Jeff Flowers on July 9, 2014 44 Comments Here at Kegerator.com, we know everything there is to know about kegerators and draft beer dispensers. Because of this we tend to receive a lot of questions from people that are interested in buying or troubleshooting their kegerator. Here are the eighteen most frequently asked questions that we receive. What is a kegerator? What are the different types of kegerators? What are the different types of kegs? What parts are included with a kegerator? What size keg will fit in my kegerator? What kind of coupler do I need? What do I need to tap my keg? At what temperature should I store my keg? How long does a keg stay fresh? How many kegs can I tap on one CO2 tank? Can I use my kegerator outside? How long should I wait before using my kegerator? Is a kegerator freestanding or built-in? Can a freestanding kegerator be built in? Can I build my own kegerator? How do I troubleshoot my kegerator? How do I defrost my kegerator? How do I clean my kegerator? If you have any other questions about kegerators, please leave them in the comments down below or give our customer service department a call at 1-866-950-8710. What is a kegerator? A blend of the words “keg” and “refrigerator,” a kegerator is an at-home draft (draught) beer dispensing device. A keg, typically of beer, is stored in a refrigerated container in order to keep it chilled, allowing you to keep beer for extended periods of time without losing quality or freshness. Full-size kegerators also include a pressurized carbon dioxide (CO2) tank and coupler to push beer out of the refrigerated keg to a beer faucet where it can be poured. Kegerators come in a variety of styles and with a number of accessories to suit your needs. The most important aspect of a kegerator, however, is that it enables beer enthusiasts to enjoy their favorite draft beer the way the brewer intended – cold, fresh and out of the tap! What are the different types of kegerators? There are four main types of kegerators: mini kegerators, full-size home kegerators, commercial kegerators, and outdoor kegerators. Mini Kegerators A mini kegerator is a self-pressured, countertop beer dispenser that holds a “mini” keg of five-liters of beer – the equivalent of 10.5 pints or fourteen 12oz cans. Mini kegerators are best for storing beer with limited space and can be tapped two to four times. Full-Size Home Kegerators A full-size home kegerator is a residential draft beer dispenser that contains up to a full-size (or half barrel) keg, typically in a freestanding refrigerator (though built-in in or undercounter models are also available). A full-size kegerator comes with a pressurized carbon dioxide (CO2) tank and coupler to dispense beer. Commercial Kegerators Commercial kegerators are similar to full-size home kegerators, but are constructed to meet commercial quality standards. Many models are built for either freestanding or built-in / undercounter installation, offering a solution for those who want to integrate a draft beer system into standard-height cabinetry. Commercial kegerators hold half barrel (full-size), quarter barrel (half-size or pony) or mini kegs (5-liter). Outdoor Kegerators Outdoor kegerators are draft beer dispensers specifically designed and rated for use outdoor use. Some models will work in temperatures ranging from as low as 45° to as high as 100° Fahrenheit. Outdoor kegerators are ideal for those wanting to keep beer frosty in environments above 85° or below 50°. They are especially great for garages, basements or on your back patio. What are the different types of kegs? In choosing the right kegerator for you, you may want to familiarize yourself with the different keg types available. The three most common keg types in the United States are: Half Barrel Keg: A “full size” keg, this is what most people think of when they think of a keg. Standard kegs are typically 23 inches tall and about 16 inches diameter, weighing about 160 pounds when full. A half barrel kegs hold about 15.5 gallons (58.67 liters, 124 U.S. pints) or about 165 twelve-ounce glasses of beer (1,984 total ounces). Full-size kegerators are designed to hold a standard half barrel keg. Quarter Barrel & Slim Quarter Keg: There are two different types of quarter kegs. One is half the height, but same diameter of the half barrel. While the other is the same height, but has a smaller diameter. The both hold the same amount of beer, yet take up different amounts of space inside your kegerator setup. Quarter Barrel — Also known as a pony keg, this “half-size” keg has approximately half the capacity of a standard, half barrel keg. This keg measures 13⅞ inches tall, 16⅛ inches in diameter, and weighs about 87 pound when full. It holds 7.75 gallons, the equivalent of eighty-two 12oz cans of beer or sixty-two pints. Slim Quarter Barrel — Also known as a tall quarter, this keg holds the same amount of beer as the quarter barrel, but has a different shape. As its name implies, it’s taller and skinnier than the quarter barrel; measuring 23⅜ inches tall and 11⅛ inches in diameter. Mini Keg: A mini keg is a 5-liter keg produced for retail sales; you’ve probably noticed these showing up more and more in your grocery store’s beer aisle. The most common you’ll find is Heineken, but other brands are available. Quite portable, mini kegs are 10 inches tall, 6.75 inches in diameter, and only weigh about 13 pounds. They hold 5 liters (1.33 gallons) or 13 twelve-ounce glasses of beer. Unlike larger kegs, mini kegs usually cannot be returned for cleaning and refilling and should be recycled. Mini kegs are recommended for our mini kegerators. Other common types of kegs include Cornelius kegs and smaller sixth barrel kegs. To see what size keg will fit in your kegerator, please refer to our Keg Comparison Chart. What parts are included with a kegerator? Though included parts vary between models, most kegerators include a tap kit with all the parts you need for dispensing beer. These typically include: a beer tower with faucet, handles and hoses and a carbon dioxide (CO2) tank, coupler and regulator. Please consult our Kegerator Parts and Kegerator Assembly Guide. What size keg will fit in my kegerator? This all depends on which type of kegerator you get. Some units cannot hold certain brands of beer kegs, most commonly Coors Light and Miller Lite, which are “oversized” or bulkier than other standard-sized kegs. An easy way to gauge if these brands will fit in your kegerator is by checking its width. Kegerators with an overall width of 23 inches or more can accommodate light brands. Because keg fit varies between different kegerators, we recommend consulting our Keg Comparison Chart. What kind of coupler do I need? Most kegerators come with an American Sankey “D” system keg coupler, which is compatible with all domestic-brand kegs and fits 95% of American domestic beers. However, there are other types of couplers that you may want to become familiar with. To find the right coupler for your favorite beer, please consult our list of Keg Couplers & Beer Brands. What do I need to tap my keg? If you bought a kegerator, all you need to do to tap your keg is supply a full keg of beer and fill the CO2 tank. However, if you are wanting to convert an old refrigerator or freezer into a kegerator, you may need a couple of components. In this case, it is recommended that you buy a conversion kit or individually assemble all of the components that is found in those kits. To get a better understanding of what you may need, we would recommend consulting our list of kegerator parts and/or our kegerator assembly guide. At what temperature should I store my keg? This all depends on the style of beer you are drinking, as well as personal preferences. The recommended temperature for storing and serving chilled beer is between the high 30s and mid 40 degrees Fahrenheit — about 36° to 40°. (Keep in mind that beer freezes at 27°, with light beers freezing at as high as 31°.) These temperatures apply whether the beer is a domestic beer or an imported one. The same holds true whether or not the draft beer is pasteurized. Beer stored between the high 30s and mid 40s will retain the level of carbonation that was created during the brewing process. During summer months, you may want to adjust the temperature control to a cooler setting. The ideal method for monitoring the liquid temperature (inside the keg) is done by use of a beer thermometer. This provides a constant accurate reading of the liquid (beer) temperature within the refrigerator. How long does a keg stay fresh? This is another tough question to answer, as the amount of time will range depending on the style of beer, type of pump you are using and whether that beer is pasteurized or not. The “freshness clock” starts the moment that keg is filled at the brewery. If refrigerated within a kegerator that uses CO2, a keg will generally last at least 6-8 weeks before it starts to lose its fresh taste. If you store it at the appropriate temperatures, pasteurized beer will last you at least three months, sometimes as long as six months. Unpasteurized beer will only last two months. More details can be found here: How Long Does A Keg Remain Fresh? How many kegs can I tap on one CO2 tank? A standard, 5-pound CO2 tank will last from 2-4 half barrel (full-size) kegs, largely depending on if it is kept cold. Since heat causes carbon dioxide to expand, keeping it in hotter temperatures will ultimately limit its usability. However, if kept cold, CO2 should last for up to four half barrel kegs. Can I use my kegerator outside? Only outdoor kegerators should be used outside. Using an indoor kegerator outside stresses the unit’s compressor, shortens its life, and will not chill beer to its optimal temperature. Most home kegerators function best in room temperature environments (mid-70° Fahrenheit). For any environment above 85° Fahrenheit or below 50° Fahrenheit, an outdoor kegerator is strongly recommended. How long should I wait before using my kegerator? After turning your kegerator on, you should ideally wait at least 24 hours for the unit to cool properly. You may then adjust the temperature setting based on your preferences. Is a kegerator freestanding or built-in? Most kegerators are freestanding (not supported by another structure), but undercounter kegerators that build into cabinetry are also available. Can a freestanding kegerator be built in? Freestanding kegerators cannot be built in. This is because many refrigerators vent heat out the back of the unit, which would be trapped if built into cabinetry. Without being able to escape, this excess heat may ultimately cause your kegerator to malfunction. Can I build my own kegerator? Absolutely! It’s actually quite easy to re-purpose a refrigerator or freezer into a working draft beer dispenser. You can either buy all of the components individually or get a kegerator conversion kit that already has all of the components you will need. If you are going to convert an old refrigerator, make sure to measure before you start. Compact fridges can be great because of their size, but often have freezer compartments or drawers that can’t accommodate a full-size keg. Also, if you want to build a kegerator into your home bar, make sure to look for an undercounter or built-in unit. Most compact refrigerators vent heat out the back of the unit, which wouldn’t be good for building into cabinetry. This is because the heat will not have an easy way to escape and this will eventually cause problems with your unit. If you buy a conversion kit, step-by-step instructions will be included. In the meantime, check out this set of instructions on how we converted a Smeg fridge into a kegerator. This will give you a general idea of what you can expect. How do I troubleshoot my kegerator? Please consult our Kegerator Troubleshooting guide. You can also give our kegerator experts a call at 1.866.950.8710 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST Monday through Friday or use our Customer Support page. We’re here to help! How do I defrost my kegerator? It is not usually necessary to defrost your kegerator. Ice that has deposited on the evaporator is automatically defrosted when the compressor cycles off. The defrosted water collects in the water drip tray located on the top of the compressor in the rear of the unit and then evaporates. However, if the door is often opened or you are using your kegerator in a humid area, excessive ice may build up on the evaporator. In this case, turn off the unit and allow the ice to melt once your keg is empty. Be careful to soak up the excess water with a towel. How do I clean my kegerator? Cleaning your kegerator is pretty simple. You will want to use a kegerator cleaning kit to flush your beer lines, as well as clean your faucet and keg coupler. It is recommended that you clean these components after you finish a keg. Instructions can be found on the links below: How to Clean a Kegerator The Importance of Cleaning Your Draft Beer Components If you have any other questions about kegerators, please leave them in the comments down below or give our customer service department a call at 1-866-950-8710.