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Why and How to Compare Wine Coolers?

Why is it recommended that you compare wine cooler refrigerators? With so many wine refrigerator brands and manufacturers you can narrow down the list of products best suiting your needs by comparing different wine cooler and refrigerator brands and models.

The guide below gives you tips on which features and factors to compare when you analyze various wine refigerator/wine cooler makes and models.

Note many people complain on the low quality of small, cheap, wine coolers by brands Avanti, Cuisinart, Danby, Chambrer, Edgestar, Emerson, Haier, Koolatron, Magic Chef/Ewave, Vinotemp, Sunpentown and Sunbeam. Reviews provided by owners of these wine coolers often mention:

  • early failures-break downs (within a couple of months, a year or just after the warranty period),
  • noise and
  • bad customer service (in case of some brands).

This doesn’t mean that each and every unit by these brands is of low quality but the frequent complaints mentioned in reviews should make one extra cautious before buying any of these units.

Comparison Charts on Various Wine Cooler Refrigerators & Wine Cabinets

We made charts to help you compare wine coolers and wine cabinets of various categories based on size, number of zones, price range, brands.

Choose from a List of Wine Cooler & Wine Cabinet Comparison Charts.

But Which Factors Do You Have to Pay Attention to When Doing the Comparison?

Storage Capacity

One of the most important factors to consider when buying a wine storage unit is the number of wine bottles it can accomodate. First you have to decide how many bottles of wines you plan to store in the wine cooler.

It is a good idea to invest in a larger unit than you think you need at present. If you’re a true wine connosieur then you will keep adding to your collection and you’ll grow out the wine cooler in no time. The price/bottle factor is a valuable data to be used for comparing various brands and models.

Note that bottle count is calculated for storing standard size and shape wine bottles (750 ml, Bordeaux-style). Long or wide bottles aren’t likely to fit in a moderately priced wine storage unit. Larger and more expensive wine storage cabinets (Le Cache, EuroCave, Vinotheque) offer flexibility in the type of bottles to be stored.

Cooling Method

Manufacturers use 4 main cooling techniques in wine coolers:

compressor – the method is same as the one used in kitchen fridges. A compressor generates cool air inside the refrigerator cabinet. It is an effective way of cooling although it is likely to be a bit noisy and vibration is caused during the cooling cycle, which isn’t good for wines stored in the wine cooler cabinet.

thermoelectric cooling – this technique is based on the so-called Peltier-effect. No compressor is needed for cooling. The only moving part is a fan that drives the hot air out of the cabinet interior. The lack of mechanical elements reduces the chance of breaking down. This technique is used mainly in small capacity wine coolers. Read more about how a thermoelectric wine cooler works and what are its benefits and limitations.

hybrid cooling – it combines compressor technology with thermoelectric technique for a more effective cooling with the benefits of silent, more eco-friendly operation. Many of the newer Vinotemp wine cooler models are equipped with hybrid cooling.

absorption cooling – Electrolux wine cellars use absorption technology, which similarly to thermoelectric cooling doesn’t contain compressor.

Temperature Range, Temp. Fluctuation

The ideal temperature for storing wine for a longer period of time is 55°F, but anything in the range of 40-65 °F is good if the temperature is stable in the storage unit.

Too much fluctuation in the temperature occuring on a daily-weekly basis will ruin wine. Note that the interior temperature in the majority of wine cooler refrigerators will fluctuate a few degrees from bottom to top. It is acceptable if it isn’t more than 1-3 degrees (we talk about air temperature not the temp. of wine in the bottles).

Note: +/-2 degrees change in air temperature causes cc. 0.5 degree change in wine temperature (the bottle provides some level of insulation and liquid temperature changes slower than air temp.).

When comparing home wine storage units it is good too check the temperature range of the units. It is best to choose one with a fairly wide temperature range, at least 45 – 65°F.

Humidity Level

Humidity is another important factor when preserving wines. The ideal level of humidity in a wine cooler and in any other wine storage unit is around 50 – 75%. The majority of mid-priced wine coolers aren’t capable of maintaining proper humidity level.

If you live in a very dry climate this can be a problem because too dry air will likely cause the cork shrivel and crack allowing free passage of air inside the bottle which accelerates aging through oxidation. Placing a wet sponge in the wine cooler helps to increase the humiidty level of air.

Some wine refrigerators (Danby, Haier) come with a small plastic container that you can fill with water and place on one of the shelves to increase the moisture content of the cabinet air.

Some advanced wine refrigerators like U-line wine coolers and Sub-zero wine coolers have special evaporators to maintain adequate humidity within the cabinet.

The UK-made Caple wine refrigerators also maintain proper humidity level of 65%.

 

Number of Temperature Zones

If you want to store and cool both red and white wines for short term then you have to look for a dual temperature zone wine cooler.

The Franklin Chef 36 Bottle Wine Fridge and the Avanti 46 Bottle Wine Cooler are both affordable two-zone wine coolers.

For long-therm wine storage or aging a single zone wine cooler is perfect since you can store both reds and whites at 55°F for a longer period of time. Some high-end wine cellar manufacturers, like Le Cache or Vinoteque, don’t even have dual zone wine coolers.

There’re some wine cooler models with 3 temperature zones: one for long term storage, another one for chilling and a compartment for bringing red wines to room temperature. See some recommended multi-temperature zone wine storage units.

Thermal Insulation, UV Protection

Good thermal insulation is another essential feature to look for in a wine cooler if you want the unit to maintain constant temperature.

The quality of thermal insulation is especially important if you plan to keep the wine cooler in a room where the temperature fluctuates a lot or if you live at a place where the climate is very different in winter and summer. For more effective insulation most quality wine coolers have dual pane, tempered doors. Keep in mind however that every fridge has a temperature fluctuation mainly during the defrost cycle. Some wine cooler brands have only + – 1 °F while the less good ones can have + – 5 °F fluctuation.

In order to protect wines form light look for wine coolers with tinted glass door, the slightly dark door glass filters out the UV rays of sunlight. Wine exposed to much UV (ultraviolet light in the wavelength of 325-450 nm) exposure can get lightstruck. White wines and sparkling wines are more susceptible to UV-light damage, while the high polyphenol (tannin) content of red wines protects them from the harmful effects of too much sunshine.

Shelving

Lower-priced wine coolers contain chrome-plated pull-out wire racks. Wire shelving is not only less attractive than wood shelves but can dent under too much weight or scratch the bottle or wine label.

The best wine coolers come with adjustable shelves so you can arrange the bottles to your liking. Luxury wine cellars have either all-wood racks or metal ones with wood fronts that can be custom stained.

Vibration

When storing wines it’s essential that the bottles mustn’ t vibrate so do check the data on the level of vibration and vibration control in each wine cooler. Vibration in refrigerators comes from the compressor which produces the cold air.

Some of the latest wine refrigerator models rely on absorption method instead of using compressor to generate cold air and thus these units like the Electrolux Icon Designer Series E24WC160ES are vibration free. Compressors in other high-end wine coolers and refrigerators, like the ones made by Marvel, or Vintage Keeper are equipped with vibration dampeners that absorb vibration.

Thermoelectric coolers are also vibration-free because they operate without a compressor.

Design, Decor

The design and the look of the wine fridge is another comparison factor. There are cool looking stainless steel wine storage cabinets, elegant wood wine cellars or furniture-style wine credenzas and large, walk-in wine cellars. Keep in mind that part of the fun of owning a wine cooler is to be able to display your prized wine collection to friends and guests.

For those who lack space in their homes slim wine refrigerators (15″ or less wide) offer a solution. Countertop home wine cellars also take up small space. Those who prefer to have their wine cooler to be built-in the existing cabinetry in the kitchen can choose from a wide range of undercounter wine cooler models. The more expensive brands (Marvel, Sub-Zero) offer several customization options (wood shelf finish, door frame, door type etc.) to allow you to have a wine storage unit that perfectly matches your home decor.

Warranty Period

Also consider the length of warranty offered by the manufacturer. A 5-year warranty is a good one in case of budget wine coolers but if you’re planning to buy a luxury wine refrigerator or a cellar cooling system to build your own wine cellar or wine room it is better to look for ones that come with 8-10 year warranty.

Finally you’re going to compare wine coolers on their price. Big name brands and newer, sleek models cost more but you might find a cheaper wine cooler that is just as perfect for your needs as a high-end one.

You might also want to consider buying a discounted or used wine cooler refrigerator that became dented or scratched during transportation.

Visit our Wine Cooler Buying Guide for further tips and information.

Wine Cooler Refrigerator Comparisons

Best Mini Wine Coolers -Compare 4-Bottle Haier, Chambrer and Koolatron Models.

haier 4-bottle wien cellar- a mini wine cooler for home use
6-Bottle Wine Coolers Comparison – compare popular 6-bottle countertop wine fridges.
Vinotemp 6 Bottle Wine Cooler Wall Mounted Design
8-bottle Wine Cooler Comparison – compare various 8-bottle electric home cellars.
Magic Chef 8-bottle Counter top wine cooler
12-Bottle Wine Cooler Comparison – compare 12-bottle wine fridges by various manufacturers.
Sunpentown WC-12 12 Bottle wine cooler
Budget 150-160-Bottle Wine Refigerators – compare 3 popular 150+ bottle wine coolers under US$ 2000.
N'FINITY 170 Bottle Wine Cellar
U-Line 2275ZWC Dual Zone 44-Bottle Wine Refrigerator

Other Resources to Compare Wine Cooler Rerfrigerators

There are many online resources focusing on comparing home appliances including wine storage units. Most often these webistes publsih consumer reports and user reviews to provide further help in choosing the right product.

We recommend Bizrate to do a price comparison on popular wine cooler refrigerator brands and models.

Related Pages on Our Site to Help You Compare Wine coolers