On site vs offsite storage calculation

My walk in cellar is full and I need to think about extra storage. These are wines that I plan to keep in cases for long term aging, and I would move wine from this storage to my walk in cellar when ready.

So, I can either buy a 600 bottle freestanding unit and stick it in my shed, or rent storage offsite. I would like a little help in calculating the economics.

I assume freestanding units that can hold 600 bottles can realistically hold 80% of that, since the bottles are not all bdx. So let’s say 40 cases. The unit cost $3500 with rated power of 255 watts for the cooling unit.

The equivalent 40 case storage off site cost $54 a month and will probably go up over time.

What I don’t know is how to calculate power consumption. 255 watts is the rated power but the thing doesn’t run all the time. I want to keep my wines at 55F. Ambient temp ranges from 50F at night to 80F during the day (the unit would be in an outside shed without insulation). Any suggestions in estimating power consumption? Also, depreciation of the unit - how long does the cooling unit last so I can amortize that cost?

Thanks for any suggestions.

You may burn out the motor and/or subject the cooling unit to wide heat swings if you keep it in a storage shed, and it likely won’t be able to keep up. Every unit that I have ever seen maintains that it is for indoor use only and specifically says that the cooling unit should not be kept in a garage, etc.


My home cellar is overflowing and I went with offsite storage. If you can afford all that wine, you really shouldn’t have to think about the difference in costs of a solution and do what is easiest for you.

Easy access also provides the additional potential cost of drinking more earlier…

I faced a similar dilemma. I wound up buying a 505 bottle cooler for inside the house and getting off site storage. pileon Next thing I know my off site and my 505 are both full! I don’t recommend following my example but it is easy to start down that path. I second the thought that you should not put the cooler in a non-air conditioned building or room so you need to see if you have enough inside space to accommodate the cooler. I have found that I really enjoy having a broad selection of my wine readily accessible so I would lean in that direction if you have enough willpower to resist outgrowing the capacity. OTOH there’s a real deal on this great new wine that will knock your socks off… flirtysmile

Of, course, as I mentioned in another thread, there is a downside to offsite storage as eel …

Offsite storage is the pathway to hard drugs … Ok maybe not hard drugs, but to death and destruction … Ok maybe not death and destruction, but excessive buying.

I started in '98 or so with a 50 bottle cooler, a few months later came a 500 bottle cooler, next a home cellar with 3,500-4,000 bottle capacity, then a divorce, a large reduction in my wine inventory hitsfan and a move to offsite storage [training.gif] Today I am at around 7,500 bottles.

I now pay a very large monthly rent bill for my wine. Some folks have apartments for their girlfriends. I have an apartment for my wine and can’t afford a girlfriend. [berserker.gif]

Gary can you tell me where that off-site is. 30% savings is tempting.

There is a Wine-Mate unit by Vinotemp that is made specifically for extreme heat situations. My friend in AZ has a unit installed in his garage for a few years with no problems. The one upside I like about a good off-site is back up generators in the event of an electrical failure.

Hi Gary. I’d be glad to take any excess bottles off your hand - just let me know! Seriously, though, you should consider building your own cellar inside your shed instead of purchasing a cabinet. You could add additional insulation to help protect your collection from the heat. I did a project like that with a buddy and although it took longer than we expected, it was a lot of fun.

I don’t know which 600-bottle cabinet that you are considering, but you might find these pages from Le Cache helpful. You could compare your chosen cabinet’s specs to the Le Cache cabinets (which have 1.5 inches of insulation offering an R-value of almost 10) and adjust accordingly:

So many of us are afflicted with the same wine buying disease, I am in the same situation as many here but look at it in a positive light. I always have great wine to drink and will for many years to come.


Hi Gary,

If putting the cooler in a storage shed is your only option for location, then in reality your only viable option is offsite. The motor will likely burn out and the wine may well be ruined at the same time as it’ll all go “down” when baking hot outside.

If you can keep it indoors, I’d always prefer the control and convenience of onsite.

Ed, it’s at K&L redwood city. K&L Wine Merchants - WineLockers

Well I don’t have a storage problem yet, but I will soon. I started collecting about 11 months ago and I am now at 500 bottles. My walk in cellar can store 700 so I probably can last another 6 months. But to store 700 bottles my walk in cellar wouldn’t be walk in anymore and I can’t pick wine with my friends when I host. So I need to look for storage now.

I actually have quite a few locations to possibly put this. The storage shed is not really a typical storage shed you might think of. It’s attach to the house - it shares the roof as the main house and shares a wall with the garage. It’s probably about 200 sqft and it feels cool even on hot summer days. I can’t access that space from inside the house so I don’t consider it indoors, but temperature-wise it’s probably pretty close. I think there is enough volume in the storage for hot air to vent out to.

I actually thought about building another cellar in there. Use two walls from a corner and frame it up with insulation, put up another wall, and then in the front I can use a 72x80 pre hung French patio door as the “cellar door”. If I can find some 3 deep racking I might be able to get 800 bottles in that opening?

I can also use the crawl space. My house is built on a grade and there are parts of the crawl space that’s like 5 ft high and I can walk around when I bend down. Probably ok for true storage purpose if I build an enclosed cellar down there. And it won’t be comfortable and easy to get to that wine so maybe I can keep my hands off them.

I do very much prefer having the convenience and control on site. But if the ROI is negative, like taking 10 years to pay back and I only plan on being in the house for 5, then there is no reason to spend the money.

Is there a formula to estimate energy consumption? Say ambient is 75F. How much energy will I use to keep the cellar at 55F? How long will the unit have to run?

I would try to source a used cabinet on CL that’s specifically made for hotter environments. That way, you can take it with you when you move or sell it later. Also, 500 bottles in less than a yr? Yeah, I say you belong here. Have a party, tons of WBs in the bay area to help alleviate your storage problem.

My advice,without knowing more about you, your tastes in wine, and what you have purchased, is worthless. But I will offer it anyway! You’re welcome!

Slow down your purchases. Your palate and preferences will probably change multiple times over the next 5 years. If you keep buying at your current rate, you would have well over 1,000 btls in 2 years, and the odds of you wanting to drink many of them in 10 years is low. Instead of maxing out your cellar in 6 months, or adding a standalone unit or offsite storage and filling that up in a year or two, just SLOW DOWN. Take a year or two to max out your current cellar. Drink a bunch of what you have, and make sure you like it before you buy even more. There will always be more wine for you to buy, always another great vintage. You don’t need to buy a lifetime of wine in 5 years.

And I say this as the owner of a wine storage facility. Some of my best clients are people that buy too much, too fast. Eventually, much of it is sent to auction and sold at a net loss.

If this doesn’t apply to you, please ignore me.

Thanks for the advice Chuck! Much appreciated! There is actually a plan to my purchases. Once I picked up this hobby, my family had been on pace to consume about 120 bottles of wine a year, either through personal consumption or hosting parties. I started with 20 bottles a year ago - basically nothing. A lot of the 500 bottles were buying previous vintages of wines that I like, as well as buying current vintages for cellaring. My plan is to build a 5 year “active” cellar - that’s about 600 bottles - and then have wines where I can cellar for decades. Once I build this active cellar I will slow down purchases to actual pace of consumption.

Chuck gives great advice!

Gary, good luck with that. Seriously hang out for awhile and that 5 year cellar will be done quicker than you think.

Yea, there are no enablers on this site! I’m betting on 750 by April and maybe a cool 1K by Nov 2014, keep us up to date. [cheers.gif]. J/K. Hope all goes as planned and post pix if you construct a cellar.

If you’re truly trying to compare the cost, you have to make some reserve for repairs and maintenance. Repairing the freon leaks, performing routine maintenance, then eventually replacing cooling systems when they die, it adds up pretty fast. And that’s if you’re fortunate enough to find anybody who does wine cabinet repairs – even here in Newport Beach / OC, it’s damn hard to find anyone to do the work.


Estimate conservatively in terms of money spent over time.
$3500/54 per month = 5.4 years - just in the unit cost alone.
Add a free allowance of power consumption of let’s say $100 a year (it will most likely be more…) - that’s almost another year of storage per 5.4 years to amortise the unit.
Plus, the possible costs of repairs and new parts over that time period - could add another 1-2 years of off-site storage.
So, you can have about 5.5 years of onsite unit vs about 8-9 years of off-site for about the same money.

But offsite gives you the following extras:

  • spreading the cost over many years rather than upfront
  • no worrying what you’ll do in case of power failure or unit failure (keeping the wine cool)
  • the ability to grow beyond the unit’s capacity (not helpful, I know…)
  • not having to move any of it in case you move house!
  • not having to sign for wine deliveries! (although that’s fun!)

I would go with off-site.