Lost on the interweb looking for that perfect kegerator for your home? With so many similar looking models to choose from, shopping for one can seem quite overwhelming. There are many options to consider when looking for a kegerator. For example, is it going to be built-in or freestanding? Is it going to be installed indoors or outdoors? How many kegs did you want to dispense at a time?
Once you’ve determined your application, you can quickly narrow down your options and begin to consider the more technical aspects of dispensing beer. Two technical factors that affect how well beer pours are temperature and pressure. When the temperature and pressure are set at optimal levels, a perfect pour can be achieved.
While it may seem logical that a foamy pour would be caused by too much pressure, it is actually temperature that contributes most to the level of foam in the beer. Foam naturally occurs when the temperature of the beer is 38 degrees or warmer. When beer reaches that temperature it releases CO2, which becomes foam in the beer.
A higher temperature can also cause beer to become cloudy and sour. However, it isn’t just warm temperatures that cause beer to foam. Foam can also form when the beer is too cold. If the temperature reaches 29 degrees, beer can start to freeze, and the small amount of liquid that remains unfrozen will turn to foam as it travels through the lines and out the tap.
Built-In vs. Freestanding
The primary difference between a built-in kegerator and a freestanding kegerator is how they vent.
A built-in kegerator exhausts from the front, allowing installation of the refrigerator to be built flush into cabinetry without requiring any clearance for ventilation. The compressor on a freestanding kegerator is located on the back of the unit, which requires a minimum clearance of 2-3 inches around the unit for air circulation to dissipate the heat. A popular freestanding kegerator for its ultra-low temperature is the Edgestar KC2000. This model can handle up to one full size keg, or two 5-gallon commercial or home brew kegs.
Who doesn’t like options? Do you enjoy an IPA during the week, but prefer a stout on the weekend? Most units offer a variety of different tap configurations depending on the keg capacities of the kegerator. All standard built-in units have the capacity for a single full-size keg or multiple 5-gallon kegs. Single, double, or sometimes even triple tap setups are available to dispense multiple kegs at once.
3 Most Popular Built-In Kegerators
There are many kegerators out there. But some brands are better than others. Here are some comparisons on the three most popular built-in kegerators currently on the market.
1. Summit SBC490BI
As one of the most popular choices, the Summit SBC490BI is the most cost effective on the market with standard features that will get you a built-in kegerator at a minimal price.
The unit uses a turn dial mechanical thermostat that can be set as low as 34-35 degrees. The ventilation on this kegerator exhausts through the frame of the unit and requires additional clearance on the sides and back of the refrigerator to vent heat properly.
This model can hold up to two 5-gallon commercial kegs, or three homebrew kegs.
2. Marvel 61HK
The Marvel 61HK is one of the most expensive kegerators on the market. It is also one of the only kegerators made in the USA and has a reputation of being one of quietest models out there.
The Marvel 61HK also uses a mechanical thermostat that allows the unit to be set as low as 33 degrees. The ventilation is a true front-vent design that allows for a completely flush mounted installation with no additional clearance.
This unit can hold up to two 5-gallon commercial kegs, or three homebrew kegs.
3. Edgestar KC7000SS
A well-rounded choice for its advanced features and price is the new Edgestar KC7000SS. It is the first and only residential built-in kegerator on the market that has a forced-air cooled beer tower, digital temperature display and the ability to hold as many as three 5-gallon commercial or homebrew kegs.
Normally only found in commercial units, the forced-air cooled system redirects air from inside the kegerator up into the tower to help reduce foam from occurring. Standard kegerators leave the beer line in the tower unrefrigerated, which can cause your initial pour of beer to have excessive foam. With the forced-air cooled tower refrigerating the beer line all the way through the tower, your pour comes out more consistent with less foam.
Dispensing the perfect beer is also easy with the sleek new digital display that instantly shows the kegerator’s current temperature. The digital thermostat allows you to set the unit’s temperature as low as a chilly 32 degrees. This kegerator features a true front venting design similar to the Marvel, allowing you to completely flush mount the refrigerator with no additional clearance.
The Edgestar KC7000SS is available in both outdoor and indoor models as well as single, double or even triple faucet setups. The included portability casters allow you to move the unit throughout your home. The possibilities are endless.