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Cold Room, Part 1
Posted March 24, 2004 at 09:44:30 PM by Bean in the Beer category
I want to build a cold room or walk-in fridge in my basement. Primary purpose: storing and dispensing beer (homebrew and store-bought). Secondary purpose: Wine storage, fermentation, grain storage, etc. Other homebrewers have undertaken such tasks before, and have thankfully published detail online. The followin 3 sites, in particular, have help out quite a bit:
First major decision: where to put it. This was an easy one since seeing the closet space under my basement steps was what got me thinking about this in the first place. It's about 3'6" wide, 9' tall, and 10' deep, with a slanted ceiling and one side on the house exterior wall. Pretty standard.

Next: How to cool it. I figured I had 2 basic choices: an AC or a chest freezer. I have used a chest freezer in the past to cool a fermentation box using vented air, but cooling a whole room may be quite another story. M2 sent me a spreadsheet that helped me calculate the approximate heat load of the room to be 500-600 BTU/hr assuming 40F inside and 65F outside. Since chest freezers are around 1000 BTU, that means the sucker would have to run over 50% of the time just to keep up, let alone chill anything down. An AC on the otherhand, is quite a bit more powerfull. AC it is.

Next: Which AC Unit? Well, I went to Home Depot and bought the cheapest one they had. It was $78 and can do 5050 BTU/hr. Unfortunately, even on it's coldest setting, the air coming out was only 65F. After some discussions on the duck, I opened it up, bypassed the internal thermostat, and hard wired the compressor "on". Bingo. Worked like a charm. I put the "cold side" of the AC inside a big box and let it run for a few minutes... internal temperature got down to 19F before I shut it off. BANG!

Next: Where do I mount the AC? I figured I could either mount it inside the basement, where it would bleed heat and condensation into the house, or through the wall where it would exhause outside. Outside, I would be off the hook as far as water runoff, but I'd have to knock a hole in my exterior wall. Also, I'm not sure how well that setup would work in the winter. If I mount it inside, the condensation and noise are down sides, but the heat is probably a good thing atleast 9 months out of the year, since the basement stays pretty cool.

Inside seems like the best bet, but how do I minimize noise and handle the runoff? Well, here's what I came up with:

If I put an insulated divider in my closet and split it into cold and warm sections, I shoudl be able to hide the AC unit in the corner and cover it with an access panel. I plan on putting a drain tube to remove excess condensation from the AC drip tray and a pair of vents and a fan to exhaust the heat from the hot side of the AC.

So there ya go... the basic design is not too bad. Next up, I'll need to figure out how to insulate the room and what kind of doors and access panels I need. Look for "Cold Room, Part 2" next week. Also, any comments or suggestions would be great.

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