Have you ever looked at the cost of kegerators online?
It’s not only ridiculously priced, but you also have to worry about the ultra delicate components that don’t stack up against mini fridges and the durability that they possess.
It’s better, anc cheaper, to just do it on your own. It gives you creative control to choose a fridge and conversion kit that you like, and gives you something to talk about next time you have friends over, like “Yeah, I made that.”
Making a mini fridge kegerator isn’t exactly the most common project. It voids the warranty on your fridge, and runs a risk of going poorly if you aren’t careful, but if you’re halfway decent with a drill and know how to take measurements, then you’re good to go.
Let’s go over the step-by-step guide to doing it on your own.
- 1 What Exactly is a Kegerator?
- 2 Why and When do You Need One?
- 3 Step-by-Step Guide to Transform a Mini Fridge Into a Kegerator
- 4 Can You Run a Tap Through the Door on a Mini Fridge?
- 5 It’s Time to Start the Party
What Exactly is a Kegerator?
A kegerator is a refrigeration unit that has been specifically designated to hold onto a keg of beer.
It’s separate from simply calling it a fridge, because kegerators come equipped with a pipe that comes up through the top of the unit, which runs to a keg tap.
This tap is powered by CO2 tanks, which are also stored in the fridge. CO2 pressurizes the tap, allowing you to draw beer from the kegerator spout.
Beer needs to be stored somewhere, and while kegs aren’t usually used in the home outside of a house party, bars use them behind the scenes. They run tubing, and more impressive CO2 equipment, allowing them to use taps and spray hoses on the bar.
You can actually make a kegerator out of a mini fridge without having to buy your own unit. For the most part, you end up paying 1.75x to 3.25x for a kegerator instead of just buying a mini fridge and a DIY kegerator converter kit.
Why and When do You Need One?
Why do you need one?
Kegerators are at the center of any house party, because that’s where all the good stuff is. Apart from that, if you have a home bar, this is the perfect place to keep your keg and actually serve beer on tap like a real bar when your friends come over.
Kegs offer the optimal method of enjoying a beer. Buying bottled beer is convenient and all, but there’s a reason that it tastes different from the tap at the bar, and there’s a reason that you keep going back to that bar.
We could go into specifics of aeration and the CO2 usage, but it’s suffice to say that it comes out better than individually packaged beer.
Step-by-Step Guide to Transform a Mini Fridge Into a Kegerator
This is everything you need to get from A to Z and turn that mini fridge into a rockin’ kegerator.
1. Pick a Fridge That Works
What size keg do you have in mind?
You can go for a sixth barrel if it’s going to be used infrequently and you want to avoid waste. That’s five gallons of beer, after all, or thirty-three separate 20oz glasses of beer.
If that’s enough for you, then good, because most mini fridges will accommodate this.
Most of these kegs are about 23 ⅜” high, so as long as you have that much clearance in your mini fridge, you’ll be right as rain to continue with the next step.
2. Find a Kegerator Conversion Kit
This is the tricky part, because you run into a lot of different kegerator kits with a ton of options available. For home use, I don’t think you need a two-tower tap.
Those can double the price, and they’re not really necessary. If you ever have to replace the tap, it’ll end up being a bigger hassle to rip this out, or you’ll just have to get a new fridge/single unit kit.
Your kegerator conversion kit should include a rough idea of the following:
- Serving tower (one or two faucet design)
- Five-pound CO2 tank
- Regulator (for adjusting pressure)
- Beer lines
- Gas lines
- At least one disconnect
These kits can cost you roughly $200 for the cheaper ones, up to about $330 before you get into the luxury space.
Also consider the cost of the fridge when you’re making this decision, but altogether, it’s cheaper than buying a brand new kegerator unit.
3. Modify Your Refrigerator
Now comes time to remove the door, and pull all the shelves out.
Some mini fridges might have hardware bolted into the sidewalls, and that gets tricky, because you either have to leave them in and hope the keg fits, or remove them and cover them up with something that won’t transmit cold.
You’re going to remove the door so that you can fit the keg in. If the keg you got doesn’t require you to do this, that’s okay, just skip the door part.
4. Remove the Top
If you look along the edges of the top of your mini fridge, you’ll see a seam.
It’s like a bit of metal/plastic on the top that’s just been fitted on your fridge with a one inch gap of metal on either side. You can use a metal putty knife and wedge it under here, and wedge it out.
Underneath, you’re going to find some cooling lines, and a ton of foam material. You have to be very careful here. You need to get familiar with this area, because you have to use a drill to make a hole in the fridge for your lines.
It’s going to go right through the top, and lead down into your unit. Place this wherever you want the tap to be.
5. Drilling Time
After you identify where the cooling lines are, it’s time to get to work. Drill your hole into the main refrigerator between the cooling lines.
You want those lines to touch the pipe, or at least be around them. This will chill the line as your beer comes up through it.
This might be a lengthy process. All of that plastic and foam is going to be difficult to cut through, so you might have to gingerly cut a circular hole in the foam to locate the lines in the first place, and then work from there. It can be tricky, but this is the most sensitive step.
6. Fill the Space
Now it’s time to run your CO2 lines through the top, and put your canisters in the bottom. Run your beer lines through it, and get everything set. Don’t attach anything to the ends of the lines, though.
Next, you’re going to need something to fill in the area where the foam insulation was. My best advice is to use a piece of plywood, and cut it to size. You’ll need to drill a hole through it to run the lines as well.
PVC pipe is cheap, and really great. You want to create a conduit for those lines we hooked up earlier. Run the conduit through your fridge top, and secure it into the bottom.
Use a metal insulation, such as heavy duty aluminum foil, with temperature-proof rubber caulking and mold it around the bottom and top of the PVC pipe once it’s done.
8. Secure Your Top
It’s time to put the top back on, after you drill a hole to fit around the PVC pipe. It’s okay if the hole is a little bit too big, you can always patch that up later.
9. Secure Your Tap
Secure the tap to the top of your fridge, and ensure the lines are running properly.
Depending on what tap you get, the setup for the lines may vary. Run a test to ensure the lines are working properly. You should hear your CO2 lines kick on.
Can You Run a Tap Through the Door on a Mini Fridge?
You can. It’s not impossible, it’s just a little tricky since you have gravity working against you while you’re trying to attach the tap.
Some kegerator DIYers prefer putting a horizontal tap through the door instead of on top because it provides better utility if the mini fridge is up on a countertop.
However, if you want to go for true bar-style taps, you need the fridge and keg concealed below the bar. Cutting through the top and running a conduit is the best way to keep things looking seamless.
It’s Time to Start the Party
If you’ve chosen the right size fridge, and installed your kit right, then all that’s left to do is call a few friends over to help you test it out.
You’ve just installed the most essential piece of equipment for any house party or Sunday game day get-together, so all that’s left to do is enjoy it.
If you’re thinking of trying this for yourself, consider reading our list of the best mini fridges for kegerator conversion.