What is a kegerator? A kegerator is a residential dispensing device for craft beer. To keep the beer keg cold, a keg is kept in a refrigerator. A tapped keg can be kept in this container for long periods of time, typically a few months, without losing its quality. You can buy a kegerator in its final form, or you can build one from a repurposed fridge or freezer equipped with special equipment.
High-quality ready-made kegerators can be purchased. They are easy to install and require no DIY skills. Prices start at $499. You can save money by purchasing a kegerator conversion kit if you have an extra refrigerator, or if you are able to get one very cheaply.
If you are looking to build your own kegerator, there are several options. You can buy kegerator conversion kits that will fit any refrigerator or freezer. You can modify any size refrigerator, chest freezer, or compact refrigerator to hold and dispense kegs.
How to Choose a Refrigerator
You should consider the size of the kegs that you will be using in the refrigerator or freezer you select. There are many sizes and shapes of refrigerators and freezers. Knowing the size and height of the kegs will help you select a refrigerator that has enough space to hold them.
Get a Kegerator Conversion Kit
After you’ve decided on the type of refrigerator that you want to use for your kegerator build you can choose a kegerator converter kit. There are many kits to choose from, with different tap sizes, air tanks, drip trays and towers, regulators, and so forth.
You may already have some equipment (e.g. a CO2 tank or kegs). You should select the kit that matches your fridge. You will find that kits are often made with less-quality components, such as chrome-plated faucets. These kits are intended for first-time kegerator owners who want to save money. If you are looking for something that will last more than a year, I recommend buying the components individually and opting for stainless steel parts over chrome-plated ones. You’ll be glad you did.
This is the list of essential equipment you will need to complete almost all kegerator projects.
- 5 lb. CO2 or Nitrogen gas tank
- Air regulator
- Keg coupler
- 3/16” liquid line (7 ft.)
- 5/16” gas line (5 ft.)
- Liquid line connection Kit
- Hose line clamp
- Tap handle
- Drip tray
- Thermostat controller
- Kegerator multi-tool
- Shank and tail (door mount only)
- Draft tower (required for mini-fridge conversions)
- Air line splitter (for multiple Kegs)
You can buy these items separately, allowing you to pick the quality of each piece. However, if you are not in a rush or don’t care about that particular item you can simply purchase a kegerator converter kit. This will include everything you need. A beer cleaning kit is highly recommended. Before you start using your kegerator, it is a good idea to thoroughly clean your beer lines.
Get Your Tools
A few tools are required to convert your kegerator. To mount draft spigots and towers, you will need to drill holes in your fridge. The hole saw, a drill attachment that can easily drill through fridge materials, is readily available at most hardware shops. The following tools are likely to be required:
- Power drill
- 1″ and 3” hole saw bits
- Flathead and Phillips screwdrivers
- 1/8″ drill bits
Modify The Refrigerator
Now it’s time to get started with your kegerator conversion kit! First, clean and thoroughly clean the fridge you are converting. If you have shelves, remove them. You can also build an elevated floor to make the fridge flat and level. You can modify the fridge by drilling holes through it, but this will void any warranties.
Install The Kegerator Kit
The instructions for assembling the parts and installing them on your refrigerator will be included in most kegerator kits. You will need to run the shank through a full-sized refrigerator with door-mount faucets. Once the nut is down, connect the faucets and lines to the shank to a keg coupler. Finally, attach the air line from the keg coupler to the regulator. This is how you build a keezer.
You will mount a draft tower to your mini-fridge and then run the lines inside through the hole that you made during modification. For additional support, you can use a plastic bracket (available at any hardware store) to attach the tower to the unit’s interior. Connect the beer line from your tower shank elbow to the keg coupler, then connect the air line from your keg coupler to your regulator.
It is easy to install the drip tray in either style of the kegerator. A drip tray with a mounting bracket is required for kegerators with door-mounted faucets. Phillip’s head screws are used for most drip trays. A self-contained spill tray with manual emptying is recommended for a tower-style mini-fridge. After installing the drip tray you will need to connect the gas and beer lines, flush them, and then sanitize the pipes. You will need to tighten all hose clamps and ensure that the CO2 tank and regulator are secured.
If you want to keep your CO2 tank out of your kegerator you will need to drill another hole in the back and seal the CO2 line using a silicone sealant or rubber grommet. You will need to take care not to damage any coolant lines. You may be able to allow the CO2 line to exit through a top-opening design (keezer) if the area is relatively hidden from the rear of the lid. You can drill through the collar to determine the exact size of your CO2 lines if you use a collared design.