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At Texas Wine Lover we obviously love our wine, which means proper wine storage is of the utmost priority for us. Looking into wine storage options can be a confusing venture, so before we get into our review of a high quality wine cooler from NewAir, let’s have a quick discussion about wine storage, and a few common options on the market today.
When it comes to wine cellaring, maintaining proper temperature, avoiding UV light, and keeping vibration to a minimum are the three most critical factors when selecting a storage option for your wine bottles. There are several options available for wine storage, ranging from a simple dark closet in the coolest part of your home, to an elaborate underground wine cellar with natural temperature control. Possibly the most common proper wine storage solution is a small self-contained cellar, often called a wine cooler. Within the wine cooler market, there are a large number of choices. The two main types of wine coolers are compressor units and thermoelectric units. They both get the job done when it comes to wine storage, but each has its strengths and limitations. Let’s have a look at a few of the differences between the two types.
These wine coolers utilize refrigerant much like your standard kitchen refrigerator. The upside to this design is they are capable of maintaining lower internal temperatures, even when stored in higher ambient temperatures. Because of the more powerful cooling system, when considering a unit for a large bottle capacity, this is the way to go. The downside is more moving parts, a heavier unit, and typically a little more noise output when running. Electricity usage can also be higher with this type of unit.
This design utilizes electrical components that dissipate heat and circulate cool air inside the unit without the need for any refrigerant or compressor. The advantages of this design are quieter operation, lower electrical usage, and with fewer moving parts these units create less vibration. The downside to this design is a limited cooling capacity, and thermoelectric units do not operate efficiently in higher ambient temperatures.
So which type should you purchase? If you are seeking a smaller freestanding unit to store, say, 20-50 bottles, a thermoelectric cooler is probably your best choice. If you are seeking a built in or large capacity cooler, a compressor model is your obvious choice. Now that we know a bit more about each design, let’s move on to the review shall we?
We are testing and reviewing the NewAir AW-211ED thermoelectric wine cooler, a newer model from the NewAir brand. This is a dual zone wine cellar offering a 21 bottle storage capacity. This is a well-suited unit for a smaller space such as an apartment, or in my case a second wine cellar for the home office.
Once the unit was delivered to our home, I found it to be well packed in a large cardboard box with the NewAir logo and model information on the sides. Since there is no refrigerant used in a thermoelectric model, there is no need to have to let it sit upright for ~24 hours to settle, which has always been a common recommendation for a compressor model. New Air does recommend letting the unit sit upright for 2 hours to reduce the risk of malfunction potentially caused by the handling/transport process.
As I opened the outer box, I noted the inner protective cardboard box surrounded by foam inserts to keep the unit from bouncing around during the shipping process. After the feat of breaking away the Alcatraz-like protection system, I pulled the clear plastic covering from the unit and began to read the instruction manual prior to plugging the unit into the wall. I know, I know, a guy reading instructions? I was having a good day okay!
Once plugged in, the unit fired up without hesitance and the fans began to spin to start the cooling process. The blue LED temperature displays also began to glow, which provide a clear view of the current internal temperature, especially in the dark, without blinding the user or lighting up the room too brightly. I will say however, it is a rather useful night light when shuffling through the office late at night typing up the latest wine review. The unit comes completely assembled and ready to go, minus mounting the door handle to the outside of the unit using the two provided screws. Getting it set up and ready for wine was simple and quick, just the way it should be.
This model is a freestanding cooler which vents any warm dissipated air through vents located on each side of the unit. There is very little heat expelled at all versus my compressor unit, and it does run quieter since it has no compressor to kick on and off in cycles.
- NewAir AW-211ED
- Cooling system: Thermoelectric
- Unit weight: 47.00 pounds
- Dimensions: 13.50″ x 19.88″ x 32.38″
- Bottle capacity: Up to 21 bottles
- Zones: Dual zone with individual temperature controls
- Temperature range: 44-66 degrees F
- Bottle racks: 6 wooden racks
Other features include adjustable feet for leveling the cooler, and blue LED lighting in both the upper and lower zones to assist in low light conditions.
Here are my impressions after a few weeks of ownership. I have only owned compressor style wine coolers prior to taking possession of this model, so there was a little I wanted to learn about it. My first thought was oh my, the fans run constantly so this will most definitely mean higher electric bills. After studying the design and reading more about how this type of cooling system works, my mind was put at ease, as there is actually much less energy used during operation versus a comparable compressor unit.
Overall I really cannot find many negatives regarding this particular wine cooler. It is on the smaller side, which surprised me as it appears larger in the online photos, at least to my eyes. Also, as with many other wine coolers, you cannot fit the wider style wine bottles easily or at all, depending on the width, on the wooden shelves. Luckily, this cooler will fit three wider bottles on the plastic shelf at the bottom of the unit. It offers low energy consumption, quiet cooling operation, and the slim design does make it a good fit for smaller spaces while the black metal sides and top with the stainless steel door and handle are quite attractive.
Would I recommend this model to others? Absolutely! If you are in the market for a cutting edge modern wine cellar, this would be a wise choice both for form and function. You can find this wine cooler on the Air & Water website www.air-n-water.com. Be sure to check out and like their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/airnwaterinc. Use coupon code “Save10” when purchasing this wine cooler.