Hi! Welcome to Wine Cellar Diva, I am your wine cellar insider and as such, I try to inform you as much as possible about your choices in the Best Wine Cellars for your particular need. Which, also are referred to as Wine Coolers, Wine Refrigerators, Wine Fridges, etc. They are all the same appliance, however they may work in very different ways. This is the inspiration for todays article on how do thermoelectric wine coolers work. So let’s get to it!
What is Thermoelectric Cooling ?
The process of cooling is actually called the Peltier Effect, which was designed to move heat from one source to the opposite side of that source, causing cooling on 1 side and heating on the other.
So, without going back into our high school physics class, it works something like this:
Your wine cooler is initially warmer inside the cooler than it is on the outside – (room temp). When the cooler is turned on, the thermoelectric cooling unit on the inside cools as the unit on the opposite side (the outside) of the cooler heats. Because the cooling side of the solid state unit is placed inside the wine fridge and the heating side is placed facing out. That is part of the reason why you feel a warm airflow coming from the exhaust fan. This then cools down the interior of the wine chiller.
Is thermoelectric cooling energy efficient?
Technically yes, and no.
Thermoelectric efficiency is determined by ambient temperatures that the thermoelectric wine cellar is located in.
For instance, if you put ANY THERMOELECTRIC WINE CELLAR in a room that is maintained at 70 Degrees Fahrenheit ( 21 Degrees Celsius) the temperature will be cooled by 20-25 F, so inside the unit will be approximately 45-50 Degrees F ( 10 Degrees C). This will be much more energy efficient than placing your new wine cellar in a room or space with a 90 Degree F ambient temperature. Some manufacturers like New Air design their wine fridges to reach 30 Degrees F in cooling.
So, keeping your new wine fridge in spaces that are 100 Degrees F (37 Degrees C), your new thermoelectric wine cellar will cool to about 75 – 80 Degrees F (26 Degrees C). And will pull a larger amount of electricity without properly cooling your wines. Possibly even causing damage to your wines.
Can I use a Thermoelectric Wine Cooler in an RV or Camping Trailer?
Yes. Just remember IF you are purchasing for an RV or camper trailer, you will need to give the unit ample time to chill down after the space has cooled down first.
How Cold Can a Thermoelectric Wine Cooler Get?
Since wine coolers are set to a higher temperature range than a refrigerator or beverage cooler the most common settings of a thermoelectric wine cooler will not offer temperatures below 46°F degrees. This is because wines need to be stored at much higher temperatures than most refrigerated items.
However, if you have a thermoelectric wine cooler placed in an area of low temperatures, say, a garage in cooler temps, the wine cooler may freeze your wines. Again, because thermoelecric wine coolers cool to about 20 – 30 Degrees F below ambient temperatures.
How do you increase Peltier (Thermoelectric) efficiency?
- Place your wine cooler/chiller/cellar in a place that has cool ambient temperatures.
- Cool the area of the air intake of your wine cooler/chiller/cellar by providing cooler air and good ventilation.
- Clear the exhaust fan area of your wine cooler by providing plenty of air circulation. This helps prevent the unit from intaking the hot air from the exhaust. Cleaning the exhaust fan from time to time is highly recommended as well.
- Properly insulate the space being used to keep your wine cooler/fridge/cellar. Again, most manufacturers suggest a space that is heated/cooled. Uninsulated Garages, Attics, etc., are not the best choices for thermoelectric coolers. If you have to put your wine cellar in those types of locations, I highly recommend a compressor model for best performance.
- Thermoelectric wine coolers can be powered at lower currents. You will have to have some extra equipment to do this properly.
- Use a specialized Peltier control IC to better control temperatures in your wine cellar.
- Pre-Cool the bottles of wine you will be placing in your wine cellar to help reduce the load on the unit And shorten further cooling time. This will also help with energy consumption.
Are Small Thermoelectric wine coolers more energy efficient than compressor model wine coolers?
Again depending on ambient temperatures, they can be much more efficient than their compressor type cousins.
Given the same ambient temperatures of 70 Degrees AND
If you go for a small unit with a capacity below 30 bottles, the thermoelectric fridge is more efficient in terms of electricity use.
A 28-bottle thermoelectric cooler uses only 70 watts on average, while a compressor unit of the same size needs 85 watts of running power.
Is a thermoelectric Wine Fridge lighter or heavier than a compressor type Wine Fridge?
Comparing same bottle capacity models, the thermoelectric wine cellar or wine fridge is much lighter and a bit smaller than its compressor cooled cousins. This is for 3 reasons:
- Thermoelectric cooling units are solid state and weigh much less than a small compressor
- Thermoelectric cooling units take up much less space
- Thermoelectric units are fluid free
What are the Advantages to having a Thermoelectric Wine Cooler?
- Very Short cooling time.
- Thermoelectric modules are much smaller and lighter than compressor motors.
- Heating and Cooling can be accomplished with the same module.
- High Reliability because they have solid state construction they can last over 200,000 hours with proper care.
- The technology they use is free of CFC’s in use and manufacturing, so your choice more green all the way around.
- No fluids to change or maintain.
- Easy maintenance.
- No moving parts in the cooling unit itself.
- Low vibration (which helps keep wine sediments from being disturbed).
- Can be DC powered in event of emergency or using wine cellar in a vehicle such as an RV or camping trailer.
What are the disadvantages of Thermoelectric Wine Coolers?
- They can be less energy efficient than compressor models.
- They have less cooling power than compressor models.
- Can only efficiently cool up to about 30 bottles of wine.
- They do not remove humidity from the space they are cooling so you may have condensation inside.
Can thermoelectric wine coolers be built in?
Generally, most manufacturers discourage using a freestanding thermoelectric wine cooler as a built-in wine cooler. However, given proper ventilation and insulation, they can be used as built-in units.
Most often manufacturers suggest at least 6 inches clearance behind the unit and 10 inches on each side to provide proper ventilation.
Thermolectric wine coolers that vent to the rear or sides are the most common and they can be very difficult to provide the proper amount of ventilation to help the unit cool properly though.
I recommend instead, to get a wine cooler that vents to the front as this will help pull the heat generated from the cooler away from the intake and allow proper cooling and keep energy efficiency low.
Thermoelectric Wine Fridge Versus Compressor Wine Fridge – Which is Better?
Thermoelectric Wine Coolers, also known as Wine Chillers, Wine Fridges, etc., can be a great investment in an appliance for your needs. If you are asking though if a thermoelectric wine cooler/fridge is for you or not:
- Just keep in mind, the amount of space you have,
- Where your space is located and what are the normal ambient temperatures
- How much airflow the unit will have
- How well the space is insulated
- Are you ageing wine and looking to keep vibration to a minimum?
- Do you want a wine fridge that is a more green?
- Does a little more or less noise bother you?
- Are you storing more than 28 Bottles of wine?
- Are you storing your wines at cooler than 46 degrees F?
I learned these things the hard way. When I first started buying thermoelectric coolers, I was purchasing for refrigeration in a semi truck. I know right? Truth is, I was an over the road trucker here in the United States for many years. I first looked into purchasing a thermoelectric cooler to be able to keep some much needed mainstays with me as I traveled and a lot of times, I wasn’t near a food source. So having things like cheese sticks, fresh fruit and maybe a couple of sandwiches were a necessity. At the time, I did not have a fancy truck like there are these days that have shore power, massive generators and refrigerators. So, I learned what works and what doesn’t by trial & error.
If you are still with me, you can click here to see some of my Top Picks For Thermoelectric Wine Cellars and choose your favorite.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to use the contact us form and I will get back to you ASAP.
- personal experience