Can a Wine Refrigerator Be Transported On its Side?

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Written By Charlie Henney

Charlie's been a wine enthusiast for 20+ years. He and Roseanne have a vast amount of experience and expertise in wine refrigerators.






An explanation of how wine fridges work

Refrigerators provide cooling by continuously evaporating and condensing refrigerant gases within a compartment. To accomplish this, the compressor pumps refrigerant gas into the refrigerator’s coils.

Lubricating and cooling oils are specifically designed to keep the compressor running smoothly. The oil causes the refrigerator to malfunction when you turn it on its side.

Wine coolers function in the same way that traditional refrigerators do.

With that said, let’s go over how to move such an appliance, as well as what to do if your unit was transported on its side.


How to move a wine fridge

Follow these tips whether you’re transporting your refrigerator standing up or on its side to avoid headaches.

To ensure that your refrigerator defrosts properly, turn it off and unplug it the night before you move it. If you don’t have a choice, two hours will suffice. Before moving your fridge, make sure you have alternative refrigeration for your wine collection. Red wine can be stored in a cool, dark place, but white wine and rose must be refrigerated.

When transporting your bottle collection, it’s also a good idea to use bubble wrap, especially if you have any vintage wines that are irreplaceable. Not to mention the worst-case scenario of your wine collection smashing during transit in a moving truck.

Drawers and shelves should be taken out, and doors taped shut. In addition to protecting the refrigerator’s shelves, it will also protect the interior and doors, which could be damaged if they open during shipping.

If your refrigerator will be closed for more than a day, activated charcoal or baking soda can absorb odors.


The effects of laying a wine refrigerator on its side

When positioned sideways, oil from the compressor can enter the cooling coils. Because the oil is thick and viscous, it is easy to clog the coils. As a result, your refrigerator will not cool because gas is not flowing through it.

However, it is generally acceptable to turn on a refrigerator while it is lying on its side, as long as the appliance is then turned upright before being turned on. The oils can then flow back down to the compressor.

It’s a step in the right direction if you can avoid leaving your wine fridge completely empty. When loading it into a moving van, however, this can be difficult.

Inadequate lubricating oil can cause compressor damage and overheating.

In general, leave the refrigerator upright (and unplugged) for the same amount of time it sat on its side. For example, if it has been lying on its side for two hours, you should allow it to rest upright for two hours.

A bracket holds the compressor upright. When you lay the compressor on its side, the brackets may give way or internal components may become dislodged. When the compressor begins to make loud banging and shuddering sounds after being turned on, you’ll know there’s a problem.


How to handle a wine fridge after it’s been laid on its side

Follow these steps before turning your wine cooler on after it has been lying on its side.

If you’ve moved your refrigerator on its side, or if it was delivered to your home on its side, don’t plug it in right away or you’ll damage the compressor.

To allow the oil to settle, leave the compressor upright and unplugged for at least four hours (up to 24 hours).

Run it for at least two hours on the highest temperature setting while it is empty.

Completed! You can now put your wine bottles in the fridge!


Still not working? – Get help from a wine fridge repair expert?

A wine fridge repair specialist can perform the majority of wine fridge repairs with relative ease. However, some people may not want to deal with the hassle of repairing their wine refrigerator. If you do not want to repair your wine fridge yourself, an appliance repair company can assist you.

Also, if you’re looking for a replacement wine fridge, whether it’s a small or large wine cooler, check out one of our many buyers guide articles at Read Between Wines.

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