Yet Another Wine-Coolidor Thread

Fuscat

New Member
Ok, here is the situation. Been looking at these and following these threads for a long time now. For fathers day the wife splurged and got me one. However it is not thermo-electric. Is this going to be a major issue? It sounds like the units that are not thermo-electric have big swings in humidity when the compressor comes on.

My big questions are these:

1. Is the swing in humidity a major problem, or just an inconveniance of the mind. Meaning that it really won't have much effect to the cigars themselves, but you will know its happening and it may drive you crazy to think about.

2. Is there anything you can do to the non-thermo electric units to help combat against the swing in humidity if it is infact a big problem?

The problem is this is the second unit and I no longer have the box for it. So I don't think I can take it back. The first unit was completely broken when I unboxed it. So I returned it and got another unit. I unboxed it and cleaned it up and everything and this morning was trash day so the box went by-by. Now I am thinking about it and have done a bit more researching into it and I am thinking that while the size was good (3.2cu ft / 35 bottle) for the price ($125) it still might not work very well since it is a compressor unit instead of thermo-electric.

Any thoughts here??

**edited to correct a sentence**
 

rynmoon

New Member
I am working on setting up a Thermo model right now. I have read threads about the compressor type and plenty of people have made them work. I would just go ahead and dive in. From what I understand with the compressor types is you should get a Radio Shack Hygro with sensors and put them in empty boxes so you get a better idea of what the RH would be to your cigars. I would say to you to make a plan of attack on setting that bad boy up. Think things through and write your thoughs down. I rushed a few things on mine and had a few goof-ups. Get it up and running and see what it does. You may not have problems or you may encounter some but at least you will know where your at. Problems are easier to fix when you know what they are. Good luck with your project.
 

ThankYouForNotSmoking

Self-Proclaimed Everyman's Man
I have a thermo unit and I still experience fluctuations in humidity. I know there is at least one other on this board who reports the same problem. But, it's not a huge deal unless you are planning on leaving unboxed, un-cello'd cigars out and your room is going to be over 75 degrees. You'd be surprised how often they need to turn on to stay within a specific range.

If possible, I'd recommend trying to get a thermo one, it's one less thing to worry about. I'm sure you can make the compressor models work, but it will be a touch more difficult and less hands-free.
 

Fuscat

New Member
Well I decided to go ahead and make this unit work. I really like it, and I think I should be able to get it working. After doing some more reading, I found out the possibility of an adjuster screw on the thermostat. First plan of action is to try to get the temperature to the correct level. Meanwhile I will be ordering a pound of 70% beads from Viper to start working on the humidity.

I'm sure more questions will follow!
 

ThankYouForNotSmoking

Self-Proclaimed Everyman's Man
I think I'd recommend splurging on a Cigar Oasis because I think it would more effectively adjust the humidity and avoid swings. Passive humidification is great if you can avoid hourly or even bi-hourly swings, but, otherwise it's not. I really think an active unit would be better in your situation.

Try the beads, ask around on the board, I know someone else is using a compressor unit with beads. But, I honestly think an Oasis would work much better.
 

Fuscat

New Member
Heres an update on the current state of the coolidor. I fiddled around with what I thought was a thermostat adjustment on the unit, but did not have any success. I decided to set it at medium cool and just monitor it for a few days. To my sprise the unit has a HUGE band for the cooling adjustment, this is not good. I measured it each day over 3 days with a digital hygro that stores min & max temp & humidity. When set at medium cooling the unit cools to 53f. BUT it would swing all the way up to the 80's before the compressor kicks on to cool it back down to the 53f. This isn't even good for wine! I was kinda suprised at the performance of this unit, but then you take into account the price paid for it ($125 for a 35 bottle unit) and I guess I am not too suprised.

No biggie tho, I went ahead and ordered a Ranco ETC-111000 Digital Temperature Controller. (like the johnson controls unit) This will let me keep it @ 70f all the time with out any worry.

My first goal was to work on the temperature, then move on to humidity. After talking with a guy over a smoke at the B&M, he suggested since I was keeping the unit in the basement, to just unlpug it completely and see what I get. He is running his avanti unit this way and said he had outstanding results, and it isn't using any electricity at all! When I got home I decided to try it. 48 hours later to my suprise, the temp is staying steady between 68-70f!!

Damnit, there went $50 for the controller! But in all honesty, I think that $50 will be well spent to have the controller and not ever have to worry about temp again should things change once I get the cooler filled some day, or move, or whatever.

So my next purchase will be a pound of beads. Now I just need to decide if I want 70% or 65% beads. I am thinking 70% will be the way to go, so if the compressor is running and the humidity takes a bit of a dive it may help in getting it back up.
 

LilBastage

Meat is murder! Tasty, tasty murder.
Are you talking about the Danby unit from Target?

If so, is the adjustment screw you're talking about by the green and yellow wire? That's what I've been futzing around with today after getting one of these for less than a c-note on clearance. So far I'm having fair success. Right now I've got it at 68 or so at the medium setting. I haven't started on the humidity yet, but I'll get to that once I get the temp going.
 

Fuscat

New Member
Yup thats the one! Thanks for the info, it was cool to talk to you in the chat! Keep us updated on your progress with this unit as well!
 

LilBastage

Meat is murder! Tasty, tasty murder.
Just an update here for Fuscat -

After further playing around with this thing I've found the best course for thermostat adjustment takes 2 screws.

The screw right next to the green and yellow wire seems to regulate the "range" of temperature. In other words when the thermostat turns the compressor on/off. Right now I have it adjusted to come on at 70 and it turns off at 64-65. I've had come on at 70 and go all the way to 55 before getting the range narrowed down a little.

The screw that seems to really determine the temp that triggers the thermostat is very small and right under the adjustment knob. If you look carefully at the spring it is attached to as you turn the dial you can determine which way to adjust it. As you turn the knob to low you can see the spring compressing. The screw that is attached to this spring is what you want to adjust.

Just an update for you on my progress. I now have an acceptable temp range with the control knob in the "med" position with the fridge empty. The humidity also is fluctuating very little. I will be putting some empty wooden boxes in next to determine how this will function with some mass in it.

Good Luck!
 

Fuscat

New Member
Man sweet! This is very promising information! How much is very little for the humidity dip? 2-3 %? I am kinda bummed out that with a little more playing with the unit, I could have saved myself the $50 for temp controller. I need to start trying to adjust mine out, but ever since I unplugged it I have a perfect 69f. It's never budged a single degree, and the humidity has stayed at 65% without even any humidification element inside!

I should try to get it all setup though, so that if something does change all the sudden all I need to do is plug it in.


**edited to add, that if all possible maybe you could snap a couple pics for me, pointing out exactly what screws your talking about? There are a few possibilities..
 

LilBastage

Meat is murder! Tasty, tasty murder.
I haven't really started on the humidity yet. With absolutely nothing in the thing except for the 2 small thermometers/hygros the humidity is dipping about 10% while the unit runs for about 4 minutes or so every 25-30 minutes. I know this seems like a lot, but before I got the temp range narrowed down it was dropping about 30-40%! I'm thinking that once I get some boxes in there and some mass the unit should come on even less and the humidity should fluctuate little. If it does still drop when it kicks on I can live with that as long as it recovers quickly enough. I'll definitely be using empty boxes to start with.

I'd say that if you have the perfect set up for you right now, I might leave it alone unless you have some place else to safely store your cigars. It has taken A LOT of tinkering to figure this out so far and the humidity phase may not work out at all (I hope it does and I think it will, but I can't be sure). I've seen this thing go up to almost 75 and then down to 45 while the humidity dropped from 76% to 31% in the course of 7 minutes!! Definitely not something I want to put my cigars through.

This is also all taking place in Northern Minnesota. Right now we've got nights in the 50s and it just got up to 80 for the first time this year today.

I'm not trying to discourage you or anything, but I'd hate to have you rip into this thing and have a bad experience based on what I've done so far.

I'll give you another update as I get the humidity thing figured out.

Hopefully it will be positive.
 

Fuscat

New Member
Sounds good. I think for now I will leave it be. I have a couple empty boxes in it along with my gauges. This whole week it has stayed completely steady. I think some beads on payday, and after seasoning it out a few more days, I will start using it. Here in MO the humidity is very high all day and we have already seen damn 100f temps. As long as things stay the course, I think it should be good to go. Basically this thing is like a big glass door igloo cooler! :)
 

LilBastage

Meat is murder! Tasty, tasty murder.
Another update...

I've got the temp dialed in. Comes on at 71 and kicks off at 68. I find that to be acceptable. I had to install a fan to circulate the air in order to accomplish this. Apparently this cooler has 2 zones and the bottom 1/2 is colder than the top 1/2. It has taken a lot of messing around with and several adjustments. This thermostat doesn't have a lot of documentation available like many others, but I did find some. According to what I've found the temps I'm at are outside of the operating range, so we'll see if it holds longer than the two days it has so far.

The humidity is another matter. I can't get it DOWN to acceptable levels. I have almost 2 pounds of beads in the thing (3.5 cu ft) and I can't get the humidity to stabilize anywhere below 78%. It goes down to the mid 60s after being on, but once it stops dropping it just keeps going up. I've dried out the beads and wiped down the cooling plate. It worked for about a day, then it shot right back up. It's weird because or humidity in the house and outside is less than 65% (the beads set point). I have several cigar boxes and cedar trays in there (empty of course).

There's more work to be done here. I'll try to get some pics up next week.
 

Fuscat

New Member
Damn Alan, thats no good! I went ahead and wired and setup the external Ranco temp controller I got so if I need I can just plug it in and go.

I am still using mine unplugged. I have filled it up with empty boxes to get some s. cedar in there. Had an A/C problem with the house unit, so for a day or so the temp climbed up to 73f but now its right back down to 69f. The humidity for me has never budged from 65% and thats with no beads in it what so ever! I just now ordered a lb of 65% beads as a just in case measure, better to have them I figured. Once I got some beads in there for peace of mind, I am going to start migrating things out of my desktop into this unit and see what happens!

If you don't mind I would love to see any documentation you have found. I would like to file it away for reference. Keep me posted on your progress!
 

LilBastage

Meat is murder! Tasty, tasty murder.
Damn Alan, thats no good! I went ahead and wired and setup the external Ranco temp controller I got so if I need I can just plug it in and go.

I am still using mine unplugged. I have filled it up with empty boxes to get some s. cedar in there. Had an A/C problem with the house unit, so for a day or so the temp climbed up to 73f but now its right back down to 69f. The humidity for me has never budged from 65% and thats with no beads in it what so ever! I just now ordered a lb of 65% beads as a just in case measure, better to have them I figured. Once I got some beads in there for peace of mind, I am going to start migrating things out of my desktop into this unit and see what happens!

If you don't mind I would love to see any documentation you have found. I would like to file it away for reference. Keep me posted on your progress!
The only info on the thermostat I've found is HERE which is really just a sales site. It isn't the exact model, but it's the replacement part for what we have.

Did you get the Ranco prewired or nonwired? I'd like to just get the unwired unit and permanently install it if I can't get this to work, but I can't find a wiring diagram anywhere that shows me if I can actually do that.

I'm hoping I don't have to just keep it in the basement. I tend to neglect things a bit down there and I'm not smoking as much as I'd like to as it is with my cooler down there. I REALLY want to get this thing to work so I can have my smokes in my room and I am able to bask in all their glory!

I'll keep you posted.

Typo edit
 

Fuscat

New Member
I got the Ranco ETC111000 unwired, it saved me around $30-40. It is pretty easy to wire up. Yes you could wire it in permanently to the cord on the cooler unit itself, but personally I don't see any difference in wiring it in that way, or wiring a plug in into the ranco and just plugging it in that way. You can make the cord's as short as long as you want. I will gladly post a picture of how I have mine wired if that would help.. But to answer your question you can wire it that way.

The Ranco unit is a really nice one, and can be used for heating or cooling, you can also set your own differential which is handy. Since the light bulb in the unit puts off so much heat, I am hoping in the winter to just be able to change the ranco unit from cooling to heating, and use the same temp sensor probe to cycle the light bulb on/off to heat the unit up the 8-10 degrees the basement temp drops in the coldest months.
 

Fuscat

New Member
Here are the pictures for the wiring of the Ranco ETC111000 Digital temp controler. I thought I would put these up for others in case they were interested.

Here is the label from the box for the Ranco ETC:



A pic of the unit wired. I used a new 20' outdoor grade extension cord to set it up:



Picture of the wiring:

 

LilBastage

Meat is murder! Tasty, tasty murder.
Thanks a ton!

I can't wait to get back from camping just to get back on this thing.
 

Fuscat

New Member
Well I worked on the cooler some more today. Took some pictures and thought I would share them.

After you talking about wiring in the Ranco unit permanantly, I started thinking about it. While I decided against cutting the factory power cord, I did decide to go ahead and afix the Ranco temp controller to the cooler permanantly.

First I installed the temp sensor. I tried just hanging the cord out the door and shutting it but there was some pretty good gaps around the seal I wasn't happy with. So then I decided to take a look around the unit and see if there were any good spots to try and stick it through. The best one I could find ended up being the spot that the factory thermostat temp sensor entered through into the inside of the unit.

I took off the thermostat (TS from here on out ;)) cover. And found the wire probe lead. There was a plug of some black sealent. I pulled it off and you can see the metal of the case were they had drilled, was larger then needed for the stock TS sensor. SO I went to the inside and in each corner of the cooler plate in the back of the unit was small ruber caps. Pull them off and there is a screw under each one. I removed the screws, and the cooling plate comes loose. I carefully moved it out of the way until I could see the hole of the casing on the inside that the stock TS sensor comes through. Also larger then needed here, I decided to use this spot. I took my screw driver and shoved it through the foam insulation that was showing on the side of the stock wire lead. It went right through to the spot on the back.

The only problem was that the plastic of the ranco sensor was too big to go through the left over space in the stock hole. So I took the ranco apart and saw that the sensor was soldered to the board of the unit. I just cut the wires and ran the cable through the small hole in the back cooler wall. Then put connectors on the wires and connected them back up.

This shows the outside of the back wall of the cooler with the temp sensor lead ran through it:

The back side:


The inside:




The temp sensor mounted inside:






Next I took the ranco and alligned it up on the back of the cooler where I wanted it. I took a small precision screw driver to mark the spots on the back of the unit through the mounting holes on the back side of the ranco's plastic casing. Now I had 4 small marks where the screws would need to go. I used a small 4D sized finishing nail and a hammer and used the nail to pierce through the metal of the cooler. This gave me a real small hole, only big enough to allow the screws to start into so that when I tightened them down they would stay snug.

This shows the holes and the nail stuck in one for the mounting screws:



And the screws ready to mount:




This shows the ranco attatched to the back of the cooler.



Here is the ranco with the temp sensor re-connected:




At this point I re-worked my power wiring. I shortened the female side of the plug-in up considerably. Also I zip tied and tucked in the power cord from the cooler so it is nice and tidy back there. Plugged the two together and here is the finished product:

 

LilBastage

Meat is murder! Tasty, tasty murder.
I just got back from camping and see you've been busy!

I've seen where the factory stuff comes through. That's what gave me the idea to hard wire the Ranco. I thought I'd just replace the factory unit with the Ranco.

Looks great! How did you decide where to mount the sensor inside the cooler? I've heard right at the back plate, in the center of the fridge, near the door, any number of other places. It seems like where you've put it would be good. I've also thought about the factory unit's location on the cooling plate. Done any testing yet?

I'll be getting the controller sometime this week or next and getting to this soon after.

Thanks for the pics! My camera is on the fritz. I need a replacement one of these days.
 
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