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Controlling Humidity

Controlling temperature within a refrigerated enclosure is pretty straightforward, but humidity control is more complex, requiring you to balance humidity generation with de-humidification effects. Another variable is the temperature of the environment around the enclosure which can greatly affect (and upset) this balance.

We've done tests to try to understand how humidity (%RH) can best be controlled and to see how our control systems compare to the alternatives. We also hope to add more test results in due course.

Our "test" enclosure is a converted 21 cu. ft. frost free refrigerator in an unheated garage. Temperature control was accomplished with a CC-T temperature controller set at 55 deg. F and 1 deg. differential. Tests were conducted in December 2013 and external (garage) temperatures varied between 45 and 65 deg. F. Comparisons of different control methods were made In the two highlighted cases below:

Case #1: Humidity too low

Case #2: Humidity too high

Cheese Tip

'Tis the season to be "humid"??

Many cheese / beer makers have their caves in an unheated garage or cellar. Mine is in a garage, and the ambient temperature will typically be as low as 40 to 45F in the winter and as high as 90F in the summer.

The interesting thing is that during the dry (low %RH) winter months I experience excessive humidity in my cave, and during our "hot and humid" summers in South Carolina it's hard to keep cave humidity high enough. This seems paradoxical, but if you think about it when external temperatures are low the compressor runs (and de-humidifies) less frequently, and vice-versa.

Depending on your type of cooling system you may or may not experience this problem. Either way looking over the test results here will help you understand how to best control cave humidity.