For beer lovers, buying a kegerator can be an exciting purchase. A kegerator brings the draft beer experience into your home. Kegerators keep a tapped keg fresh and carbonated for longer, sometimes for up to a couple of months. They’re a specialized appliance for those who want the perfect pour at home. But just like craft beers, there are many different types of kegerators. This guide breaks down what to look for in the best kegerator.
- BEST OVERALL: Kegco HBK209S-3K Homebrew Kegerator
- BEST PORTABLE: NutriChef Growler Beer Dispenser
- BEST OUTDOOR: EdgeStar KC1500SSOD 15″ Built-In Outdoor Kegerator
- BEST CONVERSION DIY KIT: Kegco BF EBDCK-5T Conversion Kit
Types of Kegerators
There are a few key things to consider when choosing the best kegerator for your space. Size and placement are a good place to start. Kegerators come in all different sizes; some are small enough to fit on a kitchen countertop, while others are large enough for a bar. There are different types of kegerators for indoor or outdoor spaces; some install into a kitchen or bar counter, while others roll on casters for easy movement.
Mini kegerators are the best option for small spaces. They’re often budget-friendly and are great for those who aren’t ready to commit to a larger unit. Some come in countertop designs that have their own cooling system. Other options store in the fridge and are portable. A mini kegerator is the right pick for you if you don’t have the budget or space for a full-sized kegerator.
Freestanding kegerators are a popular option. These units stand alone and do not need any conversions or drilling to install. Just put in the keg, connect all the parts, plug it in, and cold draft beer will be at your fingertips. Many freestanding units have casters for easy movement. It’s important to keep in mind that most freestanding kegerators require some space behind them to ventilate efficiently.
Built-in kegerators are a more permanent option. They are great for kitchens or home bars. Many allow you to install the draft tower into your countertop for a sleek and seamless look. Most built-in kegerators have a front-facing ventilation system. This feature means you can install them against a wall without the unit overheating.
Outdoor kegerators can withstand the elements. They are built from durable materials to prevent rusting and damage from rain, snow, and cold and hot temperatures. Outdoor kegerators are great for backyard patios, unheated garages, and outdoor bars. Most importantly, they are safely sealed to protect the electrical components inside.
Some bars, restaurants, and event spaces use commercial kegerators. These units are usually larger than residential versions. They hold full-size kegs and can have room for extra, cold storage. They can withstand the constant use of a commercial environment. To deal with daily wear and tear, they feature durable and easy-to-clean materials.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Kegerator
Choosing the right kegerator takes some planning. There are many different sizes and configurations available. You need to consider your space and unique needs. As a starting point, think about the type of beer you want to have on tap. It’s important to note that some beer brands and craft breweries only offer their kegs in certain sizes.
Size and Weight
Exterior and interior dimensions are both important to consider when choosing a kegerator. Since it needs to hold a keg of beer, most full-size home kegerators take up a fair amount of space. Apart from the main fridge, you need to account for the draft tower. With some units, you need extra space for proper ventilation. Interior dimensions are as important as exterior size. The interior space affects the types and number of kegs that you can store.
If you plan on moving the kegerator around for events or changing seasons, a lighter unit might be a smart pick. If putting it in a downstairs basement or upstairs den, a lighter kegerator is easier to install.
A kegerator’s tap configuration will determine how many beers you can have on tap at a time. Residential kegerators commonly come in single, double, and triple tap options. There are also four tap kegerators available.
If you have a tried-and-true favorite beer, a single-tap kegerator might suit your needs. But you might prefer more if you entertain often or like to switch up your drafts. A multi-tap kegerator means you have a few options ready to serve at all times. With some kegerators, it is possible to add more taps later on with a conversion kit.
Placement and Ventilation Requirements
A kegerator needs adequate ventilation because poor air circulation can shorten the lifespan of an appliance. It’s important to consider ventilation when you choose where to put your kegerator.
For many freestanding kegerators, the ventilation is at the back of the unit. To work efficiently, this type of ventilation needs a few inches of space between the back of the unit and the wall.
Many built-in kegerators ventilate from the front, which allows you to install the kegerator on a countertop, and sit it flush against the wall. Front-ventilating kegerators can offer a more seamless look.
Pressure regulation is essential for the perfect pour. Pressure is measured in pounds of force per square inch (psi). Most kegerators will have a pressure gauge and CO2 regulator. These allow you to measure and adjust the psi. The right psi for each kegerator depends on the type of beer, temperature, and kegerator setup.
Improper pressure can affect the carbonation, foaminess, and even taste of a pour. Most kegerators have all the equipment needed to maintain and adjust the pressure. Being able to adjust the psi is a key function to understand on your new kegerator.
Temperature Control and Displays
Most kegerators have a temperature control option. But, as you browse, it’s prudent to double-check a unit’s temperature range. The best kegerator temperature range depends on your personal preference and the type of beer you plan to store.
Some kegerators have a digital temperature display on the outside of the unit. This display shows the temperature inside without needing to open the door. This feature isn’t only convenient, it also helps maintain a constant cold fridge. Many digital displays allow you to adjust the temperature from outside the refrigerator.
Features and Accessories
There are a variety of features and accessories to look for in a kegerator. If ease of movement is a priority, you might look for a kegerator with handles and casters. Digital displays are a common feature for temperature monitoring and regulation. A dual-pressure regulator can help check the output pressure and CO2 tank levels.
Some kegerators also come with extra accessories. Additional fans are beneficial for some kegerators to avoid overheating. Even mini kegerators might have accessories like portable battery packs to keep the unit cold. Some kegerators include a cleaning kit, so you don’t have to worry about purchasing cleaning materials later.
Ease of Use, Assembly, and Cleaning
Most residential kegerators are designed for easy assembly and use. It’s a task that many people can handle at home with basic tools.
After installation, it’s critical to maintain a kegerator with regular cleanings, including taking apart beer lines and individual components and cleaning those thoroughly. Proper cleaning prevents mineral deposits, mold, and bacteria buildup. There are cleaning supplies and kits available to help with cleaning maintenance. Since this is a chore that needs to be done often, you may want to consider a unit that is easy to take apart and clean.
Noise level is something to consider with your new kegerator. Kegerators are a form of a refrigerator. With most models, you can expect some level of noise, similar to a fridge. Just like some fridges are noisier than others, so are some kegerators.
For kegerators on the patio or in the garage, noise level might not be a concern. But for smaller spaces and kitchens, the noise level might be more important. If you plan on having a kegerator in an area where you spend a lot of time, you may want to consider a quieter unit.
Our Top Picks
Kegerators come in a wide range of sizes and can have a variety of different features. A high-quality kegerator dispenses icy cold, draft beer for a great pour at home. Kegerators are a specialized appliance. You want to invest in a unit that keeps your beer fresh and is made to last. Here are some of our top picks for the best kegerators.
This triple-tap, freestanding kegerator comes with almost everything you need to start pouring. It includes a keg tapping kit with an empty 5-pound aluminum CO2 tank, a dual-gauge regulator, and ball lock keg couplers. This unit is on four locking casters for easy movement and features dimensions of 26 by 20 by 33 inches. The fridge is spacious enough to fit up to three 5 gallon Cornelius ball lock home brew kegs.
An adjustable mechanical temperature control is located on the back of the unit, so you can adjust the temperature between 35 and 42 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, the energy-efficient design provides cooling technology while reducing energy usage and cost. The cooler’s bottom is lined with a stainless steel plate to ensure your kegs’ weight is evenly distributed and prevent lining damage. It also has a removable and easy to clean drip tray. Finally, when not using as a keg dispenser, you can add the two included shelves and enjoy the large interior space as a refrigerator to store food and beverages.
This mini portable kegerator is made of durable, food-grade, powder-coated stainless steel. It works with universal threaded 16-gram CO2 cartridges to supply pressurized carbonization. It’s also a great small storage solution and can keep beer fresh for up to three months. Despite its small size, it has a mini regulator gauge and adjustment knob so you can adjust the psi. This design features a new spear cap lid style, so you can detach the regulator and spout, while still keeping keg contents under pressure for storage.
While it doesn’t have a cooling feature, it does come with an insulator sleeve to keep your beer cold for longer. It has handles so you can easily carry it to your next get-together. The tank holds 128 ounces of beer, which is the same volume as a standard growler. The total assembled height is 5.3 by 5.3 by 14.25 inches, and it weighs less than 5 pounds.
A reinforced stainless steel cabinet and weather-proof interior system make this kegerator a great option for outdoors. It has a compact design with dimensions of 26.06 by 14.94 by 33.44 inches to fit into a variety of outdoor spaces. This unit only fits quarter barrel, sixth barrel, and Cornelius kegs, due to the narrow configuration.
The front ventilation system means you can install this unit as a built-in. You also have the option to keep the casters on and use it as a freestanding kegerator. The cooled beer tower means your beer will stay extra cold from keg to glass. This unit also has a digital control panel to adjust the temperature and interior lighting.
Kegco’s DIY kegerator conversion kit can turn any fridge or cooler into a kegerator. As long as your refrigerator is large enough to fit a keg, then you’re only a few steps away from your new kegerator.
The first step is to drill a large enough hole to fit the faucet in the refrigerator door or cooler. Then install the conversion kit, and it’ll be time to pour in no time.
This conversion kit comes with a door mount, single-tap spout, a dual-gauge regulator, a lever handle keg coupler, a drip tray, an empty 5-pound CO2 tank, and all necessary hoses. It even comes with the required faucet wrench for installation.
FAQs About Your New Kegerator
Kegerators are a specialized appliance. All the different options and features can be overwhelming. It’s worth taking the time to research your purchase. You want to make sure your new kegerator works in your space and can pour your favorite beers. Here are some commonly asked questions about choosing a kegerator.
Q. What do I need to know about buying a kegerator?
Important considerations include external and internal size, the type of beer you’d like to serve, ventilation requirements, and the tap configuration.
Q. How long will a keg of beer last in a kegerator?
The exact amount of time will depend on the type of kegerator and style of beer, but generally, a tapped keg can last around 20 to120 days.
Q. What psi should I keep my kegerator at?
The ideal psi depends on a few factors, including the type of beer as well as the line length and configuration between the keg and the draft tower.