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Thermoelectric vs. Compressor Wine Cooler


In case you’ve been looking for the best thermoelectric wine cooler, but you are also wondering whether a compressor wine cooler is a good alternative as well, this article is for you. The two types of products work very well for wine lovers, both offering different advantages, so you may want to check out the next lines and see what these are in order to make the right choice. 

It’s a known fact that wine lovers around the world are doing their best to store their favorite bottles in ideal conditions, and temperature plays a very important role in this process. If you keep your bottles of wine in the right way, then you will be able to enjoy the taste and aroma in every sip. 

That’s why wine coolers have become such a popular item to have around the house or get as a gift for friends and family members. Of course, there are some factors that you want to look at when choosing the right wine cooler, such as capacity and configuration (some are single zone storage, while others come with a dual feature), but before anything else you want to see whether a thermoelectric or a compressor wine cooler works better for your needs. 


How Do These Units Work? 

The way a compressor wine cooler works is pretty much the same as a standard refrigerator. Of course, everything takes place on a smaller scale, but the vapor compression cycle works to remove heat from the unit’s interior. This technology uses a coolant gas that carries the heat outside the unit, and some models also circulate air using fans to ensure an even temperature. 

A thermoelectric cooler, on the other hand, uses another process to make sure that the wine is kept at the right temperature, this being known as the Peltier effect. Just as you would imagine, it is named after the scientist who discovered it in the 19th century, and the way it works is pretty simple. 

An electric current goes through two metal elements that are joined together. Given that the device comes with sides made of different types of material, a specific heat flux is created that allows heat to flow in a certain direction. The result is that while one side gets hotter, the other one gets cold. 

Of course, the side that gets hotter is also attached to a specific heat sink that works to dissipate the resulting heat more efficiently. This is usually made of aluminum fins stacked together, and, of course, the side that gets cold is installed toward the device’s interior in order to keep the wine cool and ready to be enjoyed. 


Advantages and Disadvantages

Given that now you have a better understanding of how the two types of system work, it’s time to take a look at what advantages and disadvantages both of them bring. The first one you should take into account is the fact that compressor coolers ensure lower temperatures than their thermoelectric counterparts. 

The system is more effective in creating a cold environment, which can be a very important aspect for your needs, depending on the type of wine that you need to store. Thermoelectric coolers usually don’t go below 50°F, which might not be cold enough to serve certain sparkling wines or a good bottle of Champagne. 

Moreover, thermoelectric wine coolers shouldn’t be used in interior spaces in which the temperature is over 80°F because the Peltier system is not that efficient in generating the necessary heat flux. If you maintain an overall temperature of about 72°F in your home, then you shouldn’t have a problem using this device. 

However, if the thermostat goes higher, then the cooler might not be able to maintain the right temperature for the wine you place inside. Compressor wine coolers, on the other hand, are much more effective in reaching and maintaining low temperatures in pretty much any exterior conditions, so they are more suitable for specific cooling needs. 


Operating Costs & Efficiency 

Since you probably should think about the bills as well, it’s a good idea to take operating costs into account as well, especially if you plan to use the wine cooler around the clock. Thermoelectric devices need to run constantly in order to maintain the right temperature, while compressor ones go on and off, depending on whether it’s necessary to adjust the interior temperature or not. 

If you think about the way your fridge works, you will get the right idea about how compressor coolers operate. For this reason, the thermoelectric devices that require continual power are more expensive to operate, compared to compressor ones. Moreover, given that they work all the time, they are more likely to need some repairs sooner than compressor wine coolers. 

Just as we’ve mentioned before, the efficiency of a thermoelectric cooler depends on ambient temperatures as well, and the cooling capacity is somewhat limited, depending on the type of wine you enjoy drinking. With this being said, these devices work harder to reach and maintain the right temperatures, especially if they operate in warm conditions, which makes them less efficient. 

Of course, when we talk about energy efficiency, there are some other aspects that need to be kept in mind as well, such as the size and overall configuration of the unit. The larger the device is, the more Peltier devices need to be installed within the system in order to cool down the interior cabinet. 

That’s why you may see significant differences between compressor and thermostat devices as you look at larger units. While a compressor cooler can be larger but still uses one device to maintain the right temperature, the fact that more Peltier devices are required for a large thermostat cooler means that the bill has every chance of going up as well. 

Therefore, if you are looking for a cooler that needs to run all the time and should be large-sized as well, then the more efficient alternative is the compressor type. 


Advantages of Thermoelectric Coolers  

So far, it may seem that compressor wine coolers are the better alternative from every point of view, but there are some advantages that thermoelectric devices offer that you should be aware of as well. For instance, given the fact that there are no moving parts in such a system, thermoelectric coolers are very silent. 

In fact, if they are placed on a solid surface, there’s a very high chance that they won’t make any noise, which for some users might actually be very important. If the model you pick includes fans as well, a faint hum might be present in case there’s any obstruction or the surface is not leveled, but other than that, noise should not be an issue. 

Along the same lines, if there are no moving parts in these devices, this means that there’s no vibration either. For this reason, if you are aging wine, and it’s important for the sediments to remain completely undisturbed, a thermoelectric cooler might be the better alternative for long-term storage. 

Compressor coolers, on the other hand, can get a bit noisy, and for some types of wine or for some users, this is never a good idea. In the end, these units are essentially smaller refrigerators, so you can think about that while taking your pick. 


A Bit About the Environment 

It’s important to think about the environmental impact of these devices as well, and the better alternative, in this case, is the thermoelectric model. Just as refrigerators and air conditioners, compressor coolers use a chemical coolant to get the job done, the substance working as the necessary heat sink to keep the system running and carry the heat from one place to the other. 

On the other hand, this means that this substance (the one used most of the time today being Freon) can be damaging to the environment. Of course, in recent years, a lot of effort has been put into creating devices that are much safer to use from an environmental point of view, so these are definitely a better alternative than former models. 

However, the fact still remains that coolants do emit greenhouse gasses that ultimately contribute to the overall global warming. Therefore, if you don’t want to play a part in this process, you can go for a thermoelectric wine cooler, given that no such substances are included in the way it works. 

No matter what alternative you go for, you should always make sure that you dispose of the device in the safest way. 



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