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How to Build a Glass Wine Cellar

Tips from IWA Design Center

Single Pane or Dual Pane Glass?

Using dual paned glass in a wine cellar doubles or triples the R-Value, allowing for more efficient cooling and a quieter cellar as a result. Single pane glass is approximately R-0.9, whereas double paned glass is R-2. Special thermal double glass can bring the value up to R-3. The thickness of the glass doesn’t significantly change its R-value—what matters is the gap between the panes of glass, and the type of gas (or vacuum) between the panes.

The higher the R-value of glass enclosures, the less powerful and therefore quieter a cooling unit will be needed. Single pane glass causes higher energy usage and louder decibel levels to keep up with the temperature losses. Single pane glass is more susceptible to moisture condensation than dual pane.

Detailed glass heat loss chart

Does Glass Thickness Matter?

There is little impact on R-Value based on glass thickness; choosing single rather than double pane will have a dramatic affect.

What Type of Glass?

Glass in a wine cellar should be tempered safety glass for an increase of strength, and UV coated to diminish the effect of ultraviolet radiation on wine bottles in the cellar.

Cooling a Glass Cellar

Ideal conditions for storing and aging wine are 55 to 60°F and 60% to 70% relative humidity. Using high R-value insulation and having an airtight seal are crucial in a primarily glass cellar. It is important for the edges of the glass to be carefully sealed when closed, eg for glass doors, to minimize moisture infiltration into the cellar.

The R-Value of the cellar has such a major impact on cooling unit sizing, be careful when relying on estimates from manufacturers, and take advantage of our free thermal load calculation service.

Choosing Door Frames

- Frameless
This spectacular display generally uses single pane glass, many times sourced from shower-door manufacturers. Be aware that these doors provide minimal R-Value, therefore the cooling unit sizing will be larger, and extra steps must be taken to ensure that the door is sealed airtight when it is closed, otherwise the cooling unit will be producing a constant flow of condensate, which will need to be drained and may affect the performance and longevity of the cooling unit.

- Metal Frames
A clean, minimalist look, metal frames can be proud or recessed to achieve a streamlined design while retaining the advantages of using double paned glass. As with other doors, achieving an airtight seal when the doors are closed is the paramount concern

- Wood Frames
Ideal for traditional cellars with wood racking, wood-framed doors can be matched and stained to match the racks inside the cellar. Again, all doors must seal the cellar so that it is airtight when the doors are closed.

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