How to Make a Kegerator (with Photos)

You know how awesome my wife is? She got me the makings for a kegerator for Christmas last year. At the time, I had a secondhand fridge I kept out in the garage, but only plugged in for parties as I was afraid of the heat it generated causing a fire, and its effect on my power bill was equally worrisome. While walking the dog one day, I passed an Energy Trust truck advertising a $30 bounty paid for old, but working fridges, all the incentive I needed to upgrade. That was in June, but a new baby kept my priorities, and my wallet, focused on non-refrigerator purchases.

Thankfully, Labor Day reminded me of my priorities, celebrating the American worker by capturing a piece of his paycheck, this time in the form of a new, energy efficient fridge, one whose warranty I immediately began to contemplate voiding.

Here’s how I tackled fridge to kegerator conversion. It really couldn’t have been more simple, but there was a nagging voice inside that kept asking, “You’re going to drill holes in a new fridge?” Yep, and it was totally worth it. Hopefully, you’ll see how easy and worthwhile this conversion is, and shut your inner nag up.

1. Mark holes for the taps. Have the taps before you do this, and ideally the tap handles, too. You want the taps high enough that you’re not kneeling to dispense beer, but not so high that opening the freezer door causes you to spill beer all over the floor by activating the tap handles. I suggest marking the inside, where the contours are the most divergent. The nuts that hold the taps in place need to be on a flat part of the door’s interior, so look for a flat area on the interior of the fridge.

1-mark-holes

2. Drill pilot holes. Most hardware stores carry extra-long (8-10″ long) drill bits for less than $10, but in retrospect, I think a four or five-inch long quarter-inch diameter bit would have been sufficient to go through the interior plastic, the insulation, and the sheet metal exterior of the fridge door. The important thing is that the diameter of your pilot hole bit is the same, or slightly smaller than, the bit that guides your hole saw.

2-drill-pilot-holes

3. Drill Final Holes Start by using a 1″ hole saw (just a hair larger than the diameter of the taps) to drill the plastic interior lining on the door, using your pilot hole from step 2 as a guide. Don’t drill through the metal from the inside, though – it will leave a very ragged hole. Instead, drill a little more than halfway through the door from the inside, then finish the hole from the outside. This way, both holes will be nice and neat. I thought drilling the metal would be difficult, but it’s fairly thin metal, and a sharp, new bit made very short work of it.

3-drill-hole-saw

4-drill-exterior-hole-saw

4. Insert the Taps. If you fail on this step, you don’t have the brain cells to lose, and I suggest you abandon alcohol consumption, starting immediately.

5-insert-tap

5. Secure the Taps. Use the nuts that came with your taps to secure the taps to the refrigerator door by tightening them from the inside. A large crescent wrench is necessary to get the nuts sufficiently tight.

6-secure-nuts

6. Connect Beer Lines to Taps. Connect the beer lines to the taps using the nut-end of the beer hoses. Make sure there’s a rubber washer inside the nut; tightening the nut will compress this washer, providing a good seal on the taps (no leaks!).

7-screw-hose

7. Connect Beer Lines to Kegs. There are two places you can fail in this step, probably because you’re getting thirsty after all the man work. Do as I say, not as I did. Firstly, make sure the taps are turned off when you connect them to the kegs. Most taps pull forward to dispense, so you’ll want them pushed BACK, in the OFF position. Secondly, the Cornelius kegs (aka “Corny” kegs) used by homebrewers generally have two valves, an “in” and an “out.” The latter refers to the liquid contents, and you want the “out” valve connected to the taps. It is possible to mash the beer lines onto the “in” valve, but you will not be happy with this decision.

8-connect-to-keg

Remember where I said to turn OFF the taps before connecting the beer lines to the kegs? This is what happens when you ignore that advice: your precious beer all over the floor.

9-turn-off-handles

8. Connect CO2 to Kegs. After hooking up the beer lines, there should be only one valve left on each keg. Hook your CO2 up to these valves (marked “IN”), and turn on the pressure at the tank. I adjusted my regulator to provide 10 lbs. of outward pressure, a little higher than I would do for just one keg, but pushing 2 kegs’ worth of beer out seemed to require a little more.

10-connect-co2

9. Attach Drip Tray I’d say a drip tray is optional, but it was really nice of your wife to agree to this kegerator thing, and a clean, unsticky floor is something she probably values. So get the drip tray, and keep your wife happy. It looks cool, too. I attached mine with Velcro so I could remove it for cleaning easily.

11-attach-drip-tray

Kegerator Supplies:



15 Responses to “How to Make a Kegerator (with Photos)”

  1. Jay Campbell Says:


    Visit Jay Campbell

    Nice. I made one of these for my homebrew with the exact wrong tools. Instead of the one inch hole drill, I had to use a one inch wooden drill bit. It made for a long, LOUD, project.

    Bottom line, it works and I couldn’t be happier.

  2. Clydicus Says:


    Visit Clydicus

    Having read this fine post, I am thirsty… but also concerned. Concerned that your velcro is going to fail when somebody rests a pint glass on that drip tray. Is it strong enough to hold two full pints?

  3. amanda Says:


    Visit amanda

    Yay! What’s on tap?

  4. johnkarlis Says:


    Visit johnkarlis

    Nice Job on the Kegerator! I will be building one soon myself – probably exact replica of your setup. One thing you may want to consider is putting one way check valves on each line that branches off from your regulator to each keg. Though the chances are slim, and taste differences probably not noticeable, there is possibility of contamination between kegs. If not contamination from bacteria or mold, but also taste and aroma between two different beers. Anyway, again, great job and cheers!

  5. Dave Selden Says:


    Visit Dave Selden

    @John, great suggestion. I’ll look into some check valves.

    @Clydicus, awesome name. Also, I wasn’t planning on resting the beers there, but then again, maybe I should! I did use two large strips of “industrial strength” velcro, so theoretically it should hold.

    @Amanda, I have a Belgian IPA and something kind of alcoholic and amber-colored on. The latter has been sitting half-consumed in the garage for at least a year, but it still tastes okay, so I’m going with it. Up next: fresh hop beer, followed by chocolate doppelbock.

    @Jay, never pass up the chance to buy a new tool. ;)

  6. Bruce Says:


    Visit Bruce

    Absolutely inspiring!

  7. jfwells Says:


    Visit jfwells

    Nice post. It is too late now (for you), but my only suggestion would have been arranging the fridge so that you could place the taps on the side. Having the hoses continually dangling off the door every time you try to open it to put bottles, the Thanksgiving turkey, etc. in there can be a real pain – and occasionally dangerous to said bottles.

  8. Good Burp Says:


    Visit Good Burp

    Just found your blog.
    I like your kegerator setup.
    How many kegs do you think you could fit in there at once?
    I went with the freezer conversion. It’s small, and I can keep it in my “Man Room”.

    Nice job!

  9. Dave Selden Says:


    Visit Dave Selden

    Easily fits two, but I think with some coercion, I could go as high as four, especially if I removed the bottom drawers and put the CO2 down there.

  10. Kegerator – I Want One Of These « www.ottawabites.com Says:


    Visit Kegerator – I Want One Of These « www.ottawabites.com

    [...] Read the whole story and DYI Steps here! [...]

  11. todd Paredes Says:


    Visit todd Paredes

    I think the hole saw size typically used is 7/8″ so that the shank is in nice and tight. There is one company http://www.KegCowboy.Com that sells the kits already put together with the claim “just drill the hole” and for some reason this makes them cheaper? If someone wants to make a kegerator the easy way (inexpensive way) then this is another option.

  12. Beer inc Says:


    Visit Beer inc

    Hey nice fridge conversion, It’s a great feeling to have a cold beer poured by your own hands from your own keg

    cheers

  13. karlis Says:


    Visit karlis

    Again, great tutorial. I finally got around to doing it myself. I linked your tutorial in my post. Here’s photos:

    http://karlisbeer.blogspot.com/2010/02/my-new-kegerator.html

  14. 85: Pale Strider | 999 Beers Says:


    Visit 85: Pale Strider | 999 Beers

    [...] added a kegerator/beer fridge to the basement recently, which has come in quite handy on this beer-tasting adventure. [...]

  15. Eric Says:


    Visit Eric

    I have a kegerator too. And I still have a problem remembering to hook up all the beer line sides before connecting the CO2. Sometimes the beer just looks too good and you have a short moment of forgetfulness. Oh well, life moves on.


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