We have built many things here on Two Oaks Farmstead, but our Walk-in Cooler has been the Best Build Yet! It has really filled a desperate need here on the farm.
The Need: A Cooling Space to hang and stage meat during the Butchering Process
If you have been following us, then you know that we do a lot of butchering here on the farm. Between animals that we raise for meat and animals that we hunt, we do quite a bit. As the butcher of the family, it ends up being quite the task when there are quite a few animals at a time, as happens periodically.
THe biggest problem, other than my time management, is that we needed a place to keep the carcass fresh during the process. Hanging a carcass for a period of time (aging) is a big part of providing a quality meat. That was the piece of the puzzle that we were missing.
I know people that live way up north and, at least during the winter, can just hang their kills outside. …that is NOT an option in Southern Oklahoma!
Lots of Butchering Happening on the Farm
The Solution: A Walk-in Cooler for the Farm
We have actually been thinking about and planning this for over a year, but prices being what they are these days, we were hesitant, to say the least. In the end, we adjusted our plan and chose supplies that would allow us to move forward.
Beginning the Walk-in Cooler Build
Design and Location for the Walk-in Cooler
In order to save as much money as possible, we first looked for a spot where we could build on or within the current structures here on the farm. A stand-alone building would certainly have been more costly. We chose to place the walk-in cooler under one of the extended eaves of our barn.
This area actually used to house our hen house, we had since moved them and started using the area for storage. A few months ago, we added a concrete floor to the area. That section of the barn is 8 feet wide and approximately 20 feet long. We decided to make the walk-in cooler 8 x 8 and use the remaining space to consolidate all of our various freezers. It shall forever be known as the freezer room.
Getting Started Framing for the Walk-in Cooler
My husband, Kris, had to take this build on by himself for the most part, as I was embroiled in butchering a wild hog and a buck that he got during his early hunts.
The spot that we chose already had an existing roof and 2 walls, which meant that we only had to construct 2 additional walls. In doing so, we had to, of course, add a door, which we designed to be from within the freezer room.
Once the walls were in place, Kris had to cut out a spot for the window unit air conditioner that we bought to cool the room. During this time, additional electrical wiring had to be run. We needed outlets inside the cooler to run the equipment and a light fixture had to be wired. All of these elements had to be completely sealed up with tape and foam. With all the basic framework in place, he added the exterior wall coverings so that he would have a base for the next step, insulation.
Starting the Insulating & Sheathing
Biggest Priority for a Walk-in Cooler – Insulation
Clearly the most important part of this project is the insulation. It is an absolute must to keep the room at a steady temperature. This took multiple layers of insulating material. He placed batt insulation in the wall cavities and taped all the seams. He then added interior sheathing across all of the framework and taped all of those seams as well. The final wall and ceiling addition was a layer of thick foam insulation panels, whose seams he also taped.
There are a few other insulating efforts, details, that he did not miss. Kris is a master at creating a tight-fitting door installation, but he went over and above on this one, making sure that he was able to get a sealed entry. He also used spray foam in any additional spots that needed it, to include, of course, around the air conditioning unit.
Getting a Good Seal
The Cooling Units
Yes, that is supposed to be plural. The window unit air-conditioner cannot do this job by itself, because, by default, they do not cool to the temps that are required. A walk-in cooler needs to be between 34-38 degrees in most cases. Therefore, you have to have an additional piece of equipment to make that happen. That’s where the Coolbot comes in.
Installing Coolers and Sealing it all up
From the Coolbot Website Because they Explain it Well
The CoolBot’s patented technology intelligently controls your air conditioner – so you can harness its cooling power and keep temperatures in the 30s without freezing up your air conditioner.
The CoolBot uses multiple sensors, a heating element, and a programmed micro-controller to direct your air conditioner to operate in such a way as to cool the room to 36° F without ever freezing up. Additionally, our innovative interface which links the CoolBot controller to your air conditioner allows for 5-minute installations without any training, cutting, soldering, or even taping.
CoolBot cannot give you 100% use of the listed BTUs on your air conditioner, so you will need to buy a higher BTU air conditioner than the BTU size you would buy on a traditional cooler compressor. However,the price of a larger air conditioner and a CoolBot is a fraction of the cost of a traditional walk-in cooler compressor, saving you $1,000s in upfront equipment costs.
Most importantly, when the air conditioner is close to freezing or when the room has reached the desired set temperature, the CoolBot is programmed to shut off the compressor on your A/C unit, soyou do not pay for extra electricity that you won’t use!That saves you money on your monthly electricity bill and helps the environment. As long as you size your air conditioner correctly following our sizing guidelines and insulate your cooler well, you’ll have no problem keeping your room as cold as you want it to be.
*I am not paid by Coolbot, I am a satisfied customer.
Finishing the Insulating and Adding Air Conditioning
Wrapping Up the Walk-in Cooler
The finishing details were items such as additional spray foam around the installation of the window unit, bracing and installing the rods for hanging the meat, adding a light fixture with the switch on the outside of the room, and adding a small but powerful fan to assist in air-circulation.
As soon as it was complete, we began putting it to good use…and we haven’t stopped since! I’m grateful for the food that God has supplied us, but to be honest, I’m really looking forward to hunting season being over! I’m gonna need a little break!
DON’T MISS ANYTHING!!
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