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Stogie Tips: Build a Temperature-Controlled Humidor

5 Jan 2010



There are many options when it comes to deciding how to store your cigars. You can choose from coolers, Tupperware, wine refrigerators, desktop humidors, cabinet humidors, etc. What you choose will surely depend on your needs and means. Living in Florida, I was looking for a storage option that would help me control the temperature during the summer months without breaking the bank.

Wineador FinishedI had two choices: a temperature-controlled unit from a humidor company such as this unit from Avallo, or a converted thermoelectric wine cooler. Due to a limited budget, I could not afford the estimated $1,500-$2,500 for a humidor like the Avallo. So I decided on the wine cooler option. After looking around for awhile I was able to find this 28-bottle unit from Edgestar for $199 shipped.

After doing some research, here’s how I converted this wine cooler into a humidor:

1. The first thing I did was get rid of the plastic smell on the inside. My unit had a very distinct plastic smell when I took it out of the box. I wiped the inside down with some warm water with a little bit of baking soda. Then I let the unit air out for a couple of days. There was still a faint smell, so I closed the unit and let it run for a couple of days with just a box of baking soda in it. After that, the smell was gone and I started to work on the customizations.

2. The unit comes with an S-shaped drain to collect condensation that forms inside the unit. I wanted to run some wires through the drain hole, so I drilled straight down out the bottom to give me a straight shot to run the wires.

3. Then I ran the wires for an electronic temperature controller and a computer fan through the hole I just drilled.

a. The electronic temperature controller allows me to keep the temperature in the unit between exactly 66 and 68 degrees. The unit came with an analog temperature controller and I wanted more precision than that would provide. I have the analog control set just below medium so that the unit cools at a slow rate when it is on. This helps minimize humidity swings related to the cooling. An electronic temperature controller is not necessary for units with a digital temperature control or if you don’t care to be that precise.

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b. The computer fan runs on a timer and is used to circulate air in the unit when it is not running. Again, this step is not mandatory, but I felt it was a good addition in my situation. To power the computer fan you will also need a 4-pin to AC converter.

4. Next, I needed to seal the drain hole to prevent cold air and humidity from leaking out. I used an odorless clear silicone to seal the hole around the wires. The silicone sets up in about 2 hours but takes about 24 hours to completely cure so I left the unit open overnight.

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5. Since I plugged the drain, I needed to come up with a way to collect any condensation that formed in the unit. I used a piece of clear vinyl affixed under the fan (where the condensation was forming) and laid the bottom in a small plastic bin. If any condensation forms it runs down the vinyl and collects in the bin.

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6. Then I put several tubs of distilled water, some empty boxes, and 2 pounds of 65% humidity beads in the unit to get the humidity to the level where it needs to be to store cigars. After a day, the humidity was spot-on.

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7. Finally, I was ready to start putting my cigars in the unit. While you can juse the shelves that come with the unit, many people prefer to have some cedar drawers or shelves. I had some custom drawers made by Chasidor. The drawers are oak but lined with cedar and have glass tops. I also added two cedar shelves to the unit.

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After all that work, my cigars now have a nice, custom-looking, temperature-controlled home for a fraction of the cost of the Avallo unit. The temperature stays between 66 and 68 degrees all the time and the humidity is right at 65%. About once every two months I have to put a dish with a little distilled water in the unit to recharge the beads. Other than that, it’s maintenance-free.

-Patrick M

photo credits: Stogie Guys

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