Random Musings

My Odyssey of Buying a New Cooling Unit for the Wine Cellar

My wine cellar was built in 2007 shortly after moving into my new house. The house dates back to the 1940’s and has a daylight basement. I converted a spare bedroom on the east side of the basement into a cellar. The cellar was built to pretty much ideal specs with a vapor barrier, insulation, etc. The one modification I made this time around is I had grown tired of looking at a cooling unit in my two previous cellars. The cooling unit in this cellar was installed in what had been the bedroom closet and racks were put in front of the cooling unit. I understand this could potentially impact flow of air to and from the cooling unit but decided to role the dice as my racks allow for better airflow than traditional racks.

In previous cellars I had used the Breezeaire 4400 so I had that same unit installed in this cellar. The unit worked perfectly despite wine racks being in front of the unit. The cellar cooled to my ideal temperature of 53-55 degrees. Since 2007 I have gone through several units as I understand the life cycle of these units is 4-7 years. This past October my unit gave out again.

I called Vintage Cellars in San Marcos, CA and inquired about pricing on a new unit. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised but pricing had gone up by almost a $1000 since I last purchased one. All in with shipping, I was looking at $2900. The salesperson suggested I consider the CellarCool CX 4400 produced by WhisperKool. The CellarCool unit was essentially the same as the Breezeaire but $500 less expensive. I was sold!

The CellarCool unit arrived a few days later and I promptly installed it in my cellar. After several days of running the cellar had only cooled to 60 degrees. I called WhisperKool customer service and was told it would take several days for the unit to acclimate and that I should be patient. After several more days the cellar was still at 60 degrees. Once again I called customer service and they had me send pictures of the cellar and various temperature readings. Later, after several more calls I was informed by customer service that the unit did not cool my cellar to 55 degrees because the racks in front of the unit were likely causing air flow issues. I explained this had never been the case with 3 previous Breezeaire units to no avail. I asked about returning the unit and paying the 10% restocking fee only to be told that was not an option. Unless you can follow the precise specs of a CellarCool install my advice would be to steer clear from CellarCool.

Despite being very upset I knew my only fallback was to order a Breezeaire unit. My Breezeaire unit came a few days later. I installed the unit and within a day my cellar was 55 degrees! This despite racks in front of the unit. I was pleased to a point but did notice that the unit was making a vibrating noise that none of my previous Breezeaires had made. After a little troubleshooting with Manny in the Breezeaire customer service department we determined the problem was the grate on the front of the unit vibrating against the unit. Manny advised me to tighten the screws which I did but the vibrating noise continued. Manny then advised that I remove the grate, bend it slightly inward and then reattach. I was somewhat shocked that Breezeaire customer service was advising me to bend the grate on my unit to eliminate a vibrating noise. Clearly this was a known issue and that was the fix. I followed Manny’s instructions but the vibrating noise is still present. Can you imagine the customer service department at a high end company like Viking or Thermador suggesting you bend the grate on your new refrigerator? At this point I was leaving to go on a much needed vacation and decided to accept my current situation.

So I now have a cellar cooling to 55 degress with a slightly noisier than expected Breezeaire unit. Moving forward I would never recommend the WhisperKool CellarCool and would be hard pressed to recommend Breezeaire.

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12 thoughts on “My Odyssey of Buying a New Cooling Unit for the Wine Cellar

  1. WOW, what a terrible experience, Tom. So, you exchanged the CellarCool unit for the pricier Breezeaire unit and paid the extra $500 difference in price? Ouch, $2900 and it’s still not exactly what you hoped for. How many bottles does your wine cellar hold max?

  2. Breezaire has No issues with the vibration noises, a viration noise comes from instalation issues. Look at the style of racks on the picture, not the best style.

  3. I installed a Breezaire WKL 4000 in Jan 2017 ($1,500). It cooled to 55F nicely and was quite. It died summer of 2023. I ordered a new one in July 2023 ($2,760) and although it cools nicely to 55F, it does have a noisy vibration. It’s in the basement and we can hear it in the living room. My wife hates it.

  4. Tom, I had same experience with Whisperkool in 2014. After I provided documentation about the construction of my cellar, they found other excuses why their unit could not reach temp below 60 degrees.

    Horrible customer service and product, can’t believe company is still in business!

  5. Do you have a post about how your racks are built? I’m in the process of building a cellar in my basement and I think I like your style better than others. Thanks!

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