A passive system exists below ground level and does not require any refrigeration or humidity control.
If you are among the specific group for whom a wine cellar makes sense, here are a few facts to consider. First of all, installing a wine cellar doesn’t mean you’ll be tunneling down to limestone caves. While this may have been the necessity in days of yore, today we have the option of refrigeration. This modern convenience allows the conventional homeowner the opportunity to have a wine cellar, even without owning land.
The understandable appeal to what is referred to as a “passive system” is little or no need to regulate temperature, humidity, or excessive light. Finding all or most of these conditions in a subterranean location eliminates a considerable power expenditure as well as most monitoring concerns. But when there is no other option, active systems serve just fine. Any room in your home can be successfully remodeled into a modern wine cellar.. However, heat, light, and vibration are harmful to the long-term storage of wine, so choosing the coolest room without windows or excessive noise can save on building materials and refrigeration costs.
Since it is crucial for wine to be stored flat and level, all shelving and, therefore, the floor, must be exactly level. Wine racks are freestanding, often erected in rows, making the issue of a level floor a logical concern. To maintain a wine friendly environment, the job requires a thorough examination of all elements and patient attention to detail.
An active system refrigerator is not just a box that keeps things cold. Elements such as water vapor barriers, water resistant sheet rock (referred to as “green board”), and, of course, the refrigeration components, are just the beginning of your many considerations. Here is where site location can impact the project. If space constraints force you to locate your wine cellar in an area where temperature is uncontrolled, materials will have to be more substantial. The thickness of the sheet rock and density of the insulation will be higher and more expensive.
Even in the most extreme cases, the job can still be done. Say, for instance, you were forced to locate the wine cellar in the boiler room. Materials to counteract this condition and the size and cost to run the refrigeration unit would be more excessive. The severity of site conditions, therefore, sets the requirements placed on your material standards and will establish minimums for your budget.
A careful examination of all plans, prints, and specifications will allow you to arrive at minimum material costs. For instance, there are standard and etched glass panels and other aesthetic upgrades as design and complexity of function increase. The important thing is to be aware of your options and choose the best one for you. A professional contractor can help you obtain necessary permits and give you detailed prints of your future wine cellar, whether you choose to go the simpler, passive route or pursue an active system. Contact a certified professional for an estimate.
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