We are designing a root cellar for a landscape client, and have read the literature on passive venting. We're going to use a solar panel/battery setup to power a small light inside, but were wondering if it might also be good to add a fan to the vent system that could react to internal/external clues.

We are NOT looking to do this as inexpensively as possible, and if there is any real benefit to actively managing humidity or temp through ventilation control, we would be interested in figuring out how to do it using the same solar power system.

Would such a system give better results or a more stable/controllable environment?

  • Can you indicate what conditions you want - temp range & humidity, other factors? – mart Aug 18 '17 at 9:44
  • standard root cellar conditions. – That Idiot Aug 20 '17 at 22:33

If your venting system can be started depending on a given (and changeable) humidity degree, then this is a very good thing for the cellar.

Indeed, extracting humidity circulates air in the basement. We could think this is an issue because it will warm the place, which could be bad if you intend to keep, say, fruits and vegetable for later use. (I myself am considering branching the cool output of my heat pump - for hot water - to my cellar to really keep it cool in summer).

Now the fact that humidity is extracted leads to evaporation, which will cool the walls and counterbalance the hot air dragged inside. This retro-effect depends on the inside/outside temperature difference, the size of the cellar and the volume of air being circulated each day.

A great benefit from this is that you will be able to keep (relative (1)) constant humidity and temperature. This has great advantage when it comes to store some valuable goods like wine, craftsmanship collections, ...

(1) Here I say relative, because depending on the power you'll have, the air circulation might not be adequate to the size of the cellar you build.

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