How to turn a Refrigerator into a Kegerator
Thinking of turning an ordinary fridge into a kegerator? It is cheaper and easier than you think. First, find the refrigerator. Ask family and friends if they have an old one. If not, you can find them easily in the Recycler for about $50. The kind with a top freezer work best. Make sure the inside dimensions of the fridge are at least 16” deep and wide and 27” high in case you ever want to put a commercial keg inside.
Next, round up your parts. You’ll need a CO2 tank, beer regulator, gas line, keg taps (either quick disconnect (QD) for Corny kegs or a Sanke tap to fit commercial American brews), beer line, a beer shank(s), faucet(s), some 1/2” or 3/4” plywood, and some assorted fittings. You want your shank(s) to be as long as possible, at least 4 or 5”. The extra length picks up cold from the refrigerator and transfers it to the faucet, which helps to minimize foaming. All this adds up to about $200 if you have nothing, usually less. Both the Home Wine and Beer Shop and Draft Beer Store have everything you’ll need, except the plywood and tools. The only tools you’ll need are a drill motor, a 1” hole saw and a wrench to tighten everything down.
Start by cutting a piece of plywood to fit the floor of the fridge. This small step will make your kegerator last much longer and be much easier to work with. You may also want to cut a smaller piece of plywood to go inside the door, with the beer shank(s) passed through it, this helps stiffen things up. Use the hole saw to cut a hole through the exterior skin of the door. If there is a butter dispenser in the door, align your shank hole(s) with it. If you’re using the plywood backer, have an assistant hold it in place and cut through it with the hole saw, place through the hole you cut in the exterior skin. Put the shank through the door and attach the lock nut included at the back. Your beer line should be either 1/4" or 3/16”. It should be at least 5 ½” long, both for foam control and ease of use. Make sure you get a “tail piece” that is the same as your beer line, put it through the supplied hex nut, insert a washer, and attach it to the back of the shank. As an alternative, there are shanks available that have the barbed nipple cast in with the nipple, all in one piece. Be sure to secure the beer line with a hose clamp.
From there, all you need to do is run the beer line from the back of the shank to your black Cornelius QD or the top of a commercial tap. Attach the regulator to the CO2 tank and run the gas line from the nipple at the bottom of the regulator to the gray Cornelius QD or the side of a commercial tap. Use hose clamps to tighten everything down. Then attach your faucet. Use a spanner wrench, they’re cheap and will make your faucet last for years. Turn your CO2 on, adjust your pressure, hook up your kegs, and enjoy your draft beer.
If you have any questions, John and Mark at the Home Wine and Beer Shop or either of the Johns at the Draft Beer Store can answer your questions and make sure you have the right fittings. tpb