Your Guide to Building a Home Bar: Refrigeration, Part 1

Welcome back to our Guide to Building a Home Bar Series. Thus far, we’ve covered the following topics in the Planning Your Home Bar section:

1. Exploring Your Options
2. Layout and Design
3. Building Yourself vs. Hiring Out

Today, we’ll tackle some standard and draft beer refrigeration options to keep in mind.

Refrigeration, Part 1: Standard Refrigeration and Kegerators

Refrigeration is one of the most important aspects to consider when building a home bar. You do want cold drinks, don’t you? You have to decide which type(s) of refrigeration you’ll incorporate into your bar based on how much room you have, the amount of money you can spend and what you like to drink the most.

Standard Refrigeration
A simple solution that works for many home bars is to use a single piece of refrigeration, like a back bar refrigerator, for storing beer, wine and soda. More complex bars sometimes have refrigeration units built into the counter or under the bar.

If built-in refrigeration is what you’re after, you’ll have to make sure the compressor vents of the units that you select are on the front of the fridge. The hot air given off by the compressor needs a place to vent, in order to cool the machine down. If your unit can’t vent correctly, you’re looking at a burnt out compressor motor, wasted money and a dangerous fire hazard, so it is important to purchase wisely. To make it easy, most of the appropriate under counter units are labeled as being able to be built-in.

Draft Beer Kegerators
If a standard refrigerator filled with bottles and cans of the good stuff simply won’t do, your home bar will need a draft beer system. Installing your own draft beer system or kegerator isn’t as difficult as you might think! Plus, it’s much easier to install a draft beer system upfront rather than try to add one after you’ve built your home bar, so don’t put it off if it’s on your wish list.

There are several ways to get draft beer at home, without breaking the bank. It is absolutely imperative that draft (keg) beer must be kept cold at all times. If it’s not kept cold, your beer will get foamy and eventually spoil. For this reason, you want to keep your beer and the beer lines enclosed in the refrigeration unit.

Here are your draft beer fridge options:

Under Counter Kegerator
Easy to install, under counter keg refrigerators can also be used as stand alone units if the need arises. Most people build these units into their back bars, but they can be placed in the front bar as well.

Stand-Alone Draft Beer Refrigerator
Stand-alone draft beer fridges can be set to the side of the bar. These units work just like the built-ins and in most cases, they’ll save you some cash! Choose from one tap or multiple taps.

Kegerator Conversion
Using a refrigerator that you already have is also an option that will usually save you the most money. Taking an old refrigerator, like the kind you have in your kitchen, and converting it into a kegerator is actually really simple with a refrigerator conversion kit. You can position the fridge so it’s out of the way or decorate it and make it the focal point of the bar. Whichever way you choose to display it, you’ll want to make sure you have a drip tray to catch the excess foam so it doesn’t spill onto your floor.

Our next post in the series will cover Wine Refrigerators, including optimal wine serving temperatures, Beverage Centers and Ice Machines. Check back soon!

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5 Comments

  • Josh May 27, 2009 @ 1:59pm

    I want to add a tower to the top of my bar without having to buy the under counter kit. Has anybody ran lines from a kegerator to the top of their bar? I think all in all I am going for the way any bar you go to is set up. Any tips will be helpful.

  • Hannah May 27, 2009 @ 2:22pm

    Josh – thanks for asking. Here’s a link that should answer your question:

    http://www.kegworks.com/company/draft-beer-systems#DB9

    If we’re missing anything here, please feel free to comment back and we’ll be sure to get right on it!

  • Hannah May 27, 2009 @ 2:23pm

    Josh – here’s another bit for you. Check out the following link and look under Tower Conversion Kits:

    http://www.kegworks.com/company/kegworks-community/home-bar/draft-beer-systems/conversion-kits#options

    Thanks!

  • Steve G March 28, 2010 @ 4:26pm

    When folks talk about BUILDING a home bar I have some ideas of my own! I mulled this over for well over a year before I decided to embark on my own project. On mine I actually scavenged the various parts and pieces that one needs to build a actual refriderator and did it within a cabinet that I built as well to house other draft equipment and such. Well, long story short shes a beauty and has been cooling my favorits of commertial as well as those that I brew myself! I had no previous experience in refridgeration but tapped on all the right shoulders as needed to bring it all together. The result has enough room to hold two 15.5 gallon kegs and a few corny kegs and is equiped to despence it all at the mear pull on either of the two brass taps mounted on the ceramic draft tower which is also cooled to a lovely 42 degrees.

  • Hannah March 28, 2010 @ 7:07pm

    Superb! If you have any photos you’d like to share, pass them to me at hannah@kegworks.com and we’ll post the up for all to enjoy!

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