A number or years ago we bought a used walk-in from a restaurant that was moving locations. It was the answer to the issue of long term cellar-type storage for our homestead goods. I didn't need it to be refrigerator cold, just cold enough for storage of our field crops, tree fruit, excess eggs, rendered animals fats, corn flour, fermented foods, etc. I wanted to be able to hang a butcher goat or pig from time to time and wet or dry age smaller livestock. The outside walls were a little beaten up visually, but otherwise it was in great shape. I took a couple of friends with me to the restaurant and we dismantled the walk-in, loaded into my VW Vanagon and stored it in a shed until I could figure out where I wanted to install it and get the work done. There it sat for the next 4 years while I was busy making my living homesteading. I looked around, considered available space, toyed with the ideas of making a new space closer to the seasonal creek on the north side of the property. So many possibilities, each with their own amount of work that would have to be done to make the space usable.
During the time the walk-in was stored in a shed, we wanted to create a new space to process and store our garlic in. Garlic is a big crop for us, we grow over 20 varieties of garlic for selling at the Farmers' Market, and keeping all those varieties separate and well labeled every step of the way takes space. The three sided shed we stored our garlic in was a great space for summer and fall processing and storage, but a bad place for long term storage. The shed is under a large fir tree on the north side of the property, one of the coolest spots inside the fenced area of our homestead, but come early winter it was so dank the garlic quickly rotted.
Three years ago we utilized a small foundation that was already on the property in an area that has more sun, but not too much, and way more air flow. We built another three sided shed on the the foundation and moved the garlic operation there, and it's worked out wonderfully. At the same time, I now had an empty three sided shed under a fir tree on the north side of the property near a seasonal creek that was the coolest part of the homestead, it was the perfect home for the walk-in. A small slab was poured with a drain in the middle so the slab could be hosed down, the walk-in went up on the slab, some shelving was built on the outside of the walk-in wall to hold home canned goods and a CoolBot was installed.
I love my Coolbot, it's so easy to use and has a wide range of temperature settings. When we installed the Coolbot three years ago, I didn't realize that the A/C that I had already purchased for using with it was incompatible and wouldn't work with the Coolbot. It would take a week or more to get the A/C that I should have bought in the first place, and all the work would stop until we had the A/C in, so I grabbed an A/C off the shelf of our local hardware store to use. It was a little smaller than the one I originally purchased, but it worked like a champ for three years then died. I replaced it last weekend.
The new A/C I just installed is larger than the original one, so the hole in the wall of the walk-in needed to be enlarged a bit to slide the new A/C into it. Early last Sunday morning I grabbed the sawzall and enlarged the opening, a friend came by and helped me lift the new A/C into place, I hooked it up to the CoolBot and turned it on, the temperature in the walk-in dropped 20 degrees in minutes to the normal temperature setting of 45F. I'm pleased to say that the temperature inside the walk-in, even after the A/C died on a Thursday and wasn't replaced until Sunday, never rose over 65F, which didn't harm anything that I store in the walk-in. The average day time temperature during those few days was 95F on the homestead. The temperature inside the walk-in stayed low in part because of its 4" thick styrofoam-type walls, but also because of where we put it. Installing a CoolBot cooled room somewhere that is normally cool even in summer time, uses a lot less power to hold it at the set temperature, plus helps to keep it as cold as it can be in the event of a power loss, or this case the A/C giving up the ghost.
Once the A/C was inserted, the small gaps between the wall and the A/C were filled with canned insulation. ALL gaps inside the room should be filled with canned insulation to keep the power usage at a minimum. We've drilled a few holes in the ceiling for power cords, and once the cords are through the holes they are sealed with the same insulation.
The correct setting on the A/C that's hooked up to the CoolBot are clearly written out in the instructions that come with the CoolBot, but I spaced out corectly setting them initially. When I saw the ice coating the fins I realized I forgot to set them and fixed it. The proper setting for the A/C is 'Cool' with the fan speed on 'High'. I had the setting on 'Energy Saving' with the fan speed on 'Low'. No harm done and an easy fix. When running properly what you see are the metal fins on the A/C, in the picture above the fins aren't visible because of the ice that formed on them.
CoolBot's are set up to override an A/C settings. One of the sensors for the CoolBot needs to be inserted into the fins on the front of the A/C. In order to do that the front panel of the A/C and the filter are removed, and they are never replaced. To keep the fins clean without the front cover and filter in place, a rag or fingers needs to wipe down the fins a couple of times a week. It's a low maintenance tasks that takes a couple of seconds.
Another CoolBot sensor overrides the A/Cs heater, it's held next to the heat sensor in the A/C by wrapping them together with foil.
The only other sensor for the CoolBot is for the room temperature, it needs to hang free and not touch the walls. I loosely tie it around the power cord for the A/C, otherwise it'll hit the wall of the walk-in.
The CoolBot factory setting is 42F, but can easily be adjusted up or down. Follow the easy to read, very clear instructions that came with the CoolBot and you're good to go. The power cords for both the CoolBot and A/C run through a hole we drilled in the ceiling of the walk-in, they are plugged into an outlet that was placed in the raters of the shed. It was a little precaution to make sure they could not be unplugged in error as getting to them requires a ladder!
At the same time the walk-in was going up and the CoolBot was being installed, a friend used farmgenuity and bolted two chains to the rafters, drilled holes for them and dropped them down into the walk-in.
Inside the walk-in, there is a large carabiner on the end of both chains. A stainless steel rod runs through the carabiners for the entire length of the walk-in and is zip tied to them to keep it from slipping. I use large, stainless steel hooks on the rod to hang just butchered animals to age. With the ease of the CoolBot and I can adjust the temperature to a lower setting for a short time while the animal is hanging. With a drain in the middle of the small slab the walk-in is built on, I can wash and hose down the inside walls and floors before and after I hang freshly butchered animals, making it easy to keep the walk-in clean.