Here's the long version of the story. If you want to "cut to the chase," skip to the last paragraph:
My wife and I bought a house in July. Part of the appeal of the home was that it had a wine cellar. Nothing fancy, mind you. There is nice stonework around the door, and just a little bit of racking. I'd guess the whole thing is probably between 500-600 cubic feet. We don't live in a palace by any means, but its the kind of house in the suburbs where you wouldn't be surprised to see a wine cellar.
I have a growing wine collection -- big enough so that we are well outside the confines of a stand-alone unit. We had been keeping it in relatively cool basement (I'd guess the temp was a pretty constant 65 degrees) -- far from ideal, but not bad for Atlanta, Georgia. Anyway, as you can see, if we hope to put any significant age on any of these bottles, a wine cellar was a boon for us.
So we bought the house. The first thing I did was put a little electronic thermometer in the cellar that would keep track of the high and low temperatures. This is, keep in mind, August in Atlanta. I was disturbed to see that the temp fluctuated from around 60-72 degrees. Not good! Our old basement was better than that.
This triggered "The Great Cellar Investigation of September." What I can now report is that we do not have a wine cellar, its just a room with a fancy door. The "cooling unit" (and I use that term very loosely) constituted a vent connected to our AC system -- very sophisticated! I guess we were lucky the heat wasn't hooked up to it, too. I also discovered that the "wall" was either the exterior brick veneer of the house (you exit the basement under our back patio to get to the "wine cellar") or stucco-covered plywood. I am not making this up. It also turns out that the wine racking is a series of modular units from Williams Sonoma bungee-corded to the wall.
So I've brought in a guy who is going to help us with the problem. We're going to frame up the walls, use a proper vapor barrier, insulation, weather stripipng -- the works. Because our "wine room" is a decent shell for the construction, I am pleased that the expense isn't going to be too bad (assuming we skip the walnut racking the builder is trying to sell us).
All of this leads me to my question: we need to buy a cooling unit. With around 500 cubic feet, I don't think we need a split system. Anyone have any advice for me. Obviously, I'd rather spend less than more, but I don't want to replace the damned thing in two years because we're loading the system too much. Remember, I'm in Atlanta, and my door and about 1/4 of one wall are above grade. Whisperkool or Breezeaire? Where should I buy -- I've seen some decent prices on line. Any other ideas? Do I need one of those bottle thermometer thingies?
Semper ubi sub ubi!