Wine Refrigerator FAQs

EdgeStar Dual-Zone Wine Cooler - TWR215ESS

Choosing the right wine refrigerator can be overwhelming due to the many types, options and features available to you. Despite this, we have all the information you need to help pick out the best wine fridge for you and your family.

Below we answer some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to wine coolers.

  1. Freestanding vs. Built-In Wine Coolers
  2. Thermoelectric vs. Compressor-Based Wine Coolers
  3. Single Zone vs. Dual Zone Wine Coolers
  4. Wine Coolers vs. Beverage Coolers vs. Refrigerators
  5. Wine Aging and Humidity
  6. Cleaning Your Wine Cooler

Have a question we didn’t answer? Let us know in the comments below or give us a call at 1.800.297.6076.

Freestanding vs. Built-In Wine Coolers

What is the difference between a freestanding wine cooler and a built-in wine cooler?

A freestanding wine cooler is designed to stand alone while a built-in wine cooler (also called a zero clearance or under-counter wine cooler) is designed to be built into existing counters and cabinetry as they include a front vent located under the door that channels heat forward away from the unit.

What would happen if I installed a freestanding wine cooler under my counter?

A freestanding wine cooler is designed to dissipate heat from the back, so this heat cannot escape from an enclosure and eventually will overheat the unit. This overheating will in turn noticeably decrease the cooler’s ability to maintain its internal temperature and cool your wine. The unit’s compressor will attempt to overcompensate for the overheating unit and may eventually burn itself out. At the very least you run the risk of shortening the cooler’s overall lifespan as the compressor is continually overworked. You also run the risk of invalidating the manufacturer’s warranty by operating a freestanding unit in a built-in space.

Are there any options that will allow me to install a freestanding unit under my counter?

Yes, if you allow sufficient space around the unit for the heat produced during operation to properly dissipate you will be able to install a freestanding unit into a built-in space. We strongly suggest leaving a gap of 2 to 3 inches on each side of the cooler as well as on top and in the back to create the needed airflow around the unit. You will not be able to achieve a true built-in appearance with these gaps but this should allow you to utilize a freestanding unit within a built-in space.

Thermoelectric vs. Compressor-Based Wine Coolers

What exactly is thermoelectric cooling?

Many smaller wine coolers employ thermoelectric cooling instead of using a traditional compressor and refrigerant. A thermoelectric wine cooler contains a cooling node consisting of a ceramic tile that has electrical current passed through it. As the electrical current is passed through the cooling node the outside of the tile will heat up and the other side (the side facing into the cooler) will cool down. Typically, a thermoelectric wine cooler will contain small fans inside the unit which help to evenly distribute the cool temperatures being created by the node throughout the interior of the unit.

What are the advantages of thermoelectric wine coolers vs. compressor-based coolers?

Due to the lack of a compressor, thermoelectric coolers will produce fewer vibrations which in turn will equal fewer disturbances of the sediments within the wine bottles. Please keep in mind that thermoelectric wine coolers are not completely silent as the internal fans needed to distribute the cold air within the cooler do produce some noise. However, they are usually quieter than compressor driven models. Thermoelectric coolers also consume less energy than compressor units, so they cost less to operate.

On the other hand, thermoelectric coolers are limited in that they can generally only produce temperatures about 20°F lower than the temperature outside the unit. Compressor-based cooling does not have the same limitation.

Which is type of wine cooler is right for me, thermoelectric or compressor?

If you keep two cases or less on hand, the room where the cooler will be kept doesn’t get too warm, and you want a freestanding wine cooler, then a thermoelectric wine cooler is probably a good choice for you. For warmer rooms and larger collections, you’ll be better served by a compressor-based cooler. Also, most built-in models feature a compressor.

Single Zone vs. Dual Zone Wine Coolers

What’s the difference between single and dual zone wine coolers?

Single zone wine coolers have one temperature control and the storage space is undivided, so the whole cooler is set to the same temperature. This style is best if you tend to keep only white or only red wines, since they don’t have the same optimal temperatures. Dual zone wine coolers have two temperature controls and the storage space is divided into sections which may be set to their own temperatures. This style is ideal for keeping both reds and whites without resorting to two wine coolers.

What is the best way to store white and red wines in the same cooler?

Typically, white wines should be stored in the temperature range of 46°F to 56°F and red wines will be stored between 58°F to 68°F. The best way to accommodate both wines within the same unit is to purchase a dual zone wine cooler.

A dual zone cooler will allow you to maintain two distinct and separate temperature zones within the same cooler. Many times a dual zone unit will offer a larger storage capacity for one style of wine over the other so be sure to purchase the unit that best suits your individual drinking preference. You may of course store both red and white wines together in a single zone unit. By placing your red wines in the top shelves of the unit you will be storing them in the warmest section of the cooler. There is usually only a 5 to 8 degree temperature difference between the top of a single zone wine cooler and the bottom so ultimately either your red wines will be too cold or your whites too warm depending on how you choose to set the master thermostat of the unit.

May I use a wine cooler to store my other beverages?

The average wine cooler will not offer temperatures below 46°F degrees. Due to this limitation we suggest purchasing a dedicated beverage cooler or traditional refrigerator if you wish to store beverages other than wine.

Wine Coolers vs. Beverage Coolers vs. Refrigerators

What is the difference between a wine cooler, beverage cooler and refrigerator?

A wine cooler is set to a higher temperature range than a refrigerator or beverage cooler because wine should not be stored as cold as other beverages. On average a wine cooler will not offer temperatures below 46°F degrees. A beverage cooler and refrigerator are similar to each other, but beverage coolers frequently do not offer the adjustable shelves or door storage that a refrigerator often does, and they often have glass doors in order to display the contents.

A wine and beverage cooler has a wide temperature range so it may be used for either, but keep in mind if you want to store both at the same time you will either have too-cold wine or too-warm drinks depending on how you choose to set the internal thermostat.

Wine Aging and Humidity

What are the optimal conditions for aging wine?

Wine ages through a complex process of subtle chemical reactions that require specific conditions for optimal results. These conditions are a stable temperature around 55°F, a relative humidity around 70%, and protection from direct light. Even short exposures to temperature extremes can cause wine to age poorly as unwanted chemical reactions are created. For these reasons, a cellar is the ideal environment for aging wine.

How can I achieve the best aging results from my wine cooler?

The most important thing you can do is to keep the temperature at a stable 55°F – it’s crucial to eliminate variations in temperature. Look for a cooler with UV-tinted glass to minimize light disturbance to your wine, and store the cooler in a dark place. To maintain a humidity around 70%, look for a wine cooler that features humidity control or heavy insulation to help maintain a constant humidity. At the minimum, humidity must be kept at 50% to prevent corks from drying out.

Cleaning Your Wine Cooler

What’s the best way to clean my wine cooler?

  • Unplug your cooler. Remove all items from it (wine bottles, shelves, etc.)
  • Clean the inside surfaces with a mild cleaner. We suggest you use either warm water alone, or a baking soda solution (try mixing 2 tablespoons of baking soda into a quart of water.)
  • Clean the wire shelves/trays (if you have them) with a mild detergent solution.
  • Clean the wooden shelves/trays (if you have them) with a soft cloth and wood cleaner.
  • Wash the outside of the cooler with a mild detergent solution.
  • Dry any wet parts with a soft cloth.

Caution: Make sure to minimize the exposure of water to any electronic or control parts.

Learn More:

Jeff Flowers

About Author

Jeff has been a beer geek for over a decade now. When he's not chasing his daughter around, you can usually find him drinking a fresh brew and wasting tons of his time on both Google+ & Twitter.


  1. says

    Very useful post. Lots of my questions were answered here. Especially the one about undercounter vs freestanding, and the diffferences between the two different types of wine coolers. Thank you.

  2. Kings Fin Nguyen says

    Liked you posts. Very insightful on wine coolers and the common questions that I, personallly, had before buying one.

  3. Helen Nguyen says

    Thanks alot for these FAQs. I have been thinking about getting a wine cooler for awhile now, and this answered many of my questions that I had. If it wasn’t for this list of questions / answers, I likely would’ve bought the freestanding version (cheaper) and put it underneath my counters. But, clearly that would’ve been a mistake. Tank you.

  4. Alan hunt says

    any one has got condensation problem with the dual zone wine cooler. How can I get rid of the water droplets at the outside of the glass door for the cool zone?

  5. Bobby says

    Finally answered question I’ve been looking for answer to – “Can I age wine in a wine cooler?” Its worth a few more bucks for a small cooler for the handful of bottles I keep!

  6. Marcus says

    In your article you are confusing the purpose of dual zone temperature: the two zones are useful if you want to use a single cooling unit to keep wines both for aging (at 55 F, both red and white) and for serving (low-mid 60’s F, both red and white). They are not for storing white and red wines at different temperatures – which would cause your wines to develop unfavorably. If you don’t believe me – just talk to your local master sommelier. Cheers, Marcus

  7. elizabeth says

    Hi I have a question? I have a wine fridge I really don’t know Wat that but the problem is that does it suppose to be cold the temperature is 46 it don’t goes up or down but I tried it outside. I don’t know about this can someone help please thanks

  8. monty says

    I have Avanti 12 Bottle Thermoelectric Counter Wine Cooler . After doing ALOT of research on wine coolers in all price ranges, I finally chose this one because of the ability to store opened wines upright. This was one of the few in all price ranges that had this feature and its a GREAT feature, and its eye appealing.

    I have had the cooler for a week now. I drink mostly white, some red wines, and I buy a variety of wines, mostly from grocery stores and some wine places, so the bottles are always different and different sizes. I have 12 different bottles of wine in there right now and they all fit just fine. Obviously you can’t get a supersized bottle of wine in there.

    As for the sound everyone complains about, it is not bad, I have it in my kitchen and when it runs (it doesn’t run all the time) I can hear it, but its not any different than the fridge running. I guess keep that in mind if you want it in your living room. The only downfall is the display light, it looks GREAT when its on, but it has a default shut off after 10 minutes. It would be nice if it could stay on longer than that, and its not something you can adjust.

    The convexity of the front glass and the digital read is very classy and I absolutely love this unit! I keep mine at 50* for my white wines, and it works great. I put this unit underneath a counter, but you have to make sure you have ample room on each side and above for it to vent. It does put out some heat when it runs. I have 4-5 inches on each side, including in the back. I would not recommend for a tightly enclosed space.

  9. Timothy C. Bliss says

    Very useful post. Lots of my questions were answered here. Especially the one about undercounter vs freestanding, and the diffferences between the two different types of wine coolers. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *