The Different Types of Beer Regulators Explained

Whether you’ve been considering taking the plunge into the world of draft beer with your own personal kegerator or you’ve been serving beer on tap for years, you may have some questions about regulators. I know I did after I got my first kegerator.

CO2 Tank & Regulator Inside a Kegerator
CO2 Tank & Regulator Inside a Kegerator

Finding the perfect CO2 or Nitrogen pressure is, perhaps, the most tedious part of dispensing draft beer. Regulators help to perfect and ease this cumbersome task.

So, kick back, pour yourself a beer and get ready to learn the differences between the many different types of beer regulators.

What is a Regulator?

A regulator is the device that connects the gas cylinder to the air tube. As one of the most important components of a kegerator, the regulator controls the flow of CO2 or Nitrogen from the cylinder through the line. If the pressure needs adjusting, the regulator is where you would make those adjustments to find the right pressure.
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Kegerator Glossary: Terms You Should Know

The world of draft beer has its own language, or so it may seem if you don’t recognize the terms being used. You may find yourself asking, They want me to connect what to the what? Whether you’re reading assembly instructions or browsing product descriptions, here are all the kegerator terms you need to know:

Keg Shell

Acid Cleaner — Removes beer and water stones from the beer lines. Not all acid cleaners are safe to use on all components, so these should only be used on your lines.

Barrier Tubing — Tubing lined with nylon or PET in order to better protect from the oxidation of your beer.

Beer Pump — A device that uses compressed air or CO2 to move beer great distances. Used when the faucet is far away from the keg.

Cleaning Pot — Also called a cleaning can. A vessel used to clean dispensing components. Once filled with cleaning solution, it is then tapped in the same fashion as a keg and dispensed through the draft system.

CO2 — In direct draw systems where the faucet is near the keg, carbon dioxide is used to push the beer from the keg.

CO2 Cylinder — Also called a CO2 tank, it’s the vessel that houses the CO2 gas mixture. Many kegerators arrive with a cylinder, but they are empty and need to be filled.

Conversion Kit — This kit contains everything you need to convert a refrigerator into a kegerator. There are different kinds of conversion kits, but they all typically include a faucet, beer line, air tube, coupler, draft tower, regulator, CO2 cylinder, and spanner wrench.
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The Ins & Outs of a Kegerator

Beer is best when served fresh, cold, and on draft. Half the cost of canned and bottled of beer, kegged beer is a cost-efficient way to enjoy your favorite beverage. A kegerator makes this enjoyment possible, and depending on your beer buying frequency, can paying for itself in just a matter of months. It’s kegonomics, really.

Kegerator Anatomy

Let’s take a closer look at the ins and outs of this aptly named beer dispenser.

Components & Tools Used in Assembly

If you purchase a complete kegerator, all components and tools necessary for assembly will be provided for you.

However, if you’re building your own custom kegerator, you’ll need to be sure you have the following components and tools:
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How Long Does A Keg Remain Fresh?

Due to a variety of beer styles and storage options for your keg, there’s no set answer to this question. Depending on who you ask or what site you read, the answer will range between 20-120 days.

There are many variables that can play a role in how quickly your kegged beer starts to alter in taste, but a general rule to keep in mind is that as soon as that keg is filled at the brewery, the “freshness clock” starts. As time goes by, your beer will slowly start to taste less and less fresh.

How Are You Dispensing Your Beer?

To give you a better idea of how long your keg will last, let’s take a look at the two most common scenarios that one would find themselves in when they tap a keg.

1. Using a Manual Pump:

Manual Keg Pump

Commonly found attached to the top of kegs at house parties and backyard cookouts, the manual pump — sometimes called a bronco pump or party pump — works by pumping air into the keg, pressurizing it so that it can dispense your beer. If you’ve ever poured a beer out of a keg, then you’re probably familiar with this kind of pump, as well as the problems that come along with it, such as over-pumping and excessively foamy beer.
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6 Common CO2 Questions Answered

CO2 Regulator Single Gauge

CO2 is an essential factor to consider when dispensing draft beer and it’s typically the component that has the most questions associated with it. It’s unclear why people are easily intimidated with CO2, but it could be because chemical compounds and subscripts remind them of their high school chemistry class.

Without getting too technical, here are the answers to the most frequently asked CO2 questions:

1. How do I know what pressure my CO2 is set at?

Your regulator, which is the component that connects the tank to the air hose, will have either one or two gauges on it. If it only has one, then that’s the one you’re looking for. If it has two, look for the gauge that shows a range of about 0-60 PSI (pounds per square inch). This will be your regulated pressure gauge. The number the arrow is pointing to on this gauge is how much pressure is being delivered to your keg.
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Which Kegerator is Right for Me?

It’s very easy to get excited about making a kegerator purchase. The very nature of the product brings thoughts and images of great get-togethers, joyous celebrations, and all-around good times. It’s certainly not like shopping for new windshield wipers, or perhaps, say, napkin rings (if those things excite you, there’s absolutely no judgment here). But beer is something that instills a certain sense of excitement simply because it reminds us of fun, and oh-so-delicious, times. Mmm, beer…

Wait, let’s not get ahead of ourselves! It’s important to remember that there are many things to consider when making a kegerator purchase. Will you enlist it to serve up large amounts of libations regularly, or only break it out for special occasions? Will you use it inside, outside, or both? Do you want to install it in your home bar area, or will it stand uncovered on its own, to bask in all its glory? These are just some of the many important questions you should ask yourself when deciding which kegerator to outfit your space with. Remember, there are a lot of kegerator models out there to choose from, but the one you choose will most likely become an official member of your household, so choose wisely!

There are more types of kegerators than you might think. There are a wide variety or full-size home kegerators, commercial kegerators for restaurant and bar use, and even mini kegerators, designed specifically for use with 5-liter “mini kegs”. The following will detail the capabilities and drawbacks of each type of kegerator, and will ultimately help you decide which one is right for you.

Full Size Home Kegerators

These kegerators are designed for personal use in your home and come in a great number of styles to suit all sorts of applications. They are great for those that like to keep larger quantities of beer and/or entertain guests often and are capable of holding full-size half-barrel kegs.

1/2 barrel keg

First, choose a model based on whether or not you want to use it indoors or outdoors. If you plan on using your kegerator exclusively indoors, there’s no need to shell out the extra cash for outdoor capabilities that you do not need. Full-size indoor kegerators can either be designed for freestanding or built-in (under-counter) installation. Freestanding models are fully-finished, fully-enclosed units that can stand on their own.

EdgeStar full size beer kegerator

EdgeStar KC2000

Additionally, most models include casters that allow you to move the unit about easily (as seen on the underside of the EdgeStar kegerator above). Though, freestanding kegerators require at least 3-4 inches of space between the back of the unit and wall, as well as 2-3 inches on each side in order to properly ventilate. Because the compressor is located on the back of the unit, there must be a sufficient buffer that allows the hot air produced by the compressor to escape. Using a freestanding kegerator in a built-in application could cause overheating and will undoubtedly compromise the unit’s performance overall.

So, if you’re looking to install your kegerator under cabinetry or another type of enclosure, built-in models are for you. Kegerators that are capable of built-in installation will always highlight the ability as a feature due to the fact that it’s the sole differentiator from a freestanding unit. Otherwise, built-in models tend to look very similar, if not identical, to their freestanding cousins. You can also usually spot them out because they typically have cooling systems that ventilate out of the front of the unit.

Summit triple tap built in kegerator

Summit SBC490BITRIPLE

This feature allows flush installation without a need for any extra space around the sides and back. Though some units on today’s market still vent from the back, but have an additional fan to help channel and force the hot air away from the cabinet. One downside of built-in kegerators is that they usually cost more due to a more complex cooling system design. Higher-end units are also completely enclosed, including the backside.

Now, if you want to use your kegerator outdoors full-time, say, in a patio entertainment area, or just want to have the ability to use it outside, say, for a backyard barbecue on the weekend, you should go with an outdoor kegerator.

Summit professional outdoor kegerator

Summit SBC490OS

 

These outdoor-specific units are different from those built for indoor use in that they have a weatherproof construction, made to outlast the elements. Additionally, they have increased insulation to keep your beer at the perfect temperature, and are also equipped with more powerful compressors that have greater cooling capabilities to combat extreme ambient temperatures. Keep in mind, outdoor kegerators will typically cost more than units made for indoor use due to these upgrades in design, functionality, and versatility.

Mini Kegerators

Don’t have the space for a full-size kegerator or just don’t have a need for a full-size keg? Then your best bet is a mini kegerator, which is small enough to sit on your countertop while taking up minimal space. They are designed to store and dispense beer from 5-Liter Kegs, which come in a variety of offerings.

EdgeStar mini kegerator

EdgeStar TBC50S

 

Mini-kegerators are perfect for people that prefer draft beer over bottled, but don’t like to commit to multiple gallons of a single beer. A mini-kegerator gives you the power to pour yourself a fresh pint as you would get at a bar, but from the comfort of your own home and without the premiums involved. Also, mini kegerators are great for European beer enthusiasts as many popular Eurobrews are sold in 5-liter kegs. These mini kegs can be tapped easily without having to purchase a European-specific coupler to fit the keg, as you would with a full-size keg.

It’s also important to be aware of the fact that mini kegs come in pressurized and non-pressurized varieties. Pressurized kegs come filled with the gas necessary to dispense the beer. All mini kegerators are able to dispense from pressurized kegs, making them the more convenient option. However, some of your favorite beers may only be offered in non-pressurized kegs, in which case you will need to make sure that your mini-kegerator has the ability to dispense from them. These mini kegerators will specify if they have the ability or will sometimes offer an additional kit that allows you to infuse gas directly into the keg. This gas cartridge system will add the perfect amount of gas to your keg on the spot, and will provide the pressure necessary to serve beer from the previously non-pressurized keg.

Koldfront mini kegerator

Koldfront KBC51SS

Commercial Kegerators

The biggest, and typically most expensive, breed of the bunch is the commercial kegerator. These are kegerators designed specifically for use in commercial settings, including bars, restaurants, and grocery stores. They are constructed of the highest quality materials and feature a sturdier design to withstand high usage levels.

True Single Kegerator

True TDD-1-S

Unlike many residential kegerators, commercial units often employ a different cooling method known as forced air cooling. Instead of using a cold plate within the refrigeration chamber to maintain internal temperatures, a fan forces cold air throughout the space. The result is a more evenly cooled space that allows all contents to reach and maintain the same temperature. With forced air cooling nothing within the kegerator can come in direct contact with cooling components. With cold plate cooling, you can get cold spots, where kegs that are closer to the plate will have a lower temperature.

Commercial kegerators are definitely not for everyone, as they carry a higher price tag, and can take up a lot more space. Additionally, larger commercial units are intended for a single point installation, and cannot be easily moved from place to place. However, they are ideal for businesses and even residential applications that demand the absolute best performance capabilities and durability.

While there are a tremendous amount of options and aspects to consider when picking your perfect kegerator, just remember that it’s a kegerator! I’m willing to bet that it’s one of the purchases in life you’ll be most excited to shop for. When you find the perfect fit and pour that first pint, be sure to raise it not only to your friends, but to your delicious draft beer-dispensing kegerator, too!

 

How to Clean a Kegerator

After actually getting your kegerator set up and dispensing, keeping it clean would be the next important step. It is recommended that you clean your kegerator beer lines after every keg. If you don’t, you could end up with bad tasting beer and what a waste that would be. To help you keep your beer tasting great, we’ve put together the following video to show you exactly how to clean your beer lines.

Don’t have kegerator cleaning materials? Well, we’ve got you covered. Check out our awesome kegerator cleaning kit for everything you need.

 

Video Transcript

Hi, this is Darin with Kegerator.com and today we’re going to show you how to clean your kegerator.

Why Cleaning Your Kegerator is Important

Now the reason you should clean after every use is to take the beer residue from the beer line and the beer faucet to make sure it doesn’t taint your other beers. So what we’re going to do today is clean the faucet area to the line that runs all the way down into your kegerator right here.

Your Kegerator Cleaning Kit

Okay, so, here are all of the accessories you will need to clean your kegerator. First of all, you’ll have the instruction booklet with you so you’ll know what to do. Then we’ll have the powdered beer line cleaning compound, which will help you clean the beer line more successfully and it’ll get rid of all of the residue. The bottle here is where we’re going to mix the solution and then pour it into the kegerator. The cleaning hose goes with the bottle and you’ll just screw it on like that and pump it into the kegerator.

The faucet brush will help you clean all those hard to reach spots on the faucet. The faucet wrench is going to help you take the faucet off of the beer line and the beer tower so you can easily clean your keg. The black rubber gasket will connect to the hose so it won’t leak out. The ball pin helps to relieve the pressure on the coupler so you can clean the line a lot easier.

Now I’m going to teach you how to take off the faucet so you can easily clean your kegerator.

Step 1: Remove Beer Faucet

So what you want to remember here is that the general rule for lefty-loosey, righty-tighty is the exact opposite on kegerators. So it’s going to be lefty-tighty, righty-loosey. What we’re going to do it take the faucet wrench, put it in the holes and take it off just like this. Once it gets loose enough, you can just take it off with your hands.

Step 2: Ready Keg Coupler

Next, you want to go down to the coupler inside the kegerator, and make sure you have the ball pin, and you’re going to put it into where the keg is tapped by the coupler. You want to make sure you pinch it so it goes in, apply the pressure and it should go in like that. Then, make sure you take out the gas line because you don’t want any water to get into it and just keep it up here.

Step 3: Prepare Beer Line Cleaner

You’ll need a tablespoon of beer line cleaner for every gallon of water to make sure you get the right amount of solution. Pour a little in here. You need to mix it with pretty hot water; I’d say almost scalding hot to make sure the solution does work. So make sure it’s super-hot, then fill up the bottle like so to the top line on the bottle. You’ll see the lines on the side. And then, you’ll want to put the hose on, and now, you’re ready to clean your kegerator.

Step 4: Flush Beer Line

One thing to remember when you clean out your kegerator is you’ll need to have a bucket handy so you can put your keg coupler into there to make sure it leaks out correctly. You don’t want it to go all over the floor and make a mess.

You’ll want to take the bottle with the solution in it, take the hose and put it on the faucet head where you took off the faucet that will connect to the beer tower. This will run directly to the line all the way to the keg coupler. When you’re ready, all you have to do is tilt it over and let it go. To make it go faster, you can also just squeeze it and make sure it comes out.

So what you’re going to see at the keg coupler is the water and probably some beer come out. It’s just going to empty into the bucket and this is going to ensure your line is becoming clean as it’s emptying.

For a deeper clean, you can flush the line twice this way or you can take the ball pin out from the coupler and just lit it sit in there for an hour or so and it should clean it.

Step 5: Rinse Beer Line

Now what you want to do after flushing the line the recommended two times is fill the bottle up with just hot water, no solution, and then flush it just like you did before. The hot water will take away all the residue of the solution and you’re line will be cleaner for that. We also recommend doing this at least two times as well.

Step 6: Clean Beer Faucet

So for cleaning the faucet, you want to make sure you have the faucet, a bowl to set all the parts in and your faucet brush. Make sure you also have the solution so you’re ready to clean with that.

What you’re going to do is you’re going to take the faucet apart. Take the faucet handle out, screw out this part here, then screw that out and make sure these two washers come out like so, because you want to clean them as thoroughly as possible. And then, for the faucet, you want to make sure you push this part out so it comes out like so.

You want to put about a teaspoon to a tablespoon of beer line cleaner in the bowl, add scalding hot water (make sure it’s a good temperature) and you want to fill the bowl with the water. Then you want to make sure the powder is all dissolved into the water, so I’m going to stir it a bit.

And then, you’re going to set the faucet in the bowl along with all the parts. Don’t forget the washers; they’re important too. You want to make sure they’re all sitting there and you probably want to keep it there for 30 minutes to an hour. Just to make sure it soaks and gets all of the beer residue out from the faucet.

About 30 minutes to an hour later, you’re going to take the faucet itself and take the brush and just clean it through like that. Get all of the residue out so do it thoroughly. Then do it down here as well to make sure you clean the whole faucet through. And just one more go around to make sure. And then, you want to empty the water from the parts. Make sure you do not flush any of the parts down the sink.

Step 7: Reassemble Your Kegerator

What you want to do is make sure this hole is lined up to go right here, so you’ll push it all the way through like so and you’ll see the hole right in there. And then, you’ll take the handle and stick that piece into the hole you put just in there. Make sure the white washer goes down like so, followed by the black washer. Then you’ll screw the handle on to the faucet itself. Make sure to not tighten it all the way because you want the handle to be a little loose when you pour the beer. Then screw the second part on and make sure also this is a little loose. Not too loose, but not too tight either. And then the tap handle, and you have your faucet.

So when you’re ready to put all of the accessories back on you want to make sure the bottle and hose are removed from the beer tower. And then also make sure that the ball pin is out of the coupler. And you’re ready to assemble it back together.

When you put the faucet back on make sure that lefty is tighty – remember that. Then take the faucet wrench and make sure you tighten it on correctly. You can do this one of two ways: you can either put the faucet at an angle so you can get an even pour or you can put it up the traditional way, just straight up. You want to make sure it’s tightened, so the beer doesn’t come out.

So after you clean your kegerator, you are now ready to enjoy a new keg of fresh draft beer.