Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Building a Walk-In Humidor: part III

Lighting can be tricky for two reasons: lights produce heat and the wrong type of bulbs can fade and damage your cigars during prolonged exposure. In addition, Humidor lights should render true color to convey the actual beauty of your cigars. Avoid fluorescent and incandescent lights which distort color. Instead, invest in low Ultra-Violet (UV) and Infra-Red (IR) light bulbs which replicate daylight; the same lights used to illuminate artwork are perfect for cigars.

Allowing fresh air in and out is essential to any Walk-In. Walk-Ins should not be hermetically sealed. They should be able to allow fresh air in and expel hot air when necessary: cigars need fresh oxygen to age properly and avoid moldy conditions. In a commercial environment, fresh air exchange can be facilitated by the frequent opening and closing of the door, but in private Walk-Ins, care must be taken to keep the air circulating.

Walk-In Humidor Ventilation is a subtle process; changing the air in the room about once every day is sufficient. Often, the very small gap around the door is enough to allow air exchange, without significantly hampering the Humidor’s performance. A Walk-In should not have a return duct inside; this would result in humid air being removed too quickly.

If your Walk-In has a supply vent for cooling and heating, this vent should also have a manual damper so you can control the input, depending on the season and your specific needs.

Just like with great cigar making, there are very few hard and fast rules when constructing a Walk-In Humidor. Everything depends on your unique constraints and circumstances: heating, cooling, ventilation, humidification, and resources will be different for everyone. But, the principles and issues articulated here apply to all situations.

Our experience tells us that Temperature is often the most critical issue, and if you are lucky enough to put a Walk-In in a basement or cellar that self-regulates, then you should count your blessings. If you have the resources to provide independent climate control to your Walk-In then you are also in a privileged position. But there are options and solutions for everyone else as well.

Each Walk-In is an experiment that must be well planned and executed. Having multiple thermometers and hygrometers located throughout the Humidor will be necessary to understanding the small ecosystem you have created. If you need to change the system, tweak the variables: move the machinery, adjust the damper, or contact Tobacconist University® if you need any help.

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