How to build a Fridgador

I mentioned during Episode 6 – Your Questions, My Answers that I had a beetle infestation last summer and had since set up a wine cooler as a Fridgador. I received a couple of questions about how I had chosen the model I did and what I had done to set it up. So this week I’ll go a little more in-depth about my Fridgador setup.

Here in East Texas we run the air conditioner roughly eight months a year and we don’t really have a Spring or Fall. The weather just goes directly from what we call a Winter to Summer. Even with the air conditioner running and the house relatively cool, the inside of my humidors was still reaching the upper 70s. I feared the worst, but arrogantly didn’t do anything about it, assuring myself that it wasn’t getting that hot in there.

Then one afternoon during my ritual peak inside the desktop humidors there it was, there was a beetle perched right at the edge of the foot of one of my beautiful cigars. While reaching in to remove it I noticed another directly above it on the lid of the humidor. After I got them out I investigated the contents of the 20-count humidor, approximately a dozen and a half premium cigars. While I could only find those two beetles, there were holes in just over half of the cigars. In disgust I promptly trashed them, though looking back I probably should have quarantined and at least attempted to smoke them. That is however exactly what I did with the non-damaged cigars. I double ziploc bagged them, froze them for 5 days and then stored them until they were burned, which I made sure to do rather soon.

I chose the model of wine cooler to use the same way anybody would pick a humidor, I went with the biggest one available. 🙂 I should qualify that, I bought the biggest thermoelectric wine cooler I could find. This is very important as the compressor-driven models pull a large amount of humidity out of the air when they cycle on, leading to humidity drops. Edgestar and Avanti both make 28 bottle units with roughly the same dimensions, I found an Edgestart on sale and went with that one. You can see a picture of mine below.

empty wine cooler

As you can see the unit came with six adjustable metal shelves, a temperature control with light switch in the top-right corner and the LED light on the top. You can also see the built-in fan in the back and can just make out the condensation drip-channel. Some people have reported that their units had a strong plastic-like aroma though my unit was fairly odor-less when it arrived. I wiped the inside down with a warm wet rag, set the temperature control to its warmest setting dropped in my thermometer/hygrometer and let it sit for 24 hours.

When I returned the next day the temperature was sitting at 63 degrees Fahrenheit and the humidity was right above 50%. I had considered purchasing some of the Oust fans similar to the ones Walt used in the making of his Coolidor, but I decided to find out how well the built-in fan would do at moving air around. It is a regular 90mm fan like the ones found in a computer case.

close-up of fan

I chose to use Heartfelt beads for humidification, opting to place a quarter pound in a nylon bag on the top shelf and about two ounces in an open glass bowl in the bottom of the unit. Since setting it up, I have re-arranged the shelves several times playing what I have come to call “box Tetris”, to arrive at my current arrangement. The fridgador currently holds two 40-count humidors, eight 25-count boxes and one 25-count bundle and I’m sure I could get at least 3-4 more boxes in with another round of “box Tetris”.

full unit

The temperature reading above was caused by my fanning the door while taking the pictures for this article, the unit is still set on the warmest setting and holds a steady 63 degrees. The only issue I noticed after running it for a few weeks was that the condensation tended to pool a little bit before exiting the unit, causing splashes when new drops reached the pool. I solved this by placing a small piece of paper towel in the bottom of the channel and now the unit still drains properly and none of the boxes or humidors get errant drops of water on them.

Southern engineering

Other than that small change the only thing I’ve done is place the boxes with space between them and the back wall and the front door so that air can flow around the boxes 100%. I couldn’t be happier with the unit and because of it I now have no worries about mold or beetles without having to freeze every cigar that comes into my possession.