Before we discuss the conversion of refrigerators, let’s take a look at the purpose of kegerators for which they are a substitute. What must a keg-size refrigerator accomplish? We will then explain the essential parts to be added to your converted refrigerator and their functions.
Beer is one of the world’s oldest alcoholic beverages with references dating back to Babylonian times. It is fermented starches from various cereal grains, today, mostly hops. The fermentation produces some carbonation. Surprisingly, beer was not artificially carbonated with carbon dioxide until the early 20th century and did not globally become the favored form to serve beer until the 1950s.
Until the modern carbonization methods, beer was stored in wooden casks relying on natural carbonization from the fermentation process. Once a cask is opened, the natural carbonization dissipated within two or three days. It was not until mid-20th century that beer was routinely carbonated in pressurized kegs.
Beer in Kegs
Cask beer is still made and sold; however, it is less popular than keg beer. Some beer drinkers still claim that cask beer has a better taste. Both beers are fermented the same way and from the same ingredients. The principal difference is the pressures and carbonation after fermenting. Cask beer relies solely on natural carbonation for the fermenting process while keg beer adds artificial gas carbonization.
The modern practice after fermentation is to store beer in metal kegs (shaped like barrels) pressurized with carbon dioxide (CO2) gas sometimes mixed with nitrogen. The gas pressure sustains the natural carbonization of the fermented beer.
Draft beer is considered superior in taste to bottled or canned beer. As a marketing ploy, some bottled or canned beers are labeled as “draft” or “draught” beer. Indeed, they are not.
Does Draft Beer Taste Better?
Beer enthusiasts swear it does. Unfortunately, most of us must go to a bar or pub to get a draft beer because we do not have the proper equipment to store and dispense keg beer.
Why does draft beer taste better? Freshness. Fresher beer is tastier beer.
Draft beer is not pasteurized as bottled or canned beer must be. That is a prime distinction that promotes freshness for draft beer.
Pressure and temperature sustain freshness. Consistency of pressure and temperature is all-important. Taking bottled or canned beer in and out of the refrigerator ages the beer and compromises its taste. Draft beer in a keg requires equipment that maintains a constant proper temperature and pressure for freshness.
Light exposure also compromises freshness and, therefore, taste. For that reason, most glass beer bottles are dark amber. However, colored bottles or containers are not 100% light-proof during bottling, shipping, and warehousing. Kegged beer is never exposed to light until it is dispensed into your glass.
A kegerator contains, preserves, cools, and dispenses beer from kegs. They are employed at home, at catered parties, and at bars and restaurants.
Beer enthusiasts buy them for use in their homes because they want the convenience and the superior flavor of draft (draught) beer ordinarily available in bars, pubs, and saloons.
Kegerators are produced and sold commercially as self-contained single-purpose appliances. There are four types of kegerators on the market — mini kegerators, full-size kegerators for home use, commercial kegerators, and outdoor kegerators.
Mini kegerators are merely countertop coolers that hold and dispense 5-liter kegs or cans.
Full-size home kegerators hold full-size (half-barrel) kegs. Normally, they are freestanding refrigerator units. Some are built-in kitchen appliances. Caution: Do not try to build in a freestanding model under counters.
Commercial kegerators are used in bars and restaurants. They are designed for heavy use. Some are portable for caterers.
How about outdoor kegerators? Most kegerators are designed for indoor use. Outdoor kegerators have special features to deal with temperatures not experienced indoors. These are used commonly by caterers.
A kegerator consists of a refrigerated box for storage and cooling, a keg, a CO2 tank, and necessary tubes and accessories.
Draft beer enthusiasts want to enjoy their favorite beer at home with family and friends. Commercial kegerators are available for home use. The basic kegerators are relatively simple appliances once you install the keg and CO2 tank.
The whistles and bells are mainly aesthetic and convenience features. Kegerator boxes can be built-in or freestanding. They come in a variety of colors and finishes. Otherwise, the internal components are standard among all kegerators.
Self-contained kegerators range in price depending on the type, size (keg capacity), and aesthetic features. Prices of home kegerators can range from $220 for a mini kegerator to more than $3,000 for an outdoor full-size unit and as much as $5,000 for a 59” dual keg.
However, given the simplicity of a kegerator’s basic functions, draft beer lovers are building do-it-yourself kegerators. They start with and modify a common refrigerator or freezer. DIY kegerators are then completed with commercially available kegerator kits.
Stand-up refrigerators and waist-high freezers make the best DIY kegerator box. The size of the box depends on the size of keg you want to accommodate.
Unlike a barrel, a beer keg is not a standard measurement of liquid volume. A keg is simply a liquid container the size of which is stated in terms of a barrel volume. A barrel of beer is 31 gal.
Kegs come in different sizes depending on their gallon capacity. One full keg is equivalent to ½ barrel. A half keg is equivalent to ¼ barrel.
A full-size (half-barrel) beer keg contains 15.5 gal. or about 165 12-oz. glasses. Standard full-size kegs are usually 23” tall, 16” in round and weigh about 160 lbs. when full.
A half-size (quarter barrel size) beer keg holds 7.75 gallons. There are two versions of half-size kegs. A standard half keg is 13⅞” tall, 16⅛” in diameter, and weighs about 87 lbs. when full. The slim half keg is 23⅜” tall and 11⅛” in diameter.
The other major component to be contained by a homemade kegerator is the CO2 tank. CO2 tanks are sold in different sizes and for different purposes. The usual kegerator CO2 tank measures either 5 lbs. or 10 lbs.
The outside measurements are smallest (3.5” X 18.25”) to largest (8” X 27.5”).
So, for your homemade refrigeration box with the most internal capacity, it will have to accommodate a:
- Keg (23” tall and 16.5” diameter)
- CO2 tank (8” X 27.5”)
- Accessory parts
Modifying Your Refrigerator Box
You will start your DIY kegerator project with a selection of the box that provides the necessary refrigeration. Most DIY builders choose either a common stand-up refrigerator or a waist-high freezer.
The stand-up refrigerator is more conveniently accessible for changing out the keg and CO2 tank. The preferred unit is one with the freezer compartment on top. The stand-up refrigerators are more easily converted. The only significant modification is to drill one or two holes in the door to mount the beer shanks and spill tray.
Before buying a convertible refrigerator for your homemade kegerator you should confirm the following:
- Be sure the inside dimensions are enough to accommodate the size of keg and CO2 tank you want to use.
- Check to sure the unit has no coolant lines in the door. This is rarely the case, but you should check just in case. You don’t want to be drilling into any coolant lines.
- Be sure the bottom is flat because it will have to hold level the keg and CO2 tank. If not, you will have to build a false bottom which will reduce the vertical measurement available for the keg.
If you are converting a freezer box, you will have to modify or replace the temperature controller. You will need to have a working knowledge of component electronics or hire an electrician. This is one of the disadvantages of a freezer-based kegerator box, but it might be worth it if you must use an existing unit.
You must have your homemade kegerator accommodate your desired keg size as well as your desired CO2 tank capacity. The larger the tank, the more kegs you will be able to charge.
The following chart gives you the number of kegs chargeable and measurements of commercially available CO2 tanks. The chart shows the number kegs filled by each tank size.
|Specification||2.5-lb. Cylinder||5-lb. Cylinder||10-lb. Cylinder||15-lb. Cylinder||20-lb. Cylinder|
|Measurement||3.5" x 18.25"||5.25" x 17.5"||6.875" x 20"||6.875" x 26"||6.875" x 27.5"|
|Corny Keg (5 gal.)||7-11||15-22||31-44||46-66||62-87|
Kegerator Conversion Kits
Commercially available conversion kits come in two configurations – one for door-mounted systems and another for tower systems. The typical stand-up refrigerator box will use the door-mounted kit.
A conversion kit will include the essential parts including in some cases a choice of CO2 tank sizes. Those parts include:
- CO2 regulator
- US Sankey keg coupler
- Faucet head
- Faucet knob
- 5’ beer line with connectors
- 5’ air line with clamps
- Tap soother faucet cap
Mini fridge kegerator conversion kits are available for use with a typical mini-refrigerator. However, you might have to use half kegs and smaller CO2 tanks.
As for price, the standard conversion kit for a single-tap kegerator fridge start out at about $100. Kits are available for servicing a double-tap kegerator fridge. However, your box will have to accommodate two tanks and two kegs.
- Kegco conversion kit includes elegantly designed NSF-approved Kegco chrome beer faucet with brass lever
- Commercial grade Kegco double gauge regulator with T-style adjustment valve easily sets output pressure
- Kegco KT85D-L D system keg coupler makes it easy to tap all North American D System kegs
- 6" stainless steel wall mount drip tray collects spills and can be easily detached to clean
- Heavy duty faucet wrench features vinyl coated handle for a secure grip and for easy removal of the faucet
- 1. DUAL GAUGE REGULATOR: It comes with an appropriate pressure dial that features the style of a knob for regulating pressure. With a weight of 3 pounds, the unit comes with rubber covers for protective purposes. You can use the gauge to know the pressure outside and inside the CO2 tank –you will not have to be worried that your gas might run out. It also has a shutoff valve that features a built-in spring for preventing the backflow of beer. Pressure Relief Valve Releases at 45PSI.
- 2. LEVER HANDLE KEG COUPLER: This refers to a D System Keg Coupler that has a strong construction made of nickel-plated forged brass. The probe, on the other hand, is made of stainless steel. The unit can be used alongside any domestic brand American D system Sankey kegs. It features an easy-to-use design, where you only need to pull the lever handle out and down, in that order, to couple the keg. The coupling of the keg is quite convenient with the availability of a 55-psi pressure relief valve
- 3. CHROME BEER FAUCET WITH BRASS LEVER: Featuring a forged brass body and highly polished chrome finish, this beer faucet puts a stylish finishing touch on your kegerator at a price you'll love.The brass shaft assembly and lever includes a non-stick ball washer for smooth operation, and the lever has standard threading that is compatible with most branded tap handles. This 4-1/8" long beer shank with nipple assembly is constructed from chrome-plated brass and can be mounted through a 1" hole.
- 4. METAL BEER FAUCET WRENCH: You need the ideal wrench spanner for loosening or tightening shrank collars easily and quickly without the worry that you will scratch your faucets, and the standard metal beer faucet wrench is just the right tool. The all-mental sturdiness of this wrench makes it quite durable as well as ideal to handle any tightening or loosening needs. It is 5-1/4" in length, which makes it easy to use on any surface.
- 5. STANDARD METAL BEER FAUCET WRENCH: You need the ideal wrench spanner for loosening or tightening shrank collars easily and quickly without the worry that you will scratch your faucets, and the standard metal beer faucet wrench is just the right tool. The all-mental sturdiness of this wrench makes it quite durable as well as ideal to handle any tightening or loosening needs. It is 5-1/4" in length, which makes it easy to use on any surface.
- PRO SERIES DUAL GAUGE REGULATOR: Easily measure PSI and CO2 volume and adjust CO2 output pressure using this Kegco 542 Pro Series Double Gauge Regulator packed with premium features. The top gauge indicates output pressure, while the side gauge tells you what's left in the CO2 tank, so you don't run out of gas during a party. The Standard plated brass body has a large pressure adjustment knob for easy use and includes a manual pressure release valve.
- LEVER HANDLE KEG COUPLER: This NSF-approved Kegco KT85D-L "D" System Keg Coupler features a sturdy nickel-plated forged brass body with a stainless steel probe, and is designed for use with all domestic brand American D system Sankey kegs. The lever-handle design is easy to use; simply pull out and then down on the handle to couple the keg. A 55-psi pressure relief valve makes this coupler even more convenient to use, allowing over-pressurized gas to escape before it enters your keg.
- SINGLE FAUCET DRAFT BEER TOWER: Featuring a beautiful Standard-plated metal finish and a matching Standard-plated faucet with metal lever, this 3" diameter air-cooled draft beer tower is the same stylish tower used on most commercial grade kegerators. This tower conveniently includes 5 feet of clear beer tubing ending in a nozzle and hex nut assembly for quick connection to all standard keg couplers, as well as a gasket and four screws for easy mounting.
- STANDARD METAL BEER FAUCET WRENCH: This beer faucet spanner wrench is an essential tool that allows you to quickly and confidently loosen or tighten shank collars without scratching your faucets. This wrench has been built to last with a rugged all-metal construction and a convenient 5-1/4" length.
- INCLUDES EMPTY 5 LB. ALUMINUM CO2 TANK: All of our brand new tanks are made from high strength aluminum alloy which is not as heavy as a steel tank and will not rust. These eye-catching tanks have a glossy red coating that acts as an extra layer of protection against corrosion and wear.
The coupler is an indispensable connection between your CO2 tank and keg. Choosing a coupler will require a bit of research and compatibility with the beer you intend to serve.
On one side, the keg coupler attaches to the valve on your keg. On the other, it attaches to the CO2 gas line. Hence, the name “coupler.”
There are six different types of couplers. The type you use depends on the brand/style of beer you serve, where it was brewed, and the size of keg it is in.
For US beers, the D Coupler fits U.S. Sankey Keg Valves, so it will most likely be included in your conversion kit. It is compatible with most US and Canadian beers. When buying a keg, make sure that the beer you want is compatible with a D Coupler.
It is important that your D Coupler is stainless steel, which is the standard material for durability and resistance to corrosion.
Also, for your homemade kegerator, the D Coupler will require a 5″-6” clearance above the keg you install.
- All Stainless Construction: heavy duty commercial stainless body dispensing sankey coupler will not get rust, flake or produce unhealthy substances, high quality healthy grade 304 stainless steel probe is the part that actually presses down into keg to allow beer to pass through keg coupler, healthier than chrome plated brass, no need to worry about acidity coming into beer. withstands heavy uses of commercial environments like pubs, bars and restaurants, start enjoying, no longer miss any game!
- 55-PSI Safety Pressure Release Valve and No Leaking or Backflow: home brewing keg coupler features a thoughtful pressure relief valve, will not stick, just release pressure easily by pulling the valve ring out, pressure will be released automatically when pressure is up to 55 psi to keep user safety, no co2 loss, reduce foaming; gas check valve, beer sealing washer avoid liquid backflow and air entering; brewing hose will be attached to the barb connector tightly by using hose clamp, no leaks.
- Perfectly Beer Gas Line Fitting Standard G 5/8 Thread for Ball Lock: this kegerator keg tap comes with all necessary parts that it would need for complete hook up, liquid and co2 tailpiece barb fit I.D 5/16'' brewing beer gas dispensing line tubing, G 5/8 threads are cut well and work with ball lock keg fittings with the help of keg coupler adapter, it will serve a sanke keg from your home brew keezer, greatly improve your time and effort of changing kegs. no more waiting, tap keg now, cheers!
- Quick and Convenient Lever Locking Handle: this sankey coupler is easy to be connected to brewing keg for beer dispensing, anyone who pulls the handle off of a D system keg coupler will appreciate the convenience. just align it with the keg lugs, press it down and do half turning to secure it to the keg, simply push down on the locking handle to lock keg tap into place to tap keg, press operation handle down and slightly pull the handle cover out to uncouple it from the keg when you finish job.
- Work with CO2 Keg Regulator: this sanke keg tap dispenser is compatible with all American D system keg brands including Anheuser-Busch, Miller, Molson-Coors, and Labatt, dispense beer, kombucha, soda water and other carbonated drinks like a champ for your backyard BBQ, wedding, graduation party, outdoor picnic, etc, you can connect it to a co2 regulator to monitor your keg carbonation pressure. it is also can be used for cleaning, a perfect piece for any brewers equipment home or commercial.
An all-important component of your system is the CO2 regulator. It will have one or two gauges that tell you the pressure of the gas flowing from the tank into your keg. In the CO2 tank, the gas is compressed at pressures too high to maintain proper pressure in your keg.
The regulator controls that pressure and shows it on the gauge so you can accurately monitor proper pressures. Pressure regulation is achieved by a diaphragm and spring inside the regulator. On the front of the regulator is a screw device that adjusts the pressure as required.
Under normal conditions, the ideal pressure for your kegerator is 12 psi. Turn the screw clockwise to increase the output pressure and counter-clockwise to decrease the output pressure.
Some conditions, such as altitude or special beer styles, might call for another setting. Your keg distributor or particular brewer can advise you.
- Dual Gauge regulator shows you working pressure and tank pressure
- Chrome plated brass body
- Manual pressure release valve and pressure adjustment knob
- Integral safety pressure relief valve releases at 45 psi
The advantages of a home kegerator are numerous. For the beer aficionados, the taste is unmatched except at pubs and restaurants where prices are much higher.
The difference between home draft beer and liquor store beer is less pronounced but significant nevertheless. For example, the average cost of a keg of Budweiser is $100. For the same volume, you would need seven cases of bottled Budweiser at an average cost of $160.
Plus, it’s fun to have your favorite beer, cold and fresh right in your home near the TV room.
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