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Wine Coolers 101

built-in wine cooler

Mention a wine cooler, and my mind wanders to the French countryside, maybe say… Burgundy. A beautiful wine country, just south of Paris, Burgundy grows fine grapes to make exceptional Pinot Noir red wines and Chardonnay white wines. Yes, I have actually visited there once.

A bit of brie, a picnic basket and a beautiful smile….ok, I have to get back to work!

EdgeStar carries a wide variety of wine coolers, both the thermoelectric, or TE coolers, and the more familiar compressor-based ones. It is very important to note that no matter which one you choose certain guidelines must be observed.

The first item of note is which way the door will swing. Factory configurations usually have it set to open from left to right,  and occasionally, customers want the door to swing the other way, from right to left. Happily, the vast majority of the EdgeStar wine cooler line allows the customer to do exactly that.

The next consideration will be placement of the unit. Most customers prefer to place the unit in such a fashion that it appears to have been built in, under a counter, or in a cabinet. The compressor-based units are preferred candidates, because they vent from the front at the bottom of the cooler. With that in mind, I present a bit of advice for the value minded customer that purchases one of our fine EdgeStar thermoelectric coolers to reproduce the exact same look in their kitchen…

The thermoelectric series of wine coolers are an excellent product, but if you build them in, or put them under a counter, they will overheat, and will live a very short life.

This is due to the fact that they generate a LOT of heat from the back of the unit, and although the cooling is fan forced, they absolutely must be installed in a free standing environment. We mean it, folks, no joke.

Leveling is very important when installing one of our wine coolers, especially the compressor-based ones. An unbalanced compressor will be noisy and will fail early. Use a bubble level to make sure the leveling is done correctly, and try to use a level that has a magnetic strip attached, that’s handy for not only horizontal level, but vertical leveling as well.

Regular cleaning of both the intake and exhaust grills on both types of coolers is also very important, I recommend doing a complete cleaning at least once every 6 months. Use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment for best results.

Last but not least, I recommend using a surge protector on all of our wine coolers, but especially the thermoelectric units. Most kitchens these days have outlets that are GFCI protected (think wine cooler falling in the pool), but not surge protected. Surge protectors can be picked up at most retail electronic stores at reasonable prices. The really good protectors will stop passing power when they are worn out.

That’s all for this week. See you later!

Dave

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Portable Dishwasher Basics

Portable Dishwasher

Ah, the portable dishwasher…that lowly box that resides on your countertop. Daily, it does it’s job without complaint, swallowing whole dirty dishes, and returns them sparkling clean in just an hour’s time. Over time though, your machine might start to seem sluggish, so here are some tips to help you get the most out of your dishwasher.

 

How to Help Your Portable Dishwasher:

- Pre-wash those dishes! I know it’s easier to rinse it off a little bit, and shove it in the washer, but if you can get just about all of the food particles off the plate, it’ll clean much easier.

- Use a good quality detergent. Cheap detergents contain lots of filler, mostly silicates, which scrub the dishes, but do nothing to disinfect. I’m not partial when it comes to brands, but Cascade ™ is a proven detergent, and tough to beat among liquids and powders.

- Make sure the incoming water is sufficiently heated. 118 degrees F-125 degrees F is a good range. Low temp water will not sanitize during the rinse cycle, and detergents don’t work well in cold water. They tend to clump up and leave residue on dishes.

- Run an empty cycle once a month with a 50% solution of vinegar and water through the washer. Hard water clogs spray arms and filters, and coats the inside of the wash chamber, making it tough to properly clean those dishes. By the way, most dishwashers today have stainless steel interiors and will easily discolor, so don’t use harsh chemicals as they can permanently damage the finish.

 

That’s all for this week, follow these tips, and let your dishwasher work harder, so you don’t have to!

Dave’s Tip of The Week: Clean your appliance’s air and water filters on a regular basis; your appliance will thank you for it.

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Simple Tips for a Great Appliance

In this installment, I will be covering some basic tips to help appliance owners maintain their products for a long and trouble-free lifespan. These are simple tips that anyone, including you, can do!

Lets get started…

Unpacking

So, you just took delivery of your new appliance from Living Direct…and you’re so excited! It’s new, shiny, and just what you wanted! There you are, the product is unpacked, and ready to install, so…

STOP!!!

Folks, let’s grab a cup of coffee and sit back with that new owner’s manual. I know, it’s easy to say that you don’t need to, the product is so easy to use, so why do I need to waste time reading the manual?

Because it will help familiarize you with all of the controls, installation, maintenance, and perhaps just as important, it gives you the chance to read through the warranty, so if, in the unlikely event that you have a problem with the unit, you know who to call, what information to have ready when you call, and it gives you an understanding of what to expect when you speak with the service agent.

We really do value you as a customer and we want a good rapport with you.

Installation

Make sure that you follow all of the installation instructions provided with the unit. That is a vital step. Just like building a home, the foundation is the most important part. A good installation sets the stage for a long product life and a happy customer. If you have the right skills to install the product, go for it! If not, you’ll want to contact a qualified appliance tech to help you do it right.

Product Usage

Make sure you are familiar with the product controls, menu functions, and understand just exactly what the unit is designed to do. Again, the manual will come in handy. If you have further questions, contact us. We’ll have a friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful agent waiting for you!

Maintenance

Each and every unit, no matter how often it is used, will eventually need some sort of maintenance. It’s a fact. Air conditioners need regular filter cleaning, have the water accumulation drained from it’s storage tank, and set up correctly for maximum performance. Dishwashers need a good supply of hot water, good quality detergent, and the right voltage to do the job right. Wine coolers need regular cleaning to remove dust and debris from internal parts, and good airflow to keep that wine cool. Power surge protection is highly recommended!

Conclusion

So, as you can see, there are things that you can do to make your purchase a wise investment. I wanted to give you an overview first, and in my next blog post, we’ll start to focus on individual products, and we will get down to the nuts-and-bolts of each. I have lots of tips to help you “keep ‘er humming” day after day for years to come!

Dave’s Tip of the Week: “Safety First! Unplug that unit before doing any maintenance!”

Previous Post: Appliance Terminology Overview

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Appliance Terminology Overview

I think a good way to start this blog post series will be to explain some appliance terminology and what it all means. A short encyclopedia, if you will. This is not necessarily all in alphabetical order.

I might get a little technical, but I’ll try to apply the K.I.S.S. rule (keep it simple, stupid) wherever I can.

Technology

Compressor-Based System: An appliance that uses a compressor, or pump, with a closed refrigeration system, and uses a refrigerant to cool a particular space.  This could be a refrigerator, wine cooler (some), kegerator or deep freezer. Common refrigerants include R134A and R410A, among others.

Thermoelectric / TE: An appliance that uses electronics/electricity to cool a small space without the use of refrigerants. These typically consist of a cooling node (Peltier effect) and fans to distribute the air inside the cabinet and dissipate the heat to the outside. They are, for the most part, efficient, although there are a few drawbacks, especially if you are trying to build it into a cabinet.  I’ll delve into that in a later post, along with what exactly a Peltier unit is in simple terms.

LED: Refers to a Light Emitting Diode, which is a commonly used electronic component. All diodes allow electricity to flow in one direction only. Think of it as a one way street, except this one glows when the electric flows. They are used for operation and mode indicators, and also for general lighting purposes. Sometimes they use different colors and are commonly used to highlight and display wines in wine coolers.

Cooling Fans: This will mostly apply to thermoelectric, or TE, wine coolers. They do different jobs: some distribute the cooled air inside the cabinet or at the evaporator coil on compressor-based units, and others get rid of the hot air at the back of the cabinet or from the condenser coils on compressor-based units. Most of them consist of the same small DC-powered fans you find in your desktop computer.

Product Descriptions

Countertop Dishwasher   Portable Air Conditioner   Portable Ice Maker   Kegerator   Portable Freezer Refrigerator   Wine Cooler

Portable Dishwasher: This isn’t the one your mom used to roll around the kitchen and store in a corner. These actually are small enough to sit on a countertop. These are really simple to install. Most come with two hoses, a drain and supply, and a quick connector to attach to a standard kitchen faucet, in place of the aerator. They are typically not meant for a permanent installation. They come in different sizes and capacities, also.

Portable Air Conditioner: An alternative to the typical, window-mounted A/C unit. These usually have one hose used to exhaust out the hot air produced during the cooling process, though some will also have an intake hose. They are mounted on casters, so they can be moved room to room. Most will evaporate the majority, if not all, of the water produced in the exhaust air, but if they don’t get rid of all of it, they will usually have a drain at the bottom of the unit to get rid of the collected water. Portable air conditioners usually will require a 15 amp circuit to run properly, although there are some that require 20 amps or more. Most will come with a window fitting kit that is easily assembled, as they have to be vented to the outside of the room being cooled in most cases.

Portable Ice Maker: An ice maker that is small enough to sit on a counter, produces 6-12 cubes at a time, uses a self-contained water supply and storage for the ice after the cycle is complete. These are not high volume units. Typically, they will not refrigerate the ice and it will melt back into the water tank to start the process over yet again. I recommend moving each batch of ice out of the ice maker and into your regular freezer.

Kegerator: A refrigerated appliance used to keep beer cold and dispense beer. Usually has a connected tower and faucet, with dispenser head to pour the beer and on board CO2 storage to pressurize the beer. They also usually have casters for portability and can be used with multiple beers of your choice, sometimes more than one keg can be used (called a dual tap kegerator). Some kegerators are much smaller and utilize a 5 liter mini keg. These are fairly new on the market. The larger kegerators fit a half shell sankey keg, or Cornelius keg. Some of the mini keg 5 liter units will run on 12V DC and are popular with tailgaters.

Portable Freezer / Refrigerator: These are unique, as they can be used in a vehicle, or boat, or while camping and for emergency uses. Some use compressor-based refrigeration, while others use TE technology. A TE unit typically will not be able to refrigerate to freezing or below, and they will usually be good for 40 degrees F below the ambient temperature around the unit. Think short term storage,  like trips to the grocery store. The compressor-based units are infinitely more flexible, allowing for -0 degrees F operation, up through 50+ degrees F, in most cases. Both can be operated from 12V DC and 120V AC, depending on the model. Each type has their pluses and minuses and I will cover those later. Personally, I like them both!

Wine Cooler: These come in a wide variety of sizes and capacities.  The same can be said for the refrigeration system used. While they have a large temperature range to work with, the TE models generally will hold wines from 45 degrees F-65 degrees F, depending on the ambient temperature of the room they are located in. A compressor-based unit will usually hold wines at 40 degrees F or less, and can be built into a cabinet, as the condenser coil and fan is at the bottom front of the unit. One thing to  remember with wine coolers in general:  They are designed for long term STORAGE, not drinkability, and that applies to TE units in particular. Again, that is a general guideline, so YMMV, or Your Mileage May Vary. (I love acronyms, don’t you?)

Til next time!

Dave

Previous Post: What is a small appliance, anyway?

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What is a small appliance anyway?

Toasters     Mini Kegerator     Compact Refrigerator

Well, a small appliance could be just about anything… a toaster, for example, or a wine cooler, or a kegerator, or a portable air conditioner… ok, you get the idea. These are not major appliances, and only have lifespans ranging from 2-10 years, on average.

Primarily, I will be focusing on some of the more popular kitchen, garage and man-cave must-have appliances in my posts. My job is to help with set up of the appliance and care for it, so it lasts much longer than the warranty does. I will not have many pictures in my posts, due to the fact that there are so many different models on the market, and the instructions that come with your new unit will supersede anything here, so this is meant to be generic in nature.

I’m sure there will be questions, comments and advice from everyone. Great! I’ll answer some of them in my posts, and later, I’ll set up a Q & A to help answer some of the more common ones, if I can do that.

I should have a new post up every week. I look forward to posting and seeing what people have to say, along with the good, the bad and the ugly.

Stay tuned!

Dave

Editor’s Note: Dave S. is an EdgeStar Technician and product specialist with Living Direct. He will be writing a weekly column on this blog to explain technical terms used when dealing with appliances, product guides and general helpful information when it comes to purchasing and using appliances. Please feel free to ask questions in the comments and Dave will do his best to help you out.

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