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  1. #1
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    Trying to make a bespoke fridge for a bar



    Hi,

    Firstly I hope this is in the correct section and please forgive the complete lack of knowledge!

    I'm trying to work out a solution for my bar to keep wines at the correct temperature. Sounds easy but we have 25 different wines, and they all ideally need to be at different temperatures ranging from 5-19 degrees, and I can't afford 25 fridges...

    I've already worked out in my head what I'd like, and know how to build most of it, but don't know much about refridgeration options so was hoping you guys can point me in the right direction.

    Ideally I'd like something like a large fish tank, with a lid on top with holes cut for the bottles to fit in. I was thinking about having brush bristles or thick rubber cut into sections covering the holes to prevent too much cold air escaping but allowing bottles to be taken in and out easily. Inside the tank I'd put separators to allow for different temperature zones.

    Now for the refrigeration, does anyone make a small black box that blows out chilled air into ducting on request? Basically a small air conditioning unit would be ideal. Then if the ducting could run into the back of the tank, in each different section, with some kind of flap to allow or prevent air flow, it should be easy to put a small sensor in each section to control the temperature.

    Is there a simple way of achieving this? I guess a small domestic ac unit, some ducting and lots of gaffa tape would do but it wouldn't be the prettiest solution! Also I guess you'd run into condensation issues...

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    Cheers,
    Chris



  2. #2
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    Re: Trying to make a bespoke fridge for a bar

    For how long you keeping the wine?

    I work with 3 wineries and what you saying is news to me, bottled wine is kept at 17C, 85%Rh, better kept horizontal to protect the cork from getting dry.
    The world wide market is offering endless types and sizes of wine fridges.
    If you want to play with making a wide range temperature fridge, good luck to you, from my experience, these things never work and cost a small fortune. Think again.

  3. #3
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    Re: Trying to make a bespoke fridge for a bar

    Quote Originally Posted by chemi-cool View Post
    For how long you keeping the wine?

    I work with 3 wineries and what you saying is news to me, bottled wine is kept at 17C, 85%Rh, better kept horizontal to protect the cork from getting dry.
    The world wide market is offering endless types and sizes of wine fridges.
    If you want to play with making a wide range temperature fridge, good luck to you, from my experience, these things never work and cost a small fortune. Think again.
    This would be for wine for service, so each different style of wine needs to be at a different temperature, anywhere from 5C to 19C, probably 5-8 different temperatures.

    In your experience why wouldn't this be possible/cost a fortune?

    The ducting should be cheap, you could use similar vents to the ones in cars to control the airflow, and the sensors and wiring can't come to much. The only thing I don't know about is the unit to create the cold air.

    I may be missing something obvious, but technically its nothing more complicated than climate control systems on modern cars is it? The 3 zone central heating system I put in my house was only 1800, and that included all the controls and thermostats, the boiler, the thermal store, radiators and god knows how much copper pipe! I was hoping it would be less than that as its still more economical than buying 5-8 decent wine fridges.

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    Re: Trying to make a bespoke fridge for a bar

    Chemi is right. Buy some cheap fidges and use them instead. Get someone to change the thermostat on each to give you the correct temps you require.

    8 fridges at 100 quid is still way cheaper than trying to do what you are hoping to achieve. For example An air conditioner will need a lot of modding to get to the air temps you want.

    You also have back up as if you use one unit to do all this trickery then if/when it fails you've lost the lot.

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    Re: Trying to make a bespoke fridge for a bar

    Lets look at this from a simple technical point of view so that the OP can perhaps understand some of the difficulties that are involved in what he is trying to achieve.

    To satisfy the lowest temperature requirement for the wine (5C), you would need to to supply air at 6K lower than this, so your 'Air Conditioner' would have to be evaporating at probably around -7C to give an air off temperature of -1C. Definitely way outside of your normal 'off the shelf' A/C unit.

    Your normal air conditioning unit is designed to operate at above +5C as they do not incorporate internal evaporator defrost cycles, so the 'air off' temps are always some 5/6K above this, if not more.

    The next problem would be how to stop the air flow into the adjacent bottle space for any wine desired to be kept above this +5C - and how to stop heat transference from these bottle spaces into the space for the wine at +5C? - And all this to be kept behind the Bar?.....

    With air blowing through a duct at -1C you will encounter condensation problems if the duct isn't insulated.

    With a common air input duct, how would you control the compressor cycles? Say the control was on the +5C wine and this was down to temp, so the compressor is off. Then you have a rush on the red wines that are kept at 19C, so the bottles are out of the controlled storage area and get warm. When you put them back into the 'cabinet', at say 21C, would you expect the compressor to come on and cool them down to 19C? How can it if your +5C wine is still at temp?

    There are so many technical issues with this idea that it would take k's to design and manufacture a unit that could fulfill the entire wish list, so, as the others have said before, you would be better off buying several bottle coolers and have them set to different temperatures.

    No simple answer I'm afraid. Good idea, but not practical.
    I'm back on the Pale

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    Re: Trying to make a bespoke fridge for a bar

    Quote Originally Posted by chrismint View Post
    This would be for wine for service, so each different style of wine needs to be at a different temperature, anywhere from 5C to 19C, probably 5-8 different temperatures.

    In your experience why wouldn't this be possible/cost a fortune?

    The ducting should be cheap, you could use similar vents to the ones in cars to control the airflow, and the sensors and wiring can't come to much. The only thing I don't know about is the unit to create the cold air.

    I may be missing something obvious, but technically its nothing more complicated than climate control systems on modern cars is it? The 3 zone central heating system I put in my house was only 1800, and that included all the controls and thermostats, the boiler, the thermal store, radiators and god knows how much copper pipe! I was hoping it would be less than that as its still more economical than buying 5-8 decent wine fridges.
    Thats why you sell wine and not refrigeration,
    yes it can be done, (but not the way your think) will it be cheap? no it will not, unless you are building 1000s

  7. #7
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    Re: Trying to make a bespoke fridge for a bar

    Thanks for the post - very informative!

    I'll admit, I'm still in the blissful position of not knowing enough to understand why what I'd like to do is going to be difficult. But if it is possible, it will be a million times better than the current solutions. And even if it cost 10k I'd spend it, along with a lot of other bars. I'm currently using a load of different sliding door fridges that are appalling. If its more than about 18C and I have to open the fridge more than once every three minutes you notice a big reduction in cooling quality.

    If I wanted to spend about 500 I could get a wine well that would keep 8 bottles of wine at 5C. So why can't I spend 5 or 10 times that amount that would keep 8 bottles of wine at 5C, and also transfer some left over cooling power to a neighbouring compartment of wine and keep that at 8C. And maybe some more to another that kept it at 8C?

    I've spent more time than I want to taking my main fridge to bits and fixing it. Its a generic Coke fridge with 2 sliding doors. It's basically a big insulated box that I fill with wine, with a small bit at the back that I don't understand very well that blows chilled air into the main compartment. You can get them for about 400 on ebay. It works OK, but not well. Every time you slide the door open all the cool air spills out, and if you're really busy it struggles. But it does the job, and most of the time the wine is around 5C.

    Now why can't you use the unit from one of these to selectively blow cold air into different compartments instead of one massive fridge? I understand that you'd need to insulate them well, but that's not unachievable is it? And the control system shouldn't be too complicated should it? In terms of chilling capacity, if I can keep 100% of the wine at 5C, then shouldn't it be easier to keep 20% at 5C, 20% at 8C, 20% at 12 C, 20% at 15C and 20% at 19C.

    Sorry I know I'm probably sounding like I'm ranting here, but it is really frustrating. I just don't get why its possible to chill a fridge full of wine to 5C by blowing cold air into it, but its apparently impossible to do it in zones, even if they're well insulated from each other.


    Quote Originally Posted by frank View Post
    Lets look at this from a simple technical point of view so that the OP can perhaps understand some of the difficulties that are involved in what he is trying to achieve.

    To satisfy the lowest temperature requirement for the wine (5C), you would need to to supply air at 6K lower than this, so your 'Air Conditioner' would have to be evaporating at probably around -7C to give an air off temperature of -1C. Definitely way outside of your normal 'off the shelf' A/C unit.

    Your normal air conditioning unit is designed to operate at above +5C as they do not incorporate internal evaporator defrost cycles, so the 'air off' temps are always some 5/6K above this, if not more.

    The next problem would be how to stop the air flow into the adjacent bottle space for any wine desired to be kept above this +5C - and how to stop heat transference from these bottle spaces into the space for the wine at +5C? - And all this to be kept behind the Bar?.....

    With air blowing through a duct at -1C you will encounter condensation problems if the duct isn't insulated.

    With a common air input duct, how would you control the compressor cycles? Say the control was on the +5C wine and this was down to temp, so the compressor is off. Then you have a rush on the red wines that are kept at 19C, so the bottles are out of the controlled storage area and get warm. When you put them back into the 'cabinet', at say 21C, would you expect the compressor to come on and cool them down to 19C? How can it if your +5C wine is still at temp?

    There are so many technical issues with this idea that it would take k's to design and manufacture a unit that could fulfill the entire wish list, so, as the others have said before, you would be better off buying several bottle coolers and have them set to different temperatures.

    No simple answer I'm afraid. Good idea, but not practical.

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    Re: Trying to make a bespoke fridge for a bar

    Now your talking about 10,000 quid, this is more realistic.
    Firstly this needs to be a piece of refrigeration, not an air conditioning unit (as shown by frank)
    Firstly you may have 2 different requirements, storing the wine at the various temps and second cooling of wine to desired temp and the time required to achieve this,. ( rapid cooling can be already produced products, basically a "chilled water bath") If repid cooling is not an issue then becomes slightly easier
    You must understand, that a fridge is not like a boiler or element, it has limits on stops and starts, working pressures. etc.
    The actual box is not an issue, just insulate the dividing walls and holes in the top if you like.
    The refrigeration the 2 main ways are.
    A dedicated glycol cooler and buffer tank. You control the flow of glycol to each areas heat exchanger (rad or forced draft), similar to your central heating but in reverse.
    Second you have a seperate anti chamber which is maintained at OC, normally with some thermal mass in it. The refrigeration and airflow are designed to meet the load of this chamber. You then have individual fans that draw the cold from the chamber to each area, each fan is controlled by its own control stat. The return air is returned individually back to the chamber, you would also include back draft dampers to ensure that natural convection does not occur.
    All simple, now work out refrigeation load, airflow, duct size, static and velocity pressures, defrosting, condensate removal, control hysterisis, thermal mass , go and buy the bits and your done.

  9. #9
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    Re: Trying to make a bespoke fridge for a bar

    Quote Originally Posted by chrismint View Post
    Hi,

    Firstly I hope this is in the correct section and please forgive the complete lack of knowledge!

    I'm trying to work out a solution for my bar to keep wines at the correct temperature. Sounds easy but we have 25 different wines, and they all ideally need to be at different temperatures ranging from 5-19 degrees, and I can't afford 25 fridges...

    I've already worked out in my head what I'd like, and know how to build most of it, but don't know much about refridgeration options so was hoping you guys can point me in the right direction.

    Ideally I'd like something like a large fish tank, with a lid on top with holes cut for the bottles to fit in. I was thinking about having brush bristles or thick rubber cut into sections covering the holes to prevent too much cold air escaping but allowing bottles to be taken in and out easily. Inside the tank I'd put separators to allow for different temperature zones.

    Now for the refrigeration, does anyone make a small black box that blows out chilled air into ducting on request? Basically a small air conditioning unit would be ideal. Then if the ducting could run into the back of the tank, in each different section, with some kind of flap to allow or prevent air flow, it should be easy to put a small sensor in each section to control the temperature.

    Is there a simple way of achieving this? I guess a small domestic ac unit, some ducting and lots of gaffa tape would do but it wouldn't be the prettiest solution! Also I guess you'd run into condensation issues...

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    Cheers,
    Chris
    Today in restaurants, pubs, clubs or parties we see people enjoying different types of drinks. Refrigeration is a vital attribute for many businesses. Now a days night clubs and bars often only sell bottled beers and spirit mixers to avoid the use of glasses. This not only cuts costs but also reduces the need to pay staff. The mark up on bottled ****tails results in greater profits for a drinking establishment.
    The bottle cooler available today in the market are competitively priced and are seen as the perfect means to showcase your selection of bottled products in a stylish and elegant manner.
    I think you should look for them.

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    Re: Trying to make a bespoke fridge for a bar

    Must say, this is new to me. I looked after a bottle shop for years that brought in considerable amounts of alcoholic products from around the world. These products were on display in an insulated room that people could enter and choose what they liked. This room was kept at around 19c. It was high turnover so products were not there forever. Other items such as beer and spirits were kept in upright glass door fridges or coldrooms.. mike.
    To the optimist, the glass is half full. To the pessimist, the glass is half empty.

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    Re: Trying to make a bespoke fridge for a bar

    chrismist,
    Take into consideration that the answers you get are from professional people that refrigeration is a big part of their lives.

    I will give you one example of why not to build your own equipment: I go through 50 to 60 condensing units every year, I can buy the parts from various suppliers and put them together myself but I can buy factory made units which are much better, 20% cheaper then parts and I don't spend not even one moment with them, from pack to the customer. At the end of the day I save some 30% per unit that turn into profit.

    I rest my case and stick to my first answer, leave it, get one or two bottle cooler. No one comes to drink wine or beer with a thermometer. Just sell the wine with a big smile and collect your profit.

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