Buying the perfect outdoor kegerator isn’t as simple as it seems. There are a variety of factors many people overlook, which can cause problems in the long run. At the same time, if you know what to look for, the right outdoor kegerator will quickly reveal itself. The key is having a general idea of how you will be using it before making the purchase.
What Makes an Outdoor Kegerator Unique?
The most important fact to understand is there are unique characteristics which separate outdoor kegerators from the rest. In general, kegerators can be separated into four categories – mini, indoor, commercial, and outdoor. Outdoor kegerators are engineered with the ability to keep beer frosty and cold, regardless of the surrounding temperature. Most are rated to operate within a range of 45 degrees to 100 degrees. Indoor and commercial kegerators should be used only within a moderate temperature range. Outdoor kegerators are also typically designed to provide some additional mobility, whereas indoor kegerators are often designed to be setup in one place and never moved.
Decide What Type of Keg You Will Be Using
If you are new to home brewing or rarely buy kegs from liquor stores or breweries, then you may not know that there are multiple keg designs. For example, most home brewers use a 5 gallon Cornelius keg. This type of keg is more narrow with ball lock or pin lock gas and beer posts. At a glance, it is immediately distinguishable from the kegs purchased from breweries. As a result, the coupler for the gas and the beverage lines are different. Make sure you buy a kegerator capable of handling the type of keg you use most often.
Stick with Stainless Steel
In order to save money, many people turn to outdoor kegerators with chrome-plated brass faucets and shanks. While this is a great way to save money initially, it is actually more expensive over time. Chrome-plated brass wears out quickly and can alter the flavor of your beer. The best material is stainless steel. If you really need to cut costs during your initial purchase, choose plastic fixtures and plan on upgrading to stainless steel in the future.
Check the Thermostat
When you buy an outdoor kegerator, getting a precision thermostat is essential. External thermostats are ideal for outdoor kegerators because they allow you to continually monitor the temperature of your kegerator without needing to continually open the door and letting all of the cold air out. Few indoor kegerators include an external thermostat, whereas a majority of outdoor kegerators do.
Think About What Type of Beer You Drink
Most beer can share the same type of outdoor kegerator system with no problems, but there are exceptions. For example, if you drink stout beer then your kegerator will need a stout-style faucet. Plus, stout beers are carbonated with a CO2/Nitrogen blend. Most other beers rely only on CO2.
Buying the perfect kegerator doesn’t have to be a difficult or overwhelming process. All you need to do is take your time and think about how you will be using it. Consider where it will be stored, what type of kegs it needs to handle, what type of beers it needs to support, and the specific fixtures you will need (and the materials they are made out of).