When it comes to comparing the different kinds of wine storage options out there, wine coolers are the clear-cut winner out of them all. They make the most sense for the majority of wine consumers, and are the most convenient option.
With this popular factor aside, there are many other options within the wine cooler category. Deciding what kind of wine cooler is a whole other process for the potential wine cooler buyer.
Going through the pros and cons of all the coolers on the market, including taking their personal tastes in mind, is crucial to finding the perfect wine cooler.
There are four different types of wine coolers on the market, broken up by the technology they use and the structure and design of the cooler.
Category I: Technology
Compressor Wine Coolers
Under the technology bracket, we first have the compressor wine cooler.
Basically, it works by making use of technology we typically see being used in a regular refrigerator.
- This technology works by compressing air and releasing it to reduce the temperature of the interior of the wine cooler. This cooling process is otherwise known as the “vapor compression cycle.”
- By using this specific type of technology, the interior temperature reduces significantly. The compressor wine cooler contains refrigeration chambers in which a compressor is used to compress refrigerant molecules electronically.
- This increases the temperature of the particles.
- Following this, the particles are released suddenly which in turn decreases the temperature of the air.
- This cold air is then blown through the interiors of the cooler using a small and strategically located fan.
- But, where does the heat go from the running compressor? That heat escapes through the back of the wine cooler, which is why it is important to leave some kind of space behind the wine cooler so it can ventilate properly and function at an optimal rate. This is an ongoing process.
As soon as the compressors sense that the interior of the cooler is heating up, even the slightest bit, it turns itself back on and will cool it back down to the temperature that it is preset to.
Working the opposite way, once the compressor senses that its preset temperature has been reached throughout the wine cooler, it shuts itself down so the contents to not over-freeze. Basically, it continuously works to keep the temperature at a perfect limit.
The compressor wine cooler can be placed pretty much anywhere in the home, apartment, townhome, or business.
However, while figuring out the placement of the cooler, the consumer needs to keep in mind that it is crucial the back of it stays clear somehow. This will allow for proper ventilation. If there is no proper ventilation through the back of the compressor cooler, the cooling process will be adversely affected, and the bottles of wine will not chill properly, causing their value to deteriorate and the bottles to therefore be ruined.
Efficiency is a great perk to compressor wine coolers. The mechanism inside the cooler allows it to cool the temperature inside to a wide range of temperatures, which can all be preset by the wine cooler owner.
This process happens regardless of the temperature on the outside of the cooler. And, by using the compressor technology, the desired temperature is reached, kept, and maintained at a rapid pace. By alternating the compressor function, the cooler owner can maintain their own preferred temperature at any time they wish.
There are many more pros to owning a compressor wine cooler.
- The cooler boasts rapid cooling time, so the bottles of wine are ready for consumption in minutes, not hours.
- There is no influence of the external environment.
- The temperature settings are vast, and can be set in a wide range.
- There is an option for white and red wine to be held in the same wine cooler, and have their own individual cooling temperatures.
- A large number of bottles of wine can be held within one wine cooler, making for an optimum use of space.
- And, finally, the compressor wine cooler works well in any and every setting, making it a very versatile product.
Of course, there would not be pros if cons were not involved as well.
- And although there are a few, they are not the worst, but they could still be a deal-breaker for some.
- The compressor technology in the cooler gives rise to vibrations and noises. While they may not be significant enough to bother the cooler owner, the vibrations may reduce the shelf life of the bottles of wine stored slightly.
- It consumes a lot of electricity and also makes use of environmentally detrimental chemicals in the cooling process, therefore, it cannot be considered eco-friendly.
- It incorporates heavy machinery (the compressor), so it has decreased mobility. Once it is placed in its spot, it is stuck there, unless the consumer decides to install it in another spot. It cannot be moved all the time.
Thermoelectric Wine Coolers
The next type of wine cooler under the technology bracket is the thermoelectric wine cooler.
This cooler uses a completely different technology then the compressor cooler.
Instead of relying on a motor to cool down the interior, it uses an electric current. The design incorporates a metal rod which is electrolyzed to create a temperature differential. The heated end faces the exterior in order to remove this energy from the system. The cooler end faces the interior.
As with the compressor wine cooler, a small fan is used to disseminate the cool air throughout the cooler.
Also like the compressor cooler, it needs back ventilation or the cooling technique will be compromised. But, it also needs ventilation on all other sides as well, so the consumer should keep this in mind.
Because it does not have a compressor, it cannot be used in areas that will get extremely hot. Mild conditions are best.
In regards to efficiency, the thermoelectric cooler is in the moderate range. Because it mainly uses its exterior environment to cool its interior, keeping it stored in a mild environment is crucial. This will make for optimal cooling conditions for this cooler.
There is no alternating mechanism and no motors or compressors in the thermoelectric cooler that would make a bunch of noise and vibrations.
- The thermoelectric technology is silent and free from vibrations owing to the absence of moving parts. It is therefore a better alternative for preserving the quality of wine.
- Over-freezing is also not possible with the thermoelectric cooler.
- The equipment will typically reduce the temperature inside the cooler by 50 degrees F to 54 degrees F (or 10 degrees C to 12 degrees C) as compared with the outside temperature and maintain it at this automatically. This scheme of operations has been inspired by a technique called the “Peltier Effect” and proves to be quite efficient.
- The thermoelectric cooler is versatile, and can be used just about anywhere.
- It is not a huge energy consumer, thanks to its mechanism, and because of this, can be considered eco-friendly.
- And finally, it is lightweight since it does not have any compressors or other heavy parts weighing it down, which makes it highly mobile.
- Chilling the wine inside takes some time, so placing them inside beforehand is a good idea.
- It is easily influenced by its environment. So, if it is stored in a hotter area, it will adversely affect the inside’s cooling capacity.
- Unlike the compressor cooler, which can chill the inside to a wide array of temperatures, the thermoelectric cooler is a little less predictable, and again is easily influenced by its outside environment, temperature-wise.
- It can also only hold a minimal amount of bottles, due to its cooling capacity, and works well in a moderate setting, but not much more.
Category II: Structure and design
Single Zone Wine Coolers
In the next section, the structure and design of the wine cooler, is the single zone cooler.
This cooler is, like the name implies, a single, seamless storage space. One temperature is disbursed and maintained throughout the entire cooler, and will cool all bottles of wine to the same level.
The racks inside are designed to hold each bottle separately, which allows for optimal cooling conditions (the bottles do not overlap each other).
The cooling mechanism that runs this type of cooler can either be compressor or thermoelectric based, because it only cools to one temperature.
The single zone cooler’s efficiency depends on the type of cooling mechanism used. The compressor cooler is more efficient then the thermoelectric cooler, because it cools quicker and at a steadier pace. But, depending on how and why the wine cooler will be used, one does not trump the other.
Just like every other factor of the wine cooler, it all comes down to personal preference. Steadiness is the core to the workings of the single zone cooler. Because of this, for those who are enthusiasts of a certain type of wine, they can keep the entire cooler at one temperature constantly and not have to worry about fluctuating it constantly.
- It is beneficial for those who are just starting off a wine collection, but with just one kind of wine.
- Since it has a seamless temperature function, there is no need to constantly fool around with the temperature inside.
- The single zone cooler is also less expensive than other types of wine coolers, because it only handles one temperature and one kind of wine. This kind of cooler is perfect for the one-wine enthusiast.
Because of its one-temperature feature, it cannot hold a variety of wines.
This will also cause a problem when it comes to maturation, since the temperature cannot be fluctuated.
If the consumer has to have the single zone cooler, but they have different kinds of wine, they will need to buy more than one, which gets expensive very quickly.
Dual Zone Wine Coolers
The last wine cooler type is the dual zone wine fridge.
Just like the single zone cooler, its implications are right in the name.
There are two separate storage compartments within, usually separated by a horizontal partition. Since it has two different sections, it can run two different temperatures at the same time.
Just like the single zone cooler, specially made racks hold each bottle individually, meaning more even cooling. Also, like the single zone, the dual zone cooler can use thermoelectric or compressor-based cooling.
With compressor cooling, there is a good chance that two different mechanisms will be used to cool the separate compartments. But, with thermoelectric cooling, all that needs to be done is the slight replacement of a thermoelectric rod in the different compartments. These factors should be kept into consideration when buying, because they are so different.
Like the single zone, the dual zone’s efficiency all depends on what cooling mechanism is used. One is not better than the other, and it all depends on personal preference.
When it comes to those who are enthusiasts about all wines, this is the perfect cooler. The compartments’ temperatures are already preset, so no need to fiddle with temperature controls. White and red wine can be stored separately together.
- It is perfect for those who like different kinds of wine, since they can be stored in the same cooler, in separate temperatures.
- The temperatures do not need to be messed with, they are already set at the perfect temperature.
- The dual zone cooler is ultimately cheaper for holding different wines at the same time.
- Those who like one kind of wine will never use the other compartment, so it becomes a waste of space.
- Because temperatures cannot be changed, bottles of wine may not mature properly.
- Finally, it is a hefty investment, both in size and price. It is more expensive then the single zone cooler, so unless the plan is to hold different kinds of wine, the dual zone cooler may not be the right choice.