How Does A Wine Cooler Work
During sunny days, who wouldn’t enjoy sitting outside with friends or family for food and cold drinks, which may include wine? However, it is always a challenge to keep wine cold due to the heat.
Wine at the ideal cool temperature is not only good for long-term storage but also for ensuring all of the wine’s flavors come to the fore when it is drunk.
To store wine at the perfect temperature, be it summer or winter, the ideal appliance is a wine cooler and not as you may think, a normal refrigerator.
The difference is that wine coolers’ temperatures are set at those specifically designed to keep wine bottles at their optimum storage temperature and for their ideal serving temperatures too.
What are the Different Kinds of Wine Coolers?
Wine coolers come in various types and sizes. The most common are single- and dual-zone coolers, and large professional wine coolers. The number of zones in a wine cooler is the number of areas that can have their own individual temperature level and control of that level.
There are freestanding wine coolers as well as wine coolers that fit under the counter. The best under the counter wine coolers are built so that they can operate in low airflow environments.
Different kinds of wine have different optimum storage temperatures, which is why those who collect several types of wine, often opt for a dual zone wine cooler. That way, they can store two different types of wine bottles at their individual recommended conditions.
The final type of wine coolers is the tall or large professional ones that are often found in restaurants and bars. They commonly have much higher capacities than single- or dual-zone coolers and are also used by people with large wine collections.
Construction of a Wine Cooler
On the outside, wine coolers simply look like refrigerators with glass doors, but as we’ve mentioned, their temperature control options are different. The glass door is present so that the wine bottles inside can be viewed on display, and on a practical level so the user can see which wines they need to replenish.
There are often colored LED lights in the interior to enhance the look and feel of the cooler.
A wine cooler needs several components to perform its function. The first is the cooling chamber itself. This is the enclosed area with several rows of shelves where the wine bottles are placed.
The shelves are such that wine bottles are normally placed horizontally although some coolers have a standing shelf on one side so that a bottle can be stored vertically.
The cooling chamber is insulated from the outside atmosphere using metal sheets along with layers of plastic. Within the door, glass serves as a good insulator as the temperatures required for cooling wine are not as low as deep-freeze refrigerators which use stronger insulating materials.
The Cooling Principle
Wine coolers work on the principles of thermoelectric cooling. This type of cooling uses materials that are environmentally safe, unlike those used for CFC-based refrigerators.
Thermoelectric cooling uses the Peltier effect, which means that a heat flux is created when an electric charge is passed through a metal. This effect is maximized for metals which are neither a conductor nor an insulator, and these are called semiconductors.
What follows is that one side of the semiconductor gets hotter and the other side gets cooler. The net heat increase on one side is the same as the heat released on the other. This phenomenon, called the heat pump effect, is exploited to be used in wine coolers.
As this effect is purely electric and thermodynamic, no moving parts are required to make wine coolers. Thus, wine coolers are normally silent, unlike refrigerators which use noisy compressor fans.
Functional Components in a Wine Cooler
In a wine cooler, a few important components are used to create the heat pump effect. The most crucial one is the semiconductor plate. This part consists of two ceramic plates with semiconductor wires sandwiched in between.
Each of these plates is as small as a square inch, and a few of these are embedded in the cooling box of the wine cooler.
The semiconductor plates have two sides, one which gets cold and the other which gets hot. The colder side naturally faces the inside of the cooling chamber.
The cooling chamber consists of electric wires hidden in the walls which are supplied with direct current from an adaptor. The heat pump effect cools one side but also heats up the other side at the same time. This calls for a component to act as a heat sink where all the heat is dissipated.
In the case of wine coolers, a stack of aluminum fins at the back side of the cooler allows heat to be dissipated effectively and quickly.