Introduction: Build Your Own Single or Dual Tap Kegerator for Home Brew Kegs
These instructions combined with the purchase information is all you need to build your own mini kegerator suitable for housing one or two 5 gallon mini keg(s), carbon dioxide bottle, and all tubing.
Each instruction page has numerous pictures to go with the description. If you download the PDF version of the instructions you'll get a very nicely formatted document with all the pictures embedded.
Price list- Here’s a breakdown of what the last kegerator cost me to build. Prices are always subject to change, and your own modifications might change it slightly too, but yours should be fairly close.
Frigidaire Compact Fridge - $179
Set of 4 Wheels- $4.99
Cabinet Latch- $2.98
Single Faucet tower - $70.00
Low Profile Inline Coupler - $54.95
Gas Line w/ clamps - $4.95
CO2 Regulator - $57.95
Grand Total - $375.00
You may be able to shave a few bucks by finding a cheaper fridge, or shopping around for the keg supplies, but if you follow these instructions at least you’ll have a nice quality kegerator that will keep people asking where you found it.
The only thing you’ll need to add to the price list above is the Keg, and CO2 bottle- which you can rent, or buy for about $25ea from your local brew store.
Step 1: Hardware Store Supplies
Suitable refrigerators to modify:
Frigidaire Model FRC44GB
Haier Model HSA04WNCBB
Haier Model HSA04WNCWW
Magic Chef Model MCBR445B2
Magic Chef Model MCBR360S
•(4) Casters suitable for floor type
The wheels you choose need to be suitable for the terrain you intend to roll on. If you’re going to stay online inside a set of 1-1/2” plastic double wheel casters, should be fine- if you’re going to roll outside on the deck or patio, go with a rubber 2-1/2 - 3” wheel.
** Valid source at the time of writing- search ebay for “5 gallon keg” or “Corneilus Keg” for other alternatives.
•(1) Can “Great Stuff” insulation foam
•(1) Tube kitchen and bath caulk (white, or brown)
•(1) Cabinet latch (lock optional)
•(1) 24” x 36” Sheet of suitable flat material for inside of door. Plexiglass, formica, vinyl flooring, or thin metal should be sufficient *
*This may not be required depending on the type of compact fridge you get.
•Zip ties & zip tie stick on mounting blocks
•(6) 1” x #10 Sheet Metal screws
•Baseball bat, or short length of 2-3” pipe*
*This may not be required depending on the type of compact fridge you get.
Step 2: Kegerator Supplies
Parts to make adaptable to both styles of keg fittings
•(2) Male gas line couplers
•(1) Female gas line coupler
•(2) Male beer line couplers
•(1) Female beer line coupler
•Kegerator Conversion Kit - (See below)
•5 lb CO2 tank (http://www.beveragefactory.com/draftbeer/tanks/co2/C5.shtml)
•Home-brew Mini Keg (optional)
Step 3: Building Steps
Because no two kegerator builds are identical, I’ve included many different options in this guide. The pictures are from a Magic Chef fridge that required quite a bit of modification, and the easiest I’ve ever found, the Frididaire FRC445GB 4.4 cuft compact fridge.
It’s best that you read through the entire guide before you start, so you are prepared for the amount of work required. The few extra dollars you spend on the right fridge can save you quite a bit of work, and add some good utility in the long run. Here are the basic steps we’ll cover.
Choose the Faucet style- Most compact fridges use a tower style faucet, but depending on where the fridge is going to be stored a door mount may also be appropriate. Again, this is going to be important when purchasing the kegerator supplies.
1. Order your conversion kit.- The type of keg will determine the kegerator materials you’ll buy. You’ll want to get these on order, so by the time your fridge modifications are done, they’ll have arrived for installation.
2. Pick out your fridge- If you already have a fridge, this part is done, but if you’re starting from scratch you can save a lot of time and effort by buying the right fridge from the beginning. Unless your size constraints prohibit it, the Frigidaire FRC445GB is by far my favorite.
3. Modify the fridge door (if necessary) - Some fridges need the door organizers removed to make room for the keg & CO2 bottle inside.
4. Mount the door latch - Keeps the fridge from frosting up on the cooling sheet.
5. Modify the freezer section & cooling coils
6. Drill the hole, and mount the faucet or faucet tower.
7. Install the wheels - Wheels are not required, but sure makes the kegerator much more portable (you can’t always host the party, sometimes you have to bring it with you).
8. Assemble and route the beer line and gas line.
9. Kick back and have a beer- you’ve earned it.
Step 4: Step 1- Conversion
BeverageFactory.com has made the process of buying kegerator supplies very easy with “conversion kits.” However, these kits don’t cover all the possible options. So, to get started first you need to answer the following questions:
1) Am I going to use standard SANKEY style or Home-brew Pin-lock/ball-lock style kegs
2) Do I want to mount the tap to the top (tower mount)- or to the door (door mount)
Once you make those decisions, use the parts list below to purchase one of each of the required parts
If you have a SANKEY Style Keg
•Low Profile inline coupler
If you have a HomeBrew Style Keg
•Ball Lock keg Tap Set
•Pin Lock keg Tap Set
Tower Mount Tap
•1 Faucet Beer Tower (comes with beer line)
•Chrome Faucet with Brass Lever
• 3” Long Shank with Nipple Assembly
•5’ of beer line with wing nuts
•5 Ft. 5/16 Inch I.D Air Assembly & 2 Snap Clamps
•Double Gauge CO2 Regulator
Step 5: 2. Choose a Suitable Refridgerator
There are a couple of things that you need to consider when choosing a compact refrigerator candidate:
•Internal dimensions suitable for holding your keg (or kegs) style- Mini (5 gallon cornelious) kegs need about 8 inches of depth, and 23 inches height (21” for keg, 2” for the tap). Most fridges hide the compressor and electronics in a hump in the bottom of the back, which reduces the inside dimensions, so be sure you consider the minimum depth. Also don’t forget to consider the amount of space the can holders and shelves in the door will stick into the fridge IF YOU INTEND TO USE THEM. These plans provide instructions for removing this extra space hog. Most compact fridges are not big enough for a standard pony keg- but there are reasonably priced commercially available kegerators for these kegs. Check your local home improvement or appliance store for these.
• Freezer configuration- Most compact refrigerators have a small freezer section at the top of the enclosure which cuts down on the overall internal useable height. On some models, this divider is nothing more than a insulated shelf which can be easily removed, but on others this divider is actually a cooling plate with refrigerant flowing through it. This doesn’t prohibit it from being used, but requires careful modification. I’ll walk you through these modifications if you choose this style.
•Location of cooling coils- Think about where your faucet is going to be located. Most fridges have cooling coils hidden inside the back, which is the best place- however if they choose to locate them in the top it may prevent you from putting the faucet tower on the top
Step 6: 3. Door Modification
The Frigidaire FRC445GB is just big enough inside that you don’t have to do any permanent modifications to the organizers, just simply remove the plastic shelves from the side the keg will sit on (or both if you’re doing a dual keg fridge).
If you are going to remove the organizers, continue below
1. Remove the seal around the inside of the door by removing the approximately 14 pan head screws around the edge. You will have to roll open the rubber to see the screws.
2. Remove the plastic organizer from inside the door. There shouldn’t be anything holding this in place once the seal has been removed unless the seal was hiding screws that you can now remove.
3. Using the organizer as a template, trace the outer dimensions of the plastic onto the flat sheet (A).
4. Cut the sheet to the size traced above.
5. Tape the flat sheet in place where the organizer had been previously installed.
6. Re-install the screws and rubber seal removed in Step 1. Ensure you have a nice tight fit with no bubbles or gaps.
For my prototype I used a plastic mirror for the flat sheet, in the second one, I used a piece of scrap vinyl. What you use is not important as long as it is rigid enough to keep the seal in place.
7. Open and close the door to make sure the door will still seal tightly without any binding.
Step 7: 4. Install Door Latch
1. Mount the catch portion of your cabinet latch on the edge of the fridge door first. Mount the catch as close as you can to the edge of the door, but make sure you get a nice tight bite.
2. Place the latch portion of your cabinet latch on the side of the fridge. While holding it in place, and holding the fridge door shut, mark the screw holes.
3. Using tape, secure the catch to the door, and immediately secure it in place using sheet metal screws.
Step 8: 5. Modify the Cooling Plate (if Required)
NOTE: The Frigidiare FRC445GB doesn’t have any exposed cooling coils- All you need to do for this fridge is remove the freezer door, and shelf. This is as simple as removing two screws, and pull it out.
1. First remove all the plastic fixtures in the vicinity to expose just the cooling plate.
2. Borrow a baseball bat from one of your (or neighborhood) kids, or use a short length of 2-3” pipe to create the bending brake. It is very important that you carefully bend this plate around a round object to ensure that you don’t kink any of the cooling coils. Any kink can cause high pressure, breaking the compressor, and any break in the lines can cause the freon to leak out ruining the fridge.
3. Using a C-clamp firmly clamp the plate to the pipe (or bat) in the front of the fridge. If you can get another clamp in the back, this will help as well.
4. Very carefully and slowly, bend the plate down 90 degrees starting approximately 3” off center, so that the finished bend will place the plate in the center of the fridge leaving sufficient room for the keg. When bending, you’ll want to grab the plate as far from the clamp as you can, and slowly work toward the clamp as the bend forms. Don’t expect the bend to ever actually meet the bend radius of the pipe, once you’ve obtained a sufficient bend to fit the keg in, the rest is cosmetic. Whatever you do- don’t force the bend with pliers or anything super rigid or you will create a kink or break, and I don’t think these are covered under the warranty.
Step 9: 7. Mount the Faucet
Carefully mark where you want the tower to mount on the top of the fridge, then mark in the center of this, for the beer line hole.
Ensure the place you’ve chosen isn’t too close to any edge of the fridge, as this may put you too close to structural components which may be too hard to drill though for the mounting screws, and could interfere with your beer line routing.
If you’re unsure if there is anything structural where you are mounting, you may want to take the back off, and get a peak before drilling. If you are unable to access it, 1.5” should be suitable for just about every style.
•With a suitable drill bit, drill a 1” hole from the top down into the fridge. The top is most likely thin aluminum, followed by foam insulation, and then plastic fridge internals. Measure from the inside to see how deep the fridge is- then drill about 1” toward the inside
•Once the hole is drilled, feed the beer line through the hole into the fridge. Seal any extra room with “Great Stuff” foam insulation to make sure you don’t have a pocket of warm air on the beer line. Then screw the tower to the top of the fridge with the screws provided. Make sure it’s nice and tight, so it can take the force of pulling on the tap handle. You can also epoxy the tower to the top, but I haven’t needed to before.
•The door mount isn’t really any harder than the tower mount, There is nothing bad inside the door that you have to worry about drilling into, so it’s all up to aesthetics when choosing where to drill. Take time to measure, and make it nice and neatly centered.
•If you want, you can also screw on a drill tray (as pictured)- The drip tray is available from the same source as all your keg parts.
•Make sure you get the faucet screwed on very tight to ensure the tap isn’t going to loosen up over time. Most faucets come with a plastic spacer to help with this. If your didn’t, a short length of PVC pipe slightly bigger the shaft of the faucet will work fine.
Step 10: 8. Install and Route Beer Lines
1. Start with the CO2 bottle- Connect the regulator the bottle, and the Gas line to the regulator. Set the bottle in the very back of the fridge where it’s going to be stored. Attach the gas lines to the inside walls of the fridge with zip ties and zip tie mounts. Leave enough slack in the lines that you can take the CO2 bottle all the way out of the fridge without having to first remove the regulator or cut the zip ties.
2. Next with the beer line coming from the tower, or faucet from the previous step. Using caulking on the inside, seal the hole where the line entered the fridge.
3. Next using zip ties and stick-on mounts, secure the beer line to the side of the fridge out of the way
4. With the keg sitting on the ground outside the fridge connect the beer line and gas line to the keg tap appropriate for your keg style.
SANKEY Style- The SANKEY style keg coupler uses an integrated beer & gas line assembly.Ball lock / Pin lock (home brew ) style- this type of keg coupler has two connections on the top of each keg
Connecting to this style keg requires one of the taps shown below. For space considerations, the inline is the preferred coupler.
Step 11: Other Options
•2 Faucet Beer Tower (comes with beer line)
•Two Way Air distributor (allows isolation of gas to either keg)
Drip tray- Either the tower mount of door mount can have a drip tray added.
Butcher Block - I’ve seen a couple very nice homemade kegerators that had a thick piece of butcher block on the top of the fridge. It made the kegerator into a serving table too.
I actually found a pre-cut piece of wood at Lowes, that works perfect for this. It’s a “ClosetMaid Maple Drawer Frame Top Item #: 222120, Model #: 6281” It’s the perfect width for the fridge top, and about 2” short of the top depth, but with a half round cut out of it, it works great.
Glossy Bar top- Another nice finish I’ve seen is just a simple wood top with a glossy thick epoxy coat. Most home improvement stores can help you find an un-finished table top suitable to cut down to the right size. Once you’ve got it the right size all you have to do is put a nice thick coat of two-part clear epoxy on the wood. This type of epoxy is also available through most home improvement stores.
Step 12: Setup and Serving
Pressure Control- There seems to be many different opinions on the pressure required. Some people use a calculation based on the height of the tower + base pressure, others just say 10-12#, some say 14-16#, and most people use trial and error. For this particular kegerator style, and a good amber beer I’ve found 12# is my magic number. If you’re getting foamy beer, you actually may need to raise pressure (weird but true), or lower pressure.. I could copy all the resources I’ve found into this guide, but the best advice I can give is, set it to 10-12#, and give it a try. If your beer is foamy, check the following things, and if that doesn’t help, the google “foamy beer” and you’ll find every expert’s advice you need.
•CO2 pressure about 12#
•Beer Temp 36-38 degrees
•No kinks in the beer lines
•All connections tight (no air leaking in or out)
•Pour 2 glasses to see if the tower heat is an issue
•Beer has settled since last transport
•Open tap fully & quickly when dispensing (no throttling the valve- it causes foam)
•Beer lines and keg are clean