Cellar coolers - The evolution of the species

Cellar coolers - The evolution of the species


Fifty years ago, cellar cooling systems were predominantly refrigeration products with Prestcold and Searle having the industry sewn up, highly specified by the big breweries. This ubiquitous combination, being reliable products, had a large share of the market for many years.

However, in those days, it was quite a challenge to even quote for a cellar cooler, let alone have to install one. You first had to select the right size evaporator and then find a condensing unit to suit - they were not matched systems in those days! After deciding on the refrigerant, you then had to select the correct size expansion valve to suit the system, find the appropriate orifice and then a solenoid valve and coil, not forgetting a de-ice stat and thermostat. The condensing unit then would need to have an HP and LP switch fitted, as well as a sight glass, head pressure controller, an isolator and, last of all, a weatherproof housing for the condensing unit.

Then, of course, the system would need to be installed - with the extra time of having to fit all those components, you wouldn't get away with installing a system in a day like you would now. The process was a work of art for some but it wasn't cost effective and it was only a matter of time before the market would open out with the introduction of packaged cellar cooling systems. These new kids on the block had all the components already fitted and were off readily available from your local supplier.

J&E Hall condensing unit

Initially 'Packaged' systems were frowned upon by fridge engineers, as they were concerned that the air conditioning manufacturers were encroaching on the hallowed ground of the refrigeration industry, and besides, what's wrong with making a louvred housing of your finest timber to protect your beloved condensing unit - a hutch rabbits would be proud of!

How times have changed! Time is money so it's not surprising that cellar cooling equipment has evolved over the years to enable a more efficient and speedy installation. We may take it for granted but most of these components are now fitted as standard and the air conditioning 'packaged' concept has very much influenced the refrigeration industry, make installation so much quicker and easier than before - some might say, making things too easy!

Marstair and Tempair (Qualitair) were pioneers 40 years ago in simplifying the cellar cooling product and posed a real threat to the stranglehold Prestcold and Searle had in the market at the time. The equipment may have been basic, but was cheaper to buy and also much quicker to install and these cost savings were passed on to the independent pub landlords and breweries.

This increased competition from air conditioning products has greatly influenced the design and manufacture of refrigeration equipment over the years and most manufacturers have greatly refined their products accordingly with the outcome being more stylish, energy efficient, quieter systems fully 'dressed' with all the components fitted. With the ongoing development of inverter technology and more sophisticated controls, no doubt the two industries will continue to forge stronger links and develop together.

For supply of condensing units and all refrigeration equipment see here.