Will Build a Walk in Cooler for Nuts & DCO Growing

You mentioned there are some things you would do differently, if building a 2nd unit...I think we can all related to that! I can't tell you how many times I've built something perfectly serviceable, but almost want to just give it away so I can build another one, knowing I'll do a better job!

What are the things you'd do differently, if you could?
Two major changes for me: 1) I would change the 6 foot side to 8 feet so my materials work out better and 2) I would build the Styrofoam sections in the floor and move them as a sandwich block to the unit.

To further explain #2, I would stack the boards in the floor and tape them together first. I would buy small sheets for galvanized metal to screw them together with long screws. I used 6 inch screws on this build. I would use stoves bolts with nuts and washers.

There would be less cutting and fitting if you did it that way. The end walls would still be 4 feet inside. The 8 feet long walls would lose some length because they would cover the end walls on each end.

Hope my explanation makes sense. :rolleyes:
Follow Up to Things I Would Do Differently

My situation was complicated by a narrow site location. I needed to built my walk in between a grow box and the front wall in my basement. I was concerned about air loss in the cooler - chalk that up to inexperience. Most individuals cover the outside of their walk in color with plywood or a similar cover.

To keep cost down, I chose to not cover with plywood. My two long walls are not exposed to any traffic. I staggered the overlaps on styrofoam boards to prevent air loss. I would use a 1 by 4 inch board to cover the joints in the middle of the long wall if I was to build again.

The 1 by 4 would board be added after the two sandwich sections were put together and first taped with duct tape.

Do I believe mine walk in turned out well? Yes, I am pleased with it. Could I do a better job if I had a do over? Absolutely with less measuring and less cut and fit.

My cooler has been built to store chesntuts, sawtooth, swamp white oak, grow DCO and store bare root shrubs. By storing bare root shrubs and seedlings, I will be able to plant conveniently.

Individuals building a walk in cooler for storing deer would have to build with a stronger frame and the ceiling height would be engineered differently than mine.

My cool bot has been shipped - got my tracking number during the evening. The time for controls and electrical is here. ;)
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Cool Bot Received

The cool bot is a simple electronic devise designed by farmers. It represents a savings over using a commercial refrigerator system.

Here is a photo.
Cool Bot.jpg

That is power cord and plug on the top right. The two blue wires are two sensors: one goes to the fins in the bottom middle of the air conditioner. The other one goes to the room. The black cord is a heater and the red end on the right will be connected to the thermostat that you will find positioned in the center of the fins.

I will reposition that thermostat away from the fins and this heater helps the system to continue cooling so we can reach temperatures in the mid to lower 30s inside the walk in cooler.

I have my electrician scheduled for the first of the week. I want the electrical done correctly and am willing to pay to meet that end.

My air condition runs on 110 volts. We will run a 20 amp circuit.

Thanks for reading this thread - we will soon be operational.
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My electrician got to me today, December 15th.

We put the walk in cooler on one 20 amp breaker. The photo below shows the wiring prep.

Wiring Plug for AC & Cool Bot.jpg
We are operational. The air conditioner is working well. I followed the instructions with the cool bot and I can say it cycles quickly. Today and tonight I will learn the appropriate settings for what I want. My goal is 35 degrees.

My only issue is when the compressor is running I can hear it on the first floor of my house. We will address deflecting the sound some over the up coming weekend.

Walk In Cooler Operational.jpg

In this photo the cool bot thinks it is 31 degrees inside the cooler. I have an indoor - outdoor thermometer hooked up.

I will do some calibration on these two systems. I have some insulation work to do and to trim the inside face of the door to eliminate one major air gap.

I will put a plastic sheet hanging over the inside of the door to keep cold air inside the walk in cooler when the door is open.

On Friday I will begin to move all of my chestnuts to this cooler. ;) Feels good to see that in print.

Thanks for reading this thread.
To make sure I will not be at risk of freezing anything I believe in putting bottles of drinking water inside the unit. I do the same thing for my greenhouse. A temperature reading on a thermometer can be off a degree or two but a bottle of water is a good standard to measure it by.

Call it a redneck thermometer.
Will having this large, walk-in refrigerator change how you grow chestnuts? Is this simply for the storage of chestnuts, while also providing a place for the CDO's to "sleep" for the winter, before going into your greenhouse?
It will not change how I grow a chestnut. It will allow me in Jan of 2018 to sell chestnuts that have been cold stratified. That part of the process causes beginners problems. I will naturally charge more for those because it cost money to get them stratified in that quantity.

I will be able to order more bare root seedlings because I can plant slowly now. At storage temps in the mid 30s we will not break bud.

I do plant on increase the DCO numbers and expect to sell some seedlings that way.

As said earlier, tomorrow I will move the chestnuts into their new home. ;)
I have installed two wire shelves that are four feet long each. They will provide excellent air flow which is important.

They are adjustable to within an inch.

2 Wire Shelves Installed.jpg

The space below the bottom shelf will be used to place bare root seedlings in a bucket and DCO in
rootmaker 18 express trays. I purchased the wire shelves at Lowes.
I emptied my dorm fridge and as you can see in the photo below that fridge was loaded. I have a full size fridge in son's garage that is loaded.

I will purchase another 8 feet long wire shelf and four brackets. That will allow me to get that fridge empty. My son wants his garage space back.

I will be selling that full size fridge to cover the cost of the wire shelves.

Part of Chestnuts and Acorns Situated.jpg

I have one small LED light in this walk in cooler. The plywood floor is painted white and all of the walls have the silver side of the insulation board turned to the inside. I am pleased with the lighting and I can maintain inventory easily in this walk in because I now have the room to see bags and labels.

Thanks for reading this thread.
Are you catching the condensation out of the air conditioner or are you just going to let it drip on the floor?

I will be catching the condensation in a bucket but right now I am getting the inside squared away. I have a gravel basement floor with plastic underneath the gravel.

Got some foam insulation to apply to major cracks around the inside of the walk in at the door facing.

We are operational and working the short list of details.

I did adjust the target temperature up to 35 degrees and lowered the fan setting on the air conditioner. We have more cooling power than required - so my recovery time will be fast. My adjustments will be to reduce the electrical use.

My wife is fine with the fan noise - her TV room is not close by so that is a plus. ;)
I cleaned out the fridge in my son's garage. I have placed them in the walk in cooler. I have four wire shelves that are each 4 feet long.

My shelves are 85 % full right now. I will be going thru my chestnuts and acorns to obtain an accurate inventory and to eliminate those with mold. I will get a photo and post later today. While ago I wanted out of the cold 35 degree temps with the fan blowing in my ear.

I did lower the fan speed and now the noise issue is not any concern. ;)
Sunday, December 18th Update

I adjusted the target temperature to 37 degrees on the cool bot control. I am learning the system - I had some ice in the bottom of the air conditioner and I adjust one other control to manage that.

Got four shelves full of chestnuts, sawtooth, burs, chinkapin and a few others. Got some chestnuts from my wife's grandfather's trees that will be cut down when some zoning is approved and a project moves forward. I want to save those genetics and have about one acre of ground I will plant those trees. That is a goal that will be carried on by me for the next two generations.

Shelves were a great choice for this resource. :)

4 Loaded Shelves.jpg

We have good lighting with good line of sight. Plenty of room and good air circulation. As stated earlier, the room beneath the bottom shelf will be used for rootmaker 18s with DCO and bareroot in 5 gallon buckets.

Things will not break bud in this cooler.

Thanks for reading this thread.
Another great DIY thread. Really good stuff Wayne.
Thanks Triple C. I appreciate your kind words.

It turned out good. If I had come across an old used Coke or Pepsi Cooler like you see in markets everywhere I would have saved a great deal of money. I was 75% completed before I saw anything on the internet where a few people went that route. For chestnuts, acorns and bare root that would be a cheaper solution that what I just completed.

I didn't know what I didn't know. If asked by anyone I will be honest about what I learned. Check with markets that change ownership and ask to speak to the soft drink bottlers that deliver soft drinks. They know where those used units are located. Craigslist would a slower solution to find one of the double glass slide door units.

What I did is what farmers and folks that want a deer cooler do. What I did is cheaper that a commercial unit.
Another great DIY project by wbpdeer.

The thought crossed my mind that someone could also take a non-working, large chest type freezer and cut a hole in the end for the AC unit and basically turn it into a refrigerator. Obvious a walk in unit has its definite advantages but what you and I want, but for a deer cooler I think it would work pretty well.