WINE COOLERS AND CRANNIES
I receive many calls a month from people that have uniquely sized “crannies and nooks” that they would like to place a wine or beverage cooler in. A cranny is a small narrow opening in a wall and a nook is defined as any small recess. Often these areas are old desk knee spaces with a countertop or other areas with previously built-in custom but off-size cabinetry. The goal is to install and build-in a wine or beverage cooler into the confined space to give it an under counter finished appearance.
Wine and beverage refrigerators, used in built-in applications, with few exceptions come in standard kitchen cabinet size widths, depths and heights. The most common widths are 15 inches wide or 24 inches wide, although sometimes one can find a product that is 12 or 18 inches wide. Typical cabinetry depths are 24 inches and heights around 34 inches. Most pantry size built-in appliances can be as tall as 65 to 70 inches. No matter what brand of wine or beverage cooler you might opt for there is a high degree of consistency regarding the dimensions of these under counter products.
If the desire is to place these wine cooler appliances in a confined space, you must also consider how that placement will affect the cooling efficiency of the product. In order to install one of these appliances in a zero-clearance situation, they must be front-vented, similar to standard upright refrigerators. The front vent carries the heat given off by the cooling process and allows it to disperse away from the appliance. If a wine cooler or beverage center is rear vented, as most all free-standing ones are, the heat will build up in the confined space, make the cooling appliance run harder than it was designed for and ultimately “burn it out”.
Free standing cooling appliances for wine and beverage cans are designed and built with a broad range of differing widths, depths and heights. Customers often find one that will fit their particular cranny dimensions and want to use it in a built-in application. Stand-alone wine and beverage coolers require specified clearances in order to operate efficiently given their rear-vented design. I usually recommend minimum clearances of at least 3 inches around the sides and top of the appliance and at least 6 inches for the rear-vented back. If these clearances aren’t accommodated when installing a free standing unit, the unit will most surely fail before it’s time.
One customer had a cabinetry nook that was ideally 24 inches wide and 24 inches deep but was short by a half an inch on the height. The customer called me and after hearing about the height deficiency and the specific design characteristics, I found an easy solution, remove the ceramic tile from the floor of the nook to gain the needed height for the built-in cooler she wanted to purchase. Additionally, some under counter wine coolers have adjustable legs that can be dialed into the proper height needed.
The dilemma of trying to retro fit a pre-sized purchased product into a nook or cranny to enhance the appearance of your home and business needs a cautioned approach. Putting the wrong appliance in a place where it can’t function properly is begging for failure. I believe the best approach, to cranny or nook remodeling to incorporate a wine or beverage refrigerator, would be to remove the cranny’s restricted construction and start with new appropriate sized cabinetry that will give you the finished look that will enhance the decor of your home. You won’t regret the extra expense for assuring success.
Author: Ronald Senn, Vice-president, Ideal Wine Coolers