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Help with Refrigeration for a (Very) Custom Bar Top Answered

The gist of this question is this: How do I calculate the size compressor rig that I need for a cooling system? The larger context is this: I am building a bar in my living room that has some special features - Namely it has a "cold strip" running across the top of the bar - which amounts to a 4 inch wide strip of chilled copped built into the bar top- to keep your drink cold; as well as two vodka wells - which each hold a bottle of vodka in a frozen bath of (cheaper) vodka (under a glass dome). The bar top is made of Styrofoam and composite materials (I used to make Surfboards) and is basically seamless. The copper tubing will be built into the bar top - under the composite and soldered to a copper plate - which is built into the composite.... you get the picture. I have built "frozen" sculptures in the past using old fridges that I have disassembled and then re tubed. In the past I have always just winged the amount of tubing I used and thus far - have gotten away with it, and the sculptures have always worked. This time though I am buying the compressor new and want to match the unit to the need - but I have no idea how to calculate the needed compressor to the job. Any help would be great. Thanks! And Yes, I will post the Instructable when the bar is completed. :)



1 year ago

I work for a children's museum and am doing research for a potential exhibit on ice. Does this have to be done on a flat surface, or can you also use the some concept on a vertical plane or "column"? Do you have photos you could share?

there is a bar I believe it is called Rock Bar in Lynnwood WA. that has a bar top like what you mentioned, a freind of mine told me about it and sent me a couple of photos because I am going to copy the design for the Bar in my new house. I plan on making a trip over the mountains to check it out for myself, and check out the refridgeration requirements.I get the name and phone # if you think it will help you . Let me know. gbmfken

Its sounds like a very interesting thing. I'd like to see pictures if you can put them online ?

. If you use a charging manifold (not a recommendation, just an example) with the proper scales on the gages, you can get in the ballpark (usually very close). If I remember what I watched (I've never done it) correctly, they used two thermometers to measure condenser in/out temps, but that was a long time ago and I've been to sleep since then. You should be able to find some details by searching for "HVAC charging", &c. Anyway, you should be able to find a manifold at a pawn shop for cheap. Might be able to rent one at an equipment rental place.

Well at only 4 inches wide I'd say the system froma smaller fridge would do the job, a small freezer would be better but not completely necessary, of course you could use peltiers for this job and have less plumbing to do...

Peltiers would be nice - I can't image that they come this big for a reasonable price... I am pretty sure that there is a calculation that you can do to determine exactly what kind of compressor to use - for instance looking at the CC's of copper tubing and the temperature differential you're looking for - I can figure all of these pieces out pretty easily (just filling the coper tubes and draining them into a graduated flask will tell me the CC's involved. I just need someone with the knowledge. I have tried a appliance repair place, but got a blank stare when I was trying to describe the project. He had no idea. Maybe a HVAC place might know better.

Well you wouldn't need a massive peltier, just an evenly spaced set of them along the rail, not sure how many but they can be had from scrapped minifridges which are unbelievably common... If you have a fridge running under capacity you could run the plumbing on through to make a single unit system...

Maybe you could research these commercial bar cold table thingys from a restaurant supply place. Contact them for their compressor specs and you could figure it out from there. Good luck.

(it is tempting just to get one for the bar top - then you see the prices Yikes!) Good Idea - I will see if I can find some info from your link. Thanks.

Another idea is to custom form your drink strip and bucket from sheet metal (sinks have been crafted from copper this way), use it as a cover for the big thermos or igloo cooler you create below where you can pack ice and rock salt when used. Kinda like making a big ice bucket to suit your bottles and drinks. Put a drain tap on the bottom to clean up or pipe it to your wet bar. Should last for a few hours when entertaining and saves the expense of the mechanicals.

Oh, and look up sushi bar displays to see if that might work.