Last updated on January 14th, 2021 at 01:44 pm

Are They Better than Compressor Coolers?

If you have only a small space for storing your wine collection consider buying a thermoelectric wine cooler refrigerator.

To answer the above question that whether they are any good, please read our FAQ section.

Furthermore, viewing the Pros & Cons of Thermoelectric Wine Coolers can also help you decide should you get a thermalelectric cooler or not.

double red arrow pointing to the right Quick Links: Pros & Cons At A GlanceHow Thermoelectric Coolers Work?Thermoelectric Wine Fridges FAQCompressor vs. ThermoelectricBest-Selling ModelsDual-Zone UnitsBuying TipsMore Popular Units

No Compressor, Less Noise

The cooling technology in such fridges is based on a scientific principle, the Peltier effect (see the short explanation here). There is no compressor and other large moving parts (apart from a small fan for air circulation).

Peltier thermoelectric cooling technology ensures silent operation as opposed to the compressor or absorption technology used in most fridges, which can be noisy.

If you have an older refrigerator in your kitchen then you know that the compressor can be rather noisy.

Kinder to The Environment

Another benefit of Peltier wine cooler refriegrators is that they are more eco-friendly, since they do not contain cooling agents such as CFC or HCFC, unlike traditional fridges.

Chlorofluorocarbons and Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (CFCs and HCFCs for short) are known to be partly responsible for the thinning of the protective ozone layer in the stratosphere.

yellow double arrohead pointing to the rigthWorks Best in Small Wine Fridges

Thermoelectric technology is used in smaller appliances where less quantity of cool air is needed to be produced.

Consequently, the efficiency of cooling decreases while the cost of operation grows with appliance size.

So please keep in mind, that thermoelectric coolers are small wine refrigerators with maximum bottle count of 28 – 32 bottles..

That is to say, if you only have space for a countertop wine cooler with 4-12 bottles capacity then a thermoelectric unit might be the ideal choice.

More Pros & Cons At A Glance

Pros

  • Silent operation: the interior fan is the only moving part. It can make a slight humming noise if the appliance is not lveled properly. Otherwise a thermoelelctric wine chiller – if perfectly leveled – won’t make any noise. So it can be placed in a living room and won’t disturb watching a TV or making conversation.
  • Vibration-free: since there is no compressor and other large moving pieces that can shake, your wines will rest undisturbed inside the cabinet.
  • No sediment will be unsettled and floating, keeping the wine’s quality intact.
  • Lower buying price – compared to same capacity compressor coolers.
  • Are more environmentally friendly – no cooling gases that can generate greenhouse gases harmful to the protective ozone layer.

Con

  • Can cool to only 50°F (10°C). Not cold enough for some white wines.
  • Sensitive to ambient temperature. Not able to cool in a room where the temperature exceeds 77-80°F (25 26°C).
  • Can be used only as freestanding – building in is not recommended due to sufficient clearance requirement for adequate operation.
  • Storage capacity is limited due to cooling efficiency (max. capacity is around 35 bottles).
  • Larger thermolectric wine coolers use more electricity (need more Peltier devices to generate cool air)
  • Thus, they are more costly to operate.
yellow double arrohead pointing to the rigthHow Thermoelectric Wine Coolers Work?


Thermoelectric wine fridges use the Peltier-effect to cool down the air inside the appliance.

Peltier, a 19th-century French scientist, found that when electric current goes through two different metals, semiconductors, temperature difference occurs.

In thermoelectric wine refrigerators pairs of semiconductor metals of different shapes (“N” shape and “P” shape) are connected electrically between two ceramic plates.

When electricity goes through the two different-shape metals, one of them releases heat so it cools down, while the other absorbs it, so it heats up.
Essentially, it works as a heat pump transferring heat from one side to the other.

A fan forces out the generated heat from the inside of the wine cooler. That’s the only moving part in a thermoelectric wine fridge.
You can learn more about thermoelectric cooling here (Wikipedia)!an infograpic explaining thermoelectric cooling, the background is blue

yellow double arrohead pointing to the rigthWhat is The Difference Between Thermoelectric & Compressor Wine Coolers?


Compressor operated fridges use cooling agents/refrigerants in a compression-evaporation cycle to generate cold air inside the cabinet.

Such fridges have 4-5 main parts:
Compressor – circulates and compresses the refrigerant gas which gets hot as a result. The compressor keeps up the cylcle of turning the gas into liquid, and vice versa.
Condenser – located at the back of the fridge. Here the refrigerant cools down and condensates turning into liquid.
Evaporator – its inside the fridge and this is where the refrigerant evaporates absorbing heat from the surrounding area in the process. As a result, the fridge interior will be cold.

Thermoelectric vs. Compressor: as you can see compressor operated fridges use more mechanical moving parts than thermoelectric ones. On top of that they need special cooling agent/refrigerant (same as in air-conditioners).

Main Differences:
– Thermoelectric fridges tolerate less the fluctuation in ambient room temperature than compressor run units. They cool most efficiently placed in a room where the temperature is between: 50 – 77°F (10 – 25°C).

– A thermoelectric fridge needs 5″ clearance around the sides and at the back for effective heat dissipation and efficient cooling. As a consequence they cannot be built-in.

– Thermoelectric cooling works best in small appliances – so this types of coolers are available cc. up to 35 bottles capacity.

– They have less moving parts – only a fan for air distribution – thus they make less noise and vibration than compressor coolers. Good for wines!

– On the other hand, they might be on more frequently than a good, efficient compressor wine cooler.

Read more about how compressor cooling works in fridges here!

yellow double arrohead pointing to the rigthWhat Temperature Should a Dual Zone Wine Fridge Be?


As a Rule of Thumb:
– Reds should be kept between: 58 – 65°F (14.4 – 18.3°C), while
– Whites, sparkling wines are best enjoyed at 45 – 52°F (7.2 – 11°C, the lighter the wine the colder it should be).
Why Buy a Dual-Zone Wine Cooler?

Dual zone wine fridges have two separate temperature sections each with its own temperature controls.

One is for storing/ keeping red wines at serving temperature, the other is for chilling whites, sparkling wines allowing them to be served at ideal drinking temperature.

Whites should be kept at cooler temperatures then reds (see exact temperatures below).

So, if you like both reds and whites then you are better off with a dual-zone wine cooler where you can store/cool both types at their most suitable temps.

front view of an all-black dual-zone thermoelectric wine chiller, has glass door with silver metal bar handle
More serious wine lovers/collectors can use a dual zone cooler for experimenting with ageing. You use one of the zones for long term storage and ageing the other for keeping wines at serving temperature.

yellow double arrohead pointing to the rigthAre Thermoelectric Wine Coolers Any Good?


Small capacity thermoelectric wine coolers work quite well.

– The advantages of thermal electric cooling – silent, energy efficient – come best to the forefront in fridges with 24-bottle or less capacity.

– So if you are looking for a larger wine cellar we recommed getting a compressor-based model.

yellow double arrohead pointing to the rigthThermoelectric Vs. Compressor Wine Refrigerators

Thermoelectric

Less Moving Parts – No Noise & Less Chance of Failure

  • Peltier coolers don’t have moving parts – apart from a fan to circulate the cold air within the unit and pushing out the hot air througth the vents.
  • That’s why they operate more silently – if levelled properly – than compressor coolers.

Can be Noisy When…

  • Wine Cooler is not levelled properly
  • Ambient Temp. is too high so the fan is on all the time.

No Vibration

  • A further strength is that thermoelectric wine fridges work without causing vibration.
  • Even a slight shaking movement, if going on for a long time, can disturb the natural sedimentation process in wines. As a result, it can spoil the taste and consistency of the wine.
  • With a thermoelectric wine cooler you can rest assured that your favorite wines are stored in a vibration-free environment.

Thermoelectric Works Best Only In Small Coolers

  • The cooling efficiency is limited by size.
  • Peltier cooling is most ideal in small capacity wine coolers, up to max. 28 bottles.
  • So, if you need a larger unit go for a compressor-run model.

Cheaper To Buy, Costlier to Operate

  • Thermoelectric wine coolers cost less than compressor coolers in the same capacity.
  • On the other hand, if a thermoelectric cooler is placed in a too hot room the fan will be running nearly all the time using up more electricity.
  • In worst case, the wine cooler will not be able to maintain the set temperature and your wines might go off.

Compressor

Cooling is More Efficient & Less Affected by Ambient Temperature

  • Compressor fridges don’t run constantly as opposed to thermoelectric units.
  • The compreessor turns on in cycles to maintain the set temperature.

A Bit Noisier When On

  • The compressor will make more noise when on than a thermoelectric appliance, but it doesn’t run constantly.
  • What’s more, some compressor-operated, high-end wine coolers, for example Marvel wine refrigerators, use special vibration dampener systems.
  • Dampening will decrease the level of noise and vibration.
  • Their price is on the higher side though (a small-medium-size premium cooler costs more than 1 000 USD ).

Not Affected by Ambient Temperature

  • They are less susceptible to room temperature.
  • While a thermolelectric fridge’s cooling efficiency decreases dramatically as the ambient air temperature increases, a compressor fridge can still cool to the adjusted tempearture without problem in a hotter room.
  • In fact, manufacturers recommend to install thermoelectric wine chillers in a room where the temperature doesn’t go over 77°F (25°C) and below 55°F (10°C).

Size Does Not Really Matter

  • Compressor cooling works well in both small and large fridges.
  • A more capacious model will consume only slightly more electricity than a smaller one.

Another advantage of thermoelectric wine coolers over compressor fridges, is that the fluctuation in interior temperature from the bottom to the top is only +/- 1-2 °C which provides more constant storage environment for your wines.

In compressor-operated fridges this can be as high as +- 5 °C.

An Eco-Friendly Wine Refrigerator

  • Thermolectric wine coolers don’t contain freon or other CFC-s or HCFC-s (an abbreviation for chlorofluorocarbons, carbohydrogens containing chlorene or fluor). These are hazardous chemicals that are responsible for the thinning of ozone layer in the air.
  • If placed and operated according to their instruction manual, thermolectric wine coolers use less electricity than compressor-operated fridges. adding another score to environmental friendliness.
  • Less moving parts also means less chance of breaking down and less maintenance.
  • If environmental friendliness is an important factor for you when you buy products than you’ll love thermolectric wine fridges.

TIP: You’ll find eco-friendly compressor-run wine refrigerators, too.M Liebherr wine refrigerators and wine cabinets are are among the greenest wine storage appliances in the world.

yellow double arrohead pointing to the rigthWhat to Pay Attention to When Buying a Thermoelectric Appliance?

Firstly, one thing to keep in mind when buying a thermoelectric wine cooler is the ambient temperature.

Room Temperature

The cooling efficiency of these fridges depends highly on the temperature of the room the unit is in.

The temperature in the room where the cooler is placed shouldn’t fluctuate to a great extent. Most manufacturers tell that room temperature (between 50 – 77°F , max. 80 °F – 10 – 25°C, max. 26.7°C) is required for proper operation of a themoelectric wine cooler.

Furthermore, to achieve the desired cooling temperature inside the device the difference between the ambient temperature and the set cooling temp. shouldn’t be higher than 13 degrees.

Many of the small capacity wine coolers are only for freestanding use, meaning that you have to leave enough clearance (cc. 5 inches) around the sides and at the back of the wine fridge for proper air ventilation.

Conductor Life Span

Some people are concerned about the longevity of the conductors because they’re exposed to contraction/expansion stress due to the temperature changes that might caused them to break.

This is however only a theory, and this type of failure hasn’t occured in thermoelectric wine coolers yet.

Warranty Period

Rememeber to check how long warranty is provided for the wine cooler you plan to purchase.

Always ask about what the warranty covers!. Being the only moving part, it’s usually the fan that tends to break down.

yellow double arrohead pointing to the rigthBest Thermoelectric Wine Coolers in 2021

Other brands that have thermoelectric models:

  • Cuisinart,
  • Nutrichef
  • NewAir
  • Danby
  • Edgestar,
  • Koolatron,
  • Vinotemp, and
  • Wine Enthusiast.

yellow double arrohead pointing to the rigthGood to Know – Complaints on Cheap Models

Keep in mind though many people complain on the low quality of small, cheap, wine coolers by these brands. Reviews provided by owners of these wine coolers often mention:

  • early failures-break downs (within a couple of months, a year or just after the warranty period),
  • noise, and
  • bad customer service (in case of some brands).

This doesn’t mean that each and every unit by these brands is of low quality but the frequent complaints mentioned in reviews should make one extra cautious before buying a wine fridge from any of these brands.

yellow double arrohead pointing to the rigthBest Dual-Zone Thermoelectric Wine Coolers

For those who prefer to have a nice selection of both reds and whites at hand, a two temperature zone wine cooler might be the right wine storage solution.

Dual-zone wine coolers have 2 independently controlled compartments:

  • one for storing red wines and
  • the other zone for chilling whites.

You can find more information about Two-Zone Wine Refrigerators here.

double red arrow pointing to the right More Thermoelectric Wine Fridges (Incl. Older Makes & Models)

Visit our page about Haier Wine Coolers for more affordable thermoelectric wine coolers – Haier Went Out of Business, but some models might still be available.

Vinotemp used to offer a wide choice of thermolectric wine coolers both for freestanding and built-in use. TIP: Read user reviews on the Vinotemp VT-28TEDS 28-bottle wine refrigerator model.

Another good choice are Wine Enthusiast Silent Wine Refrigerators stressing the noiseless feature by using “Silent” in the brand name. The Wine Enthusiast 28-Bottle Wine Cooler is an attractive, freestanding unit that costs around $300 and holds 24-26 bottle sof wine depending on bottle size and shape.

For space-efficient, affordable wine bottle coolers read our review of EdgeStar wine Cooler Refrigerators.

Cuisinart Wine Refrigerators include 6-bottle, 8-bottle, 12-bottle, 16-bottle and 32-bottle models.

Koolatron Thermolelectric Wine Coolers offer wine storage units in 4 sizes: 4-bottle wall-mountable unit, 6-bottle and a 12-bottle models.

The Eurocave La Petite Wine Refrigerator uses double Peltier cooling technology. It is a compact cabinet with narrow, 12″ width that accommodates 10 bottles horizontally and you can also keep in it 2 opened bottles of wine for preservation.

Read review on the Avanti SWC1600M-1 16-Bottle wine chiller.

Most slim wine cooler refrigerators also use thermoelectric cooling.

TIP: Take also a look at our pages about single bottle wine coolers and dual-bottle wine chillers.

Thermoelectric Wine Refrigerators in Various Sizes