Costco 166 Bottle Wine Fridge Redux

P3240520-cropLast year we purchased a 166 bottle wine fridge from our local Costco warehouse, and wrote an article about it here on Aussie Wine Guy.

Since then, we’ve been playing with various factors which have impacted the fridge’s ability to regulate its internal temperature. 

The previous article has proven to  be quite popular, so we decided to compile what we’ve learned about the fridge since we first switched it on last year.

This might be particularly useful for those contemplating purchasing, or for those who already own one.  Thanks to the folks who commented on the previous article, we’ll collate some of the information from those comments here too.

Fridge at a distance


Once you have the fridge in your home or office, the first thing to do is unpack and position the fridge in the desired location.  Once this has been accomplished, you’ll need to finish the fridge by attaching the door arm.  Note that if you want to reverse the door hinge, it’s best to make that decision up front.

If you do decide to reverse the door hinge, be warned that in our experience the bolts had been factory ratcheted far, far too tightly and we ended up threading a bolt head and had to drill it out/file it flat (not happy). 

Be careful to ensure that you have inserted the seal back into the door properly, or this could affect the fridge’s ability to regulate temperatures.

A note: .You should avoid powering the fridge until you’ve let it sit for 12-24 hours after unpacking and configuring the unit.  We recommend not stacking any wine until you’ve let the fridge run for 24 hours.

   P3240531  P3240532
Upper zone / Lower zone

Operating the fridge

Once the fridge is running, you can use the central console to set the temperature range for the upper and lower zones.  The panel supports both Celsius and Fahrenheit, and you’ll need to give the fridge some time to settle once you’ve decided on the values you want.

Given the amount of expensive wine we have stored, we did not leave temperature control up to the fridge – therefore we purchased separate thermostats and put them on two shelves in the upper and lower zones.

We found through trial and error settings which gave us the result we were looking for (we’re averaging 13’C in each zone) and this has been proven both by day and by night and over the hot summer.

A note from the distributor

The “temperature surfing” was a little frustrating (even a little mind boggling) until we read some interesting information on the design fo the fridge.

With thanks to reader Stanley, who posted the following information he received from the factory, via the distributor:

Feedback from the factory is as follows. The unit is working normally, because:

1- our dual zone model is designed with a non-independent ventilation channel, where by the coldness goes from the upper zone to the bottom zone through a fan built inside the middle insulation layer. This means the upper zone will always colder than the bottom zone.

2- since we use a normal compressor not an inverter one, in our PCB software design, there is a 2C tolerance (up or down) between the set temperature & real temperature.

In your case, the compressor stops when the upper zone reaches 12’C, but the evaporator fan keeps running for a while so as to take away the coldness from the evaporator surface, the upper zone may display 9-11’C shortly, and the bottom zone may be 12-13’C in real(ity) but display as 14-15’C.

When the unit keeps working for a period of time (e.g. a week), there will be similar temperature for both zones, and the display digital is only a logic calculation result by the PCB.

So that might explain both the inaccuracy of the temperature gauges, plus the sluggishness of the changes in ambient temperatures.

For reference, here are our independent temperature gauges:

upper_zone  lower_zone  
Upper zone temperature / Lower zone temperature

Large Champagne Sized Bottles

Something to be aware of is the lack of space for larger style bottles, particularly Champagne bottles, which have a larger bell shape.  The fridge can accommodate some large bottles (probably around 20) on the top drawer or bottom drawer (the extreme zones) which theoretically allows bottles to be stacked vertically.

We had trouble balancing the bottles, but it may be possible to use some independent wooden shelving to increase the ability to stack bottles in the larger space.

After some investigation, we discovered that the top shelf of the bottom zone has a bit of extra height, and can accommodate an entire row of Champagne sized bottles, as illustrated in this picture below:

P3240529 P3240528   
Top shelf / Top shelf of the bottom zone

Bottom shelf

Need a copy of the Manual?

We’ve scanned our copy and uploaded it to the site.  Sorry, it’s a little bit out of order, but we think it’s still useful!

Check out this article for a link to the download.

Contacting the Manufacturer

We’ll be scanning and uploading the operating guide/instructions shortly and will link to them on this article.

If you are having trouble with your fridge and the tips and suggestions here don’t help you, you can always try contacting the distributor, using the details below (again, thanks to reader Stanley for the info):

Clever Home Products Pty Ltd
Level 5, 15-19 Claremont St
South Yarra, Victoria
Australia, 3141

Telephone: +61 3 9827 5619

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