Over the past decade, beer enthusiasts have turned their mini fridges into their very own draft station, commonly known as a kegerator. To buy a fully constructed kegerator, it would cost an upwards of $700, and your desired brew isn’t included. However, by purchasing your own supplies and putting your ingenuity to work, you’ll save yourself $400, and have your very own at home bar. To help you get started, I’ve created this guide to help you find the best mini fridges for your kegerator.
|hOmeLabs Mini FridgeEditor's Choice||3,3 cu ft||17 x 18.5 x 32.8 inches|
|Danby DAR044A6DDB Contemporary ClassicEditor's Choice||4,4 cu ft||21.3 x 20.8 x 33.1 inches|
|Danby DAR044A5BSLDD Compact Refrigerator||4,4 cu ft||21.1 x 20.7 x 33.1 inches|
|RCA RFR321-FR320/8 IGLOO Mini Refrigerator||3,2 cu ft||21.5 x 18.75 x 32.75 inches|
|Midea WHS-160RW1 Single Reversible Compact Refrigerator||4,4 cu ft||19.7 x 21.3 x 33.9 inches|
The hOmelabs mini fridge has 3.3-cubic feet of storage space and weighs 43.6-pounds for easy maneuverability. Its compact design makes it easy to store in cramped spaces, and it slides underneath your countertop, keeping it out of the way. In addition, its low-noise components make it quieter than similar mini fridges, without affecting its performance.
In addition, this unit has a jet black exterior, and a stainless steel door with reversible hinges. Unlike other mini fridges, this fridge offers a draw-on-me door that you can write on with wax crayons or dry erase markers. On the inside, you’ll find a matching black interior with removable glass shelves, a covered chilling compartment, and ice trays.
With that being said, there are a few people who don’t like that the unit cannot sit against the wall because it prevents air circulation. This causes the unit to sit further out, as opposed to flush with the cabinets like other models.
I would recommend this fridge to anyone looking to create a kegerator on a tight budget, and want store one or two small kegs inside.
The Danby DAR044A6DDB mini fridge adds a touch of style to any space with its curved door and metallic finish. The door also features a chrome finished handle and reversible hinges for left and right-handed opening. As an added bonus, this fridge has a chrome worktop that’s coated with a scratch-resistant finish.
To match its unique exterior, the interior features a classic black finish with tempered glass shelves for better visibility. It also offers a drink dispenser and drink holders on the door, maximizing your storing capabilities. More so, this fridge has a built-in LED light that comes on as you open the door, and it has an integrated door lock to prevent prying eyes.
The Danby DAR044A6DDB mini fridge features a large interior capacity, measuring in at 4.4-cubic feet, giving you plenty of room for storage. In addition, It offers multiple glass shelves and drinks holders to maximize your storing capabilities and each piece slides out for easy cleaning.
I would recommend this mini fridge to anyone looking to create a kegerator due to its large storage capacity and its easy to remove components.
The Danby DAR044A5BSLDD offers the maximum in storage capacity with 4.4-cubic feet of interior space. To maximize its storage capabilities, this fridge comes with several adjustable shelves that you can remove for larger items, and a drink holder in the door for large bottles. Moreover, this unit has a built-in LED light for better visibility at night and thick rubber lining for an air-tight seal.
On the exterior, this mini fridge boasts a sleek black cabinet with a scratch-resistant work-top and a stainless steel door with a smudge-resistant finish. For added convenience, the door uses a reversible hinge for right or left-handed opening, and an integrated door handle with a rubberized grip.
In addition, to keep this unit as energy-efficient as possible, this fridge has a layer of thick, foam insulation lining the components of the fridge. This insulation allows the fridge to stay at a steady temperature for a longer period of time, reducing the amount of time the compressor stays on. Moreover, It’s overall performance is backed by 18-month parts and in-home labor warranty.
I would recommend this mini fridge to anyone looking to put multiple kegs inside their kegerator. Additionally, it’s easy to remove shelves and compartments make the conversion process easier.
The RCA RFR321-FR320/8 Igloo mini fridge offers 3.2-cubic feet of interior storage, and two interior racks, wire shelving, and beverage holders to maximize its storing capabilities. This mini fridge makes the best compact option for tight living quarters, and its light-weight design makes it easy to move around.
In addition, the exterior of the RCA RFR321-FR320/8 Igloo makes for a perfect addition to any design scheme. It features a white cabinet from top to bottom and clear glossy finish. The door has an invisible handle that makes for easy opening, without compromising its sleek design.
This fridge and freezer combo offers an adjustable thermostat that offers a range of temperatures from -2 to 2-degrees Celsius. Its powerful compressor cools your fridge quicker than a standard compressor and forces cool air evenly across the interior. As the cold air spreads through the interior, it eliminates the warm spots that cause the temperature inside to fluctuate. Leaving you with ice-cold snacks and beverages, no matter where you put them.
I would recommend this fridge for anyone looking to make a kegerator with limited space. It also makes a good option for anyone who wants a kegerator that stores one smaller sized keg and canister.
The MIDEA WHS-160RW1 compact mini fridge offers 4.4-cubic feet of internal storage, complete with wire shelves and integrated door shelves. This unit makes the perfect free-standing mini fridge due to its compact design that’s perfect for dorms, bedrooms, and small apartments. Plus, it has adjustable legs that allow you to place it on the floor, or fold the legs up to put inside a cabinet.
Furthermore, this cabinet features a modern design that complements any decor. Its all white cabinet has a clear, reflective finish that’s smudge and scratch-resistant. The door comes equipped with a reversible hinge that gives you the choice of left or right-handed opening, and the integrated handle makes it easy to open or close.
I would recommend this mini fridge for anyone living in a dorm or working with limited space. It’s whisper quiet technology makes it perfect for storing in a bedroom, without waking you up.
Buyers Guide: Choosing The Right Mini Fridge For Your Kegerator
Types Of Mini Fridges
Cube and Medium Sized
The most widely purchased mini fridge is the cube. A cube mini fridge weighs less than 30-pounds and 20-inches tall. Its compact size makes it light-weight and easy to move, and it won’t take up a lot of space. However, it only offers 2.2 cubic feet of interior storage, making it rather small for conversion into a kegerator. While it’s the cheapest option to buy, it uses more energy than other options due to its lack of insulation.
As for thee medium-sized mini fridge, it offers a little more storage than the cube. A standard unit offers 2.7-cubic feet of interior space, and some models come with an adjustable thermostat. More so, a medium-sized mini fridge is bulkier than a cube fridge, weighing around 45-pounds and standing 26-inches tall. Additionally, the medium-sized has better insulation than a cube, but it still consumes more energy than other options.
Under The Counter and Counter Height
Manufacturer’s designed the under the counter mini fridge to fit underneath your countertop, sitting between your cabinets and the wall. They typically offer between 3.5- to 4.5-cubic feet of interior storage, and they range in height depending on the manufacturer. While more expensive to buy than the other options, these types of mini fridges come equipped with extra features like double doors, interior lights, and adjustable thermostats.
Counter height mini fridges sit as high as a standard countertop, and it offers many of the same features as the under the counter mini fridge. These fridges also fall on the higher end on price, but it also offers up to 4.5-cubic feet of storage, depending on which model you get. Both the under the counter and counter height mini fridges offer better energy efficiency and carry an energy star certified.
Finding The Right Size
The most important aspect of choosing a mini fridge focuses on size. You want to choose a mini-fridge that’s large enough to fit your keg(s) and your CO2 or Nitrogen canister. As a reference, a 4.4- to 5-cubic foot mini fridge can hold one CO2 canister and up to two kegs that hold 1/6-barrel of beer. You can choose a smaller sized fridge if you decide to store your CO2 or Nitrogen canister on the outside of your fridge instead of inside, but storing your canister outside your fridge is difficult with certain models.
To estimate the size of the fridge you’ll need for your kegerator, you’ll need to measure the size of your keg(s) and your CO2 or Nitrogen canister. Use a tape measure to measure the circumference of each keg and canister, adding a half-inch or more to your measurement for a perfect fit. Also, measure the height of your canister and keg(s), adding an extra inch or more to your measurement to accommodate for your gas and liquid lines.
In addition, consider the amount of space you have to store your mini fridge. You want to have enough space between your fridge and wall for air circulation, but not have it sticking out to the point that it’s hard to maneuver around. If you have limited space for the mini-fridge, it’s wise to choose a smaller unit.
What To Avoid
It’s important to avoid buying a mini fridge that has a freezer compartment. The cooling lines associated with the freezer make it impossible to install the equipment you need for your kegerator, and it doesn’t allow enough room to place a keg inside. If you cannot find or afford a mini fridge without a freezer compartment, look for a fridge with a removable one.
In addition, you’ll need lots of room inside your fridge to fit your keg(s) and canisters in. Which makes it important to find one with as many removable components as possible. You want to look for a fridge that has removable shelves, thermostat, and door shelves, and one that doesn’t have any extra storage drawers.
Take Weight Into Consideration
Before buying a mini fridge, consider what you plan on doing with it. If you plan to leave it in one spot and never move it again, weight really won’t matter once it gets to its final resting point. However, if you plan to move the fridge for a get-together, parties, or just to rearrange your home, you’ll want a light-weight fridge that’s easy to move.
Converting A Fridge To A Kegerator
After you’ve picked out the mini fridge you want to use, it’s time to pick out a conversion kit to transform your fridge into a kegerator. There are two types of conversion kits, a door mounted tap for larger upright refrigerators and a tower tap for mini fridges or chest freezers. Before buying a conversion kit, you must know the size of CO2 or Nitrogen tank you need, how many kegs you plan to have, and how many taps you’ll need. While conversion kits vary depending on which one you choose, each one has all the supplies you need such as:
- Nitrogen or CO2 Tanks
- Keg Coupler
- Nuts and Washers
- Air Regulator
- Draft Tower
- Tap Handle
- Gas and Liquid Hose Line
- Line Clamps
- Line Connector
- Drip Tray
While these kits make your conversion easier, they fall on the lower end of performance and quality. Most of the pieces inside a conversion kit are chrome plated and won’t last as long as items made from steel or aluminum. If you’re looking for better quality products, you might want to consider buying the pieces individually, as opposed to buying a kit. Keep in mind that buying the pieces individually will cost more than a conversion kit, but you’ll save money by not having to buy replacement parts as often as you would with a conversion kit. (226)
Before you start tearing into your mini fridge, its important to make sure you have all the tools you need to complete a conversion. You can find most of the items you need at your local hardware store and they’re fairly expensive to buy. The tools you need for your conversion include:
• Tape Measure
• Power Drill
• Standard and Phillips Head Screwdrivers
• Drill Bits
• Hole Saw
• Hole Saw Bits between 1 and 3-inches
In addition, if you plan to put multiple kegs into your mini fridge, you’ll need to buy an airline splitter. You can find an airline splitter online or visit a local shop that sells home brewery supplies. More so, sometimes the tap creates too much foam because the lines aren’t getting an adequate amount of cool air. Colder air sits at the bottom of the fridge and hot air rises to the top of the fridge, resulting in the lines getting too warm and contributing to extra foam. To avoid this, you might need to buy an extra fan to force the cool air upwards.
Getting The Fridge Ready
Once you’ve purchased the supplies you need, its time to convert your fridge into a kegerator. To begin, you must remove the plastic lid from the top of the fridge. Most lids have screws on the side for easy removal, and some manufacturers glue the lids down. If the lid’s glued down, use a small plastic object to slide under the sides of the lid and gently tap it with a hammer. Work your way around the lid on all sides until the glue gives and you’re able to remove the lid. Be careful not to crack or break the lid as you’re prying it off because you’ll need the lid for your tower. With the lid off, you’ll see a layer of white, foam insulation protecting the components underneath.
After you’ve removed the lid, you’ll need to find the cooling lines. Some fridges have cooling lines that run along the sides, and other fridges have cooling lines on either the top or the bottom. These lines are important because they’re responsible for keeping everything inside your fridge cold. If you accidentally drill, cut, or damage them, the fridge becomes unusable. If you cannot see the cooling lines along the sides, they’re either in the bottom or under the insulation on the top. Making the next step of the process more time-consuming.
Using a tape measure, find the center of the insulation and mark it with a marker or pen. Then, gently remove insulation from the marked area, until you reach the bottom lining of the fridge. If you run into cooling lines, the sensor box, or a plug-in cable, you’ll need to move your marked spot over until you find a spot that won’t interfere with these components. Once you’ve reached the bottom, drill a 1-inch or bigger hole through the top of the fridge using a hole saw. You’ll run your liquid and gas lines through this hole, so make sure it’s big enough to compensate the lines without crimping or smashing them.
Now that you’ve cut the first hole, you can use it as a guide to drill a hole into your plastic lid. Using a tape measure, find the center of your lid and mark it as your cutting guide. Next, use your hole saw to drill a hole into the lid for your tower. You can find out how big of a hole you need by using the towers gasket as a guide. Keep in mind, you’ll also need to pre-drill holes for the bolts used to hold the tower in place.
Lastly, you’ll need to remove the door of the fridge and remove the shelves to make room for your keg(s) and canister. If your mini fridge has a removable freezer compartment, you’ll need to remove it as well. Moreover, depending on how much room you have, you might need to move the thermometer to a more convenient spot. Once you’ve taken all the extra parts out, you can re-attach the door and install your conversion kit.
Installing The Conversion Kit
With your mini fridge ready for conversion, run your gas and liquid lines up through your pre-drilled hole from the inside of the fridge. Place the plastic lid back on top the fridge, while running the lines up through the hole, and secure the lid tightly to the top. Next, run the lines up through the tower, and slide the tower gasket over the lines to hide them. Afterward, bolt your tower on the plastic lid using the hardware provided in your kit. These gas and liquid lines will run up to the top of the tower and attach to the faucet. Secure the lines via the gas and liquid connectors to the faucet, and then attach the faucet to the tower.
Lastly, you’ll need to place your keg(s) and canister inside the fridge, and connect the gas and liquid lines. Always secure the connection between the lines and the keg(s) or canister using the proper clamps. Afterward, close the fridge door and let your brew get cold before consuming. More so, remember to run your beer through the tap a few times before drinking it.
Cleaning The Lines
An at home brewery requires very little maintenance as side from switching out your keg when it gets empty. However, you’ll need to clean the liquid lines every 3- to 4- weeks to prevent your brew from tasting stale. In addition, cleaning the lines regularly helps prevent beer stones from forming, kills bacteria, removes unwanted contaminants, and it reduces the amount of oxygen in the lines.
To clean the lines, remove the lines from the kegerator and place them inside your kitchen sink. Wipe down the exterior of the lines with a caustic, food-safe cleaner and sponge, and pour the cleaning agent inside the lines. Let the cleaner run through the entire line until it drains out the other side. Afterward, run clean water through the lines, removing any leftover cleaner inside. After cleaning the lines, hang them up to air dry before reconnecting them to your kegerator.
While you can turn almost any mini fridge into a kegerator, it’s important to find a high-quality mini fridge that delivers consistent results. You want a mini fridge that delivers cold air evenly to prevent your lines from getting too warm and a unit that offers plenty of space to move around. There are several decent mini fridges available to choose from, and manufacturers come out with new models on a regular basis.