Introduction: Kegerator: GE WMR04GAVBB 4.5 Cu. Ft. Compact Fridge

Picture of Kegerator: GE WMR04GAVBB 4.5 Cu. Ft. Compact Fridge

This instructable will show you, step by step, how to build a kegerator using an inexpensive compact refrigerator.  It's a fairly short project if you have all the right tools.

After scanning Craigslist for a couple of weeks and not finding anything suitable, I decided to pick up the GE 4.5 cu. ft. compact refrigerator, model WMR04GAVBB from Walmart ($125.00).  This fridge does have the 3/4 width freezer unit at the top.  I didn't want to spend loads of money on a fridge with no freezer so this was my best option.

There were no problematic road blocks during the construction of this kegerator.  However, you do have to take your time and be diligent to not damage any internal and external parts.  You don't want a 70-pound paper weight.  After all, as soon as you make your first modification to a new fridge, the warranty immediately packs its bags and runs out your door.

Good luck, have fun, and enjoy your kegerator!

Step 1: Remove From Box

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This is easy.  After removing the nylon straps the box slides up over the top.  I left the bottom part of the box underneath the fridge to hamper slippage of the unit.

Step 2: Remove Shelving

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The shelving was already in place from the factory so they have to be removed.  Apparently, the factory forgot to secure the right side of the freezer.

Step 3: Relocate Thermostat Wire

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Underneath the freezer is the thermostat wire.  Straighten the wire so that you can free it from its housing.  Move the wire so that it's out of you way.  It will be replaced in another location later.

Step 4: Detatch Freezer From Mounts

Picture of Detatch Freezer From Mounts

Firmly grasp the freezer and pull forward to release it from the mounts.  As you can see in the second picture once the mount reaches the larger portion of the hole the freezer will hang free.  Attention: You may have to use some force to release the freezer from the mounts.  If you don't feel safe pulling on the freezer fearing you might damage the coolant line, you could try unscrewing the 4 mounts and doing it that way.  I didn't have to pull too hard but it didn't want to go easy.

Step 5: Move Freezer Out of the Way

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This was the most nerve racking part of the project.  EXTREME caution has to be observed while moving the freezer down and to the back.  Too much force and the line can kink, break, or crack.  Too much movement overall can damage the line.  And moving the freezer too far back can also kink or damage the line.  Because of the placement of the coolant line I found that it would have been too risky to attempt to completely flatten the freezer along the back of the fridge.  Notice how it wraps around to the right side.  No problem as it will not be in the way.  So with ease, bend the freezer downward until it looks like the first picture.  Then carefully bend the edges flat against the walls.

Step 6: Remove Inner Door Panel

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Break out the big guns!  I needed a reciprocating saw to get the panel off.  It had been glued on at the factory.  There are NO screws holding the panel on.  I had no consistant method of taking the panel off.  I just started cutting around the edges pulling little pieces off at a time.  Careful here.  The plastic is sharp and it may tear the weather strip around the door and/or cut you.

Step 7: Tower Placement

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Of all the kegerators I've seen, all have the tower towards the rear of the fridge.  I used painters tape to help get a general idea of where the tower will go.  Use a tape measure or a square to get your lines straight.

Step 8: Make a Hole!

Picture of Make a Hole!

I found the exact center of my drilling area, made a mark and began drilling.  Since the fridge has a metal top, you'll need a metal hole bit.  I used a 2.5" bit here.  I found this size perfect.  By the way, the bit will cost you $18 at Lowe's or Home Depot.  Attention:  Go easy on the drilling.  It's not necessary to push hard.  As soon as you get through the metal, STOP!  You'll see why in the next step.

Step 9: Watch Out!

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I've read other DIY kegerator projects and they all talk about internal wiring and their locations.  I knew the fridge only had one wire running through it for the thermostat.  No one, including GE knew where it was.  I found it!  Right down the middle of my hole.  I used a utility knife to gently cut away the insulation to expose the wire and the top of the fridge interior.

Step 10: Break Through to the Other Side

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I used a regular drill bit, no size in particular, to punch a guide hole through the plastic from above.  I just eyeballed where I thought the center was.  Watch the wire!  The first picture shows the guide hole from the inside.  Go back to your 2.5" hole bit, get inside the fridge and complete the hole.  Again, watch the wire!  Slow and steady wins this race.

Step 11: Predrill Tower Mounts

Picture of Predrill Tower Mounts

Clean off the top of the fridge. There will be metal shavings from drilling.  You don't want to scratch your fridge, do you?  Now place the tower over the hole and center it so that it looks good to you.  Use a visible marker and mark through the screw holes on the tower.  The bolts I used to secure the tower down are 3/16th x 3" bolts.  Use a drill bit slightly less than 3/16th to do your pre-drilling.  Drill all the way through on three of the holes.  On the fourth (note the picture), only drill until you get through the metal.

Step 12: Weatherize the Hole

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I used aluminum tape to seal the hole and prevent moisture from seeping into the foam insulation.  I taped the wire, too.

Step 13: Secure Freezer to Walls

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The freezer at this point is now basically the cold plate for the fridge.  It needs to be secured to the walls or it will just bounce around and probably break.  I marked where I thought the screws should go, pre-drilled the three holes, then used 3/4" long screws and washers to secure the plate down.

Step 14: Insulate Beer Line

Picture of Insulate Beer Line

I read somewhere that it helps to use copper pipe to aid in keeping the beer cold on the way to your glass.  My beer lines are 3/8" so I got 1/2" pipe and cut two 16" to 18" pieces.  I then cut two pieces of pipe insulation to roughly the length of the tower.  I cut the peices in half, lengthwise, wrapped it around the pipes, taped it together, and slid the insulated side into the tower.  Notice how I left the copper inside fridge exposed.  Just to get it over with, secure the thermostat wire as shown in the picture.

Step 15: Secure the Tower

Picture of Secure the Tower

The screws that came with my tower won't cut it.  I need something to go all the way through.  I got 3/16 x 3" bolts.  They worked out perfectly.  In fact, I didn't see a need to place nuts on the inside.  The tower is quite secure without them.  For the hole where the wire is, take one of the bolts and cut it down to about a half of an inch and screw it in.  The bolt will catch on the metal and secure fine.  Plus, the screw heads match.

Step 16: Drill for the CO2 (optional)

Picture of Drill for the CO2 (optional)

Since my CO2 tank is too big to fit in the fridge, I had to run the line in.  I chose to run the line through the back.  Why?  If I ever get a 5lb. tank to fit inside the fridge, I can insulate and cover the hole and it will be where no one can see it.  My gas line is 1/2" but I had to use a 5/8" bit.  I don't know why.

Step 17: Just a Picture

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Here's what it looked like before the keg went it.  Pretty, huh?

Step 18: Another Picture

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Two kegs fit in just fine.  I'm sure a 5lb. CO2 tank will fit on the back ledge as well.

Step 19: Attach Your Beverage

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With the kegerator in its new place, attach your keg and your CO2 line and give it a go.

Step 20: Done!

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I hope you found this instructable educating and worth while.  If you see something I may have left out, leave a reply.  Good luck and have fun!


CaseyC65 (author)2017-06-26

Any tips on bending the freezer into place flush against the back wall? I'm so nervous!

Tauby (author)CaseyC652017-06-27

Slow and steady. Make sure not to kink the line at the bends. Good luck!

patrickethomas (author)2017-03-27

Did you use pin lock or ball lock corny kegs in your setup? Do you think either would fit?

Irestone (author)2011-01-06

I built a kegerator using your instructions with a fridge I bought on Criagslist (which, ironically enough, happened to be the exact same model as the one you used....which was complete coincidence).

First, let me thank you for putting this Instructable together. It was excellent, and really helped me be successful.

Second, let me share a couple of things I did differently which you, or others, may be interested in:
I was replacing an existing (full sized) keg fridge I had in my garage which was too large to justify the use (I live in a northern climate and parking two cars in the garage during the cold winters is a must, and the keg fridge was taking up too much space). So, one of my goals was to reuse all the existing hardware and materials I already had (tap, CO2 canister, regulator, etc).

I built a tap tower out of 1x8 pine boards (1x8's were chosen because the threaded tap mount piece was about 5-6" long, and I needed enough space inside the tap tower to get my hands in there and connect the tap tubes to the tap mount piece), painted it black to match the fridge, and installed a drip tray.

I also mounted the thermostat line to the freezer cold plate thing, had the same issue you were having with the fridge running too cold, and I readjusted the thermostat wire to make sure that the metal contacts of the thermostat wire were directly touching one of the bulbous tubular areas on the freezer cold plate where the coolant runs through. After doing that my fridge was running at a reasonable temp (a bit too warm actually, so I got to utilize the thermostat knob to turn it up one notch past the lowest/warmest setting).

My next step is to mount large wheels on the bottom of the fridge so I have the option of rolling the fridge around easily, and maybe even taking it with me to the family cabin this summer or some other outdoor event.

In summary: Tap beer rules.

Insaneleefly (author)Irestone2015-06-16

Hey can you tell me where and how exactly you mounted the thermostat line or post a picture? I tried making sure it touched a tube, but it still runs cold. Is there a particular part of the line that needs to touch it? Thanks.

Irestone (author)Insaneleefly2015-06-17

There are 'bulges' in the freezer cooling section which transport the coolant, and I mounted the thermostat to one of those 'bulges'. I would say the trial and error method would be the best route I can recommend.

I no longer have the fridge, however, and can't take a picture of what I did. I sold it to a co-worker after I found it overly difficult to find my favorite beers in 5 gallon kegs.

Storms-a-Brewin (author)2015-02-13

Hi Tauby! This is beautiful!! Great job! I bought a GE model so similar to this that every time I tried finding something on my model this came up.

Anyway, my main question is do you have the approximate measurement from the back of the fridge to where you drilled for the tower? I know it's centered but I'm having trouble judging the distance from the pictures.

I'm going to build a cabinet around it so I don't think I need to go with a hole saw but just enough for the lines to fit through. Thanks again!

Tauby (author)Storms-a-Brewin2015-02-13

Thanks for the compliment!

I just used some painter's tape and a tape measure to box out what I thought would be a good place for the tower. No rhyme or reason, to be honest....whatever pleased the eye. In your case, make sure the hoses that pass through your cabinet are in a spot that jives with where they'll pass through the top of the fridge. Also, drill with caution as the power wire may be similarly positioned on your fridge. Good luck!

Storms-a-Brewin (author)Tauby2015-02-13

Thanks a lot! Its not going to be for a little while longer because currently my house in complete demolition but I'm planning ahead so it doesn't take longer than needed. Thanks again!

april.johnson.71066700 (author)2015-02-05

Hello. I have the same fridge as you and wanting to drill a hole through the back for a power cable for a "sidebar". I was just wondering... How did you know there was nothing in the back? What is the measurement where you drilled for the CO2 line?

Thanks so much for any help you can give!

Just like with the top of the fridge I didn't know where any wires were. I had to drill out the metal exterior first, then gently remove the foam insulation (that's how I found the power cable in the top). So when I made an opening for the CO2 line, the procedure was the same...slow and calculated.

Do you happen to know the measurements of where you drilled? Like, how many inches from the top and how many inches from the side?

Thanks for your help!

NRPerry (author)2015-02-08

Did you use anything to mount the tap tower on other than the fridge? I've seen many people place a board under the top to mount the tap tower. Suposedly, for more stability of the tower. If you did not, do you wish you had?

Tauby (author)NRPerry2015-02-09

No. The top was very sturdy. I suspect this was done by design since people tend to place heavy items (microwaves, etc.) on top. The tap tower has held well over the years.

kierankieran (author)2013-10-31

Nice - i'm going to give this a try. I'll let you know how I get on!

Pl8maker (author)2012-02-16

This is a very helpful write up. I've just got back into home brewing and this is the way I want to go. GREAT heads up about the thermostat wiring. I would have drilling right on in and hit it. I guess there is still a slight chance of that with the center bit on the hole saw but if you go slow and pay attention it looks like you can save yourself a lot of worries. Thanks for sharing!

kyhokie (author)2012-01-03

Will this fridge fit a standard (half-barrel) keg?

Tauby (author)kyhokie2012-01-04

Unfortunately, no. The compressor sits on the bottom, rear of the fridge preventing anyting but 2 corny kegs from fitting snugly inside.

kyhokie (author)Tauby2012-01-04

Thanks for letting me know.

I have been having a really hard time finding a fridge that will fit a standard keg. Any ideas?

eholzman (author)2011-09-01

That is an awesome write up! I have the same fridge and was thinking how I could make this. Do you remember how much your kit cost and do you know if a half keg can fit in there at all?

crutch608 (author)2010-11-11

Where did you buy your tower and how much did you pay for it?

kentcurtis (author)2010-10-28

Hey Tauby have you gotten a 5lb co2 cylinder since you made this tutorial? Im planning on making a kegerator out of this fridge and would like to know if a 5lb tank will fit with 2 cornelius kegs

reesea17 (author)2010-09-29

what are those size kegs called exactly?

Tauby (author)reesea172010-10-20

Sorry for the late reply.

These kegs are called "Cornelius" kegs. 5 gallon capacity.

bmorgan99 (author)2010-08-21

Do you happen to know if a 6.5 gallon carboy will fit? Mine is 11 inches in diameter and about 26 inches tall with airlock.

knappster1 (author)2010-04-21

I see this model fridge on craigslist for almost half price so I'm considering getting it to modify.  Do you have any tips on moving the freezer without damaging the coolant line?  This isn't something I've done before, so I wasn't sure if it would help to get it very warm first so that it's more malleable?  Are you actually bending the coolant line, or only the freezer body?

If you were to do it again, would you put the tower in the same location?  Can you provide measurements for where it is located?

I noticed you were drilling holes and adding screws to the top, back and right side of the fridge.  Is there any danger of hitting any cooling lines in the top, back, or sides, or is the internal wire the only thing to worry about? 

Thanks for the info!

Tauby (author)knappster12010-04-21

Since this was my first build as well and never seeing instructions on how to build a kegerator from this particular model fridge, I didn't know what to expect once I was done.  Here's my observations so far:

-The build was easy; only about 6 total hours, start to finish.

-The fridge always runs and gets so cold it freezes the lines and probably eventually your keg.  Even with the thermostat turned all the way down.

There are a couple of work-arounds for the freezing issue.  The more expensive way ($60-70) would be to get a kegerator thermostat (digital) and let it control when to turn on/off the kegerator.  The cheaper way ($10), the way I took, was to go buy an outlet timer like you'd use for interior lighting.  Buy one that has up to 48 individual settings so that you can tweak the setting to your preference.  I found that 1 hour on and 3 hours off worked best and still kept the beer cold.

As far as bending the coolant line, I grasped the freezer body and very gently bent it down until it looked like it does in the picture.  I didn't actually touch the line while bending.

Nothing to worry about while putting screws in the back or sides.  The only wire runs through the top (pictured)

I never measured the tower location.  I eyeballed it and taped off (pictured) what looked good.

Good luck.  Let me know if you need anything else.

blakelock (author)2010-02-25

what's better than an instructable that helps us get delicious cold beer more easily???  mmmmm

anyway, i was going to carry out this same mod. after purchasing the fridge from walmart, i found that the motor was a bit loud.  i probably wouldn't have minded but i wanted to place the kegerator next to my TV in the livingroom and it was too loud for me.  how bad is the noise when the motor kicks on?  maybe i got a bum unit.

Tauby (author)blakelock2010-02-25

I was initially going to say that the compressor wasn't that loud, but now that I think about it, it does make some noise.  I have it in my dining room away from the TV so I don't notice.  But I can hear it hum from about 20 feet away.  If you have to keep it by your TV this may not be the fridge for you.  So I don't think you got a bum unit.  For $125 I wouldn't have expected this fridge to wisper, anyway.

Good luck if you do decide to do this job.  It was fun and the beer is flowing nicely now.


roadieflip (author)2010-01-20

I had to laugh at the thought of the warranty packing its bags and heading for the door...

(My head can be a scary place to get lost in sometimes)

Doctor What (author)2010-01-20

 Insane!  I would totally use this for chilled sodas.  Yes.  Only chilled sodas.  No alcohol.  AT all.

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