine cooler into a wineador, you will need some basic equipment – hygrometer, humidifier, fan – and some customized equipment – handmade Spanish cedar shelves. The shelves have to be specially made in order to fit your wine cooler, but everything else can be purchased from your local cigar shop and electronics store. Converting a wine cooler into a wineador requires a considerable financial investment, but it’s certainly best way to preserve a large collection.
What Type of Wine Cooler Works Best?
Not every NewAir wine cooler makes a good wineador. Compressor wine coolers wreaks havoc on the moisture levels in your cigars because they dehumidify as they cool. Thermoelectric wine coolers, on the other hand, maintain constant temperature without affecting the cooler’s internal humidity, which is why they’re the most popular coolers for conversion into wineadors. Thermoelectric wine coolers use the Peltier effect, a phenomenon where an electric current is run through a metal plate in order to create a heat flux. One side of the plate gets warm and the other gets cold. The warm air is vented out the back using a heat sink, while the cold side is used to chill the air inside. (Read more about how a thermoelectric wine cooler works ) Thermoelectric units are also easier to repair. The Peltier plate is small, easy to remove, and inexpensive to replace if something goes wrong.
Besides NewAir, there are several thermoelectric wine coolers on the market ideal for conversion into wineadors. We’ve listed the ten most popular below. Their features are roughly comparable: double pane glass, digital touch screen controls, and an interior LED light to display your collection. The biggest difference is their size, temperature range, and price.
|Wine Cooler||Size||Temp. Range||Price*||Wine Cooler||Size||Temp Range||Price*|
|NewAir AW-180E||18 bottle unit||50-66°F||$176.95||Edgestar Koldfront 28||28 bottle unit.||50-65°F||$209.99|
|NewAir AW-181E||18 bottle unit||54-66°F||$199.95||Vinotemp VT-16TEDS||16 bottle unit||54-66°F||$259|
|NewAir AW-280E||28 bottle unit||54-66°F||$215.99||Vinotemp VT-18TEDS||18 bottle unit||54-66°F||$279|
|NewAir AW-281E||28 bottle unit||54-66°F||$233.99||Vinotemp VT-28TEDS||28 bottle unit||54-66°F||$346|
|Edgestar Koldfront 16||16 bottle unit||52-64°F||$119.99||Vinotemp VT-34 TS||34 bottle unit||39-65°F||$389|
*Does not include shipping and handling.
If you’re concerned about costs, you can purchase scratch and dent NewAir wine coolers on Air-N-Water.com . They’re working units that have been returned by customers and can be purchased at reduced prices. The NewAir AW-280E, NewAir AW-281E , and the NewAir AW-181E are all available, though supplies vary, so check the site regularly in order to find a deal.
What Type of Equipment Do You Need?
Converting a wine cooler into a wineador isn’t difficult. Cigar collectors will already be familiar with most of the equipment.
A hydrometer measures relative humidity levels. It’s often included with store bought cigar humidors, and can be purchased at most cigar shops or online. There are two types of hygrometers: analog and digital. Analog hygrometers are more common, but digital hygrometers are more accurate.
Digital hygrometers measure condensation on a temperature controlled surface. They measure the ambient temperature and adjust the temperature until condensation forms, or they measure the degree of electrical resistance in a water absorbent sensor. The greater the degree of resistance, the higher the humidity level.Analog hygrometers use a stand of organic material, normally human hair, that expands and contracts as humidity rises and falls. The strand is held under tension by a spring, which is linked to a needle that moves back and forth to indicate the humidity level.
Cigar humidifiers release moisture into the air and are the primary source of humidity in a cigar humidor. There are five main types of cigar humidifiers: foam, crystals, beads, salt packs (humidipaks), and electronic humidifiers. Each has its own unique advantages. Foam humidifiers are the cheapest and most common, but have the greatest risk of over humidification. Electronic humidifiers are the most expensive, but have the smallest risk. Bead humidifiers and humidipaks will actually reabsorb water to prevent over humidification. (Read more about the five best cigar humidifiers .) Be aware that most electronic humidifiers come with built in digital hygrometers, so you won’t need to buy an additional hygrometer if you decide to purchase one.
Cigar humidors are normally constructed from Spanish cedar or with Spanish cedar lining. Spanish cedar is remarkable good at absorbing water, which makes it a excellent choice for stabilizing humidity levels in cigar humidors. (Read more about the different types of wood for cigar humidors .)
Wine coolers are mostly constructed from metal and plastic, so in order to replicate the environment of a cigar humidor, their metal shelves need to be replaced with Spanish cedar shelves. Unfortunately, no company keeps replacement shelves in stock. They have to be handcrafted and have to be purchased special from craftsmen such as Forrest Price, the owner of Wineadors.com, who has extensive experience building Spanish cedar shelving for Edgestar and NewAir wine coolers. Be aware that because these are specialty items, the lead time for a typical order may be over five weeks.
Wine coolers come equipped with fans at the back of the unit, but some cigar collectors have found that it doesn’t provide enough circulation to guarantee consistent humidity throughout their wineadors and buy an additional fan to help compensate. The fans do not need to be powerful, just so long as it’s small enough and thin enough to fit comfortable at the base of the wine cooler. Fans for computers, cabinets, or home theater units work best.
Keep in mind most fans need to be plugging into an AC outlet in order to operate. If the power cable is thin enough, it may be possible to fit it through the door hinge without breaking the rubber seal around the door. If not, then the only alternative is to drill a hole in the back of the wine cooler and thread the wire through it. If you do decide to drill a hole, make sure you reseal it with aquarium sealant in order to prevent humidity from escaping and prevent outside air from upsetting the temperature inside.
If you’re uncertain whether you need an extra fan, measure the humidity distribution in your wineador by purchasing an additional hygrometer. Place one in the top shelf and the other in the bottom shelf. If after a few days the two measurements are comparable, an additional fan may not be necessary.
Converting a NewAir Wine Cooler into a Wineador
Once your NewAir wine cooler arrives, there are a few steps you need to follow before it’s ready to store cigars. You need to clean it, calibrate your hygrometer, season the shelves, and install the extra fan, if you’ve decided to use one.
Cleaning Your Wine Cooler
New wine coolers have a distinct plastic smell. Cigars absorb scents, odors, and moisture from the surrounding air, so there’s a danger they could absorb the plastic smell as well if you don’t clean the cooler. Start with some warm water and mild detergent. Remove the shelves and use a soft cloth or sponge to wipe down the interior. If the plastic smell remains, place a bowl of baking soda inside to absorb any remaining odor molecules. Stuffing it full of newspapers works as well.
Calibrating Your Hygrometer
Make sure your hygrometer is properly calibrated. All hygrometers are calibrated before leaving the factory, but it’s a good idea to check the calibration yourself by performing a salt test, before placing it in your wineador. You’ll need table salt, distilled water, a bottle cap, and a resealable plastic bag.
When salt and water are mixed in certain quantities, they emit exactly 75 percent humidity. Fill the bottle cap with salt and then add a few drops of water until the salt has a cake-like consistency. If the salt begins to dissolve, you’ve added too much and you’ll have to start again. Once the water has been added, place the cap in a plastic bag with your hygrometer and seal it tight. Wait 8-12 hours and check the reading. If it’s 75 percent, then it’s properly calibrated. If not, adjust the settings until they’re correct or make a note of how many degrees it’s off by (probably just one or two).
For extra precision, calibration kits are also available from Boveda. They’re small packets filled with the exact amount of salt and water to produce 75 percent humidity over the span of 24 hours. Activate the packet, place it in a plastic bag with your hygrometer, and seal it tight. If your hygrometer does not read exactly 75 percent 24 hours later, adjust the settings or not the degree of error.
Seasoning Your Shelves
Before you place your cigars in your Spanish cedar shelves and drawers, they need to be seasoned. Cigars are hygroscopic, which means they absorb and emit moisture from their surroundings. If you place them on dry, wooden shelves, before they’ve had a chance to absorb any moisture, the wood will suck the moisture from your cigars and dry them out. (Read more about how moisture and humidity affect how you smoke .)
There are two ways to season your shelves: active seasoning and shock seasoning. Shock seasoning is faster, but may warp your shelves. To season, you will need distilled water, a sponge, a bowl or plastic container, and a hygrometer. To shock season, take a sponge, soak it in distilled water, and wipe down the surfaces of your shelves. You want to leave a thin layer of water over all of them. Place them inside your cigar cooler and wait 24 hours. Then place a wet sponge inside in a bowl or plastic container and place it in the bottom of the wine cooler. Place your hygrometer in the top shelf and wait another 24 hours. Your shelves should be dry and the hygrometer should read approximately 70 percent. If it’s a little over, 72-74 percent, that’s fine. Your cigars will absorb the rest of the moisture. (Read more about how to properly season a cigar humidor .)
Active seasoning involves raising the relative humidity in the wine cooler as high as possible. Place your new shelves into the cooler, soak a sponge in distilled water, and place it at the base of the cooler in a bowl or plastic container. Make sure you use a new sponge. Place your hygrometer on the top shelf, close the cooler and wait for the sponge to dry. It will take at least 24 hours. Then refill the sponge and let it dry again. Repeat this process until the humidity falls to 70 percent. It’s normal for humidity to be high for the first one or two days, so don’t be alarmed if your hydrometer reads 80-85 percent. It will drop as the shelves gradually absorb moisture. Once it has, remove the sponge, place your humidifier at the base of the cooler, and place your cigars inside. Your wine cooler is now a wineador.
Installing Your Fan
If you decide to install an extra fan inside your wineador, make sure it’s installed before you season your shelves. If you’re running a cable through the door hinge, test the seal to make sure it isn’t broken. If you’re running the cable out the back instead, drill a hole close to the base of the cooler. Once you’ve run the cable through, make sure it’s completely sealed with aquarium sealant or caulk. You may need to prop the fan up on some wooden dowels to ensure proper airflow. If you don’t want the fan running continuously, you can purchase an indoor digital timer for it. The fan plugs into the timer and the timer plugs into the outlet and can be programmed to periodically cut power to the fan, so it only runs when you need it to.
Cigar coolers are wine coolers that have been converted into wineadors by the manufacturer or constructed especially for cigars using the same thermoelectric cooling technology. There are several different cigar coolers on the market.
|NewAir CC-280E Thermoelectric Cigar Cooler||Based on the NewAir AW-280E Thermoelectric Wine Cooler. 2 Spanish cedar drawers and 4 Spanish cedar shelves. Stores 400 cigars||$449.95|
|NewAir CC-121E Thermoelectric Cigar Cooler||Based on the NewAir AW-121E Thermoelectric Wine Cooler. 2 Spanish cedar drawers and 1 Spanish cedar shelf. Stores 250 cigars||$299.95|
|NewAir CC-100 Thermoelectric Cigar Cooler||Built specifically as a cigar humidor. 1 Spanish cedar drawer and 2 Spanish cedar shelves. Stores 250 cigars.||$252.99|
|NewAir CC-300 Thermoelectric Cigar Cooler||Built specifically as a cigar humidor. 2 Spanish cedar drawers and 4 Spanish cedar shelves. Stores 400 cigars||$377.99|
|Whynter CHC-120S Stainless Steel Cigar Cooler||2 Spanish cedar shelves and 1 Spanish cedar drawer. Stores 400 cigars||$269.64|
|Whynter CHC-251S Stainless Steel Cigar Cooler||4 Spanish cedar shelves and 2 Spanish cedar drawers. Stores 400 cigars||$309.99|
The primary advantage of a New Air cigar cooler over a wineador is the temperature range. They come with modified thermostats perfectly calibrated for cigar storage: 65-73°F, so you can maintain the proper temperature and humidity inside. Whynter cigar coolers have a temperature range of 50-66°F.
Wineador Storage Tips
Before you convert it, leave the wine cooler standing upright for at least two hours before you plug it in, in order to reduce the possibility of system malfunctions that may have occurred during transport. Make sure the wineador is placed on a level surface, out of direct sunlight and away from any heat sources such as stoves, heaters, or radiators. Thermoelectric coolers are highly efficient, but their cooling power is limited. They cannot lower the temperature more than 20°F below the ambient temperature, so avoid hot, stuffy rooms if you can.
Wineadors and cigar coolers offer the best possible protection for your cigars and stogies. If you’re serious about preserving them, it’s the best investment you can make.