Why Wine Refrigerators & Coolers are So Expensive


All wine connoisseurs and collectors realize how important it is to store wine properly. If you do not maintain the right UV light levels, temperature, vibrations, and humidity, your expensive wines may not be able to retain their color, flavor, and complexity.

Technology created wine fridges to create that perfect and safe storage environment for all the prized wine collection. However, wine fridges can be a costly appliance with several contributing factors. In this article, we will discuss all the details relating to the costs of wine fridges.

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Why Are Wine Fridges So Expensive?

Wine fridges are a worthy investment, but you may find their costs on the higher side. Several factors contribute to driving the prices of wine fridges upwards, including the technology type. To understand how some factors influence the prices, you must first be aware of the technology that wine fridges employ.

Primarily, wine fridges comprise two main technologies: compressor and thermoelectric. Each technology type serves a particular purpose, dependent on the quantity and type of wines you own.

The thermoelectric technology in a wine fridge features a fan, which runs continuously to keep the temperature of your wines below room temperature. It keeps the bottles cool by sucking out all the hot air of the fridge.

Thermoelectric technology suits those collectors the best whose collections do not exceed beyond twenty bottles at a time. Similar to your regular refrigerator, compressor technology, on the other hand, is the more traditional sort.

The internal thermostat in these fridges keeps your wine bottles at specific temperatures, as per the types of wines you store in them. Different types of wines need different storage temperatures, and this internal thermostat creates that perfect temperature.

Wine fridges with compressor technology do not run constantly and only trigger into action when the temperature increases others. You cannot use your regular refrigerator for wine storage because it is too cold to retain the wines’ authenticity.

Therefore, you can expect to incur a huge bill receipt on wine fridges under the following conditions:

1. Fridge Uses Thermoelectric For Hot Weather

The room temperature where you place your wine fridge serves as the base for the thermoelectric technology. In case of more heat than usual, the fridge depends even more on the fan for regulating the right temperatures.

If you live in a consistently high-temperature zone, your thermoelectric fridge will not perform at its best. The storage conditions will not have the perfect temperatures for it. Trying to make the fridge work twice harder for the right temperatures will drive up your electricity cost.

Furthermore, the fridge will even get louder with the constant purring of the fan. Making the wrong choice in such a condition between a compressor and thermoelectric technology fridge is what makes a wine fridge expensive.

2. Large Thermoelectric Units

You will face huge expenses in the long run if you look for larger thermoelectric fridges for storing more bottles. The problem lies in the fact that thermoelectric uses a fan system to keep hot air out. If you apply this system for a larger unit, it will consume more energy, and you will find yourself spending more on electricity and maintenance every month.

Thermoelectric fridges are best for a small wine collection because the fridge will use less energy and will be affordable to run. However, if you plan to store an extensive wine collection, it will be more efficient than a compressor unit.

You will only have to pay a large sum when purchasing initially, but after that, you will not have to pay for large energy consumption. 

3. Investing In A Large Compressor Fridge For A Small Collection

If you plan to store merely a few bottles at a time, purchasing a large compressor unit makes the wine fridge investment costly. If you plan to operate a small fridge, using thermoelectric technology will be cheaper than compressor technology. 

Different Types Of Wine Cooler/Refrigerators And Associated Price Range

Wine coolers or refrigerators make the most convenient and sensible wine storage options for all wine collectors. We all know what luxurious beverages wines are and how much they cost. One can easily call them a treasure since wines make a good investment option as well.

Keeping these factors in mind, it becomes imperative to choose the best cooling system for your prized collection to maximize longevity. The market categories wine coolers into four different types, based on their technology and structure.

Thermoelectric Wine Coolers

Thermoelectric wine coolers use an electric current instead of a motor to cool down the system’s interior. Thermoelectric designs have to produce a temperature differential, and they do so by using a metal rod. The rod electrolyzes for creating the differential. The cooler end opens into the exterior while the hotter end opens into the exterior to release the system’s energy. 

Like a compressor, a thermoelectric unit also features a fan to disseminate the cool air inside the system. However, there is no compressor itself inside a thermoelectric system, so you cannot use it in areas that are too hot. This unit works best for moderate conditions because its efficiency lies within the moderate range. 

Thermoelectric coolers rely on their exterior conditions to cool the interior and thus need to locate in a mild environment. If you want to make the best of this system, it is best to place it in cooler conditions.

Compressor Wine Coolers

Compressor wine coolers feature the same technology you see in regular refrigerators. This technology reduces the internal temperature of the cooler by compressing air and releasing it. We also refer to this process as the ‘vapor compression cycle.’

This technology significantly reduces the internal temperature, because it contains chambers for refrigeration. The compressors in each chamber compress the refrigerant molecules electronically.

The compressor releases the heat through the back of the unit, so you have to place the system with some ventilation. The best feature of compressor technology is that it is automated and detects when your system’s interior is heating up.

It switches on automatically with even the slightest rise in temperature and cools the interior to the temperature you have reset it to. Similarly, when the compressor detects that it has reached the preset temperature and cooled down the entire interior, it shuts itself off.

This saves energy consumption, even though your cooling unit works continuously. The only thing you need to conscious of is to place the unit in a place where there is enough space behind. Proper ventilation will allow an efficient cooling process.

Moreover, the external environment does not influence the interior of the refrigerator, and you get separate chambers to store both your red and white wines. The technology provides an individual cooling temperature for each wine type. If you intend to store an extensive wine collection, a compressor unit is the best choice. 

Built-In Coolers

The units are the best option is you wish to save some precious floor space. However, built-in wine coolers fall into the expensive category because the manufacturers have to design them to suit your space, without any ventilation needed.

Unless your manufacturer specifies the possibility, it is wise not to purchase a wine cooler to install it in cabinet space. All sorts will arise in such an event, and most importantly, you will ruin your precious wine collection.

Freestanding Coolers

Freestanding coolers are the most popular, primarily because they fall in the middle of the price range. You will find freestanding coolers in various sizes, but at the same time, each size does occupy floor space. The best benefit of freestanding coolers is that you can place them in any space you like in your home, and they will serve the purpose intended. 

Single Zone Wine Coolers

Wine fridges with a single zone feature seamless and single storage space. There is only one temperature disbursement in these units, and all your wine bottles will cool at the same level. The racks inside hold each bottle separately, so there in fear of overlapping, and the cooling remains optimal.

Although both a thermoelectric or compressor mechanism can work for a single zone cooler, it is better suited for the compressor mechanism. It is more efficient because it cools more steadily and rapidly. However, ultimately your usage determines which mechanism is best for your needs. 

Single-zone coolers are best if for those who are just starting a wine collection. Also, it will only store one category of wine. Because there is only one temperature and you can store only one wine type, the single zone coolers are less expensive.

Dual Zone Coolers

As the name implies, dual-zone coolers have two separate storage compartments, generally with horizontal partitioning. The two separate chambers feature different cooling temperatures so that you can store more than one wine category in these coolers.

Dual-zone coolers, too, have racks that hold your bottles separately to keep away overlapping. It can also use the compressor mechanism or the thermoelectric mechanism for cooling. Again, the efficiency of the dual-zone depends on the cooling mechanism. There is no way to ascertain which one is better, but it all comes down to your personal preference.

Dual-zone coolers are best for wine enthusiasts. They come with preset temperatures and store your red and white wines in one unit but with different temperature settings, as they need.

How Much Should You Expect To Pay For Different Capacity?

Freestanding Wine Coolers

You can find freestanding coolers in a huge variety. You can find appliances with a capacity of four to a hundred bottles in this category. If you are a residential collector, you will find what you need between four to thirty-six bottles. 

The price range for single zone freestanding coolers is around $60 to $300. On average, you can find a unit within a budget of $170. If you are a looking for a sleeker model, featuring French doors, with a capacity of beyond 36 bottles, you must expect a price tag between $400 to $1000 and possibly even more.

Compressor Wine Coolers

A safe environment is necessary for your wine treasure. You can trust the compressor coolers to do an efficient job, regardless of where you live. However, compressor wine coolers are usually on the more expensive side than thermoelectric coolers.

You can buy compressor units in a wide range, with a capacity of four to beyond a hundred bottles. The ideal range for home use lies around a capacity of eight to fifty bottles. For this home range, you can expect to pay around $325 for your model.

A model with an eight-bottle capacity will generally not cost more than $200, while one with a capacity of fifty bottles should not cross the $500 threshold. Larger units will typically vary in prices.

Built-In Wine Coolers

Built-in coolers come with a considerable advantage. You can mount them under or in a cabinet and achieve a flawless look for your kitchen. This is perhaps what drives the prices of built-in units higher and the different engineering than the freestanding counterpart does.

You can expect to pay around $600 for your built-in home unit. Built-in coolers that feature a capacity of 18 bottles at least may cost about $400. If you choose a model that can store thirty or more bottles at a time, the prices may exceed $1000. 

Thermoelectric Wine Coolers

You will find thermoelectric wine coolers at the most reasonable prices in the market, but these units are best only for cool environments. They do not function as efficiently if you live in a place where the temperature frequently rises beyond favorable levels.

You can find a decent thermoelectric unit at $170 on an average, with room for bargain. For instance, you may find a unit with a capacity of 18 bottles for less than $120, but you may have to accept it with a single temperature precinct. A dual-zone with the same capacity can cost you approximately $200.

The larger capacity units say for thirty or forty bottles, cost approximately $375 on an average.

Running Costs Of A Wine Cooler

The monthly costs of running a wine cooler depend entirely on its age, size, and technology installed. On average, you will have to foot the bill around $3 to $9 each month.

A little calculation shows us that a thermoelectric model featuring A++ class technology will make a $36 impact on your yearly electricity bill. On the other hand, a larger compressor model with the A++ class technology will add $108 to your annual electricity bill.

These figures are not huge if you compare them to the advantages of having a reliable and safe appliance to store your bottled treasures in. A functional appliance that maximizes the life of your wine collection is undoubtedly a worthy expense.

Is A Wine Refrigerator Worth The Cost?

If you are a real connoisseur of wine, you will realize how important it is to store the liquid treasure at the right temperature. This is the only way to sustain the contents and the compounds in the wine for long periods.

This fact alone makes a wine fridge a very worthy investment. It is worth the cost if you make a few comparisons. If you do not arrange for a reliable cooling unit for your wine bottles, you will expose them to the dangers of unfavorable conditions. This undoubtedly will ruin the wines.

As a result, you will have to face the far higher costs of replacing all your precious wine bottles than the investment and yearly bills of running a wine fridge. You must not even try to store your wine bottles in your regular refrigerator because the temperatures are too cold.

A wine fridge provides the ideal temperature setting that wines need to live longer with all their goodness intact. You must choose the right technology as per the amount and genre of wine you plan to store.

If you are a regular collector, a larger compressor unit is the ideal option for you. You may find them costly when you compare their efficiency level, but in the long run, compressor units will serve you better and lesser risks. 

6 Money-Saving Tips When Buying A Wine Fridge

Wine fridges are not expensive if you weigh all your options carefully and make the right choice. Key factors to consider are where you will place the cooling system, the number of bottles you plan to store at a time and the climatic conditions of the place you live in.

Based on these, if you choose the right technology and the right model, you will be able to get your hands on a great system at a reasonable price.

You must invest the required level of care and effort into maintaining the cooling system and placing it in ideal conditions for maximum efficiency. Following are a few tips to save money with your wine fridge purchase:

  1. If you plan to hold a smaller wine collection and live in a cooler environment, only invest in a small thermoelectric fridge. You will not have to pay exorbitant bills at the time of purchasing and even in running the wine cooler every month.
  2. For larger wine collections, it is best to purchase a compressor fridge. It will save energy in the long run and work more efficiently.
  3. It is better to buy a larger fridge than multiple smaller ones. This is a common mistake wine collectors make and end up spending more money on purchases.
  4. Wine fridges need sufficient ventilation space at the back of the unit. Avoid placing them against walls because this might ruin your cooling system and make you spend on replacement sooner than you should.
  5. It is best to place your wine refrigerator in a dark, cool place. This will allow the system to perform even better and last longer.
  6. Do not open your wine fridge doors frequently. Sparing use will increase the life and energy efficiency of your cooling system.

Final Thoughts

Wine fridges are not an expensive investment, contrary to popular belief. If you compare the benefits of the appliances, you will realize how the expenses you do incur pale in comparison to the efficiency and convenience a wine cooler provides. The only key is to make the right choice in terms of technology, structure, and design.

Wine fridges come in a huge variety, but you must select the one that suits your living conditions, collection size, and convenience in maintaining the unit. In the end, your sparkling wines will be able to live longer and stronger with the perfect humidity, temperature levels, and storage conditions.

Sources:

Carl Walton

Owner & primary writer on PinotSquirrel.com. It is my goal to bring you the most useful and actionable guidance about wine storage there is online. I consult with industry experts to bring you only what you need to know.

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