Building a kegerator to have draft beer at home, be it commercial or homebrew, is much easier than it seems.  You can save money compared to premade kegerators, moreover you can upgrade the critical components to better parts.

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This is version 2 of my kegerator design, I have plans for an upgrade this year. Now that I’m settled back home after 4 straight months on the road, I wanted to get some of this up on the site while I have time.  I have seen other designs using the same style fridge, but they are rare. This one is a Kenmore model, but I’ve also used the Haier counterpart. It is essentially a tall dorm fridge. The great benefit of this is that you do not need to spend the money for an expensive tower and the faucets are still at the correct height for easy pouring.  Still it doesn’t take up much floor space, and the work is less than building a chest freezer collar.

The parts list is not extensive:

  • Compact Refrigerator
  • External Temperature Controller
  • CO2 Cylinder
  • CO2 Regulator (double body or with a splitter)
  • 2 Kegs, or of course many more
  • 2 Shanks (w. wing nut, washer & nipple)
  • 2 Faucets & Tap Handles
  • Plywood
  • Gas and Beverage Lines (3/16″ ID for beverage)
  • Gas & Beverage Keg Couplers (Quick Disconnects)
  • Clamps (worm or otherwise)
  • Gas Leak Eetector
  • Drip Tray (optional, i prefer it)

    You’ll need some basic tools; if you don’t have them already they aren’t expensive to buy. A saw to cut the plywood, some sandpaper to smooth the edges, a drill with a 1″ hole saw and a screw driver if you get worm clamps. Another special tool that you’ll need is a faucet wrench which is shown in another picture below. Pictured above is a cheap cordless drill with the attached hole saw.  Neither are expensive, gets the job done.

    Pull out all the shelves, and the bin in the bottom. You need to build a sturdy plywood shelf for the bottom where the compressor hump is. Cut the plywood down to the shelf’s size, but longer since you want to have it extend out a little bit and still provide support to kegs & the like. The image above shows a plank that’s actually too short, I wish I had made that bigger as I will be replacing it to do my upgrade.

    You’ll need to drill a couple holes for the shanks to pass through. Open the door and line up where you want them to be. Choose a nice height for you to easily pour a beer. I have a 6″ drip tray. I spread the faucets 4″ apart which leaves 1″ of drip tray on either side. You’ll drill through plastic, metal and insulation; so wear some safety glasses, or at least your Oakleys. Before drilling remember to take a hammer and nail and center punch the spot where you want your faucets. A little dent will prevent the drill bit from running when you start. Mark your spots, close the door and saw through the door.

    Slide the shanks through the holes and tighten down the nut, the more sturdy the shank the more sturdy your faucet will be. I used stainless steel shanks on this build. It’s a not wholly necessary upgrade.

    Attach your faucets to the shanks on the front. Hand tighten at first but then use your faucet wrench to secure it. These faucets are forward-sealing Perlicks. I think that in the home setting, it makes sense to at least have forward-sealing faucets, if not flow-control. I built a new kegerator for a buddy awhile back and he went straight for flow control faucets. It ups the price, but they are slick.

    You have many options for tap handles, but it can be fun to collect some unique ones from the wild. My friend went for plain black plastic. I use that on my jockey box, but at home I have tap handles on display.

    Attaching a drip tray is just a matter of drilling two screws into the door. Grab your tallest glass and use that to figure out how high you want to mount it. Then just center it and mark the spots for the screws. Then you can easily remove the drip tray for cleaning.

    You need to build the beer lines. Use 3/16″ ID beverage grade tubing. Connect it to your faucets using a wignut, washer & nipple. Read up on the internet about how to balance a tap line. The Brewers Association’s Guide is a great place to start, click here. You can use barbed disconnects for the keg coupler, or the flared version so you can swap them out for perhaps a commercial keg coupler.

    To control the temperature of your kegerator, you use an external thermostat. It plugs into the wall socket and the fridge into it. Then you secure the temperature probe inside the fridge and set the fridge for its coldest setting. Then the little control box on the outside can be used to set your desired serving temperature.

    You will need to attach your regulator to the CO2 tank. I recommend first finding where you will be getting your gas, I get mine at the welding supply shop. Find out their policy, do they swap tanks or refill yours while you wait. If it’s a swap place, there is no reason to buy a new tank, just pay the deposit there for one. This picture shows the upgrade to a double body regulator which allows you to run different pressures on each keg. Also shown is the tubing connected with the inline gas quick-disconnects. This makes it easy to break the gas line and move the tank. Note the gas leak detector as well. All the lines and connections you build should be tested for leaks. Put them under pressure and use that to ensure you aren’t leaking.

    The internal assembly for usage is shown. Two kegs in the back, with the regulator and tank easily accessible. This is why the inline QDs are so useful for moving the tank out of the way.

    These are the QDs I use on my gas lines. Note the use of clamps. Some will debate the use of various type of clamps, but what matters is that you use them on all your line connections. And no matter which clamp type you use you should test each line before putting it into production use.

    The homebrew keg couplers are separated unlike commercial kegs. The black is the beer, and grey is for gas. Ball locks just pop on and off the keg. But I recommend always removing the keg from the kegerator before disconnecting in case a poppet gets stuck and a beer shower begins it’s easier to work with.

    The design of the kegerator provides extra cold space at beer serving temperature for use. Shown above are mugs in the freezer box, which are probably slightly colder than the beer, but not too bad. Below is the emergency sixer, ideally I like to keep 3 lagers and 3 ales. And also the desiccant is there underneath the platform.

    Putting it all together, you have upgright bottle storage in the door which great for your bombers and Belgians. Unless you upgraded to the flow control faucets you’ll have coils of the beer line which can be contained in the door too. On top of the kegerator you can store glasses and decorations.  Below is the completed interior.

    So find yourself a fridge, pick up a few tools and build yourself a kegerator. Shown in this guide is a homebrew kegerator build, but it can easily be modified just by changing which couplers are used. If you use flared fitting for the homebew couplers, then you can just swap in commercial couplers as desired. If you’re good at classifieds, you can save a lot of money on the fridge. Get it done, and pour yourself a beer.