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Budget for Refrigeration

When budgeting for your wine cellar's refrigeration system, you should consider three main factors:

  1. Cooling unit price
  2. Options and upgrades to customize the equipment
  3. Installation expenses

We'll walk you through each of these concerns and help you figure out how they'll impact your cellar expenses.

1. Cooling Unit Price

The basic cost of refrigeration systems vary, depending on the following considerations.

Sizing: Cooling units are sized to accommodate a certain thermal load, measured in BTUH. In order to maintain recommended temperatures and humidity levels in larger spaces with greater thermal loads, units need more cooling power.

The more powerful the cooling unit, the higher its price will most likely be. Most small wine cellar units, like CellarPro's 1800 Series models, start at around $1,800. For larger cellars, refrigeration systems can cost $6,000 or more.

Type of Unit: Self-contained cooling units are the simplest—and most affordable. Split systems and ducted systems are more complex. These types of units are generally more expensive, not only to purchase, but also to install, than self-contained systems of comparable sizing.

Indoor versus Outdoor Equipment: Indoor equipment tends to be more affordable than outdoor equipment, since outdoor models come with additional parts and coatings to handle weather exposure.

110V versus 220V Power: 110V units usually cost less than 220V units.

Listed (UL certified) versus Unlisted Equipment: Not all manufacturers get their equipment "listed," that is, tested and certified to strict UL standards. Generally, listed equipment costs more than unlisted equipment—but it will also be safer and better engineered overall.

Warranty and Customer Support: In the cooling unit industry, manufacturers offer wildly different levels of customer support. The length of the warranty and the level of customer service offered by the equipment manufacturer usually correlate with the cost of the equipment. In other words, the higher the unit price, the more you can count on a company to help you if you run into problems.

2. Options & Upgrades

Some options and upgrades are necessary for the correct installation of your cooling unit into a given space. Others simply add convenience to the equipment. In most cases, options and upgrades will add to the cost of your cooling unit.

If you prefer to wait until after you receive your unit to see which options you need, be sure to ask the manufacturer which options can indeed be added after the equipment has been shipped from the factory. Some options must be installed at the factory. Once the equipment is shipped, it will be impossible to retrofit or modify the unit for certain options in the field.

3. Installation Costs

Installation costs vary based on:

  • The complexity of the equipment
  • The difficulty of the installation
  • The technical expertise required of the installer

The simplest kind of unit, self-contained cooling units are shipped fully charged and ready to install out of the box. You simply need power for the cooling unit and a hole in the cellar wall to place it. In many cases, the owner of the equipment can complete the installation without professional assistance.

Significantly more complex, split cooling units require copper tubing (called the line-set) and sometimes power lines to run both the evaporator (inside the cellar) and condensing unit (outside the cellar). Once installed, the equipment and line-set must be brazed and then charged with refrigerant to exacting specifications.

Due to these additional requirements, qualified HVAC/R technicians must always install split refrigeration systems. As a result, the installation costs for split systems will exceed the cost of installing a self-contained system.

Ducted cooling units require ducting on the cold side, the hot side, or both. The more ducting that is required and the longer the length(s) of ducting, the more expensive the installation costs will be. Simple ducted systems can be installed relatively inexpensively, whereas complicated ducted systems will require qualified technicians and entail a higher overall cost.

Questions about the cellar building process? Need help picking the right cooling unit for your space? Contact us for more advice and information.

To contact our support team, email us or call 877.726.8496.

We've put together some basic resources to guide you through the process of choosing a cooling unit and building a cellar.

You need this number to choose the right cooling unit. We'll figure it out for you.