While a keg of beer always livens an evening up, warm beer always ruins it. Kegerators ensure that your beer will be consistently chilled. Best of all, you can make your own DIY kegerator!
Since the federal legalization of homebrewing in 1978, kegerators have been found in more and more homes across the US. Kegerators have become a must-have among beer enthusiasts, and for good reason.
DIY kegerators are convenient, inexpensive, and a great way to show off your handy skills over a cold pint. You should know exactly how to build your own kegerator by the end of this article.
Why Build a Kegerator?
When adding a kegerator to your household, you have the option of either buying a new kegerator or making a kegerator yourself. Building a kegerator is widely considered the best option for many reasons, the primary of which is money.
A single faucet Kegco kegerator currently goes for $744.60 on Amazon. Manufactured kegerators with multiple faucets for multiple kegs very often cost much more. Additionally, many kegerators are too small for larger kegs, leading to disappointment when the appliance you spent almost $1,000 on only fits some of your beers.
Building a kegerator is almost always more financially doable, especially if you can find a used fridge to convert. Many refrigerators contain potent greenhouse gasses and ozone-depleting refrigerants. Reusing fridges by converting them into kegerators is a better option than trashing them over newer, shinier appliances.
What is a kegerator if not just a refrigerator for kegs? There’s no need to spend any more money than you need to because a DIY kegerator is easier to build than you may think.
How Much Does It Cost To Convert a Mini Fridge Into a Kegerator?
The total cost of making a kegerator depends on what tools you already have, your accessibility to a used fridge, and what type of kegerator you want to build. There are many ways for this project to become expensive. But, there are just as many ways to save money.
Many people manage to build their own kegerators for under $150, while more specialized DIY kegerators cost over $1,000. Realistically, your DIY kegerator may fall in the ~$300 range.
The total cost of your DIY kegerator usually relies on two particular factors:
Used Fridge: $75 – $750
The most expensive barrier to your kegerator project may end up being the refrigerator itself. If you don’t already have a used refrigerator in mind, used fridges are often found for cheap on local marketplaces like Facebook and Craigslist.
Used, compact fridges can cost as little as $75 but can go up to $750 or higher. Not finding an affordable used fridge could shove a stake in your whole project.
Kegerator Conversion Kit: $100 – $250
After the fridge, the majority of the cost will go to your kegerator conversion kit. These kits contain just about everything your kegerator conversion needs, from the beer tube to the air tank. Kegerator conversion kits mostly fall in the $100 – $250 range On Amazon.
Some people skip the conversion kits and purchase all the parts individually. However, unless you have a specific way to buy these parts for cheap, the conversion kits are almost always the way to go.
What Do I Need To Convert a Fridge Into a Kegerator?
The primary items you will need for your kegerator will be a fridge, a conversion kit, and a keg. A small variety of tools are necessary as well, though you should already have most at home.
How to Pick the Right Keg Fridge
To start, you will need a refrigerator to convert into a kegerator. In general, there are three different types of fridges you can choose from, each of which is great in its own way for your DIY kegerator.
One of the most commonly used ways to make your own kegerator is to convert a mini fridge to a kegerator. Because of their convenient size, mini fridges take up less space and use less power, though not all models fit larger kegs.
Via a tower conversion kit, faucets can also be mounted on the top of the mini fridge instead of the sides of the door, giving you more options than most other fridges.
While most mini fridges will work OK, we did the research and found the best mini fridges for kegerator conversion. Used models can be found for quite cheap and can be transported easier than most other fridges.
Though they take up more space, full-sized fridges work great for DIY kegerators. With standard fridges, you very rarely have to worry about a large beer keg not fitting inside.
Depending on how you design your kegerator, the top freezer box of the fridge can still be used for ice and other frozen goods. They may hike up the power bill, but standard fridges are still a favorite for kegerator conversion.
Also known as “Keezers,” chest freezer kegerators usually fit 2-4 kegs, giving you more storage space than the other types of fridges. Chest freezers are especially favorable if you’re looking to serve multiple people or if you’re looking to serve more than one type of beer.
It will cost feasibly more to convert a chest freezer into a kegerator unless you’re only planning one faucet. Nevertheless, Keezers are still a suitable option for your DIY kegerator project.
How to Choose the Right Kegerator Conversion Kit
For anyone wanting to build a kegerator, a kegerator conversion kit will make the job significantly easier. Containing just about all the equipment you’ll need, conversion kits are a much simpler solution than buying all of the gear individually.
Most kegerator conversion kits include the following:
- Beer line
- Air tank
- CO2 line
- Keg coupler
- Beer faucet
- Faucet lock
- Tap handle
- Drip trays
Kegerator conversion kits come in a variety of options. Which option is right for you depends on what fridge you’re using, how you want your beer served, and even what beer you’re serving.
Door Mount Conversion Kits
The most commonly used kit, door mount conversion kits attach the beer faucet to your fridge’s door or side. If you’re converting a standard refrigerator, you should start looking for door mount conversion kits in your price range.
Tower Conversion Kits
Ideal for mini fridges, tower conversion kits feature a mounted tower faucet at the top of your kegerator. These kits are also used on the doors of chest freezers and even on countertops, depending on where you’re placing your DIY kegerator.
Other Conversion Kits
While towers and door mounts are the most common kegerator conversion kits, there are other kits available for specific kegerator needs. For example, Guinness beer requires a Nitrogen adapter in addition to the standard CO2 tank, so they offer their own kegerator conversion kits.
Additionally, chest freezers have their own “Keezer” conversion kit options worth considering if you go that route.
A power drill is necessary for building a kegerator. Specifically, you will need a ⅛” inch drill bit, a 1” hole saw bit, and a 3” hole saw bit.
You will also need pliers and a Phillips screwdriver.
Additionally, a plastic flange will help if you’re using a tower conversion kit, and sealant may be needed if you plan on storing your CO2 tank outside of your kegerator.
How to Build a DIY Kegerator Step-by-Step
Once you have the tools, building a kegerator is a fairly easy process. Of course, safety is most important. Make sure your fridge is unplugged, know how to avoid your fridge’s wiring, and never use power tools while intoxicated.
1. Fitting the Fridge
Before you can even think about attaching beer lines to your keg, you need to make sure your keg has somewhere clean it can go. Scrub down the inside of your chosen fridge thoroughly — it’s going to be a lot easier to clean now than later.
Remove all shelves and other items from inside the fridge. If the bottom of the fridge is uneven, your safest option is to build a new flooring. However, shoving sturdy items like towels and books under the keg works too, if you’re careful.
2. Break Out the Drill
When drilling holes in your fridge, be aware of its wires and coolant lines. Make sure your fridge is unplugged.
In general, refrigerator wiring runs through the back wall, but very rare models have wiring in their sidewalls, too. Coolant lines often run through the fridge’s roof, which is something to consider if you’re installing a mounted tower on a mini-fridge.
Every conversion kit is different, so regard your kit’s specific instructions over these if needed. In general, take these steps when drilling:
- Drill a ⅛” pilot hole on the door or wall your faucet will be on, located high enough that it won’t impact the keg.
- Drill a 1” hole over the pilot hole on the outside of the fridge.
- Drill a 3” hole over the pilot hole on the inside of the fridge, stopping part way through.
- If you’re placing your CO2 tank outside of your kegerator, drill a hole matching the diameter of your CO2 line on a side of your fridge other than the side your faucet will be on.
3. Install the Shank
Slide your conversion kit’s shank through your freshly drilled hole. Inside the fridge, tighten the nut until it’s firm against the 3” side of the hole.
Tower conversion kits can be significantly more challenging to install, as the shank can be hard to keep in place on the fridge’s roof. A plastic shank flange may help support the shank and tower more but is not necessary.
4. Attach the Beer Line and Faucet
Once the shank is firm, connect one end of the beer line to the interior end of the shank. Push the tubing as far onto the shank’s nipple as possible to avoid spilling (and wasting) any beer.
In some cases, the beer line may be too tight to fit onto the shank. Dipping the line into hot water for 10 to 20 seconds will temporarily expand the tubing, fixing this problem.
Next, install the faucet on the outside end of the shank. Your conversion kit will provide instructions for your specific faucet needs.
5. Install the Drip Tray
Though it’s not necessary and not even included in all conversion kits, adding a drip tray is a highly recommended addition to any DIY kegerator. Drip trays catch any beer that spills from the faucet, helping avoid those messes that inevitably arise when drinking is involved.
Using the screwdriver, install your drip tray underneath your newly installed faucet. Determine the distance by picturing your hand holding the largest cup or pitcher in your household underneath the faucet, then put the tray just under that.
6. Add the Keg and Air Tank
With your fridge about ready to go, it’s now time for the heavy lifting. Place your beer keg inside your DIY kegerator and attach the beer line tubing from the shank onto your keg appropriately.
Some kegerator enthusiasts place their air tanks outside their kegerators to have more room inside. Others place the air tanks inside their kegerators. One is not better than the other, so it’s up to personal preference.
For CO2 tanks outside the kegerator, run the tank’s CO2 line through the hole you drilled at the bottom of Step 2. If needed, use sealant to fill any gaps.
Attach the CO2 line to the air tank and the keg. Ensure the tube is air-tight on both ends.
7. Enjoy Responsibly
The final step is to test your new kegerator out. When you pour your first brew, keep an eye on the CO2 and beer lines for any possible leakage.
Assuming no issues arise, test out your beer and congratulate yourself for a job well done. Your DIY kegerator is complete.
No more will you need an oversized bucket of ice to keep your keg cold. DIY kegerators are customizable, easy to use, and an irrefutable way to make your home the beer hub for whoever you drink with.
Buying a new kegerator out of the box is still perfectly valid, but there’s nothing quite like making a kegerator yourself. Whether you’re converting a mini fridge to a kegerator or constructing a Keezer, regard safety at all times. Double-check your work, the wiring of your fridge, and any specific instructions for your conversion kit.
Following this guide and putting safety first, you should have no trouble at all converting whatever fridge you choose into a state-of-the-art, DIY kegerator.