If you want a cold glass of beer at the end of the day, you might have looked into kegerators. However, these keg and refrigeration unit hybrids can get pricey. But fear not! You can easily make one out of an old mini fridge.
A homemade kegerator is cheaper and more durable than a store-bought one. While you will need some basic tool-handling skills to get the job done, almost anyone can do it.
Ready? Let’s turn a mini fridge into a kegerator.
What You’ll Need
To make a kegerator, you will need these materials:
- Mini fridge
- Keg coupler
- Pressure-adjusting air regulator
- 7 ft 3/16” beer line
- 5 ft 5/16” gas line
- 5-pound CO2 tank
- Liquid line connector kit
- Beer faucet
- Tap handle
- Rubber grommet
- Silicone sealant
- Drip tray
- Draft tower
- Hex nut
- Power drill
- Metal putty knife
- PVC pipe
- ⅛” drill bit
- 1” and 3” hole saw bits
- Aluminum foil
- Rubber caulking
- Faucet wrench
- Wheel board (optional)
- Wood varnish (optional)
If you can find a kegerator conversion kit, it will include many of these materials. The three types of kegerator kits include door, tower, and keezer. Assuming your mini fridge does not have a freezer, you can focus on the door and tower options.
Some of these tools will vary based on the size of the materials you buy and your specific kegerator kit. Regardless, it helps to have all of them handy in case you need them during the process.
Step 1: Modify the Mini Fridge
Before you start drilling, you need to open up the fridge. Begin by cleaning and sanitizing the fridge using appropriate products.
Make Room For the Keg
Next, you can start removing the door and shelving. If there is the hardware on the sidewalls, be sure to get a smaller keg that fits.
For bulky hardware that takes up too much space, try to remove it and cover the areas with an insulating material that will not transmit cold.
Also, large mini-fridges might have enough room to slide the keg in without removing the door. If this is the case for you, you can skip that step.
Either way, you still need to get rid of the shelves.
If your fridge has uneven flooring, make an elevated flat floor from plywood.
Locate the Cooling Lines
On the top of your fridge is a metal or plastic seam. It usually has a gap of metal on each side. Remove this seam with the metal putty knife by wedging under it bit by bit until you can pull it out.
Under the seam are foam and cooling lines. You can spot these lines more easily by mixing rubbing alcohol and cornstarch. Rub this mixture on the fridge and plug it in for a few minutes. The alcohol should evaporate and leave the cornstarch behind where the lines run.
Make a record of where the cooling lines are before proceeding. If you rupture the cooling lines, you’ll need a new fridge. You will need to perform this step if you plan on installing a draft tower on top of the fridge.
For door-mounted faucets, you do not need to be as careful.
Step 2: Drill the Mini Fridge
If you bought a kegerator kit, the provided instructions will tell you how to complete the conversion. Otherwise, we have you covered.
First, decide how many taps you want and where you want the handles to be. Also, figure out where you plan on keeping the CO2 tank and where you’ll run the lines in the mini-fridge.
For a door- or side-wall-mounted faucet, you would drill a hole right in the spot where your faucet will go.
If your mini fridge is large enough, you can keep the gas tank and its lines inside. Otherwise, you will need to drill holes on the opposite side and seal them with a rubber grommet or silicone sealant.
Draft tower designs require a hole drilled on the top to run the lines through the unit.
Make sure to avoid drilling through any cooling lines or coils. If you can, pull up some fridge schematics to show you where the coils lie.
If you like ice-cold beer, drill the hole between the cooling lines so that the beer pipes touch them for further chilling.
Remove any cracked plastic and foam. You can expedite the process by cutting a hole in the foam to see the lines and reduce the waste.
Step 3: Fill It with CO2
Feed the CO2 lines through the designated holes and line them with the canisters. Then, run the beer lines through the canisters. Make sure to keep the line ends clear.
Cut some plywood to the size of the foam insulation to replace the missing material. Drill a hole through the plywood for the lines.
When you hook up the gas and beer lines, make sure to flush and sanitize them. You should set the regulator on the CO2 tank to 5-8 psi. If you have a liquid line connector kit, follow the instructions to assemble the system.
Step 4: Create a Conduit
Use PVC pipe to make a conduit that runs through the top and connects to the bottom. Aluminum foil paired with rubber caulking can serve as insulation for the PVC pipe. Mold the materials around the ends of the pipe once you’ve installed it.
Step 5: Secure the Top and Tap
Drill another hole through the top of the mini fridge that fits around the PVC. Secure the top back on and seal any holes.
If you opted for a wall or door tap, install the beer faucet and tap handles in their positions as well. Run the shank through the door hole and tighten it with the hex nut. Then, connect the lines and faucets to the keg coupler from the shank. Install the airline between the keg coupler and regulator.
For draft towers, mount the draft tower on top of the fridge and run the lines inside. Use a plastic flange to hold down the tower, and secure it with hex nuts.
Then, connect the beer line to the keg coupler from the tower shank elbow. Lastly, connect the keg coupler to the regulator with an airline.
Again, the exact instructions depend on your materials and whether you bought a kegerator kit. The ones listed here will provide a general overview of what you might expect from the process.
Step 6: Add Any Extras
Now is the time to get fancy!
Add a drip tray under the faucets to prevent any spills. Opt for one that contains the liquids and requires manual removal to empty for the best results.
If you don’t like the “fridge” look, you can cover up the plastic with plywood and stain it with wood varnish to customize the appearance.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions concerning how to turn a mini fridge into a kegerator.
What Kegs Fit in Mini Fridges?
There are around five keg sizes you will find. These include:
- Slim Quarter: 7.75-gallon capacity, 23.3 inches tall, 11-inch diameter
- Sixth Barrel: 5.23-gallon capacity, 23.3 inches tall, 9.5-inch diameter
- Half Barrel: 15.5-gallon capacity, 23.3 inches tall, 17-inch diameter
- Pony Keg: 7.75-gallon capacity, 14.8 inches tall, 17-inch diameter
- Homebrew/Corny: 5-gallon capacity, 23.3 inches tall, 8.5-inch diameter
The keg size you choose will depend on the size of your fridge and how much beer you wish to store. Most mini fridges can accommodate the homebrew or corny keg.
How Big of a Mini Fridge Do I Need for a Kegerator?
When converting a mini fridge into a kegerator, you will need to leave enough room for a keg and potentially the CO2 tanks. You can get around not having the gas tanks inside, but it does help keep the system more compact.
Try to get a mini fridge with a height greater than 25 inches. That will leave enough room for most of the keg types, with the difference depending on the width of your fridge.
What Mini Fridge Is Best for a Kegerator?
The best mini fridges for kegerators include:
- EdgeStar BR2001BL Ultra Low Temp Refrigerator
- RCA RFR321-B-Black-COM Mini Refrigerator
- Danby Designer DAR044A4BDD-6 Mini Fridge
- Magic Chef MCAR320B2 All Refrigerator
- Black Decker BCRK43B Compact Refrigerator
The most important thing is to choose a fridge with a large enough capacity for your keg. All of these will fit the homebrew type, but a larger one can accommodate more significant beer volumes.
How Do You Turn a Freezer Into a Kegerator?
You can create a keezer by building a wood collar between the top and bottom of the freezer. Here, you can drill plenty of holes for the shanks and faucets without compromising the cooling lines. Plus, chest freezers can fit many kegs at once.
If you want to use a freezer, you will need a temperature controller to avoid freezing your beer. You’ll also need to look for a keezer kit rather than a kegerator one.