For cigar geeks, the path from table humidor to cabinet humidor is basically predestined. And because it is an unwritten rule that sooner or later every humidor becomes a bit too small, the idea of a walk-in humidor is suddenly not so far-fetched after all.
A walk-in humidor is easier to plan and build than one might think. We’ll start with an important tip for all projects that plan to incorporate an exterior wall of the building into the humidor: if not insulated, these walls get very cold during the colder months. Due to the humidor’s high humidity level, there is a danger of condensation on the exterior wall, and with it, a risk of mold.
Less variation in temperature is always better.
If an exterior wall is to be part of the humidor, the shelves must be as ventilated as possible and open on all sides. Before commencing construction, measure the temperature of the exterior wall when outside temperatures are low.
If it’s within the dew point range at 70 percent humidity, the prospect is too risky. It is much better to use all interior walls. The higher the ceiling of a walk-in humidor, the larger the fluctuations in relative humidity.
Because warm air rises, the temperature at the ceiling will be higher than on the floor – and warm air holds more moisture than cold air. You could, of course, position the moisture sensor very high up in the room. But, while the desired relative humidity would be reached at that level, it could lead to over-humidification in the cooler, lower area of the room.
Therefore, the moisture sensor should always be installed at the middle height of the room; air circulation will regulate the temperature differential. This can be achieved quite well using fans. But it’s clear: less variation in temperature is always better.
An alternative to a humidor cabinet or walk-in humidor could be a walk-in shelving unit (illustration 1). This means that two drywall walls are erected at a desired distance, and a door inserted in between. The humidification system is on the floor. The first shelf should be at least a foot above it.
If the humidification system cannot blow diagonally, a baffle plate should be placed to redirect the air so that it does not blow directly onto the cigars.
A visually interesting and simultaneously spacesaving solution is the pentagonal walk-in humidor built into the corner of a room (illustration 2). The humidification system is placed either under one of the racks or in the corner of the room. The moisture sensor is placed halfway up the side of one of the newly-erected walls (always across from the humidifier). One caveat of this arrangement is the dead space in the corner (shown here in red).
A rectangular walk-in humidor (illustration 3) has the ad vantage of plenty of storage and good ventilation. Shelves are built along the long walls, with the humidification system along one of the short walls. The resulting corner dead space can be put to good use for the installation of an air circulation system. Air is sucked up from the base of the interior wall and blown out from the ceiling. This system prevents moist pockets or dry zones from forming when the humidifier is not active. I set up a system according to a similar principle in the Heinrich Villiger Lounge La Cantinetta in Waldshut-Tiengen.
A rectangular layout is ideal for maximum storage capacity, with a double row of shelves along the long walls and the humidifier on the short wall. Assuming that racks are about a foot deep, the space needs to be at least 70 inches wide.
And, of course, you can create a walk-in humidor with minimum effort by re-purposing a storage room, the area under the stairs, or a broom closet – in other words, a space that already exists. Just remember that the humidification system should always blow air along the long side of the space.
That’s it for construction planning! In issue 2015/3 of Cigar Journal, Marc André discusses materials, humidification systems, and air circulation.
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This article was published in the Cigar Journal Summer Edition 2015. Read more