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Bracksco Logo:  3 wine bottles on VintageView rack

You may or may not have existing electrical wiring in the room.  If all you need is an overhead light and it is in place, you are pretty much done, except for considering if the switch is placed where you want it.

If no wiring exists, or you need an outlet for the cooler, then you need to investigate where you are going to tap an existing line or how to install a new one.  How to do either of these is beyond the scope of this article, but it is something you must consider and decide whether or not you need to hire an electrician.  Don't bring in the electrician (except perhaps for an estimate) until you have framed the room and the opening for the cooler.

Here are the points you need to consider for the electrical needs of your wine room.

  1. Room lighting.  Avoid recessed ("can") fixtures, if possible.  They are an escape point for cold air.  It used to be that you could not touch them with insulation or abut them to a vapor barrier by electrical code, but newer double-shelled models may avoid this problem.  In any case, they stick up into the space normally occupied by insulation, which means you can't have insulation in that space!  Another concern here is the heat generated by the lights.  The best solution is simply a standard electrical box flush with the surface, to which you can attach any kind of surface light fixture you wish, including a (low voltage) track light.  If you do install recessed fixtures, make sure they are far enough from the wall not to shine down on the top of bottles or any cabinet (including any crown molding on the front of the cabinet) -- at least 4" to the center of the light.
  2. Light switch.  We recommend that you put the switch on the outside of the room.  There are two reasons.  First, an inside switch can get in the way of wine racks, a cabinet, or shelving.  Second, if you have a glass door or window, you can turn on the light "for show" without opening the door.  You may wish to consider a switch with a timer, so you don't accidentally leave it on.  A light really heats up the room.
  3. Which house circuit you tap for the light is of little concern, since the light draws such little current.  You can even put it on the same circuit as the cooler.
  4. You may wish to provide a wall outlet to plug in a vacuum cleaner or other device on occasion.  Keep in mind that if you ever have to install a humidifier in the room, you'll be glad you added an outlet.  It may not be convenient to use the cooler outlet for this purpose, nor is that approach recommended.  You can put this outlet on the same circuit as the light, if you wish.  However, think carefully about the location of the outlet, as you would like to avoid covering it with wine racks.
  5. Install the outlet for the wine cooler above the cooler, because that's a place where you will not be storing wine.  If you install it anywhere else, you may find it interferes with present or future plans for a wine rack.
  6. For the wine cooler, we strongly recommend a standalone circuit.  The first reason is that since the cooler has a compressor, it has an initial surge requirement that is ideally left to a single circuit.  The second reason is that if you have a power outage, you might very well like to make this circuit available for generator power, now or in the future.  The third reason is that if something else is on the same circuit and it trips the breaker, you lose power to the cooler.
  7. As an alternative to the single circuit for a generator option presented above, give some consideration to installing a second outlet right next to the cooler, and run the line somewhere outside the room to a point where you could attach it to a generator.  Thus in an emergency, you could switch the cooler's plug to the second outlet, and plug the other end of that outlet's line into a portable generator outside, maintaining temperature in your wine room.  The point is, think of and prepare for this possibility now, even if you do not own a generator right now!  The walls will be open, and you can do it easily.  Later, it will be difficult.

And now, let's continue with Step 7:  Install vapor barrier.

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