Wine fridges - Peltier and fan assisted queries

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Wine fridges - Peltier and fan assisted queries

Postby Rothermere » Tue Feb 05, 2013 12:16 pm

I'm relatively new to sausage making and very new indeed to the concept of charcuterie (about to embark upon my first pancetta and guanciale next weekend) and would value a bit of advice.

My g/f and I have a six month old son and, accordingly, the better half is a little concerned about me rigging a fridge with homemade electronics anywhere in the house. She has witnessed my 'handiness' before and has not been instilled with confidence.

She has relented to me getting a wine cooler, as I won't have to muck around with the temperature, and I'm therefore trying to work out what the best, cheapest options are; as well as what inherent problems I will need to mitigate and how.

Peltier systems seem cheaper, but appear to have problems with excessive humidity and frosting. Also, maintaining a consistent temperature seems to be a bit of a problem.

Baumatic do a peltier system cheapish cooler which is also 'fan assisted.'

http://www.baumatic.co.uk/bw28bl_5_2341_25300.html

From reading threads on another, US-based site, I have heard that the Vinotemp models are also 'fan-assisted' and lead to a considerable reduction in humidity - leading to a challenge in keeping RH up.

I'm aware that some people here have had some success with wine fridges and I wondered anyone had experience or knowledge of fan assisted thermo-electric coolers, and whether the fans have a dehumidifying effect (which I think might be a preferable challenge to face than excessive humidity). In particular, does anyone have any experience of the Baumatic model above - they do tend to go for a fair price on eBay, which I assume means they're a bit cr*p.

My first batch of pancetta, btw, is going into a big plastic box with holes drilled in it (and possibly a CPU fan if it remains overly humid). Quite keen to get moving on the wine fridge set-up though before my beloved changes her mind (which, I'm told, is her prerogative).

Many thanks

James
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Re: Wine fridges - Peltier and fan assisted queries

Postby ComradeQ » Tue Feb 05, 2013 5:55 pm

Rothermere wrote:I'm relatively new to sausage making and very new indeed to the concept of charcuterie (about to embark upon my first pancetta and guanciale next weekend) and would value a bit of advice.

My g/f and I have a six month old son and, accordingly, the better half is a little concerned about me rigging a fridge with homemade electronics anywhere in the house. She has witnessed my 'handiness' before and has not been instilled with confidence.

She has relented to me getting a wine cooler, as I won't have to muck around with the temperature, and I'm therefore trying to work out what the best, cheapest options are; as well as what inherent problems I will need to mitigate and how.

Peltier systems seem cheaper, but appear to have problems with excessive humidity and frosting. Also, maintaining a consistent temperature seems to be a bit of a problem.

Baumatic do a peltier system cheapish cooler which is also 'fan assisted.'

http://www.baumatic.co.uk/bw28bl_5_2341_25300.html

From reading threads on another, US-based site, I have heard that the Vinotemp models are also 'fan-assisted' and lead to a considerable reduction in humidity - leading to a challenge in keeping RH up.

I'm aware that some people here have had some success with wine fridges and I wondered anyone had experience or knowledge of fan assisted thermo-electric coolers, and whether the fans have a dehumidifying effect (which I think might be a preferable challenge to face than excessive humidity). In particular, does anyone have any experience of the Baumatic model above - they do tend to go for a fair price on eBay, which I assume means they're a bit cr*p.

My first batch of pancetta, btw, is going into a big plastic box with holes drilled in it (and possibly a CPU fan if it remains overly humid). Quite keen to get moving on the wine fridge set-up though before my beloved changes her mind (which, I'm told, is her prerogative).

Many thanks

James


Hey James:

I too am relatively new and am doing my first test run on chorizo today (I will post something later in cured section). I searched kijiji, made several offers on several varying wine fridges, finally I got a U-Line beverage fridge that is virtually brand new and retails for $1500 for only $50. It doesn't have an internal fan but it does hold the humidity level well. I placed half a pound of 70% humidity beads (for cigar humidors) in some flat containers all along the bottom making sure they covered as much area as possible, wet about 70% of the beads, they release and absorb moisture as needed and keep it at 70% rh. Cost me $5 on eBay and thus far they work great.

I may install a small computer fan if needed but am going to see how it does as is first. I did make a heat/cold temperature controller fo about $30 and override the internal temp controller on the fridge. I found the fridge cycled 4°c above or below what I wanted without the controller so this helps keeps it constant.

I recommend kijiji or Craigslist or something similar, you can find the fridges ranging from $25-$150 all the time, I'm sure it is similar in the U.K. A little patience pays off as it did in my case.
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Postby ComradeQ » Tue Feb 05, 2013 5:59 pm

I should add, if you get a fridge, you can easily attach a latch on it to lock. Might be a good idea with little ones. My nephews get into my fridges all the time so I will likely do that too. Don't want their grubby little fingers infecting my meat, lol!

The other day my sister woke to find them both (2 & 4) sitting on the top of her fridge, happily swinging their legs like it was nothing to be 6 feet off the ground on a fridge!
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Postby Rothermere » Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:40 am

That's great advice. Thanks ComradeQ.

As for Humidifier beads, looking on the cigar forums (which as a 1 year on non-smoker made me feel a little poignant) these seem to be the favoured brand.

http://www.heartfeltindustries.com/prod ... d=HB_05_70

1/2 a pound would seem to do the trick for about 70litres and maintain an RH of 70%

Are these the ones you used?

James
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Postby ComradeQ » Wed Feb 06, 2013 5:46 pm

Rothermere wrote:That's great advice. Thanks ComradeQ.

As for Humidifier beads, looking on the cigar forums (which as a 1 year on non-smoker made me feel a little poignant) these seem to be the favoured brand.

http://www.heartfeltindustries.com/prod ... d=HB_05_70

1/2 a pound would seem to do the trick for about 70litres and maintain an RH of 70%

Are these the ones you used?

James


Yeah those are the ones. The Heartfelt beads are supposed to be the best, I ended up buying these from eBay http://www.ebay.com/itm/Humidity-Beads- ... 1c2e45f6c3

They were cheaper and seem to work well at maintaining rh levels, recovery is about 15 mins so not too bad. The rh spiked when I added the chorizo last night up to 90%, checked again after 15 mins it was closer to 80% (I was fermenting for 12 hours with the fridge off). Once I turned the fridge on the rh went to 65% until the fridge reached 12° and now it seems to sit right at the sweet spot of 70%. I noticed thus far the fluctuations are working in my favour since the fermenting stage is best at 90% rh and curing at the 70%, just where I wanted it. Time will tell if it remains effective, early days yet.
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Postby ComradeQ » Wed Feb 06, 2013 5:50 pm

Also, you can't use too many beads, the more you have the faster your recovery time. Seeing how they work I am thinking I might have been better getting a pound, half a pound is working great but maybe extra to be safe would be a good idea. May get some more depending on the final results.
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Postby Wunderdave » Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:05 pm

I would question the use of humidifier beads, wouldn't they tend to grow mold on them, if they got drippings from your products?

It's easier but more expensive to use a RH controller with an ultrasonic humidifer.

I use a vapor compression wine fridge and when it was in my garage, i.e., not temp controlled environment it was very hit and miss and I had excessive problems with icing on the evaporator in the summer. Sorry but my experience won't be directly parallel to yours.

Now that it's in the basement with no extreme temps it works better.

I would be wary of fan-assisted cooler as excessive air movement will cause case hardening even faster than low RH, even if your RH is nominal. For this reason peltier cooled devices might work, but only if the air movement is low enough.

However IIRC there are some posts on eGullet forum in the big Charcuterie thread there that show someone using a small vinotemp fridge with success.
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Re: Wine fridges - Peltier and fan assisted queries

Postby Rothermere » Tue Feb 12, 2013 1:49 pm

Thanks Dave

I've seen a sandstrom compressor cooled model which has an integrated humidifier and fan.

http://www.pixmania.co.uk/uk/uk/1045788 ... ine-c.html

Rather difficult to tell whether it would be good or not, as I can't seem to find a manual, but given that I'll be situating the chamber in a cool annex to the kitchen, in a very old, thick walled house which has a pretty consistent temperature it might well fit the bill.

James.
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Re: Wine fridges - Peltier and fan assisted queries

Postby Rothermere » Wed Mar 20, 2013 1:23 pm

Happy to report that the Sandstrom model really seems to do what you'd hope it would.

It is a frost free model which drops the humidity every time it comes on. It possibly doesn't come on enough at the moment because of the cold weather, so humidity is at the higher side of what I'm after.

The integrated humidifier does have a noticeable effect. It is a little tray you fill with water with a diffuser and a very slow fan trained on it from above. Before I filled it, and with a couple of duck breasts freshly in there, the fridge cycled between 50% and 75-80% RH on a half hourly to hourly basis (spending more time at the upper end). With the humidifier filled it peaks at about 85%, and drops to around 55% on a similar cycle. It is probably spending more time at the upper end. I may need to find a way to cycle on the compressor more frequently. Suspect it will also do so naturally as the temperature warms up through spring.

Will wait to see what the outcome of the duck prosciutto, and then embarking on something with a bit more volume, a bresaola or lonzino. If it does work, then it may possibly be a ready-made sub-£200 option for the mechanically retarded such as myself.

James
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Re: Wine fridges - Peltier and fan assisted queries

Postby wheels » Wed Mar 20, 2013 2:33 pm

That's good to hear James - keep us posted.

Phil
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