Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

Tasting notes, varietals, grapes - anything related to wine
Message
Author
Stephen Mungall
Posts: 4
Joined: February 25th, 2019, 6:54 am
Location: Raleigh, NC

Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#1 Post by Stephen Mungall » March 4th, 2019, 9:43 am

This post is my first so I hope posting this as a new topic is correct.

I have read several prior post on passive wine cellar construction and I wanted to ask the opinions of this community.

Quick background. I am 1 year into a newly constructed house that has a separate "wine cellar" room. Let's just say my history with wine collecting basically has been matching supply to demand. With a Wine Cellar room, I have begun collecting a few cases of age worthy wines. When I first moved into the house, I thought you always need to use something to maintain the temperature and humidity in a wine cellar until I started learning about passive wine cellars. Hence what I think I have is basically the foundation for a passive wine cellar.

The wine Room is 10 x 20 with 9 1/2 ft ceilings. Walls are all cement and 9 1/2 inches wide. The door into the wine cellar from the rest of the basement is an outside metal door with a seal. One long wall faces east with the other long wall facing the rest of the basement..not heated at this point. I estimate maybe 18-24 inches of the room is above ground and rest below ground. The roof of the wine cellar is our front porch and per builder, the surface is 2" ledge-stone , under that it's roughly 4" of poured concrete, under that there is #4 rebar spaced evenly and laid over galvanized "B" decking. So the ceiling in the Wine Cellar is that galvanized decking with one row of cinder blocks at the very top of the cement walls next to the ceiling.

I am located in Raleigh, NC. I have done limited testing but recently in February the wine cellar has ranged 50-55 degrees in air temp and 75-80% humidity. Right now using an infrared gun, the floor is 55 degrees and most of the lower walls are 55/56. Higher up closer to ceiling I get the 58/59 range. I do remember at one point last summer walking into the cellar and it was very warm. However, I might chalk that up to having my wine frig in the cellar and if it turned on, I am sure it warmed the room up. I have since pulled out the wine frig.

Sorry for the lengthy build to the question but trying to be thorough.

From everything I have read, I am thinking I need to insulate the ceiling and the whole one long wall facing the basement. Then insulate 4 feet down from the ceiling the other walls. Leaving what is left of 3 walls and the cement floor as my passive wine cellar cooling. I believe the high humidity now is due to the ceiling/galvanized roof not being properly sealed and hence once ceiling insulated, I am left with the natural humidity from the cement. (Not sure that is correctly stated but what I believe occurs.)

I am trying to get to a sensible first step in completing the space.

Thanks for your thoughts, Steve

Clint S Q U I E R
Posts: 873
Joined: January 3rd, 2014, 2:46 pm

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#2 Post by Clint S Q U I E R » March 4th, 2019, 10:01 am

You will realize a bigger cooling benefit by insulating all 4 walls and ceiling, leaving the floor as what provides the cooler temps. When I built my active cellar, the room was noticeably cooler than the rest of my basement when it was fully insulated and door shut (before the cooling unit was installed). The cooler temps came from the floor and I believe would have been cold enough to go passive if I weren't bothered by temp swings and not keeping ideally 55* in the summer/fall. If you don't insulate all 4 walls, your cellar will equalize at the temp of your basement, even with the insulated door. In fact, I doubt any utility of insulating just 1 wall by itself.

I do also doubt a wine fridge would raise the temps materially in a basement room that's 20x10. If I were you, I'd insulate 4 walls and the ceiling and also leaving room for a cooling unit if you realize your summer temps are getting higher than you're comfortable with. A few extra bucks on a unit beats the heck out of special bottles that were saved beyond their years.

User avatar
John S
Posts: 730
Joined: May 29th, 2009, 11:45 am
Location: Chapel Hill, NC

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#3 Post by John S » March 4th, 2019, 10:09 am

Yes, insulate all the walls and the ceiling especially. The part of the cellar under the porch is likely the be problematic (as is the southern location in Raleigh) but you won't know till peak summer arrives. If you can spray closed cell foam that will serve for insulation and the vapor barrier. You can remove the humidity easily enough with a decent sized de-humidifier.

I live in Chapel Thrill and having built 3 cellars now did not even try passive here. Passive worked for me in CO at 8000ft. But if you are just starting and do not have a slug of valuable wine for super long term storage this is fun to try. Try to plan for active cooling if you are likely to get serious about this at a later date.
Last edited by John S on March 4th, 2019, 11:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
John Sprow

User avatar
dsimmons
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 624
Joined: January 7th, 2017, 11:51 am
Location: Anchorage, AK and Rockport, TX

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#4 Post by dsimmons » March 4th, 2019, 10:54 am

Chris offered good advice. Insulate all but floor and accommodate later addition of artificial cooling. IMHO you need to monitor temps thorough the summer season and make sure they don't get too much above 65 for any length of time.

My passive cellar stays between 56 and 63... but then I am in Alaska. [cheers.gif]
D o n

User avatar
David Glasser
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 6338
Joined: August 16th, 2009, 6:03 pm
Location: Maryland

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#5 Post by David Glasser » March 4th, 2019, 11:32 am

Good advice above about insulating walls and ceiling and leaving the floor uninsulated as a heat sink. However, in NC with only a partially below grade basement you may find temps too high in the summer. Not an emergency if the cellar gets into the 70s for a few seasons but if that happens, for long-term storage I would be prepared to add a cooling unit.

Stephen Mungall
Posts: 4
Joined: February 25th, 2019, 6:54 am
Location: Raleigh, NC

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#6 Post by Stephen Mungall » March 4th, 2019, 11:54 am

Thanks for all the inputs. I did have an electrician add a dedicated breaker and line for a possible cooler unit on that one wall adjacent to wine cellar. (This was done before I discovered that I might have the makings of a passive Wine cellar.) So I would just have to drill hole and the cooler unit would output to utility room.

User avatar
John Morris
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 16625
Joined: June 21st, 2009, 2:09 pm
Location: Gotham

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#7 Post by John Morris » March 4th, 2019, 1:19 pm

Stephen Mungall wrote:
March 4th, 2019, 9:43 am
From everything I have read, I am thinking I need to insulate the ceiling and the whole one long wall facing the basement. Then insulate 4 feet down from the ceiling the other walls. Leaving what is left of 3 walls and the cement floor as my passive wine cellar cooling.
I'm building a passive cellar in the Hudson Valley, where it's substantially cooler in the summer than NC. I posted on my research in a thread earlier this year.

You're right about the ceiling and basement wall being key. Like you, I was thinking of insulating the exterior walls only a couple of feet below the ground level and relying on the supposedly cool ground below that to maintain my temperature. But I concluded that I probably need to insulate the entire exterior walls, because:

(a) the ground gets surprisingly warm surprisingly deep in the summer and
(b) concrete is a fairly good conductor of heat and cold (even more with rebar, I'm sure).

Here's a chart I posted in that thread showing how warm the earth can get. And this was for Western Massachusetts (the C and F are reversed on the top scale):

Image

Be aware, too, that the floor slab will convey heat from the rest of the basement -- something else I learned. That might be significant in your climate, particularly if your basement is not air conditioned.
"I'm a Frisbeetarian. We worship frisbees. We believe when you die your soul goes up on the roof and you can't get it down." – Jim Stafford

"The Internet has resulted in an exponential increase in the number of instances in which humor must be explained." - me, 2019

Jim Vandegriff
Posts: 111
Joined: August 14th, 2010, 10:09 pm
Location: Trinidad, CA (north coast)

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#8 Post by Jim Vandegriff » March 4th, 2019, 2:10 pm

My passive cellar in far northern coastal California has its lowest temperatures in February each year, and highest temps in September (about a 10 degree spread averaging 50 in Feb to 60 degrees in Sept). My concern in reading your post was that cellar temp in March was 58-59 in the upper reaches. I would encourage as much insulation as possible, and preparation for cooling in the summer. Let us see what it looks like when you are done. All the best, Jim

Rob Isaacs
Posts: 184
Joined: August 1st, 2016, 2:50 pm

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#9 Post by Rob Isaacs » March 4th, 2019, 4:28 pm

I live in Delaware and your cellar sounds almost identical to mine, just a touch larger. If you can, closed cell spray foam on all walls and ceiling. Your temp will be higher in the summer. Right now I'm at 55 degrees with 75 percent humidity with a cooling unit that never runs. At the end of summer I would not want to go one day without a cooling unit.

JDavisRoby
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 658
Joined: June 19th, 2018, 12:42 pm
Location: Oklahoma

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#10 Post by JDavisRoby » March 5th, 2019, 7:11 am

Please keep us updated. I intend to try a passive cellar in a basement area and would like to see your progress.
Joshu@

User avatar
Neal.Mollen
Posts: 33361
Joined: January 30th, 2009, 1:26 pm

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#11 Post by Neal.Mollen » March 5th, 2019, 8:11 am

First of all welcome Stephen! Happy to have you posting. You'll get a lot of advice from experienced folks here. Bad news is the advice is typically contradictory. [wow.gif]

Second, remember that insulation stabilizes; it does not cool. While insulation is necessary to ensure that you don't experience harmful swings in temperature, it is of no value at all to bring down the temperature inside the cellar. To the contrary, it will aid in keeping your temperatures high in the fall just as it keeps your temps low as you transition from winter to spring. (BTW, a full cellar gives you thermal mass that helps in stabilization too, which is a decent excuse for buying more wine)

The only way to determine whether you will need artificial cooling is to test during the summer and fall. If you get into the mid-60s at peak, I think passive is the way to go (although it probably means your wines will mature a little faster, and perhaps a little differently, than wines kept at a constant 55). If the cellar gets up to 70 or above, I'd start to think about cooling alternatives

After years of "going passive," I installed a small cooling unit (actually a room a/c with a fooler circuit) in my small cellar in VA. I usually turn it on in April at some point and off in October. Works like a boss and was cheap and (relatively) easy to install.

Good luck!
I don't have to speak; she defends me

A drunkard's dream if I ever did see one

User avatar
Paul H Galli
Posts: 3499
Joined: July 1st, 2009, 2:55 pm
Location: Monterey Peninsula

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#12 Post by Paul H Galli » March 5th, 2019, 8:25 am

Given your location, I doubt very much that you will get away with no cooling unit.
If you just install an ordinary room air conditioner (without fooler circuit), you can maintain 60-62 degrees max all year round.
You will only have to use it in the summer.
You do need to fully insulate that room.

TTT
Opinot, not Oporto...

User avatar
Mark Morrissette
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 109
Joined: January 27th, 2017, 7:26 am
Location: Falmouth, Maine

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#13 Post by Mark Morrissette » March 5th, 2019, 9:46 am

I built my passive cellar last year, in Maine. I agree strongly with the advice of everyone above to insulate all four walls completely, and the ceiling even more.

I would only add two things to the other comments.

First, though it has been alluded to, I can't believe no one has specifically mentioned the Richard Gold book: How and Why to Build a Passive Cellar. I thought mentioning that was required in all passive cellar posts! Anyway, if you have not read it, read it. It's dense, but full of useful info.

Second, pay attention to your door as well. If you do all the insulation everyone is talking about above, your door will be your weakest link. You will probably insulate to r 20-40, but your door will only be about r7.

I added insulation to the inside of my door in the form of foam board insulation. It is not pretty, so if your cellar is intended to be a show-piece, this may not work for you. But, if it is for bulk storage, it is an effective and easy solution. You can see in the pic below I used two pieces on my door. (I used two different types just because that is what I had.)

Image

JDavisRoby
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 658
Joined: June 19th, 2018, 12:42 pm
Location: Oklahoma

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#14 Post by JDavisRoby » March 5th, 2019, 10:13 am

The door is the hardest part of my cellar design to select. Our home was built in the 20’s and I’ve hoped to build out the wine cellar in a way that it would appear to have always been there. I have all the materials selected except the door. I’ve looked at everything from a custom wooden door that would have insulation in the core to salvaging an antique walk-in cooler door. I really want to avoid the metal exterior door that many DIY cellars use but will definitely not go with the faux-old world wrought iron.

Anyone done a door other than the above?
Joshu@

User avatar
John Morris
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 16625
Joined: June 21st, 2009, 2:09 pm
Location: Gotham

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#15 Post by John Morris » March 5th, 2019, 11:01 am

Mark Morrissette wrote:
March 5th, 2019, 9:46 am
First, though it has been alluded to, I can't believe no one has specifically mentioned the Richard Gold book: How and Why to Build a Passive Cellar. I thought mentioning that was required in all passive cellar posts! Anyway, if you have not read it, read it. It's dense, but full of useful info.
Yes, that chart I posted to above was from Gold's book, and I highlighted his book in the thread I linked to above. Essential reading, though he's so obsessively thorough that it's hard to find the takeaways at times.
Mark Morrissette wrote:
March 5th, 2019, 9:46 am
Second, pay attention to your door as well. If you do all the insulation everyone is talking about above, your door will be your weakest link. You will probably insulate to r 20-40, but your door will only be about r7.

I added insulation to the inside of my door in the form of foam board insulation. It is not pretty, so if your cellar is intended to be a show-piece, this may not work for you. But, if it is for bulk storage, it is an effective and easy solution. You can see in the pic below I used two pieces on my door. (I used two different types just because that is what I had.)
Yes, an important point. What did you use to stick the insulation board to the door?
"I'm a Frisbeetarian. We worship frisbees. We believe when you die your soul goes up on the roof and you can't get it down." – Jim Stafford

"The Internet has resulted in an exponential increase in the number of instances in which humor must be explained." - me, 2019

User avatar
John Morris
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 16625
Joined: June 21st, 2009, 2:09 pm
Location: Gotham

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#16 Post by John Morris » March 5th, 2019, 11:03 am

JDavisRoby wrote:
March 5th, 2019, 10:13 am
The door is the hardest part of my cellar design to select. Our home was built in the 20’s and I’ve hoped to build out the wine cellar in a way that it would appear to have always been there. I have all the materials selected except the door. I’ve looked at everything from a custom wooden door that would have insulation in the core to salvaging an antique walk-in cooler door. I really want to avoid the metal exterior door that many DIY cellars use but will definitely not go with the faux-old world wrought iron.

Anyone done a door other than the above?
I bought an insulated wooden exterior door from the local building supplies place, with a frame and weather stripping. The R value wasn't listed, so I figured I'd add some on the back, like Mark did.
"I'm a Frisbeetarian. We worship frisbees. We believe when you die your soul goes up on the roof and you can't get it down." – Jim Stafford

"The Internet has resulted in an exponential increase in the number of instances in which humor must be explained." - me, 2019

JDavisRoby
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 658
Joined: June 19th, 2018, 12:42 pm
Location: Oklahoma

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#17 Post by JDavisRoby » March 5th, 2019, 11:11 am

John, did you use weatherstripping on the bottom of the door?
Joshu@

User avatar
John Morris
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 16625
Joined: June 21st, 2009, 2:09 pm
Location: Gotham

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#18 Post by John Morris » March 5th, 2019, 11:25 am

The weatherstripping was already there in the frame that came with the door. But that's essential. I have used a friend's passive cellar, which did not have weatherstripping, and there was a noticeable draft around the door. Not good!
"I'm a Frisbeetarian. We worship frisbees. We believe when you die your soul goes up on the roof and you can't get it down." – Jim Stafford

"The Internet has resulted in an exponential increase in the number of instances in which humor must be explained." - me, 2019

User avatar
John Morris
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 16625
Joined: June 21st, 2009, 2:09 pm
Location: Gotham

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#19 Post by John Morris » March 5th, 2019, 11:33 am

FYI, door manufacturers and suppliers like Home Depot avoid listing R values on exterior doors, but the Dept. of Energy's website says that most with an insulated core have R values of 5 or 6 -- well below what you want for such a large surface area.
"I'm a Frisbeetarian. We worship frisbees. We believe when you die your soul goes up on the roof and you can't get it down." – Jim Stafford

"The Internet has resulted in an exponential increase in the number of instances in which humor must be explained." - me, 2019

Chad R
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 32
Joined: February 16th, 2016, 12:08 pm
Location: Chicago area

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#20 Post by Chad R » March 5th, 2019, 12:55 pm

Welcome to the community, Stephen!

I did my passive cellar 18 months ago in the Chicago area. Followed a lot of advice from here and Gold's book. Cellar position is similar to yours in that part sits below grade near a front porch of concrete. Spray foamed ceiling and all walls to make the floor the source of cooling, consistent with much of the above advice. In my first full summer last year, cellar got up to 66 (vs. winter where it rides at around 58). I just ordered a cooling unit and will have it in place going forward. Given your location, it is likely you will see upper 60s in the height of summer, even with insulation. Won't ruin the wines of course, but starts to erode the value of having a purpose-built cellar. Therefore, I agree with others - you may want to put a cooling unit in from the start. Good luck!
Chad R y n br@ndt

User avatar
Mark Morrissette
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 109
Joined: January 27th, 2017, 7:26 am
Location: Falmouth, Maine

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#21 Post by Mark Morrissette » March 5th, 2019, 12:59 pm

John Morris wrote:
March 5th, 2019, 11:01 am

Yes, an important point. What did you use to stick the insulation board to the door?
Good question, and honestly I was trying to remember exactly what I did as well.

I think I started with some adhesive (you could use spray, a good tape, the right kind of glue), and held it in place with clamps.

Then, I went to overkill mode. I used a long (4-5 inch?) heavy-duty structural screw, with a very large washer. You need to make sure the screw is the right length to go through your chosen amount of insulation, and a small amount through the door, but not too much. Obviously, it goes through the insulation like butter, and the metal door takes a bit of effort.

The washer keeps the screw from going too far into the insulation (and through the door). I believe you can see one in action in the photo I posted.

User avatar
John Morris
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 16625
Joined: June 21st, 2009, 2:09 pm
Location: Gotham

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#22 Post by John Morris » March 5th, 2019, 1:08 pm

Chad R wrote:
March 5th, 2019, 12:55 pm
Welcome to the community, Stephen!

I did my passive cellar 18 months ago in the Chicago area. Followed a lot of advice from here and Gold's book. Cellar position is similar to yours in that part sits below grade near a front porch of concrete. Spray foamed ceiling and all walls to make the floor the source of cooling, consistent with much of the above advice. In my first full summer last year, cellar got up to 66 (vs. winter where it rides at around 58). I just ordered a cooling unit and will have it in place going forward. Given your location, it is likely you will see upper 60s in the height of summer, even with insulation. Won't ruin the wines of course, but starts to erode the value of having a purpose-built cellar. Therefore, I agree with others - you may want to put a cooling unit in from the start. Good luck!
What direction does it face? I ask because mine is on the northwest corner of the house, and a deck shades part of the west side of the foundation wall, so I'm hoping it stays a little lower than yours in the summer, though I won't lose sleep if it's in the low 60s. I'm at the edge of the Catskills, so the nights are pretty comfortable there in the summer, which should help.
"I'm a Frisbeetarian. We worship frisbees. We believe when you die your soul goes up on the roof and you can't get it down." – Jim Stafford

"The Internet has resulted in an exponential increase in the number of instances in which humor must be explained." - me, 2019

Stephen Mungall
Posts: 4
Joined: February 25th, 2019, 6:54 am
Location: Raleigh, NC

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#23 Post by Stephen Mungall » March 5th, 2019, 2:42 pm

Thanks for the pointers on the door. It is your typical outside door that has insulation in the core but as stated, a low R value.

Thought I haven't completely conclude I will do this, the entrance to the wine room is off a large room. I am thinking of using the inlay of the door from the large room side to create a bookshelf that hides the cellar door. The door to cellar opens into the cellar and the bookcase would open into the large room.

I will have to determine how much space I have but I could place some additional insulation in the back part of the bookcase, hidden, to help give the door more R value. The only reason I was thinking about this strategy is the door is just your basic ugly looking panel door. So this basically hides that I have a wine cellar.

Frank Drew
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 5546
Joined: February 1st, 2009, 8:08 am
Location: Virginia

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#24 Post by Frank Drew » March 5th, 2019, 3:10 pm

I went to a school in NYC that occupied a couple of older townhouses that had sub-basements (directly below the regular, normal depth basements), down in that sweet spot of constant ideal cellar temp shown in the Gold chart that John posted. If I was a millionaire that’s what I’d do, have the builders of my dream home excavate for a sub-basement.

User avatar
John Morris
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 16625
Joined: June 21st, 2009, 2:09 pm
Location: Gotham

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#25 Post by John Morris » March 5th, 2019, 3:18 pm

Stephen Mungall wrote:
March 5th, 2019, 2:42 pm
Thanks for the pointers on the door. It is your typical outside door that has insulation in the core but as stated, a low R value.

Thought I haven't completely conclude I will do this, the entrance to the wine room is off a large room. I am thinking of using the inlay of the door from the large room side to create a bookshelf that hides the cellar door. The door to cellar opens into the cellar and the bookcase would open into the large room.

I will have to determine how much space I have but I could place some additional insulation in the back part of the bookcase, hidden, to help give the door more R value. The only reason I was thinking about this strategy is the door is just your basic ugly looking panel door. So this basically hides that I have a wine cellar.
Cool idea. I have thought about having a double door, since I shrank the wine space by moving a wall and still have the old framing there. You'd let some air in each time you pass through, but it would be a good temperature barrier the rest of the time.
"I'm a Frisbeetarian. We worship frisbees. We believe when you die your soul goes up on the roof and you can't get it down." – Jim Stafford

"The Internet has resulted in an exponential increase in the number of instances in which humor must be explained." - me, 2019

JDavisRoby
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 658
Joined: June 19th, 2018, 12:42 pm
Location: Oklahoma

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#26 Post by JDavisRoby » March 5th, 2019, 3:31 pm

Chad R wrote:
March 5th, 2019, 12:55 pm
Welcome to the community, Stephen!

I did my passive cellar 18 months ago in the Chicago area. Followed a lot of advice from here and Gold's book. Cellar position is similar to yours in that part sits below grade near a front porch of concrete. Spray foamed ceiling and all walls to make the floor the source of cooling, consistent with much of the above advice. In my first full summer last year, cellar got up to 66 (vs. winter where it rides at around 58). I just ordered a cooling unit and will have it in place going forward. Given your location, it is likely you will see upper 60s in the height of summer, even with insulation. Won't ruin the wines of course, but starts to erode the value of having a purpose-built cellar. Therefore, I agree with others - you may want to put a cooling unit in from the start. Good luck!
What material did you use on the walls and ceiling of your cellar?
Joshu@

JDavisRoby
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 658
Joined: June 19th, 2018, 12:42 pm
Location: Oklahoma

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#27 Post by JDavisRoby » March 10th, 2019, 11:18 am

Completing design on my cellar. What lights has everyone put in their cellar?

It is one thing I haven’t seen much discussion in the many cellar construction threads on the site.
Joshu@

User avatar
alan weinberg
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 11736
Joined: April 25th, 2009, 1:23 pm

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#28 Post by alan weinberg » March 10th, 2019, 11:34 am

JDavisRoby wrote:
March 10th, 2019, 11:18 am
Completing design on my cellar. What lights has everyone put in their cellar?

It is one thing I haven’t seen much discussion in the many cellar construction threads on the site.
use LEDs which give off no heat

JDavisRoby
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 658
Joined: June 19th, 2018, 12:42 pm
Location: Oklahoma

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#29 Post by JDavisRoby » March 10th, 2019, 11:36 am

Can LED’s or track lighting?

Most sites that say no to track lighting are because of the heat they were known to put off. With LED bulbs now that seems to be solved and you can use them to highlight racks or just direct light. Anyone have any negatives to LED track lighting?
Joshu@

User avatar
alan weinberg
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 11736
Joined: April 25th, 2009, 1:23 pm

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#30 Post by alan weinberg » March 10th, 2019, 11:45 am

is the cellar for show or function? Do you want drama or visibility? My cellar is functional so my lighting is on the ceiling and for visibility—but built before LEDs existed.

User avatar
Mark Morrissette
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 109
Joined: January 27th, 2017, 7:26 am
Location: Falmouth, Maine

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#31 Post by Mark Morrissette » March 10th, 2019, 11:59 am

LED lights are great (either track or can), but they DO give off heat, just a lot less than incandescent.

There really is no better solution than LED, but for a passive cellar, you should not plan to leave the lights on all the time. It would materially raise the temperature.

JDavisRoby
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 658
Joined: June 19th, 2018, 12:42 pm
Location: Oklahoma

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#32 Post by JDavisRoby » March 10th, 2019, 12:35 pm

Alan, I would say function over form but I want it to be nice enough that when entertaining and I bring guest in the cellar it shows well.

The light switch will be outside the room and don't expect the light to be on except the minutes I’m in there to grab a bottle or load bottles.
Joshu@

User avatar
John Morris
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 16625
Joined: June 21st, 2009, 2:09 pm
Location: Gotham

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#33 Post by John Morris » March 10th, 2019, 12:39 pm

Mark Morrissette wrote:
March 10th, 2019, 11:59 am
LED lights are great (either track or can), but they DO give off heat, just a lot less than incandescent.

There really is no better solution than LED, but for a passive cellar, you should not plan to leave the lights on all the time. It would materially raise the temperature.
+1

The difference in actual wattage for the same light output (lumens) is pretty much directly correlated to the heat output, because most of the energy consumed by incandescent lights goes to heat, not light. So a 10W, 850 lumen LED light that is roughly equivalent in light output to a 75W incandescent bulb should produce about 13% the heat.

That said, a 10W LED light can still run at 87F, which in an enclosed wine room is enough to raise the temperature over time. It's the Suzie Homemaker Oven Principle (you can bake cupcakes with a lightbulb).
"I'm a Frisbeetarian. We worship frisbees. We believe when you die your soul goes up on the roof and you can't get it down." – Jim Stafford

"The Internet has resulted in an exponential increase in the number of instances in which humor must be explained." - me, 2019

JDavisRoby
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 658
Joined: June 19th, 2018, 12:42 pm
Location: Oklahoma

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#34 Post by JDavisRoby » March 10th, 2019, 4:29 pm

After some research going to use can lights with an adjustable gimble so I can aim the lights a little bit rather than shooting straight down.
Joshu@

User avatar
Steve L Gellman
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 1300
Joined: February 12th, 2009, 11:18 am

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#35 Post by Steve L Gellman » March 10th, 2019, 4:38 pm

Please post some pictures

Chad R
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 32
Joined: February 16th, 2016, 12:08 pm
Location: Chicago area

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#36 Post by Chad R » March 11th, 2019, 8:23 am

John Morris wrote:
March 5th, 2019, 1:08 pm
Chad R wrote:
March 5th, 2019, 12:55 pm
Welcome to the community, Stephen!

I did my passive cellar 18 months ago in the Chicago area. Followed a lot of advice from here and Gold's book. Cellar position is similar to yours in that part sits below grade near a front porch of concrete. Spray foamed ceiling and all walls to make the floor the source of cooling, consistent with much of the above advice. In my first full summer last year, cellar got up to 66 (vs. winter where it rides at around 58). I just ordered a cooling unit and will have it in place going forward. Given your location, it is likely you will see upper 60s in the height of summer, even with insulation. Won't ruin the wines of course, but starts to erode the value of having a purpose-built cellar. Therefore, I agree with others - you may want to put a cooling unit in from the start. Good luck!
What direction does it face? I ask because mine is on the northwest corner of the house, and a deck shades part of the west side of the foundation wall, so I'm hoping it stays a little lower than yours in the summer, though I won't lose sleep if it's in the low 60s. I'm at the edge of the Catskills, so the nights are pretty comfortable there in the summer, which should help.
My cellar is on the South basement wall - which may be why I'm seeing the temp swing that I am. No more :) with the forthcoming cooling unit.
Chad R y n br@ndt

Chad R
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 32
Joined: February 16th, 2016, 12:08 pm
Location: Chicago area

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#37 Post by Chad R » March 11th, 2019, 8:25 am

JDavisRoby wrote:
March 5th, 2019, 3:31 pm
Chad R wrote:
March 5th, 2019, 12:55 pm
Welcome to the community, Stephen!

I did my passive cellar 18 months ago in the Chicago area. Followed a lot of advice from here and Gold's book. Cellar position is similar to yours in that part sits below grade near a front porch of concrete. Spray foamed ceiling and all walls to make the floor the source of cooling, consistent with much of the above advice. In my first full summer last year, cellar got up to 66 (vs. winter where it rides at around 58). I just ordered a cooling unit and will have it in place going forward. Given your location, it is likely you will see upper 60s in the height of summer, even with insulation. Won't ruin the wines of course, but starts to erode the value of having a purpose-built cellar. Therefore, I agree with others - you may want to put a cooling unit in from the start. Good luck!
What material did you use on the walls and ceiling of your cellar?
I used FoamItGreen - a closed cell spray foam. Ended up with 2-3 inches on all surfaces except floor.
Chad R y n br@ndt

JDavisRoby
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 658
Joined: June 19th, 2018, 12:42 pm
Location: Oklahoma

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#38 Post by JDavisRoby » June 2nd, 2019, 9:33 pm

LED’s can are installed. The LED fixture allows for the color temperature to be adjusted. Any suggestions? I have it on 3,000k which is a soft white. Don’t think I want the blue daylight look, but any reasons to go higher on the K scale?
Joshu@

User avatar
Mark Morrissette
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 109
Joined: January 27th, 2017, 7:26 am
Location: Falmouth, Maine

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#39 Post by Mark Morrissette » June 3rd, 2019, 5:44 am

JDavisRoby wrote:
June 2nd, 2019, 9:33 pm
LED’s can are installed. The LED fixture allows for the color temperature to be adjusted. Any suggestions? I have it on 3,000k which is a soft white. Don’t think I want the blue daylight look, but any reasons to go higher on the K scale?
I think it is pure preference. I would agree with you though, I would keep it at a warmer light (even 2,700 if that is an option). But again, I think it just depends on what you like.
Last edited by Mark Morrissette on June 3rd, 2019, 7:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

JDavisRoby
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 658
Joined: June 19th, 2018, 12:42 pm
Location: Oklahoma

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#40 Post by JDavisRoby » June 3rd, 2019, 5:46 am

Mark, 2,700 is an option. It seemed a bit too yellow. But, I’m still in rough framing so it may look better once racking is in.
Joshu@

User avatar
John Morris
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 16625
Joined: June 21st, 2009, 2:09 pm
Location: Gotham

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#41 Post by John Morris » June 3rd, 2019, 12:21 pm

Mark Morrissette wrote:
June 3rd, 2019, 5:44 am
JDavisRoby wrote:
June 2nd, 2019, 9:33 pm
LED’s can are installed. The LED fixture allows for the color temperature to be adjusted. Any suggestions? I have it on 3,000k which is a soft white. Don’t think I want the blue daylight look, but any reasons to go higher on the K scale?
I think it is pure preference. I would agree with you though, I would keep it at a warmer light (even 2,700 if that is an option). But again, I think it just depends on what you like.
Exactly. I can't imagine that you'd want it at one of the daylight settings, though. They come across as very cold and blue.
"I'm a Frisbeetarian. We worship frisbees. We believe when you die your soul goes up on the roof and you can't get it down." – Jim Stafford

"The Internet has resulted in an exponential increase in the number of instances in which humor must be explained." - me, 2019

User avatar
John Morris
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 16625
Joined: June 21st, 2009, 2:09 pm
Location: Gotham

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#42 Post by John Morris » June 19th, 2019, 2:44 pm

An update on my passive cellar. It's mostly subgrade (18-24" above ground on the outside) in the Hudson Valley at 800 feet elevation, where the nights tend to be cool, and it's on a northwest corner. That's all good. Still, there's more temperature fluctuation than I expected, and it's been very rainy, so outside temperatures haven't really put it to the test.

A few lessons:

You may need more insulation that you think:
Gold calculates that, depending on the temperature of the ground beneath the floor, you'll need from R-38 to R-60 on the other surfaces. Looks like he may be right. R-60 is hard to achieve even with spray foam. You need very deep wall and ceiling cavities, and this wasn't going to be a big enough job to call in a spray crew. So I went with the most I could fit in.

Ceiling, facing main floor: R-44 = 7" R-31 fiberglass batt between 2x8 joists, covered with 2" R-13 R-Max closed-cell, foil-covered foam board
Walls facing rest of basement: R-34 = 5.5" R-21 fiberglass between 2x6 studs covered with 2" R-13 R-Max board
Foundation walls: Probably R-10; not sure because it was sheetrocked over when I bought the place, but the rest of the basement has 2" foiled foam board.

The rest of the basement is staying in the high 60s.

To my surprise, the wine room has fluctuated between 59F and 61F, getting warmer in the afternoons, then cooling overnight and through the morning, so the room isn't that well isolated from the outside temperature. I figured with R-44 and R-34, it would be more steady.

An infrared temperature gun/sensor is super helpful:
I got one for about $35 at Home Depot. You just point and hold the trigger for a couple of seconds and it tells you what the surface temperature.
From this I learned that the floor temperature runs from 55F along the foundation walls and in the center of the room to 57+F closer to the rest of the basement. The walls are between 57F and 58F, both along the foundation and on the basement-facing surfaces. It appears, therefore, that the foundation floor is transmitting heat from the rest of the basement into the wine area. (Basement floor temps are running in the mid-60s.)
I'll try to reduce that. When I install cabinets on the outside of the cellar wall in the basement, I will put insulation board under the cabinets to insulate that part of the floor from the ambient temperature.

The big surprise with the temp gun was that the interior surface temperature of the door (a standard insulated exterior door from Home Depot of unknown R value) is only about 0.5 degree higher than the adjacent walls. I figured that would be the weak point and I'd planned to install a double door or cover the door with foam board. I may be able to save myself some hassle.

Don't assume the foundation walls will cool your cellar.
That was one of the most important things I read in Gold. He says that ground temperatures in the Northeast can run in the mid-60s in the summer time even five feet down. That seems to be borne out by my interior wall temps of 57-58. The west wall is about a degree warmer than the north wall. I took my chances by not tearing out the existing sheetrock to add insulation.
I may put some insulation board on the outside of the foundation on the west and build a little planter around it to try to reduce the temperature of the concrete. That would shade the wall and, hopefully, cool that foundation wall substantially.

I'm not going to freak out if the cellar ends up running at 60F over the summers. It was in the low 50s in the winter. I think that will be fine for the wine, and I'm happy not to have to resort to mechanical cooling.
"I'm a Frisbeetarian. We worship frisbees. We believe when you die your soul goes up on the roof and you can't get it down." – Jim Stafford

"The Internet has resulted in an exponential increase in the number of instances in which humor must be explained." - me, 2019

User avatar
Mark Morrissette
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 109
Joined: January 27th, 2017, 7:26 am
Location: Falmouth, Maine

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#43 Post by Mark Morrissette » June 19th, 2019, 4:21 pm

Excellent report John, thank you!

The tip about the heat gun is a good one. I did not realize they were that inexpensive. I may have to pick one up to test my own passive cellar.

I started loading up my passive cellar at the end of last summer. I am quite interested to seeing what happens when the heat of the summer comes.

Like you, I am a bit surprised by the changes already. I am not really seeing that much in-day variation. But, in the past 30 days, the temperature has risen from about 53.5 to almost 57. I was hoping it it would be a little more gradual, and not sure what that portends for the summer.

I am interested to find out if you come up with a method to keep the basement floor heat from seeping into the cellar....

James Billy
Posts: 915
Joined: November 10th, 2016, 6:53 pm

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#44 Post by James Billy » June 20th, 2019, 5:50 am

John Morris wrote:
June 19th, 2019, 2:44 pm
An update on my passive cellar. It's mostly subgrade (18-24" above ground on the outside) in the Hudson Valley at 800 feet elevation, where the nights tend to be cool, and it's on a northwest corner. That's all good. Still, there's more temperature fluctuation than I expected, and it's been very rainy, so outside temperatures haven't really put it to the test.

A few lessons:

You may need more insulation that you think:
Gold calculates that, depending on the temperature of the ground beneath the floor, you'll need from R-38 to R-60 on the other surfaces. Looks like he may be right. R-60 is hard to achieve even with spray foam. You need very deep wall and ceiling cavities, and this wasn't going to be a big enough job to call in a spray crew. So I went with the most I could fit in.

Ceiling, facing main floor: R-44 = 7" R-31 fiberglass batt between 2x8 joists, covered with 2" R-13 R-Max closed-cell, foil-covered foam board
Walls facing rest of basement: R-34 = 5.5" R-21 fiberglass between 2x6 studs covered with 2" R-13 R-Max board
Foundation walls: Probably R-10; not sure because it was sheetrocked over when I bought the place, but the rest of the basement has 2" foiled foam board.

The rest of the basement is staying in the high 60s.

To my surprise, the wine room has fluctuated between 59F and 61F, getting warmer in the afternoons, then cooling overnight and through the morning, so the room isn't that well isolated from the outside temperature. I figured with R-44 and R-34, it would be more steady.

An infrared temperature gun/sensor is super helpful:
I got one for about $35 at Home Depot. You just point and hold the trigger for a couple of seconds and it tells you what the surface temperature.
From this I learned that the floor temperature runs from 55F along the foundation walls and in the center of the room to 57+F closer to the rest of the basement. The walls are between 57F and 58F, both along the foundation and on the basement-facing surfaces. It appears, therefore, that the foundation floor is transmitting heat from the rest of the basement into the wine area. (Basement floor temps are running in the mid-60s.)
I'll try to reduce that. When I install cabinets on the outside of the cellar wall in the basement, I will put insulation board under the cabinets to insulate that part of the floor from the ambient temperature.

The big surprise with the temp gun was that the interior surface temperature of the door (a standard insulated exterior door from Home Depot of unknown R value) is only about 0.5 degree higher than the adjacent walls. I figured that would be the weak point and I'd planned to install a double door or cover the door with foam board. I may be able to save myself some hassle.

Don't assume the foundation walls will cool your cellar.
That was one of the most important things I read in Gold. He says that ground temperatures in the Northeast can run in the mid-60s in the summer time even five feet down. That seems to be borne out by my interior wall temps of 57-58. The west wall is about a degree warmer than the north wall. I took my chances by not tearing out the existing sheetrock to add insulation.
I may put some insulation board on the outside of the foundation on the west and build a little planter around it to try to reduce the temperature of the concrete. That would shade the wall and, hopefully, cool that foundation wall substantially.

I'm not going to freak out if the cellar ends up running at 60F over the summers. It was in the low 50s in the winter. I think that will be fine for the wine, and I'm happy not to have to resort to mechanical cooling.
If it is 60 in summer your job is done and you can crack open the champagne!

Do you have wine in there already? (sorry, I haven't read all you've written.) That will keep the temperature more stable (to state the obvious..)

If you worry about temperature fluctuations over the year, you could always let some heat in during the winter! 60 degrees year-round would be fine IMHO.

50 degrees all year and your big wines might not be ready in your lifetime!

User avatar
AndrewH
Posts: 2307
Joined: May 14th, 2010, 1:34 pm

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#45 Post by AndrewH » June 20th, 2019, 6:40 am

Mark Morrissette wrote:
June 19th, 2019, 4:21 pm

I am interested to find out if you come up with a method to keep the basement floor heat from seeping into the cellar....
Hard to do without building an entire floor over the slab! I think the best you can do it put in some subflooring and flooring with a bit of R-value. The good thing is that the ground under the slab is pretty close to the temperature you want anyway.

I used a subfloor of DriCore (you can find at home depot) and cork flooring above that. The theoretical r-value is about 3. But only took up about 2 inches, and provides a moisture barrier (although in center of basement that's not a major issue unless I have a disastrous flood).
Andrew H e i m e r t

User avatar
John Morris
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 16625
Joined: June 21st, 2009, 2:09 pm
Location: Gotham

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#46 Post by John Morris » June 20th, 2019, 7:07 am

Mark Morrissette wrote:
June 19th, 2019, 4:21 pm
The tip about the heat gun is a good one. I did not realize they were that inexpensive. I may have to pick one up to test my own passive cellar.
I understand that some people use them for cooking, which makes that $35 an even better value!
Mark Morrissette wrote:
June 19th, 2019, 4:21 pm
I am interested to find out if you come up with a method to keep the basement floor heat from seeping into the cellar....
This would really just be a minor change at the margins, but it's easy to achieve. I'll try to work in another 1" R-Max (R-6.5) board behind the cabinets, too.
"I'm a Frisbeetarian. We worship frisbees. We believe when you die your soul goes up on the roof and you can't get it down." – Jim Stafford

"The Internet has resulted in an exponential increase in the number of instances in which humor must be explained." - me, 2019

User avatar
John Morris
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 16625
Joined: June 21st, 2009, 2:09 pm
Location: Gotham

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#47 Post by John Morris » June 20th, 2019, 7:12 am

James Billy wrote:
June 20th, 2019, 5:50 am
If it is 60 in summer your job is done and you can crack open the champagne!

Do you have wine in there already? (sorry, I haven't read all you've written.) That will keep the temperature more stable (to state the obvious..)

If you worry about temperature fluctuations over the year, you could always let some heat in during the winter! 60 degrees year-round would be fine IMHO.

50 degrees all year and your big wines might not be ready in your lifetime!
I'll be happy if it fluctuates between 50F and 60F over the course of the year. My concern is that summer hasn't really arrived yet and the basement is running at about 67+F and the wine room is a tad over 60. I'm very surprised at the fluctuation given all the insulation and that relatively small temperature differential.

In addition to the boiler down there (only for hot water in the summer), I suspect a lot of the heat buildup in the unenclosed basement is from four smallish windows. I plan to cut plywood to cover them. I'll put handles on the plywood so I can pull off the covers when I want daylight down there.

I have maybe 10 cases in there now, so not enough to create any great thermal mass. When I have 50+, that should help.
"I'm a Frisbeetarian. We worship frisbees. We believe when you die your soul goes up on the roof and you can't get it down." – Jim Stafford

"The Internet has resulted in an exponential increase in the number of instances in which humor must be explained." - me, 2019

User avatar
John Morris
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 16625
Joined: June 21st, 2009, 2:09 pm
Location: Gotham

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#48 Post by John Morris » June 20th, 2019, 7:15 am

AndrewH wrote:
June 20th, 2019, 6:40 am
Mark Morrissette wrote:
June 19th, 2019, 4:21 pm

I am interested to find out if you come up with a method to keep the basement floor heat from seeping into the cellar....
Hard to do without building an entire floor over the slab! I think the best you can do it put in some subflooring and flooring with a bit of R-value. The good thing is that the ground under the slab is pretty close to the temperature you want anyway.

I used a subfloor of DriCore (you can find at home depot) and cork flooring above that. The theoretical r-value is about 3. But only took up about 2 inches, and provides a moisture barrier (although in center of basement that's not a major issue unless I have a disastrous flood).
I trust you're talking about adding flooring/insulation on the areas outside your cellar. That's what I'm considering with the cabinets on the outside.

Just so no one is confused. With a passive cellar, you don't want to insulate the floor inside the wine room at all because that's the primary cooling surface. The walls are, at best, neutral and will likely be above 55F, as mine are.
"I'm a Frisbeetarian. We worship frisbees. We believe when you die your soul goes up on the roof and you can't get it down." – Jim Stafford

"The Internet has resulted in an exponential increase in the number of instances in which humor must be explained." - me, 2019

User avatar
AndrewH
Posts: 2307
Joined: May 14th, 2010, 1:34 pm

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#49 Post by AndrewH » June 20th, 2019, 7:29 am

John Morris wrote:
June 20th, 2019, 7:15 am
AndrewH wrote:
June 20th, 2019, 6:40 am
Mark Morrissette wrote:
June 19th, 2019, 4:21 pm

I am interested to find out if you come up with a method to keep the basement floor heat from seeping into the cellar....
Hard to do without building an entire floor over the slab! I think the best you can do it put in some subflooring and flooring with a bit of R-value. The good thing is that the ground under the slab is pretty close to the temperature you want anyway.

I used a subfloor of DriCore (you can find at home depot) and cork flooring above that. The theoretical r-value is about 3. But only took up about 2 inches, and provides a moisture barrier (although in center of basement that's not a major issue unless I have a disastrous flood).
I trust you're talking about adding flooring/insulation on the areas outside your cellar. That's what I'm considering with the cabinets on the outside.

Just so no one is confused. With a passive cellar, you don't want to insulate the floor inside the wine room at all because that's the primary cooling surface. The walls are, at best, neutral and will likely be above 55F, as mine are.
No, I was talking about in-cellar flooring, but my cellar isn't passive.

For passive I wonder how effective insulating the floor outside the basement is when the ground/slab is effectively an infinite heat/cool sink.
Andrew H e i m e r t

User avatar
Mark Morrissette
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 109
Joined: January 27th, 2017, 7:26 am
Location: Falmouth, Maine

Re: Finishing off a Passive Wine Cellar

#50 Post by Mark Morrissette » June 20th, 2019, 7:43 am

John Morris wrote:
June 20th, 2019, 7:15 am

I trust you're talking about adding flooring/insulation on the areas outside your cellar. That's what I'm considering with the cabinets on the outside.

Just so no one is confused. With a passive cellar, you don't want to insulate the floor inside the wine room at all because that's the primary cooling surface. The walls are, at best, neutral and will likely be above 55F, as mine are.
Appreciate the clarification John. I agree: DO NOT insulate or add anything to the floor inside the passive cellar.

Post Reply

Return to “Wine Talk”