Kegerators are an incredibly simple piece of equipment that disperse freshly poured happiness – otherwise known as draft beer. For the connoisseur, a kegerator keeps beer the perfect temperature and the perfect pressure, for the ultimate pour.
If you’re thinking of building or purchasing a kegerator, then it’s best to know how one works. This can help you save money upfront, and troubleshoot any problems along the way.
How do kegerators work?
A kegerator is actually a fairly simple piece of equipment, one that uses pressure to move liquid. With a kegerator, carbon dioxide applies pressure on the keg, which forces the beer up and out of the faucet, and into your glass.
There aren’t that many aspects to a kegerator, but each one is important. To begin with, there’s the carbon dioxide (CO₂) tank. Carbon dioxide is a natural byproduct of beer fermentation, and is what gives beer its carbonation.
The CO₂ tank in a kegerator is what’s used to apply pressure on the beer, and push it upwards. These need to be refilled and maintained, the more you use the keg.
Connected to this tank is the regulator. The regulator maintains the pressure in the kegerator. You’re able to change and adjust the pressure, to ensure the perfect pour every time.
Next is the coupler, the valve that taps the keg. The coupler is attached to two lines: the gas line, and the beer line. The gas line runs in from the carbon dioxide regulator and tank, and the beer line runs out to the draft tower and faucet.
The coupler is what connects the gas to the beer, so it can move through and push the beer out. These lines will generally be clamped in, to ensure they’re well-connected, prevent leaks, and maintain pressure.
As the beer travels, it runs up through the draft tower and into the faucet – and from there into your glass. Everything apart from the draft tower and faucet is stored in a refrigerated cabinet.
Kegerator is a name formed from a mix of ‘keg’ and ‘refrigerator’. The cooled cabinet is an important part of keeping the beer better for longer. The joint pressurization and cooling of a kegerator is an important factor in keeping beer fresh.
A kegerator may also contain parts such as a drip tray, but the tools listed above are what maintains its function. The principles of a kegerator are basic: applying pressurized gas moves liquid. This means a kegerator can be used for other types of carbonated beverages.
Even kombucha can be stored in a kegerator. They’re customizable, to suit your needs.
Can I build a kegerator?
Yes, it’s relatively simple to build your own kegerator. Many people choose to make a kegerator by converting an old refrigerator. If you have access to an old refrigerator then building your own kegerator is a great way to save a significant amount of money.
For those who don’t have an old fridge, it can still be cheaper to buy a budget one, or shop second hand, over buying a kegerator. Be sure to check the storage space inside, as sometimes built in drawers and shelves can reduce the amount of space available.
The parts for a kegerator can either be bought separately, or purchased in a kegerator conversion kit. These kits are easy to find online or in some liquor stores. You may even be able to kind kits in hardware stores.
As long as you have some experience using tools, building a kegerator is a fairly easy task. Be sure to check everything is firmly in place, and be careful with the CO₂ tank.
Both store-bought and homemade kegs require regular maintenance. The beer lines need to be cleaned, and the CO₂ tank will need to be filled on occasion. However, apart from the beer, there’s no significant further costs – and the beers no real cost at all!
Is it cheaper to build or buy a kegerator?
If you already have a refrigerator to convert, then it can be much cheaper to build a kegerator over buying one. A kegerator is a significant piece of equipment, so can set you back a lot of money. If you can find a good, cheap, second-hand refrigerator, this may also be cheaper than buying a kegerator.
However, there are time and labor costs to consider when making a kegerator. Ensuring the refrigerator is the right size is a major consideration. Especially if it has molded shelves or storage containers. Installing a kegerator conversion kit may mean purchasing tools if you don’t have the necessary ones.
While it may be cheaper to build a kegerator, you may feel the effort in doing so doesn’t make up for the savings. Store bought kegerators come in a huge variety for home use. Check out our picks for the best kegerators for your man cave.