Thinking about buying one of those kegerators for sale you saw online? Let’s go over a few things before you click “add to cart”.
The rise of craft beers and the homebrewing industry over the past two decades has made the kegerator a staple of man caves, backyard patios and even kitchens in homes across America. It is the best way to enjoy draft beer from the comfort of your home (or, if you’re lucky enough to work at a place like KegWorks, your office). More recently other beverages have joined the on tap trend, making kegerators popular with more than just dads and guys with beards.
If you are looking to add a kegerator to your living space, then read on and we will help guide you through some of the decisions you will have to make.
- Why buy a kegerator?
- What kinds of kegerators are there?
- Can I build my own kegerator?
- Kegerator Buying Tips
- What else do I need with my kegerator?
- How do I clean my kegerator?
- What else can I serve with a kegerator?
One of the long term benefits of owning a kegerator is the money you will eventually save. Buying a keg of beer is like buying just about any other item bulk, the cost per ounce or pint is less with a keg than buying a 6 or 12-pack. In the end, you wind up paying for the kegerator with the money you saved from not buying packaged beer. We even saved you the trouble, and did the math for you to show how a kegerator pays for itself.
Without having to buy cans and bottles of beer, you won’t have to return empties to the store or collect them for recycling. Your days of having a bag or box full of empty, sticky beer cans are over!
No leaving home for draft beer
The best part of owning a kegerator is being able to experience the joy of drinking a freshly poured pint of draft beer at home. No more driving to the bar down the street or paying for a cab/Uber for a ride to the local brewpub. Just you and your friends hanging out around your kegerator, having a good time.
Fresh beer on demand
Whether you are a craft beer geek, a homebrewing enthusiast or you just like to drink an American light lager, you can enjoy them at home with just the pull of a tap handle. A keg will stay fresh for up to three months when it’s properly chilled inside a kegerator, so there’s no rush either.
When buying a kegerator, you’ll want to identify where you will be using it. Is it going to be installed somewhere permanently or do you need to move it around? Will your kegerator be used inside or outside where it could be exposed to rain or extreme temperatures? There are different types of kegerators to choose from depending on the answers to those questions. Download our Kegerator Comparison Chart for a detailed breakdown of the specifications of every unit.
These are the most affordable and common style of kegerator available. Freestanding kegerators are perfect for pouring beers in your basement, rec room, den, garage and just about anywhere indoors. Most units come with casters on the bottom so they can be moved easily.
The one thing to remember with freestanding units is to make sure you leave enough room for proper ventilation. Warm air from the compressor is vented from the back of the unit. You want to leave an opening of 2 to 3 inches behind the kegerator so the air can escape. A kegerator that does not have proper ventilation will not last very long. These types of units should not be installed for countertop use.
Under Counter Kegerators
If you are adding a kegerator to your kitchen or home bar, then a built-in kegerator is the way to go. Under counter kegerators have ventilation coming out the front of the unit so they won’t overheat if the back side is covered or against a wall. The draft tower can be built into your countertop for a professional and seamless look.
Serving draft beer on your backyard patio or pool deck requires a kegerator designed to withstand the elements. Outdoor kegerators are built with a rugged, stainless steel exterior to prevent rusting and a sealed back to protect the electrical components inside.
Multiple Tap Kegerators
Ideal for the craft beer fan or homebrew enthusiast that likes to have multiple styles of beer on tap, multiple tap units feature two or more faucets. Multiple tap kegerators can hold anywhere from 2-4 ⅙ barrels (sixtels) or Corny homebrew kegs depending on make and model of the unit.
As the name indicates these kegerators are designed for use in bars and restaurants and are also known as a direct draw unit. Commercial kegerators have ample room to hold multiple ½ barrel kegs (full size kegs) as well as extra room for additional cold storage of items. They are made from sturdy, commercial grade materials that can hold up to the wear and tear of constant use.
Have an old refrigerator in your garage or basement? Did your son or daughter bring their dorm room fridge back home after graduation? Grab yourself a kegerator conversion kit, and get to work. A DIY kegerator is an affordable way to have a draft beer tap in your home, especially if you are handy and have the right tools on hand. Just make sure the fridge you are using is big enough to hold a keg.
Before selecting a kegerator you will want to make sure you have proper space for it. Remember this thing needs to hold a keg of beer. Most home kegerators are 3 to 4 ½ feet tall and 2 to 2 ½ feet wide and deep. Don’t forget to take into account room above for the draft tower and room behind for ventilation of freestanding units.
You will want to do some research to find out what size kegs of your favorite beers are available in your area. Some craft breweries only offer their beers in ⅙ barrels (sixtels). You can fit two sixtels in most single and multiple tap kegerators. This way you can keep a backup keg on hand for parties. Learn more about the different types of kegs with our guide to beer keg sizes.
The other thing to remember with kegs is what kind of coupler they need to connect to your kegerator. Most domestic beer kegs are compatible with the D-System Sankey coupler that comes standard with most kegerators. Imports and some craft beers require a different style coupler. Check out our keg coupler guide to see what kind of coupler you’ll need.
Want to have Guinness on tap at home? A Guinness kegerator requires a nitrogen regulator, stout faucet and a U-System coupler. You can get a Guinness kegerator conversion kit to easily switch your kegerator over.
And, once again, REMEMBER THIS THING HOLDS A KEG OF BEER. You will have to carry that keg to wherever your kegerator is. Want a kegerator in your basement? That’s great, just know you’ll have to lug a keg down your basement stairs. You may want to look into getting a keg dolly to assist you in transportation.
Depending on the kegerator you buy, you may need to pick up a few important parts and accessories before you can tap that keg. Make sure you have the following:
- Keg coupler
- CO2 tank
- Beer and air lines
- Double gauge CO2 regulator
- Air tank wrench
- Spanner wrench
- Economy beer line cleaning kit
A kegerator requires very little maintenance, but just like any other appliance in your home you will want to keep it clean. This dispenses something you are going to drink after all, and bacteria can develop on any surface beer comes into contact with. Use traditional cleaning agents to keep the outside and inside of the refrigerator unit clean. You should clean your beer lines every time you change your keg. Using a beer line cleaning kit is the easiest way to do this. This keeps bacteria from growing inside the lines and also helps to avoid sediment from building up that can cause foam. General maintenance, such as replacing beer lines and washers is also common.
Besides beer there are a number of other types of beverages you can serve with a kegerator, including wine on tap, coffee, batched cocktails and kombucha. Be sure to have the correct equipment before you give it a try. The most important part of using a kegerator to dispense the beverages mentioned above is that you will need to use barrier line instead of vinyl hose to prevent staining and flavor contamination and to use all stainless steel contacts, including the faucet, shank, connectors, and coupler. Each kind of beverage requires a specific type of gas (nitrogen or CO2), pressure setting and lines as well.
The decision to buy a kegerator may seem hard, but once you sip that first pint you’ll know it was worth the investment. Then your biggest problem will be all of your thirsty friends and family wanting to come over for some.