You’ve decided to install a built-in wine or beverage cooler to replace an outdated appliance, add a wet bar, renovate your kitchen, or maybe even do both! But does a wine fridge need a dedicated circuit? How challenging would installing it yourself be? Contrary to popular belief, installing an under-counter cooler is rather simple.
To guide you through the process, we’ve created an outline of factors to consider, along with preparation and installation processes. The following instructions will help you locate the ideal cooler for your space, install your current cooler in your kitchen or wet bar, and finish the installation, whether you currently own a cooler or are looking to buy one for your space.
What Exactly is a Dedicated Circuit?
A dedicated circuit is made to make sure that an appliance has access to enough power without taxing the system. The National Electric Code, or NFPA 70, refers to an “individual branch circuit”; the word “dedicated circuit” is a layman’s name for it.
Does a Wine Fridge Need a Dedicated Circuit?
The size of the cooler and the required number of watts or amps will determine the circuit needed for a wine cooler. It would be ideal to use a dedicated circuit if the wine cooler was included in the wiring of a new home.
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How Crucial is Having a “Dedicated Outlet” for a Wine Fridge?
For optimal performance, wine fridges should be connected to a dedicated outlet that’s properly grounded. This is because the continuous operation of the refrigerator can cause fluctuations in voltage or current, which can kick off your breaker and damage your appliance.
In addition, it’s important to ensure that you have a correctly sized electrical circuit for your wine fridge. This will help to ensure that your fridge has the necessary power for it to run efficiently and not overwork the electrical system in your home.
Benefits of Installing a Dedicated Circuit for Your Wine Fridge
- You will be able to control the power consumption of your wine cooler and reduce electricity bills.
- Running a dedicated circuit means that other appliances won’t affect the performance of the fridge, resulting in a consistent temperature inside and outside of the appliance.
- Dedicated circuits are designed to prevent overloads as they are not shared with other appliances.
- They also provide a higher level of safety as the appliance can be easily disconnected from the main power source in case of emergency.
- Dedicated circuits allow for better energy efficiency, which is important if you need a more powerful wine fridge like those made with compressor systems.
- Installing a dedicated circuit will also provide peace of mind knowing that your wine collection is stored safely and securely.
What Occurs if a Wine Fridge is Not Connected to a Dedicated Circuit?
If not connected to a dedicated circuit, you may experience brownouts or power surges when using other appliances.
Moreover, your wine fridge may suck too much power out of the outlet and cause damage to both your appliance and your home’s wiring.
Therefore, all wine fridges must be connected to a dedicated outlet for maximum performance and safety.
How Much Power Do Wine Fridges Require?
Wine fridges use less electricity than traditional refrigerators because they don’t need to keep items as cold. While normal fridges consume between 350-800 watts of electricity, wine fridges usually use only around 90 watts.
Your energy consumption will depend on what type of wine cooler you use. In general, thermoelectric fridges use more energy and electricity than compressor fridges because they run continuously.
If you’re choosing a small fridge, the thermoelectric option will use slightly less energy compared to the compressor fridge. However, for larger fridges, thermoelectric fridges will use twice the amount of energy due to their increased size, which results in a significant increase in electricity usage.
To determine the wattage, multiply the voltage by the amperage when buying a wine fridge, especially if unsure. Despite being compared to larger appliances in your home, wine fridges consume relatively low amounts of electricity when utilized properly and effectively.
Small Wine Fridges
To save some money on electricity consumption, it is more efficient to choose a thermoelectric fridge if you need a unit with a capacity of 30 bottles or less.
For example, a 28-bottle thermoelectric cooler will consume an average of only 70 watts, while a compressor unit of the same size will require 85 watts of running power.
Although both fridges will have a minimal effect on your monthly bill, the thermoelectric one will be more cost-effective.
Large Wine Fridges
If you need a wine fridge with a capacity of over 30 bottles, the compressor system is more efficient.
Even when comparing a 32-bottle wine fridge, there is only a small difference in internal capacity between the two units.
The compressor system still uses 85 watts, while the thermoelectric unit requires twice as much power at 140 watts on average.
Shared or a Single Circuit?
It is important to think about the circuit type required for your wine cooler. Generally, wine coolers that hold up to 30 bottles can be connected to a shared circuit, but it is recommended to use a dedicated circuit for safety reasons.
Wine fridges available in the market typically operate on either 120V or 240V AC, which is dependent on their size, and they need a 20-Amp circuit breaker.
The 120V fridges can function well on a shared circuit provided that you connect the cooler to a dedicated outlet that is not shared with other appliances. Avoid using cord extensions and sharing outlets to prevent overloading.
To install your 240V unit, a dedicated single circuit connected to the main network is almost always required. Unless you have already prepared a dedicated circuit in your home before purchasing the appliance, only an electrician will be able to perform the installation.
How to Determine Wattage?
Manufacturers sometimes don’t provide the accurate wattage of their appliances. If you plan to use the wine fridge with a power generator during outages, it’s essential to know the exact wattage. But, if you’re not worried about power consumption while using the fridge at home, this information may not matter to you.
Manufacturers are required to reveal the voltage and amperage of their units, even if they do not provide the exact wattage. With this information, you can calculate the wattage using a simple formula and basic math.
Volts x Amperes = Watts
For example: 120V x 1.5A = 180 Watts
It may still be safe to add 10-20% of the wattage calculation, just in case your wine cooler is using more power than what the manufacturer has provided.
Expenses Per Month On Average For A Wine Fridge
In this maze of watts, volts, amperes, types of cooling elements, and sizes, it may be difficult to get to the point and figure out how much the wine fridge will cost you. So, let me give you a direct, frank response to your query.
A wine cooler may cost you between $3 and $9 a month depending on the technology it employs, its size, and its age.
A++ class technology indicates that a modest thermoelectric wine refrigerator will typically add $36 to your annual electricity expenditure. On the other hand, if you use the same A++ class technology, a sizable compressor wine fridge will only cost you $108 more a year.
When you weigh these modest sums against the benefit of storing wine in a special appliance, you’ll see that they were all money well spent.
Tips for Saving Energy When Using Wine Fridges
- Make sure to check the temperature inside your wine cooler regularly and adjust it accordingly.
- Keep the temperature at an optimal level, usually between 44 – 59 degrees Fahrenheit (7-15°C). This will prevent damage to your bottles and save energy in the long run.
- Make sure you give your wine fridge adequate ventilation by keeping it away from other appliances and furniture.
- Keep the door of your wine cooler closed as much as possible to prevent temperature fluctuations that can damage the bottles inside.
- Choose a thermoelectric model instead of a compressor system if you don’t need a large capacity for your collection and want to save energy.
- If you plan to use the wine cooler with a generator in case of power outages, make sure to check the exact wattage before purchasing.
- Regularly check if all seals are tight and secure on your appliance door to prevent excessive energy consumption due to air leakage.
- Clean the condenser coils regularly to keep the appliance running efficiently.
- Reducing the humidity inside your wine cooler by using a dehumidifier will also help save energy.
- Lastly, consider investing in an automated thermostat that can be programmed to adjust temperatures according to your needs and preferences, saving energy in the process.
Can I connect a refrigerator to a standard outlet?
Standard 100-120 volt electrical plugs and outlets are compatible with the majority of refrigerators. You’ll see that the electrical socket has three prongs, indicating that you’ll require an outlet with three inserts.
What is the amp usage of a small wine refrigerator?
According to this discussion, a wine refrigerator of unknown capacity only uses 3 amps.
Can I use an extension cord to plug in a wine refrigerator?
Avoid using an extension cord because there may be safety risks in some situations. If an extension cable is required, only 3-wire extension cords with 3-blade grounding plugs and 3-slot outlets that can accommodate the plug should be used.
What is the purpose of a dedicated circuit for a refrigerator?
According to the National Electrical Code, large electrical appliances like electric water heaters, refrigerators, etc need their circuits to operate safely and without taxing the home’s electrical system.
What size breaker do I need for a wine cooler?
It is necessary to have a regular electrical supply (115V AC only, 60 Hz), which must be correctly grounded in line with local laws and the National Electrical Code. Avoid twisting or pinching the appliance’s power cable. The circuit breaker or fuse should have a 15 amp rating.
Do you need a 20 amp circuit to run a tiny fridge?
A tiny fridge can indeed be powered by a 15-amp circuit. The majority of tiny refrigerators use less than 2 amps of electricity, which is under the required 80% threshold of 15 amps, or 12 amps.
Which Electrical Appliances Need a Separate Circuit for Safety?
Although modern household appliance circuits are frequently designed to tolerate high electrical loads, the National Electrical Code (NEC), as recommended by the National Fire Protection Agency, demands that large appliances and some smaller ones operate on their dedicated circuits. Local electric codes may have stricter restrictions but are often based on the NEC.
Because they typically require higher wattage to operate, large appliances and heat-generating devices may demand more current than a general-use circuit can safely handle. Thus, avoid posing a fire risk! Your appliances will run more efficiently and safely if you are aware of which items need a dedicated circuit.
Can a refrigerator operate on a shared circuit?
Among noncontinuous duty loads, refrigerators fall. As long as the aggregate load does not exceed the circuit breaker rating, it is acceptable for noncontinuous loads to share a circuit with other noncontinuous loads. Loads that draw current for no longer than three hours at a time are covered by this guideline.
Do small refrigerators require their circuits?
Placing the refrigerator on a separate, dedicated circuit is the best practice for houses. Although they frequently utilize 3 to 6 amps, refrigerators can use up to 15 amps at once. Consider worst-case scenarios as much as possible.
“Does a wine fridge need a dedicated circuit?”, the answer is yes. The cost of owning a wine fridge is low, and there are numerous advantages to the device. With your new purchase, you’ll be able to cool your wines to the appropriate serving temperature and humidity while bragging to relatives and friends.
I like thermoelectric wine fridges for wine storage because they are smaller, less expensive to run, environmentally friendly, silent, and don’t disturb the sediment in my bottles. The compressor, however, just does a better job of chilling my wine in the hot Californian climate, so for me, it’s a need.
You should be able to choose the type of wine cooler that is appropriate for you now that you are aware of the normal electricity needs and operating costs of a wine chiller.
With over a decade of experience in viticulture, Simon Conner is the perfect writer to help you find and maintain your prized vintages. As an expert on food, wine, and kitchen products, he offers his expertise to guide clients through every step involved with collecting and selling wines.