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!
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Step 1: Remove from box

Picture of Remove from box
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

Picture of Remove shelving
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

Picture of Relocate thermostat wire
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.
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-Brewin1 month ago
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!
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!

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!

Tauby (author)  april.johnson.710667001 month ago

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!
NRPerry1 month ago
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)  NRPerry1 month ago

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.

Nice - i'm going to give this a try. I'll let you know how I get on!
Pl8maker3 years ago
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!
kyhokie3 years ago
Will this fridge fit a standard (half-barrel) keg?
Tauby (author)  kyhokie3 years ago
Unfortunately, no. The compressor sits on the bottom, rear of the fridge preventing anyting but 2 corny kegs from fitting snugly inside.
kyhokie Tauby3 years ago
Thanks for letting me know.

I have been having a really hard time finding a fridge that will fit a standard keg. Any ideas?
eholzman3 years ago
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?
Irestone4 years ago
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.
crutch6084 years ago
Where did you buy your tower and how much did you pay for it?
kentcurtis4 years ago
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
reesea174 years ago
what are those size kegs called exactly?
Tauby (author)  reesea174 years ago
Sorry for the late reply.

These kegs are called "Cornelius" kegs. 5 gallon capacity.
bmorgan994 years ago
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.
knappster14 years ago
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)  knappster14 years ago
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.
blakelock5 years ago
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)  blakelock5 years ago
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.

roadieflip5 years ago
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 What5 years ago
 Insane!  I would totally use this for chilled sodas.  Yes.  Only chilled sodas.  No alcohol.  AT all.