beer fresh from the kegerator

Buyer be Smart: Common Kegerator Problems

beer fresh from the kegeratorIf you’re shopping for a new kegerator, reading customer reviews can be a scarey experience.  There isn’t a kegerator on the market that has been left untouched by a salty purchaser with one horror story or another.

It’s sad to say, but when it comes to these little machines, you get what you pay for.  While most kegerator owners are happy and don’t have any problems with their unit, there are many who complain – and complain very loudly – about how they were let down by their $300+ machines.

The problem is that many jump into a kegerator purchase with both feet and very little research.  Beer needs to be treated very carefully.  All conditions need to be just right to get it to pour the right way.  If one factor is just a little bit off, it can lead to a glass of foamy beer – or worse – no beer at all.

My opinion is that if you plan on spending less than $1200 on a kegerator, be prepared to work with it to get the right results. If that’s too much time and effort for you, consider a more expensive option, such as a Perlick or .  Perlick primarily produces commercial draft systems, but also has a line of indoor and outdoor kegerators for your home.  They are the best in the business, so if you want no-fuss right out of the box, that’s the way to go.

If Perlick is too much for you, then get a cheaper kegerator, but be prepared to deal with the consequences.  Read through these common problems, and you will know what to expect when your shiny new kegerator arrives at your door.

 

All Too Common Problems With Cheap Kegerators

The following is a list of the three biggest complaints that I see about virtually every home kegerator.  No brand has been left untouched, including Danby, Keggermiester, and even the mighty (and more expensive) Sanyo line.

Don’t be afraid of these problems – just know that they aren’t difficult to overcome, even if you read a dozen people screaming about them online.  Think of them more as fine-tuning to get your perfect glass of beer.

 

Problem #1 – My Kegerator Doesn’t Get Cold Enough

This is probably the biggest complaint I see about any cheap kegerator. If your kegerator doesn’t get cold enough, there are ways to fix it, but it might take a call from your appliance technician.

The problem starts with the design of your kegerator.  Face it – you’re using a mini-fridge as your cooling unit, and then throwing in a huge keg of beer that takes up most of the space in it, which it really isn’t designed to do in the first place.

Mini-fridges, like your big fridge, depend on air being able to flow through and circulate. When there isn’t much room for movement, your circulation stops.

The easiest and cheapest remedy is to buy a small fan and put it in the fridge with your keg. This will cool down your beer by at least a couple of degrees.

If you’re still seeing poor results after the addition of a fan, your thermostat might not be calibrated right. Again, you’re attempting to cool down a huge keg with a mini-fridge.  It really shouldn’t surprise anyone that when your fridge leaves the factory, it’s set to cool food – and not freeze it.  They naturally set the thermostat to deal with food – and not with a big keg of beer.

If you need to have your thermostat calibrated, you need to have an appliance tech deal with it.  Check with your manufacturer to see if they’ll send someone out free of charge, but be prepared to pay $50-$100 if the don’t.

 

Problem #2 – My Beer is Too Foamy

This is another all-too-common problem associated with virtually every cheap kegerator, but this has nothing to do with your fridge. It has everything to do with the amount of CO2 you’re pumping into your keg – and if it’s foamy, it’s probably way too much.

Kegged beer flows properly with CO2 line pressure at around 14 psi for most styles of beer.  Many of these kegerators only come with a regulator that only gauge the pressure in the CO2 bottle, and not the pressure in the line. Many first-time kegerator owners don’t understand this, crank open the CO2, and then whine when the gauge says 45 psi and is spraying foam out of the tap.

Fortunately, there’s an easy solution to this problem – don’t open the CO2 tank open all the way! Start out very small. Barely crack your tank open, then see if beer is coming out of the tap. Open it a very small amount at a time until you have your beer pouring the way  you want.

 

Problem #3 – The First Beer I Pour is Foamy, But the Rest are Fine.

An insulated kegerator tower
example of an insulated tower

This is all about circulation again.  I have no idea why, but the majority of beer towers that come with these cheap kegerators are not insulated, leaving the beer in the tower’s section of the line pretty much exposed. When beer sits in the tower, it gets warm, making your first pour of the day foamy.

Easy fix – insulate your tower! This is easiest to do when you’re setting up your kegerator for the first time, but isn’t difficult to do after the fact either.

It is also a good idea to add a small fan as well, if you haven’t already.

 

Conclusion

Should you shy away from a cheap kegerator? I don’t think so. If you can’t afford a commercial-grade kegerator for your home, I highly recommend getting one of these units. Just be prepared to spend a little extra money to get it going right, and you and your kegerator will have a long and happy relationship.

Summit Top View

Top 5 Bestselling Kegerators for July 2011

This month, I’m seeing a wide variety of kegerators in our best selling list in both features and price. Of course, you know the old saying, “You get what you pay for” is often true, but I’m still finding some great (and bad!) kegerator buys in many price ranges!

Whether you want to go cheap and fix as you go along, or get an outstanding product from the start, the bestselling kegerators have them all – and everything in between.

Here are this month’s best selling kegerators, and what I think of them.

 

5. Summit SBC490-BIFR Kegerator

Full-sized Built-in Beer Dispenser with Tap Kit and Stainless Steel Frame (Requires Custom Panel)A re-brand of a Sanyo kegerator at a better price makes this fist entry into our bestselling kegerators list a sure thing.

It may come in as the most expensive, but this is a perfect example of a home kegerator done right.

As all kegerators on this list, this kegerator will fit full size (half-barrel) standard keg sizes and requires little for upgrades.

This is also the only unit on the list that happens to be a built-in, under-the-counter kegerator, making it a very elegant addition to your home.

 

4. Haier HBF05EBSS Kegerator

Haier HBF05EBSS-2 Dual Faucet Kegerator w/ Stainless Steel DoorI don’t think this Haier kegerator gets nearly enough credit.

Haier is quite regularly bashed for being a poor product, but these bashings often come from those who are just getting their feet wet in the world of draft beer at home and don’t seem to know any better.

It’s the perfect example of how little people actually understand what a price tag of less than $1200 means when it comes to kegerators.

Haier provides a great product in my opinion, and people who do their research seem to agree, setting this kegerator firmly as best selling kegerator #4 for this month.

 

3. Danby DKC645BLS Kegerator

Danby DKC645BLS 5.8-Cu.Ft. Designer Beer Keg Cooler, Black/StainlessThis Danby may be the second on my list to come with a stainless steel door, but it’s the first on the list to have two taps, which is an immediate attraction to home brewers who want to tap two Cornelius kegs with ease.

I haven’t looked into this model in detail yet, but there are several conflicting reviews. It wouldn’t surprise me if many of the poor reviews are from under-educated buyers, but I can’t say for certain until I research it myself.  I think I’ll make the Danby one of my next reviews, as it is planted in the middle of this list.

Rest assured; any issues I’ve heard about this unit can be corrected.

 

2. Keggermeister KM2800SS Kegerator

Keggermeister KM2800SS KegeratorI’ve extensively reviewed the Keggermeister KM2800SS.

Being an owner of the same kegerator re-branded (Frosty Keg), I’m quite satisfied that for the price of this baby, it will go a long way.

Mine has gone through nearly 3 years of my home brew abuse, and it shows no signs of slowing down! It doesn’t surprise me that this one is still a best seller.

I have heard that some fixing up may be required for some units, but I personally didn’t run into that problem – plus this one’s really a great looking unit with it’s stainless steel doors – mine has a black door.

You can read my full Keggermeister KM2800 Review to get the details and comparisons.

 

1. Nostalgia KRS-2100 Keg-O-Rator

Nostalgia KRS-2100 Keg-O-RatorThe Nostalgia KRS-2100 Keg-O-Rator is this month’s top selling kegerator, which really comes at a surprise to me!

While I’m not a fan of the quality of this kegerator, and the heavily-mixed customer reviews reflect that, I understand that you can’t beat the price.

Sometimes buying something of lesser quality and fixing it up can still be cheaper than buying a kegerator of higher quality.

 

You can see the pricing of each kegerator at Amazon by clicking on each image.

Perlick Hp48rt Outdoor Kegerator and Beer Fridge

My Dream Outdoor Kegerator

Perlick Outdoor Refrigerator / Dual Tap KegeratorToday I want to talk about my quest for an outdoor kegerator. This is not an official review, it’s just something I wanted to share with you beer lovers.

I have a dream.

My dream is to be able to entertain in my own back yard like nobody else.

I’m in the process of looking for a sizable out of town property where I can build to suit. My main criteria for this property is that I have to be able to create a nice, big, private back yard.

In this back yard, I will build a large patio, which will include a nice outdoor kitchen. It doesn’t have to be much, but I want a lot of counter space and a built in grill.

..and an outdoor kegerator.

But this kitchen wouldn’t be complete without an outdoor kegerator. In fact, a kegerator is really what I want my kitchen to be designed around. It has the biggest draw for me.

Imagine throwing a midsummer evening soiree. The sun goes down and your friends arrive. You all take turns flipping steaks on the grill. It’s hot. But you’ve got something to make your guests much more comfortable – a chilled keg tapped in your outdoor kegerator, ready to deliver right in your own back yard. Your guests happily take turns pouring themselves cold, frosty beer.

Suddenly nobody complains about the heat, and the evening is filled with laughter and memories.

This is my dream. A dream that is slowly becoming a reality.

I haven’t even purchased my property yet, and I’m already researching my future outdoor kegerator. Might sound like I’m getting a little ahead of myself, but this will be the pinnacle of my back yard space.

This is something I refuse to convert a fridge or freezer into. This kegerator has to look as good as the rest of my kitchen. And for that, I’m turning to Perlick.

The best outdoor kegerator manufacturer?

Perlick is well known for its commercial draft systems – one of my friends owns a couple of bars and uses their systems. They come highly recommended for their dependability and solid design.

But Perlick also does high end residential units, for both indoor and outdoor, with the same commercial grade quality. They are complete, self-containing kegerator systems, which need absolutely no upgrading because they are already include the best parts. This is one of those situations where you really get what you pay for, and since I plan on forking over a small fortune for my outdoor kegerator, I refuse to go for anything less than superb.

To me, superb is this beer fridge/kegerator combo. It’s double the width of most kegerators, because one side is the kegerator, and the other side is a shelved fridge so guests can stock it with their own beer, keeping it chilled to the perfect temperature.

I’ve also chosen to go with a glass door on the fridge side, just because I think it would look very slick, and I think it would really pop with the rest of my cabinets, especially under a nice granite counter top.

This dream is a dream that will soon be a reality. I’m drooling over it already. In my mind, there is really nothing better than being able to pour your own home brew out of your own back yard because you own an outdoor kegerator.

If you’ve read anything else on this site, you know that I have a passion for making my own home brewed draft beer. Why wouldn’t my dream translate into the best of the best for a backyard draft system?

Do you have a dream? I dare you to dream a little harder and check out what Perlick has to offer. I’ve got my eye on this unit – it’s one of the priciest models, but if you haven’t guessed, I’m willing to spend the extra money to get the right outdoor kegerator.

If you are doing what I’m planning and creating your own outdoor entertaining space, the time to order is now – some units can take up to 5 weeks have your outdoor kegerator delivered.

minifridge used for a kegerator conversion

What is a Kegerator Conversion Kit?

If you have read anything about me, you know that I’ve been brewing my own draft beer forever and it really shouldn’t surprise you that I know a thing or two about using a kegerator conversion kit.

I actually have loads of experience when it comes to them. In college, I actually had a small business going converting mini fridges into kegerators for guys in my dorm. Today, I’m going to share my knowledge with you, which should give you a basic primer if you don’t know anything about or are considering a kegerator conversion kit.

What is a kegerator conversion kit?

kegerator conversion kit used on a mini fridgeSimply put, a kegerator conversion kit is what you use to turn an existing fridge or freezer into a kegerator. They often come with all the parts you need to convert your fridge, including instructions.

What are the benefits of using a kegerator conversion kit over buying a kegerator?

I personally prefer buying higher quality kegerators that don’t need conversion, but if you happen to be a little short on cash, a kegerator conversion kit is a good alternative.

They can be especially beneficial if you already have a suitable fridge or freezer that you want to convert, assuming that the unit can actually be converted.

If you don’t care about how it looks and are looking for something to just throw in your man cave, a kegerator conversion kit would probably work out perfectly for you.

Why should I stay away from doing a conversion?

  • Don’t take on a conversion yourself if you are not good with tools or following directions.
  • Don’t convert a fridge or freezer that you can’t find information on placement of cooling lines.
  • Don’t do a conversion if you want something that looks professional – kits rarely make a stylish choice.
  • Don’t go with a kit if you are concerned about replacing or upgrading parts, or a potentially poor outcome. Instead, spend the extra money on a quality pre-manufactured kegerator.

I already have a fridge or freezer – Can I convert it?

That’s a solid maybe. If it’s a full size fridge or freezer, you shouldn’t have any problems finding a kegerator conversion kit that will work for it, but you do need to make sure that the cooling compartment is going to be big enough to hold your keg. This is most important for those of you wanting to store a half barrel keg, as some of the smaller fridges and freezers just aren’t big enough.

You also need to be aware of where the cooling lines are in the unit. You can usually find this information from the manufacturer. In some cases, converting a unit you happen to have around is impossible, as many units don’t have a place where you can safely cut through the walls of the unit without damaging the cooling lines. Damaging the cooling lines will render your unit completely useless, and cost you more money to replace it.

On the same note, don’t just buy any fridge or freezer with out checking with the manufacturer.

Where can I find more information about how to use a kegerator conversion kit?

You can always check back here, as I will be writing some kegerator conversion kit reviews, but for now, search around a few of the brewing forums to find out which fridges convert better. Amazon is a great place to start.

Frosty Keg Kegerator available at Amazon

Kegerator Review: Frosty Keg/Keggermeister KM2800/Avanti BD7000

Great Northern Stainless Steel Kegerator Beer Dispenser RefrigeratorI originally purchased the Frosty Keg kegerator myself, and I love it.

Since then, I have been doing a great deal of research on it to help others, and I have found that it appears to be the same as the Keggermeister KM2800 kegerator and the Avanti BD7000 Beer Dispenser.

From what I can tell, there are a few differences, but they all appear to use the same fridge unit as well as tower/tap/rail/tray components.  Read more to find out what I found.

 

Kegerator Review: Keggermeister KM2800/Frosty Keg/Avanti BD700

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