Storage Units

Dedicated storage units, placed in the home, provide an alternative solution to collector’s wine storage needs. Several manufacturers produce a wide range of such units, both in terms of quality and capacity.

These units fill a legitimate need for consumers who desire in home storage, and lack passive capability. Several of my storage clients have these units in their homes. The best units are designed to minimize or eliminate vibration, have accurate independent temperature control zones, and are handsome to behold. Most do not, however, offer humidity control - an important consideration when you consider that cooling units, by their nature, draw down relative humidity.

Unless over-packed beyond intended capacity, these units indeed provide ease of access, and can be more convenient, compared to off-site storage. There are a number of potential concerns as well.

The units can be costly, requiring a substantial initial capital outlay. The best units cost thousands of dollars, plus freight, and perhaps assembly.

You must dedicate space to the unit and door swing, and allow easy access for loading, regular use, unloading, and maintenance. When placing a unit against a wall, remember that rear coils must always be kept free of dust, spider webs, and other debris to function properly.

All but one style, which utilizes a convective cooling system, subject the wine to subtle but constant repetitive vibration. In some models, water often condenses on the rear interior wall of the unit, eventually depositing mold on bottles allowed to come in contact with the wall.   

Power outage is a serious concern, and can potentially result in disastrous consequences. Ask yourself, based upon your geographic location, what would your storage temperature be after several days, perhaps weeks, of power outage (or compressor failure) at the hottest time of the year?   

Compressors WILL eventually fail, requiring costly repair or replacement. HVAC Techs earn good money, particularly in the hot summer months, when just getting an appointment can be a task. Manufacturer’s warranties are a bellweather of what to expect in terms of performance, and you should consider them carefully. You may wish to invest in an extended on-site warranty.

As the operator of a
wine storage facility, I receive several calls a year inquiring whether I know someone who can repair these units. Ask yourself, do you have a plan to accommodate prompt repair of your unit compressor?  What is the name and phone number of your closest repair facility. Do they offer on site service? Are you prepared to unload your unit, and if necessary transport it for service? What is the cost to replace the compressor in your unit?

In recent years, with a marked increase in U.S. wine consumption, a number of refrigeration manufacturers have begun to produce small and inexpensive “wine refrigerators”.  Caveat emptor. Most are ill-regulated, and pose serious vibration issues. You are equally served, in my opinion, by just setting aside some space in your refrigerator.