If you are building a home bar or want to store beer at your place of business, kegerators are incredible devices to keep draft beer fresh and chilled. But what is a kegerator? This article will answer your most common questions about kegerators and their functions.
Looking for the best kegerator? We reviewed the top kegerators for your man cave.
What is a Kegerator?
In short, a kegerator is a special refrigerator that stores your draft beer. The name comes from the combination of two words: “keg” and “refrigerator.” The refrigerated container holds a keg to keep your beer cool and fresh for a longer time. It is often used in homes, restaurants, and other businesses to dispense beer, cold brews, and other carbonated beverages.
Indoor and outdoor kegerators come in a variety of styles and sizes to meet the amount you need. Some are designed to hold various amounts of kegs to meet your bar or restaurant’s needs.
If you are looking for the right kegerator for your home or business, it’s important to know how it functions. Kegs remain in the hollow inner cavity inside the kegerator. The door or standard latching keeps it sealed, and the dispensing tower on top of the unit allows you to serve straight from the keg. To ensure your unit lasts a long time, it is important to take the time to learn how to use it and take care of it properly.
One of the great things about a kegerator is that you can customize it to your preference. There are not many parts to a kegerator, but there are several options for each one.
If you are interested, you can learn more about how kegerators work.
What size keg does a kegerator hold?
How much a kegerator can hold depends on its size. There are several different types of kegerators to fit kegs of all dimensions.
The four main types of kegerators are mini, full-size, commercial, and outdoor kegerators. Each one is built for a different purpose and comes in a different size.
Mini kegerators are designed to hold one mini keg with a maximum capacity of 5 liters. Full-size kegerators, built for homes, can fit one half-barrel, or a full-sized, keg. Commercial kegerators hold multiple types of kegs, such as mini-keg, half-barrel, and quarter-barrel. Lastly, the outdoor kegerator, designed to be used outdoors, has a wide range of temperatures in chilling beer.
Most standard kegerators can fit several combinations of kegs. However they cannot store beer kegs that are bulkier and oversized from brands like Miller Lite and Coors Lite.
The best way to see if the kegerator can fit the kegs you need is to check its width. Kegerators that have a total width of 23 inches or more can fit more oversized beer brands and other combinations of various keg sizes.
How long does beer last in a kegerator?
Several factors affect how long beer can stay fresh in a kegerator, such as the style of beer, whether it is pasteurized or not, and the type of pump you use to serve it. The level of freshness is also affected by the correct pressure and temperature.
Non-pasteurized beer can last in a kegerator that uses CO2 for up to two months or 60 days. Pasteurized beer has a longer lifespan of up to 120 days, or sometimes up to six months. There is usually a freshness date printed by breweries on the side or cap of the keg.
How do you tap a keg in a kegerator?
After purchasing a keg, you want to give it some time to reach the right temperature in the kegerator before tapping it. Generally, beer needs to be served somewhere between 32 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit to remain liquid instead of turning into foam.
When you tap the keg, make sure you use the appropriate keg coupler for your beer. Many domestic beers use the standard D-system keg coupler, but imported or home-brewed beers may require another type of device.
Before tapping, set the pressure on your CO2 tank. The regulator’s valves should be open and adjusted to your serving pressure. You can generally start the pressure at around 10 psi and adjust it depending on the type of beer you serve and the amount necessary to keep the keg balanced.
It is essential to pressurize the regulator before you tap the keg to keep the beer from receding into the air lines when tapping it.
Finally, remove the dust cover from your keg and fasten the coupler. Twist it until it is tight on the keg. For lever handle couplers, the handle needs to be pulled out first before lifting it or pushing it down.
When you tap the keg, a little bit of your beverage will seep into the line, but it will not flow into it until you open the faucet.
How long does a CO2 tank last on a kegerator?
CO2 tanks come in various sizes, from as small as 2½ pounds to a 20-pound cylinder. The lifespan of a CO2 tank depends on the carbonation level of your beverage, the proper balance of your system, and how often you use the kegerator.
In general, a 5-pound cylinder can last between 6 to 8 full kegs, or half barrels, while a 15-pound cylinder will need refilling after dispensing about 15 to 21 half barrels.
Make sure to check for any CO2 leaks periodically. Some leaks may be easier to hear with a slight hissing noise coming from the air hose or system. A drop in PSI levels is another indicator of a leak.
Should CO2 be turned off on a kegerator?
Whether you turn off your kegerator’s CO2 tank depends on how well your system works. If the system does not have any leaks, you do not need to turn off the CO2 valves or regulators. The gas will stabilize at around 12 PSI.
Turning off the CO2 in your kegerator can make your beer go flat since the gas will come out of your beverage to fill the headspace that was once pressurized.
For systems that leak, shutting off the CO2 is a temporary fix, but letting the gas discharge will still make the beer lose its carbonation. There is also a potential for surprise leaks if you leave the CO2 on overnight.
Overall, if the CO2 pressure is stable and your kegerator system is reliable, it is best to leave the CO2 on to keep your beer fresh in the keg for as long as possible.
What temperature should a kegerator be set at?
A kegerator’s temperature depends on the type of beer you store. In general, a kegerator that works well keeps beer chilled at 38 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the ideal temperature for draft beers to ensure it remains liquidated when you dispense it instead of turning into foam.
The controlled temperature also keeps the flavor of your beer from changing. If possible, it is crucial to keep your beer’s temperature as stable as possible before tapping it. When the temperature changes too much in a keg, the taste will be greatly affected. This is especially true for more balanced beverages, like Guinness.
To make sure your beer stays fresh for as long as possible, many breweries follow particular temperature recommendations:
- Macro-brand beers like light beers & pale lagers: 34-38 degrees Fahrenheit
- Craft beers like light ales & pale lagers: 41 degrees Fahrenheit
- Craft beers like standard ales, amber & dark lagers, ciders: 46 degrees Fahrenheit
- Craft beers with malty styles or high alcohol content: 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit
How often do you clean kegerator lines?
A kegerator system needs to be cleaned and maintained regularly after installation. This will prevent mold, yeast, and bacteria from forming on any part of the kegerator lines, keg couplers, and draft faucets. Bacteria can alter the taste of your beer and cause unpleasant aromas. It can also make your beer foamy when pouring.
Kegerator lines require cleaning at least every 2 to 3 weeks, and every time you change the keg. If you use your system regularly, more frequent cleaning will keep the flavor and look of your beer fresh for a longer time.
You can purchase a cleaning kit or use the proper chemicals to clean the lines thoroughly.
For more in depth cleaning advice, check out How do I Clean and Sanitize a Keg?
How much electricity does a kegerator use?
Like other refrigerators, kegerators only use electricity when the compressor is turned on. The compressor turns on and off automatically to maintain the temperature inside the kegerator. The more well insulated the kegerator is, the less the compressor will have to run.
Each kegerator will be different and different environments and climates will affect how much much electricity it uses, but a kegerator will typically use 250 to 350 kwh per year.
Electricity rates can vary widely by state, but the average cost per kwh in the U.S. is about $0.10. So a kegerator will cost about $25 to $35 per year to run on average.
The cost to run a kegerator is similar to the cost to run a mini fridge.
Can I use my kegerator outside?
While you can use a kegerator outside, it is going to be more difficult to maintain the proper temperature. This can lead to foamy beer (see How to Get Less Foam From a Kegerator for tips on getting better pours).
However, there are kegerators that are specifically designed to be used outdoors. Outdoor kegerators can be used in temperatures between 45 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. These are great if you have a bar set up outside your house.
Can I turn my mini fridge into a kegerator?
Yes! If you prefer beer on tap to beer in cans and bottles, you can turn your refrigerator or freezer into a kegerator. You can use a kegerator conversion kit that has everything you need.
Make sure to measure your refrigerator first to make sure that a keg will fit inside. A standard half barrel keg is the most common type of keg in the U.S. and what most people picture when they think of a keg. Half barrel kegs are 23 inches tall and 16 inches around.
What is a mini kegerator?
The mini kegerator provides draft beers for more intimate settings. They are more affordable than the standard sizes, and they come in dozens of models and makes.
Small volume kegs are more portable and can be tapped between 2 to 4 times, perfect for small gatherings without taking too much room.
See our picks for the best mini kegerators.
Kegerators are an essential addition to any home bar or business establishment for draft beer. They are convenient for storing kegs of all sizes and can keep your beers tasting fresh for up to six months at a time. However, it’s important to keep your system clean and the pressure and temperature stable to avoid altering the flavor of your beers.
There are many factors to consider when purchasing the right system for you, but if you want to serve fresh drafts of your favorite beverages, consider buying a kegerator for your home.