Chest freezer experiment begins.

Tasting notes, varietals, grapes - anything related to wine
Post Reply
Message
Author
Kent Fisher
Posts: 133
Joined: January 29th, 2013, 10:40 am

Chest freezer experiment begins.

#1 Post by Kent Fisher » March 12th, 2013, 7:32 pm

Just put 25 bottles into a brand new 19 cubic foot freezer that I have converted to wine storage use. Interested in experiences others may have with this approach.

My experience so far is that this is an inexpensive way to store lots of wine. Was looking at 300 bottle upright but cheapest was like $1300. So far I am in for $700 for freezer, $80 for external power control and bill to come from electrician for an extra GFI circuit in garage. I'll need to add in a donation to Cellertracker for the software to keep track of what is where. Overall, it looks to be a cheap option.

Current worry is how this unit will get affected by humidity. More precisely I worry about affects on labels. We'll soon see.

KF

Michael Martin
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 6366
Joined: August 28th, 2010, 3:35 pm

Re: Chest freezer experiment begins.

#2 Post by Michael Martin » March 12th, 2013, 7:42 pm

What temp is it at?

CWun
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 3899
Joined: July 8th, 2009, 9:06 pm
Location: SF Bay Area

Re: Chest freezer experiment begins.

#3 Post by CWun » March 12th, 2013, 7:46 pm

curious what steady state humidity you will get.
C@r_y

Kent Fisher
Posts: 133
Joined: January 29th, 2013, 10:40 am

Re: Chest freezer experiment begins.

#4 Post by Kent Fisher » March 12th, 2013, 8:01 pm

Temp is set 54 -56 as I was worried about sensitivity of control. Worried that it would be jumping on and off. Turns out I can specify a minimum break, but do not think it will be an issue. Will be moving temp to 55 - seems very stable.

Humidity is a worry. I will be buying a meter tomorrow. What happens to humidity in the forced air models? I have one and keep at 55 but never set humidity.

KF

User avatar
rfelthoven
Posts: 1775
Joined: June 7th, 2011, 9:07 am
Location: Seattle

Re: Chest freezer experiment begins.

#5 Post by rfelthoven » March 12th, 2013, 8:27 pm

What's the bottle capacity of your freezer?
Ron

Kent Fisher
Posts: 133
Joined: January 29th, 2013, 10:40 am

Re: Chest freezer experiment begins.

#6 Post by Kent Fisher » March 12th, 2013, 8:47 pm

Capacity could be large. I'd estimate 400 to 500 bottles depending on stacking. Access will be an issue if one takes it up to the brim.

First temperature observations: The control kicks in at 56. Freezer comes on and says it s 58. Thermostat that is built in the unit must be in the lid or not that accurate - I have a manual double check inside and it is at 56. Motor runs for 5 minutes and clicks off at 55. Then the interior drops to 54 then 53. Momentum I guess.

I will be installing a false floor to keep bottom row away from the floor and walls which is where the cooling units are.

KF

User avatar
Chris Seiber
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 8709
Joined: April 28th, 2010, 3:22 pm
Location: Newport Beach, CA

Re: Chest freezer experiment begins.

#7 Post by Chris Seiber » March 12th, 2013, 8:50 pm

How did you get the freezer to set at 55? Does it just have that range of temperature settings to it?

User avatar
Peter Kleban
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 13588
Joined: February 14th, 2010, 8:21 pm
Location: Vacationland (AKA Maine, USA)

Re: Chest freezer experiment begins.

#8 Post by Peter Kleban » March 12th, 2013, 8:56 pm

Any separation between bottles, or are they just stacked one on another? If you have separation, what are you using?

As far as I can see, no matter how you put them in it will be hard to get at those on the bottom. But if you have a lot of duplicates this might not be so bad.

User avatar
T. Melloni
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 2173
Joined: June 2nd, 2009, 9:18 pm

Re: Chest freezer experiment begins.

#9 Post by T. Melloni » March 12th, 2013, 9:10 pm

Are you using a Dork Food style power control with a temperature probe?

I'll be interested to hear your take about trying to find a bottle that was put at the bottom.
I suggest you look at some of your electric bills to see the before and after to get a sense of costs for running the unit.

I hope it works out.
Tho m@s (sometimes); You can call me T.

User avatar
Tim Corliss
Posts: 1233
Joined: February 13th, 2009, 9:14 pm

Re: Chest freezer experiment begins.

#10 Post by Tim Corliss » March 12th, 2013, 9:31 pm

I use this to store a barrel of wine that is aging. Fighting mold is difficult in the summer

I had success this past year with the Evadry

http://www.eva-dry.com
ITB

User avatar
Chris Kravitz
Posts: 435
Joined: February 18th, 2009, 10:26 am
Location: NY

Re: Chest freezer experiment begins.

#11 Post by Chris Kravitz » March 13th, 2013, 4:20 am

My WAG is it will be too humid as the compressor will run such short times due to the cold coil temp. The compressor will also lead a miserable life operating outside its design condition. Be cautious of the probe location or you will have frozen wine and or short cycling of the compressor. Seems risky to me.
custom-wine-cellars.com

Kent Fisher
Posts: 133
Joined: January 29th, 2013, 10:40 am

Re: Chest freezer experiment begins.

#12 Post by Kent Fisher » March 13th, 2013, 9:50 am

Chris,

The freezer does not have settings as high as 55, so you have to use an external power controller that has a thermostat you insert into the freezer. Someone mentioned Dork Food brand which is same thing. You can see photos at Amazon.com. Just type in Johnson Controls and look for the model A419. The concept comes from Home Brew dudes who need large fridge space.

I do not worry about the compressor any more than any other appliance. I realize it is not optimal, but in winter it may not come on very much at all. Maybe that prolongs its life? Time will tell. I'm kind of surprised no one has made a model like this given the Home Brewers and wine applications. It would be nicer to buy a model with the right condenser and temp settings.

KF

User avatar
Chris Seiber
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 8709
Joined: April 28th, 2010, 3:22 pm
Location: Newport Beach, CA

Re: Chest freezer experiment begins.

#13 Post by Chris Seiber » March 13th, 2013, 10:04 am

I'm impressed, and I hope it works out well for you. The designated wine fridges generally are awful in terms of repair, lifespan and expense, yet regular refrigerators and freezers seem to work fine for decades (and if they have repair problems, it's usually ancillary things like the water and ice dispensers, not the regular operations).

Would you please be so kind as to report back down the road as to how it worked out for you? I'm quite interested.

User avatar
Peter Kleban
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 13588
Joined: February 14th, 2010, 8:21 pm
Location: Vacationland (AKA Maine, USA)

Re: Chest freezer experiment begins.

#14 Post by Peter Kleban » March 13th, 2013, 11:14 am

Are there any regular refrigerators that have temp settings going up to the "good" range for wine (50-55)? It's not so far from normal fridge temps, and they are quite a bit cheaper, and probably more reliable.

User avatar
J. Blum
Contributor
Contributor
Posts: 283
Joined: April 27th, 2010, 10:11 am
Location: Northern California

Re: Chest freezer experiment begins.

#15 Post by J. Blum » March 13th, 2013, 11:40 am

I'm wondering if a couple pounds of 60% Heartfelt Beads (used for humidors) would help regulate the Humidity?

http://www.heartfeltindustries.com/prod ... dity+Beads

I keep some in my 60 bottle wine fridge and they really help keep the labels dry in the summer when it's running a lot.
j-o-n

User avatar
Daniel H
Posts: 397
Joined: February 3rd, 2010, 9:01 pm

Re: Chest freezer experiment begins.

#16 Post by Daniel H » March 13th, 2013, 12:02 pm

25 bottles isn't a lot of thermal mass. I would expect the temperature to become more stable as you add more wine. As for humidity, who knows?
H.e n.n e.s s.e.y

Antonio Dias
Posts: 11
Joined: October 2nd, 2012, 3:32 pm

Re: Chest freezer experiment begins.

#17 Post by Antonio Dias » March 13th, 2013, 4:11 pm

I've been running the same setup for about a year. I use it for about half beer - 4 cases of Westvleteren XII I picked up in Belgium along with some other ageable goodies - and half wine that I want at cellar temp but accessible (I have a locker for the rest). I've currently got about 100 bottles in there with plenty of room for more. You do have to be careful about how you stack things as accessibility is the biggest issue. I added two cheap computer fans to get some airflow and a static (beads) dehumidifier to keep the humidity around 70%.

User avatar
Ken V
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 38563
Joined: January 27th, 2009, 12:42 pm
Location: Delmar, NY
Contact:

Re: Chest freezer experiment begins.

#18 Post by Ken V » March 13th, 2013, 4:49 pm

Emily Litella suggested this music accompaniment:

[youtube][/youtube]
Ken V @ s t o l @
The Fine Wine Geek
Click on the W W W button under my name to see my website.
"Don't be meek, embrace the geek." -Terry Theise
Twitter: @FineWineGeek

Kent Fisher
Posts: 133
Joined: January 29th, 2013, 10:40 am

Re: Chest freezer experiment begins.

#19 Post by Kent Fisher » March 13th, 2013, 5:42 pm

Thanks for the humidity comments and suggestions - I have a new project for Saturday. Antonio, I am curious if you keep the fans running continuously. I guess I could just hook them into the external control thereby having them come on when the condenser kicks in for cooling.

Ken, killer tune...now how to get that to play when I open the lid.....

KF

Antonio Dias
Posts: 11
Joined: October 2nd, 2012, 3:32 pm

Re: Chest freezer experiment begins.

#20 Post by Antonio Dias » March 13th, 2013, 6:56 pm

I keep the fans running continuously. I don't really see too much downside to having some air circulation and these computer fans are rated for something like 50,000 hours which is somewhere close to 6 years. Or is there another reason for running them infrequently?

I went and checked and I'm using an EvaDry unit as well, like someone mentioned above.

Frank Drew
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 5579
Joined: February 1st, 2009, 8:08 am
Location: Virginia

Re: Chest freezer experiment begins.

#21 Post by Frank Drew » March 14th, 2013, 8:40 am

Peter Kleban wrote:Are there any regular refrigerators that have temp settings going up to the "good" range for wine (50-55)? It's not so far from normal fridge temps, and they are quite a bit cheaper, and probably more reliable.
Peter, I don't know if you can buy a stock refrigerator like that, but I think you can replace a refrigerator's standard thermostat, which keeps the temps in the low 40s, with one that cycles in the 50-55 range. I don't think this is either difficult or expensive to do. If you have a homebrew store near you they'd probably be able to give you all the information you'd need.

User avatar
ClarkstonMark
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 1555
Joined: December 19th, 2009, 12:13 pm
Location: Detroit

Re: Chest freezer experiment begins.

#22 Post by ClarkstonMark » March 14th, 2013, 9:44 am

I bought a Wine Stat that I had planned to hook up to an old chest freezer in the basement.
But then the ex-wife took the chest freezer, still don't understand why, but whatever.
Anyway, PM me if you're interested in the Wine-Stat - it is new i nbox, never used.
Mark Cronmiller
White Lake, MI

User avatar
M A T T H A R T L E Y
Posts: 2018
Joined: June 3rd, 2009, 8:54 am

Re: Chest freezer experiment begins.

#23 Post by M A T T H A R T L E Y » March 14th, 2013, 10:02 am

Can we get a pic of this experiment?
___________________________
ITB

Kent Fisher
Posts: 133
Joined: January 29th, 2013, 10:40 am

Chest freezer experiment begins.

#24 Post by Kent Fisher » March 24th, 2013, 1:59 pm

Quick Update. Additional costs - $19 for a fan, $28 for an EverDry and Hygrometer, $25 for rubber floor and $26 for plastic sides. Also need to add $10 for a power bar.

Overall I have worked on two elements mentioned by ths community - humidity and cold walls. The rubber floor and plastic sides make it such that nothing touches the sides or floor. The power bar is now in place and is hooked up to the power control. This way, a computer type fan comes on at the same time the freezer kicks on to lower the temperature. No reason to do this other than it seems energy efficient.

The thing holding me back from loading it up, is that the rubber floor stinks. It is basically recycled tires re-purposed to make anti-fatigue flooring. Like you would see in a bar. I have the pieces outside getting some sun and rain hoping they will weather a bit and stop stinking. Worried it will affect the wine...not that A little burnt rubber is not alright from time to time.

Pictures to come when I learn how to upload on his board.

KF

Lee Barnard
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 89
Joined: January 11th, 2018, 11:26 am
Location: Chadds Ford, PA

Re: Chest freezer experiment begins.

#25 Post by Lee Barnard » November 15th, 2018, 7:22 am

Hoping Kent is still around lurking or someone else has tried this. Had the same thought today when I looked at an unused chest freezer in basement with an external temperature controller since it used to hold beer - can't think of why it wouldn't work. Assuming we are talking wine that won't be ready for a while, can just stack in Weinboxes inside.

Also had the idea of a basically build your own cabinet. Frame out 8x4 panels - 2 to 4 inches of polyiso foam board on inside and plywood on outside. Looking at my unfortunately full Le Cache, that's all it really is if you don't need it to be furniture grade.

Unfortunately not ready to finish basement, which would include a cellar, since who knows how long we will be in the house.

User avatar
Pat Burton
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 1311
Joined: February 17th, 2011, 2:41 pm
Location: Indianapolis, IN

Re: Chest freezer experiment begins.

#26 Post by Pat Burton » November 15th, 2018, 7:35 am

Kent Fisher wrote:
March 12th, 2013, 7:32 pm
Just put 25 bottles into a brand new 19 cubic foot freezer that I have converted to wine storage use. Interested in experiences others may have with this approach.

My experience so far is that this is an inexpensive way to store lots of wine. Was looking at 300 bottle upright but cheapest was like $1300. So far I am in for $700 for freezer, $80 for external power control and bill to come from electrician for an extra GFI circuit in garage. I'll need to add in a donation to Cellertracker for the software to keep track of what is where. Overall, it looks to be a cheap option.

Current worry is how this unit will get affected by humidity. More precisely I worry about affects on labels. We'll soon see.

KF
What 300 bottle wine fridge did you see for $1300?
CT - Prof B

R Roberts
Posts: 905
Joined: September 2nd, 2013, 8:03 pm
Location: SF peninsula

Re: Chest freezer experiment begins.

#27 Post by R Roberts » November 15th, 2018, 5:49 pm

I build a "keezer" (chest freezer for storing kegs) that I also use to store some bottled beers. Its been working great for several years now. As pointed out you need to keep on top of the moisture build up- I use desiccant and swap it out about once a quarter when its spent.
R.ama

Gary Schulte
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 2754
Joined: May 27th, 2010, 7:30 am
Location: Southeastern New England

Re: Chest freezer experiment begins.

#28 Post by Gary Schulte » November 15th, 2018, 7:07 pm

Just in case others view this thread in the future. I have three relatively new Frigidaire chest freezers(3 & 4 yrs) outfitted with Johnson Controls A19AAT-2C controllers. Inside I have analog and digital thermometers to make sure where to set the JC controller. My use is more for temporary wine storage, white & rosé fermentation, and cold stabilization in ss kegs. Fermentations I hold at 55-59F without any problems. Opening the chest freezer does little to change the temperature as I'm in and out in a short time. You will find condensation happens every time you open up the freezer. Sometimes it freezes to the walls for a short time but it ultimately makes it to the bottom floor as liquid. Mine has a drain plug at the bottom. I could imagine setting up an insulated tube and valve from the drain on the outside and leave the inside plug open to periodically drain the unit. Thus any wine laid down on the floor will get wet. You probably need to elevate the wine 1 inch off the bottom to keep the wines dry between draining cycles. My freezers are on Harbor Freight 1000lb polypropylene dollies with one at each end. Besides elevation off the floor it allows me to move them around if needed. I have not tried but I could imagine using those plastic wine bins from Amazon for easy wine storage inside the converted chest freezer which would allow for better inventory tracking and wine removal.

Lee Barnard
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 89
Joined: January 11th, 2018, 11:26 am
Location: Chadds Ford, PA

Re: Chest freezer experiment begins.

#29 Post by Lee Barnard » November 16th, 2018, 6:40 am

Gary Schulte wrote:
November 15th, 2018, 7:07 pm
Just in case others view this thread in the future. I have three relatively new Frigidaire chest freezers(3 & 4 yrs) outfitted with Johnson Controls A19AAT-2C controllers. Inside I have analog and digital thermometers to make sure where to set the JC controller. My use is more for temporary wine storage, white & rosé fermentation, and cold stabilization in ss kegs. Fermentations I hold at 55-59F without any problems. Opening the chest freezer does little to change the temperature as I'm in and out in a short time. You will find condensation happens every time you open up the freezer. Sometimes it freezes to the walls for a short time but it ultimately makes it to the bottom floor as liquid. Mine has a drain plug at the bottom. I could imagine setting up an insulated tube and valve from the drain on the outside and leave the inside plug open to periodically drain the unit. Thus any wine laid down on the floor will get wet. You probably need to elevate the wine 1 inch off the bottom to keep the wines dry between draining cycles. My freezers are on Harbor Freight 1000lb polypropylene dollies with one at each end. Besides elevation off the floor it allows me to move them around if needed. I have not tried but I could imagine using those plastic wine bins from Amazon for easy wine storage inside the converted chest freezer which would allow for better inventory tracking and wine removal.
Thanks for the input Gary. Resurrected this old thread since I have the same exact setup already (slightly different JC controller) but had never thought about using it to store wine until yesterday. Maybe I'll take the lead and throw some BDX daily drinkers that need some years in the Weinboxes on Amazon.

User avatar
Scott G r u n e r
Posts: 3442
Joined: June 6th, 2009, 9:03 pm
Location: Seattleish

Re: Chest freezer experiment begins.

#30 Post by Scott G r u n e r » November 17th, 2018, 8:20 am

I know a guy that uses a chest freezer modified for keggerator. There were some tricks to keep it from cycling on/off too often which I will have to re ask about, but it has worked for several years now. Of course he doesnt have the same stacking and finding issue.
//Cynic

User avatar
Arv R
Posts: 3687
Joined: January 11th, 2015, 3:53 pm

Re: Chest freezer experiment begins.

#31 Post by Arv R » November 17th, 2018, 10:31 am

For those who are running this kind of setup with Weinboxes - are you able to get 400 btls in there?

Seems pretty nice.

I'm trying to figure out how to get more of my cellar back to my house, although space is really our issue.
R_@_0

Collin Dahl
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 105
Joined: March 16th, 2016, 7:10 pm

Re: Chest freezer experiment begins.

#32 Post by Collin Dahl » November 17th, 2018, 12:05 pm

The two most common objections I've heard in regard to converting a refrigerator are humidity and vibration. I see the approaches to humidity, above. Is vibration less of a concern with a chest freezer (for some reason that isn't immediately apparent)?
itb | retail

Frank Drew
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 5579
Joined: February 1st, 2009, 8:08 am
Location: Virginia

Re: Chest freezer experiment begins.

#33 Post by Frank Drew » November 17th, 2018, 12:26 pm

Collin, in my opinion vibration is non-issue, at least as far as a bottle of wine is concerned. Modern refrigerator compressors are mounted on rubber pads to dampen vibration; has anyone ever seen their bottle of orange juice shaking during a compressor cycle?

Years ago, I answered the vibration question for myself by balancing a nickel on edge in top of a jar of mayonaise in my fridge; I carefully closed the door and went off to work. When I got home that evening, I carefully opened the refrigerator door, and the nickel was still on edge, having survived countless on-off cycles without falling over. (If I was still worried, I’d just put something soft, like sheets of foam, on the shelves under the bottles.)

Post Reply

Return to “Wine Talk”