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kegerator - need help/advice

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by mikeathens, Aug 6, 2008.

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  1. mikeathens

    mikeathens New Member

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    Well, as usaual, after tons of research, I end up here on Hearth.com to get some feedback on kegerators! I figure out of all of you alcoholics, there has to be someone that can give some guidance...

    I'm looking to put my homebrew into kegs instead of bottling. There are tons of kegerators out there, but I can't seem to find good reviews/advice on them. I'm looking to put two cornelius kegs into a standard "dorm-sized" kegerator on a CO2 system. Most of the commercial units come with the tap, CO2 tank, hoses, regulator, etc, and if they fit standard 1/2 size keg, they'll fit 2 corny kegs.

    Anyhow, these things are outrageous in price - Danby, Sanyo, Haier, etc. all have them. Prices range from $500-$800. Way too much.

    Anyone have a good place to pick one of these up at a good price, like < $400? I hate Walmart, but they sell one there; unfortunately, it looks like garbage. Sears sells one, and it too looks like garbage. I've read bad reviews on Danby and Haier, and these are in the $500 - $800 range.

    As far as converting a full-sized fridge into one, energy consumption is is big deal to me, and aesthetics are also important since this will be in my house - not the garage. Converting a standard dorm fridge also poses problems, especially interior dimensions and cooling capacity.

    Any thoughts? Anyone else kegging their homebrw?

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  2. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    When my first wife left me, I pulled shelves out of the fridge and put in Corny kegs. I almost put taps on the outside of the door, but then she took the house back.

    I saw a kegerator in Home Despot a year or 2 ago for about $400. I have also seen a lot of conversions of small fridges and chest freezers that could be had for a song... unless you sing like I do- then they may give it to you to shut you up.

    There are at least a couple purveyors of good conversion hardware out there- I'd look at those, personally.

    Ohio, huh? I've gone further for less important things than beer...
  3. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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  4. mikeathens

    mikeathens New Member

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    Again, aesthetics are important. I don't want a second full-sized fridge in my kitchen. My man cave doesn't exist yet.

    I've looked into the correct sized "dorm fridge" (has to be at least 28" high inside and 17" wide/deep to accomodate corny kegs with no freezer compartment) and conversion kit, and I'm still looking at $600+...unless someone here has some hot secret that they want to share.

    Maybe I'm just gonna have to suck it up and shell out the cash...or continue bottling. BTW, I have a totally kick-ass IPA brewing right now..59.4 IBU and 6.7%/vol final alcohol. Nice...very nice.
  5. sullystull

    sullystull Feeling the Heat

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  6. mikeathens

    mikeathens New Member

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    Za?
  7. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Mike, for small corny keg installs, it is very common to use one of the very small chest freezers (like 3ft x 3ft and 3.5ft tall) and use an external thermo with probe (thats actually what I used on my big azz beer fridge). Freezers are usually well insulated and maintaining a 34-38 deg. temp is almost no work for the freezer (low power consumption). I bought my tap, tank, gauges and hoses in a kit through ebay. you will need to replace the sankee (sp?) adapter with the one for cornys (or get 2) and I would highly recommend getting a tower with 2 tappers for the top of the freezer.

    Most of these baby freezers will be large enough that you can store 2 cornys or one half barrel AND the co2 tank inside (self contained that way).

    p.s. yep, I like beer.
  8. Redox

    Redox Minister of Fire

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    Finally- a topic I know a little about...

    I like Jags' idea, but be careful. Most chest freezers have the coils on the sides, so you would have a problem putting the tap on the side. The top isn't an issue, 'cept when you have to change a keg. If you are going to put it in the kitchen, you might consider a remote install with the box in the basement. Run a flexible duct up to the kitchen and mount the tap on the counter. This is how most large bars handle kegs, but is works on a smaller scale, too. Minimal equipment outlay, if you have an old refrigerator on hand. Some of those ornate dispensers are cool looking!

    There was a blurb in this months Consumer Reports that says that most little dorm friges use about 75% of the power of a full size refrigerator, so you aren't really saving that much. If you had an old manual defrost refrigerator around, I'd convert that and pipe it wherever you wanted it. Multiple taps, anyone?

    The Corny kegs seem like the way to go: less work than bottling. Don't forget to keep the lines clean. I wish I had the time to brew my own, but I haven't gotten around to it, YET. I have been accumulating equipment, though...

    Chris
  9. Catskill

    Catskill New Member

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    I trust you've been to hbd.org? Link When I was brewing this is where I found 99% of what I was looking for.

    BTW: we have one of those Sears kegerators at our beach house and I will tell you life was never the same after we got it :-S I thought we would be saving $ by buying kegs instead of bottles but instead we wound up drink 3 times more. :eek:hh:

    BBTW: The Sears model is 20 years old at this point (and still works great).


    Edit: Ours looks like this but in a wood tone.
    [​IMG]

    The casters were a key point so this bad boy can make it's way out to the pool!
  10. kevin85

    kevin85 Member

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    I made my own for less than $200. I just used an old fridge. If I were to do it again, I would buy a nicer, smaller fridge, and put buy the dual tap system. Two kegs are always better than one. I am not too mechanical, but I went from kit to drinking beer in 15 minutes.
  11. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Yep, nothin' like fresh beer out of an ice cold tapper. I hear ya brother.

    "Hi - my name is Jags and........"
  12. Catskill

    Catskill New Member

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    Ya that's the problem with these things..... you have all that cold beer just sitting there and before you know it you're refilling your morning coffee cup with BEER at 10:00AM (wife still sees you with coffee cup). By lunch you're ready for a nap.

    :-S
  13. kevin85

    kevin85 Member

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    I call mine the "Friend Maker". I have made A LOT of friends since I built mine.
  14. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    Aesthetics-wise- if the fridge looks good, then the kit adapted system should look good (unless you punch the holes with a screwdriver or something) :)
  15. kevin85

    kevin85 Member

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    I like the way mine looks, but I don't know if it would look good in the kitchen......

    [​IMG]
  16. Tfin

    Tfin New Member

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    Yep, definately want to get one of these setups soon. My man cave is finally taking shape down in the basement and the kegerator will be a key component. Of course the wife isn't as enthused as I am about the project.

    As far as homebrewing goes....I hear ya on the cleaning/filling/capping of the bottles. Major pain and time consuming process. I've thought of getting one of those stainless steel 5 gal soda kegs and filling it with my homebrew. Just add, CO2 system and tap.
  17. Catskill

    Catskill New Member

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    >:-( Great!


    It's not even Friday and a beer run this afternoon is all but a certainty.

    Nice Pic Kevin :)
  18. Tfin

    Tfin New Member

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    Yup, just got a call from the wife to stop and pick her up a bottle of Chardonnay on my way home. You just know I'm not walking out of that place without some beer as well!
  19. homebrewz

    homebrewz Minister of Fire

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    I've been brewing for 12 years and kegging for about 8 or 9. IMHO, the majority of kegerator systems out there
    are for people who are not homebrewers.. and not to mention, overpriced! Part of the spirit of the hobby is building
    these things yourself, and saving a few bucks in the process!

    I would just buy the smallest, energy efficient fridge possible.. meaning, something that can accommodate a couple
    of kegs. You can mount taps on the door, which is pretty neat, but I don't mind having to open the door on my fridge
    to get a beer. If you have to get something bigger, you can always use the extra space to store your brewing supplies
    (hops and grains in the freezer, yeast in the fridge).. it might score you some extra points with your significant other
    for getting your brew supplies out of the main food fridge. You can check your local craigslist to see if anyone is giving
    away a decent fridge. You might be able to scrounge a CO2 tank and regulator. If you want a faucet on the fridge door,
    stainless ones can go for upwards of $50 or so (both shank and faucet). I have one, but I just use it for parties. At home
    I just use the basic plastic 'picnic keg' type tap.

    and if you're new to kegging: I've found that pepsi kegs work better than coke kegs (which have the pins on the
    in and out connections.. pepsi kegs don't). They just seem to seal better. Also, its a good idea to replace all of the
    o-rings, valves, etc. when getting a used keg to avoid headaches later. It sure is easier than filling 48, 12 oz. bottles,
    but since all your hard brewing work is going into one vessel, its important to make sure its clean. I rinse a keg with
    boiling water before sanitizing with iodophor solution (bleach can be corrosive to stainless steel).

    good luck!
  20. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    iodophore rocks. After you wash out a keg and use iodophore- save it! Just pour it in a keg, pressurize a bit, and leave it in there. It'll be ready for you next time you keg and you'll use up less solution. When it goes colorless- replace it.
  21. mikeathens

    mikeathens New Member

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    10-4 on that! I have limited space, and no basement. I looked into the "dorm fridge" conversion, but I'm finding it's difficult to find one with the prerequsite dimensions. The ones that I did find were in the in the $400 range, so not worth me "doing it myself". I really don't have the room for another full size fridge, and I'm not about to punch holes in the front of my $1400 stainless fridge (plus, my wife would kill me because there wouldn't be any place to store her leftovers for four months prior to placing in the trash and no place to chilll the breast milk).

    If I had an attached garage that din't freeze or a basement, the full-sized frige conversion would be done by now...
  22. homebrewz

    homebrewz Minister of Fire

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    [/quote]If I had an attached garage that din't freeze or a basement, the full-sized frige conversion would be done by now...[/quote]

    Agreed. Its not worth buying a new fridge for this project. However, fridges come in all sizes. You might be able to
    find one thats just the right size. Check you local craigslist for a few weeks and see what turns up in the free section,
    or in the for sale section.

    Also, if you DO have a garage, but it freezes, contents placed in a fridge might be safe from the elements do to the
    insulation. You'll have to experiment. You could even wire the door light to stay on after its closed and keep a 40W
    light on in there in the winter. In such an enclosed space, it might keep it just warm enough. I knew a welder once
    who used that trick. He would keep his welding rods in a fridge with the light wired on to keep the rods dry.
  23. yukiginger

    yukiginger Member

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    My local BJ's Wholesale Club was selling one for a while, which I thought looked pretty good, and was right at $400. It is no longer there, so perhaps they considered it seasonal (doesn't seem possible for beer). I see there are some stores in Ohio, but I don't know how far from you. Maybe call them.

    MarkG
  24. backpack09

    backpack09 Minister of Fire

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