After a few years of processing my own meat and aging it in small coolers, where temps were difficult to control and my meat age time was in turn limited, I decided to build a cold room. When I heard about a cool device that makes that process easier, and then we were quarantined due to COVID-19, I decided “no time like the present!”
DISCLAIMER: I did my best to build this walk in cooler to last. But I’m not a professional construction contractor, and I recommend you consult a professional experienced in construction before embarking on your own cold room construction project.
Step 1 – Outline the Space
I ended up concluding that a 4’ by 10’ space was sufficient for the amount of meat we’d be hanging each year, wouldn’t be overly difficult to keep cool or require too large of a window mounted A/C unit to pair with the Cool Bot. (Ultimately this turned out to be a good guess. We can hang two full sized elk in this space. It’s snug, but sufficient, and cools quickly.)
Step 2 – Frame the Walls
I framed up the walls, researching ahead of time the size of A/C unit I would need to cool the space when paired with the Cool Bot. (Here’s a helpful article to consider on that subject.) I also checked out standard exterior door sizes and frames that in as well. Pressure treated 2x4s made for the bottom of the walls since they’d sit on concrete (which I anchored into the concrete using Tapcon screws).
After framing I cutout and nailed plywood on to the frame. Here’s a look at the progress to this point.
Step 3 – Install the Door
At this point I installed the door, which as I mentioned earlier was a standard exterior door. I figured it would keep the cold air in better. I also made sure to install it so it would open out rather than in, since space inside the cold room would be at a premium.
Step 4 – Seal
Next up was sealing the edges and filling any holes with silicone.
Step 5 – Insulate
My garage walls and ceiling are sheet-rocked, so I put up a vapor barrier wrap in case of moisture from the cold room. I then used R-Tech Rigid Foam insulation, welding it between the studs on the walls and attaching to the wrapped, Sheetrock walls and ceiling.
This didn’t fill in all the gaps, so I used the spray in insulation to line all the edges and fill the gaps.
Step 6 – Install the Window A/C Unit
The window A/C unit fit pretty snuggly in the framed window, but I used the same spray in insulation to seal the edges. I also had to hire an electrician to convert a plug in the ceiling of the garage so the wiring suited the A/C unit. (Definitely didn’t want to take any risks here and try this myself!)
Step 6 – Connect the Cool Bot
The Cool Bot device is easily mounted to the wall, and then the sensor in the A/C unit is connected to a sensor on the Cool Bot. Apparently the Cool Bot tricks the sensor in the windows A/C unit to continue to blow cold air even though it’s minimum temperature is reached.
Step 7 – Install Shelving
I put in some clothes hanger bars and some shelving on top of the lower one. I can safely hang four elk quarters on each shelving level.
The version of the Cool Bot we purchased picks up a WiFi signal, and you can track the temperature in the room from your phone, which was well worth the upgrade.
So far, we have hung and aged one elk, one moose, one bear, and three deer since it’s construction, and everything has worked well (some for us, some for friends). On occasion we’ve had to reconnect the Cool Bot to WiFi, and the A/C had to work pretty hard around the clock to cool the room on our bear killed this June. We don’t have the power bill back from that yet, but aside from the bear, we haven’t noticed a significant increase in our power bill running the cold room in the fall and winter.
Having the cold room has allowed us to hunt and kill big game and process meat efficiently. And the aged meat is certainly next level in terms of tenderness and taste. I highly recommend checking out the Cool Bot, and I think you can get some kind of a deal if you follow the links to Cool Bot in this article.
Feel free to reach out with any questions about this project with an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.