Converting an old refrigerator into kegerator isn’t a new concept. But generally, when people undergo this DIY project, they choose an old and ugly fridge that has decommissioned for the dump. But, that’s not our style. And it may not be yours either. This is why we chose to convert a Smeg refrigerator into a kegerator… or as I like to call it, a “Smegerator”.
Before we get started, here’s a quick video reviewing the process. I also wrote out detailed, step-by-step instructions below.
This is how we did it.
Please note: These step-by-step instructions will loosely work with that old, ugly refrigerator you bought off of Craigslist or have sitting around in your garage.
But for this specific DIY project, however, we will be specifically referring to the Smeg refrigerator featured in this article.
The only difference that may pose a problem for you is the amount of insulation that your refrigerator has. And yes, that did cause a minor, and unexpected, headache for us.
Additionally, when you buy a refrigerator-to-kegerator conversion kit, similar instructions will be included.
Gathering Your Tools & Components
The first thing you need to do is buy a Smeg refrigerator, as well as collect all the components you need. You can go about this a couple of ways. Either order all of the pieces separately, or order our “Smegerator conversion kit.” I’d recommend the conversion kit, as everything you need is right there and you won’t have any surprises in store for you (like we did… but more on that later).
Starting off, we chose to use this “refrigerator-to-kegerator conversion kit”. We had all of the tools and components laid out and ready to go. Below is a list of tools that you will need.
Step 1: Determine the location of your beer faucet
Now that you have everything you need, the first thing you need to do is figure out where you want the beer faucet to be. This is something you will have to eyeball and figure out what is best for you. We just moved the faucet around until we found a spot we liked.
Once you have figured out where you want your faucet to be, I would recommend you get some tape, such as masking or painters tape, and put it around the area you will be drilling. This will help protect the front of your Smeg from scratches and dents that may incur during the drilling process. I would also recommend to avoid using tape that may leave a sticky residue behind, such as duct tape or moving tape.
Now that you have your spot marked and the area covered up with tape, it’s time to drill into the front of your fridge. You have one shot at this, so make sure you’re ready.
Step 2: Drilling into your Smeg
The front of the Smeg is plastic and very easy to drill into. You will need your ¼” drill bit and the 1-⅛” hole saw for this step.
Start with your ¼” drill bit and drill a small pilot hole where you want your beer faucet to be. I would recommend going in as straight as you can. Once you have your pilot hole drilled through, use the 1-⅛” hole saw and cut a hole in the refrigerator’s door using the original pilot hole as a guide.
Once you start cutting, you will quickly realize that the plastic on the door is very thin, maybe a millimeter or so. Behind that is the insulation. Cutting through the insulation will create a bit of a mess, with powder going everywhere.
It was at this time that we discovered that our hole saw wasn’t quite long enough to penetrate the other side of the door. Looking at the inside of the Smeg, we couldn’t tell that any renovation had been done on the other side.
After measuring and being able to estimate where the hole would be, we were still hesitant to blindly cut through the inside. Alternatively, we stuck a long screwdriver through the hole and was able to poke a hole through the plastic inside of the refrigerator. Using that hole as a guide, as well as our previous measurements, we used the hole saw to cut through the inside of the fridge.
We now have a perfect 1-⅛” hole all the way through our Smeg refrigerator.
Step 3: Insert the PVC Spacer & Shank
After we drilled the hole through the Smeg, we inserted the PVC pipe into the fridge and discovered that it was the perfect length. Unfortunately, that was a bad sign. We were supposed to stick the PVC spacer through the hole, mark it and then use the hacksaw to cut off a small amount of it.
Because the PVC spacer was too short, we quickly realized that the 4-⅛” shank was also too short. It didn’t come all the way through the fridge; therefore, we couldn’t tighten the nut on the back of the shank which essentially locks the beer faucet to the refrigerator door.
Taking the collar off of the shank didn’t work either. While it gave us an extra eighth of an inch, it was still not long enough to tighten the nut on the inside. This presented us with an interesting situation that most people don’t encounter during a refrigerator-to-kegerator conversion. How do we get the shank all the way through the door?
We contemplated drilling a larger hole on the inside of the fridge that would allow us to tighten the nut to the shank. However, we quickly concluded this would be a mistake that would only create a much larger mess for us. Not just during the installation process, but every time we opened or closed the fridge, dust from the insulation would go everywhere. This would be an ongoing problem. Additionally, we didn’t know if the nut on the back of the shank would hold tight, as it would be gripping against insulation that may slowly float away, and not a flat, solid surface you would usually find on the inside of your fridge.
Our solution: We needed a longer shank. We went back to our warehouse and got a 6-⅛” shank with a connecting tailpiece. This was the perfect length for the Smeg.
Now that we have the right size shank, it’s time to tighten the shank nut. Using your crescent wrench, tighten until it is snug. Do not over tighten the shank nut!
Step 4: Attaching the Beer Faucet
Now that you have the shank securely in place, you will now attach the beer faucet. It’s worth noting, however, that you may prefer to attach the faucet before securing the shank. Some people prefer to go that route when converting a refrigerator to a kegerator, but for this particular conversion, we attached the shank first. There is no wrong way, as long as everything is secured tight in the end.
The faucet will come in two pieces, the stainless steel faucet and a blank knob. The knob is detachable so that you can change out the tap handles at your leisure.
Secure the faucet to the shank on the outside of the fridge. It’s also worth noting that lefty-loosey, righty-tighty does not apply here.
- To Tighten = Turn counter-clockwise
- To Loosen = Turn clockwise
Once you have tightened the faucet as much as you can, you will want to use your spanner wrench to tighten just a little bit more. You want to make sure it is as tight as possible, or you run the risk of it leaking.
Step 5: Connect Beer Line to Shank
Now that your faucet and shank are connected to your Smeg, it’s time to connect your beer line. Before you do this, it is important for you to know that it is not wise for you to cut the beer line any shorter than it already is. This is a common mistake people make when converting a fridge into a kegerator. Cutting it shorter than 5 ft. may cause your beer to pour too fast or be foamier than you intend.
Recommended Tip: Before you try to attach your beer line, we would recommend soaking the end of it in hot water. This will help soften it, making it easier for you to attach to the shank.
To connect your beer line to your shank, you will slip the end of it onto the tail piece. Like the beer faucet, you will want to make sure it is tight to prevent any leakage.
Step 6: Connect Beer Line to Keg Coupler
After you have connected your beer line to the shank, you will need to connect the other end to your keg coupler.
First, remove the colored cap from your keg coupler. Then, add the washer to the inside part of your wing nut/beer line. This will help prevent any leakage when beer enters into the line. Once the washer is in place, tighten the wing nut to the keg coupler.
Step 7: Attach Gas Line to Coupler
Now that your beer line is securely attached to both your coupler and shank, the next step is to attach your gas line to the other end of the coupler. Also, with the gas line, you should see two red plastic clamps. These are important, so make sure you do not lose these.
Again, we would recommend soaking the gas line in hot water to help soften it up. While it is not necessary, it will help it slide on easier. Once you have connected your gas line onto the barbed gas inlet on the coupler. After this, you will slide the red clamp over the end of the line and use a pair of pliers to tighten it. It is very important that this clamp is tight, as it will help prevent any CO2 from leaking out.
Step 8: Attach Gas Line to Regulator
To attach the gas line to your regulator, you will basically replicate the previous step.
Soak the end of the line in hot water. Slide it over the barbed outlet of your CO2 regulator. Tighten it with the red plastic clamp. You also want to make sure your regulator is set in the OFF position before attaching the gas line.
Note: You do not have to store your CO2 tank inside your refrigerator, but wherever you store it, it is highly recommended that you store it upright for proper efficiency. If you choose to store it outside the fridge, you will need to drill another hole to run your gas line. We chose not to go that route with the Smeg, but it can easily be done.
Step 9: Install Drip Tray (optional)
For aesthetic purposes, you may choose to install a drip tray underneath the beer faucet. This will help catch any spillage coming from the tap. This is not necessary for getting the beer to flow properly, but it may cause you less of a headache in the long run.
However, I would strongly recommend installing a drip tray. Not only will it complete the overall look, but you will save yourself the hassle of cleaning up all the terrible pours and residue drops that came out of the faucet. In my opinion, it’s an easy way to stop a potentially long-term problem.
Either way, you can always add it on later.
Step 10: Tap, Pour & Enjoy (mandatory)
That’s it. You did it!
Now the time has come to tap a keg, pour a pint and brag to your friends about how awesome your Smegerator is. Or at least that’s what I did.
As you can see, this was a pretty detailed article. For anybody attempting to convert a Smeg refrigerator into a draft beer dispenser, I would suggest printing this out and watching the video above.
Please remember, these step-by-step instructions will loosely work with most refrigerators, but are specifically designed for a Smeg.
If you have any questions about this build or would like to troubleshoot a potential problem you may be experiencing, please leave me a comment down below.