This is a work in progress, please be patient.
Getting into kegging is a little scary at first and because of that, many people go out and buy a ready made kegerator. That's perfectly fine and we do offer a very nice kegerator that can hold up to three five gallon corny kegs. If you had your heart set on a unit that can hold more kegs than that, or just want a DIY project, this guide should help you out.
Here are things you need to consider before buying any conversion components:
There are all kinds of refrigeration appliances you can consider for kegging and most of that decision is going to be driven by how many and what types of kegs you want it to hold and/or serve at the same time, corny kegs, commercial sixtels, half barrels, etc. Always go to the store with keg dimensions written down and a tape measure in your pocket.
Common units include chest freezers, upright freezers, upright refrigerators, dorm fridges, etc. Anything meant for freezing food will require an external temperature controller such as our Inkbird ITC-308. You can even buy a regular used fridge on craigslist and use it for a keg or two as well as other packaged drinks without even needing an external temp controller. The form factor only really comes into play if you are placing it into a somewhat decor-sensitive living space.
For the most part, you'll be deciding between a 5 or 20 pound CO2 tank as they are the most common and easy to swap for full ones as needed. Pros and Cons? The 5 pound tank is more portable should you decide to take your kegs outside of the house. 20s are about the same size as a 5 gallon corny keg (or sixtel) but the tank cost is only twice that of the 5 and the refills are only 40% more than the 5. On average, expect to carbonate and dispense about 5 gallons of beer per pound of CO2 allowing for some waste. Simple math says a 20 pound tank will run about 20 5-gallon kegs before needing refilling but your mileage may vary depending on how much purging or leaks you have.
If you're fortunate enough to be local to our NJ warehouse, you can buy the tank already full of CO2 in either the 5 Pound or 20 Pound varieties. If we have to ship, you're limited to the 5 Pound or 20 Pound empty tanks and you will have to have them filled locally.
Gas distribution begins with a pressure regulator that will connect directly to the CO2 tank because the tank pressure is 800-1000psi and would explode the kegs. We need a regulator to get the pressure down below 50 psi. We've tested a lot of regulators over the years and can confidently say that you do NOT want a cheap Chinese regulator. We only sell Taprite regulators that are made and supported in the U.S. as they have the least number of problems out of the box and over time.Before selecting a regulator and downstream distribution system, it's worth considering how many unique pressures you may want to have at the same time. Purists will recognize that some beer styles benefit from lower carbonation (Milds, ESBs) and some higher (Wheat Beers and Belgians). Most beers like Pales and IPAs are right down the middle. Budget will ultimately dictate how many pressures you can play with and it's not THAT bad to run all your beers at a median pressure. The simple and lowest cost solution is to put a single pressure regular on the tank such as the Taprite T742HP-02. You can always branch out into two or more pressures in the future by adding one or more secondary regulators as budget allows. Alternatively, you can decide from the start to use at least two pressures by getting the Taprite dual-pressure tank mount regulator.
Assuming you start with a single pressure output, you can run a hose directly to a single keg. If you want to supply gas to multiple kegs, you have two paths to achieve that. First, you can run the hose into hose barb splitters such as tees or crosses. This is the cheapest way to do it but there is no way to shut off the gas supply to unused branches. The other way is to run the single output line into a valved splitter manifold. The cost is higher but the ability to shut down unused ports allows you to think ahead to the future.
Gas distribution tubing is typically PVC in either clear or solid color. Due to PVC allowing for some oxygen ingress, it is typically very thick wall to help slow that down. For some unknown reason, the inner diameters have varied from 1/4", 5/16" and sometimes even 3/8". The performance does not change for our purposes so smaller diameter tubing is just easier to manipulate in a cramped kegerator. If you are attaching your tubing to devices that already have fixed hose barb nipples, the barb size sometimes is what dictates the tubing ID. Keep in mind however that you can stretch smaller diameter PVC over much larger barbs simply by dipping the tubing into boiling water for 30 seconds.
NEW! It is becoming increasingly popular to use semi-rigid barrier tubing with push-in adapter end treatments. Barrier tubing is typically thinner wall and has in internal PET liner that is much less prone to oxygen ingress. Better yet, it does not use hose barbs or hose clamps but rather Push to Fit connections that do not require any tools.
Kegs require both gas input from your regulator/distribution system as well as beverage output to run to your faucets. For homebrew type kegs, you'll either use ball lock or pinlock style quick disconnects (dictated by which kegs you buy). Ball Lock kegs are about 20 times more popular than pinlock and you will find many more accessories for ball locks. Commercially available kegged beers are usually found in Sanke style kegs though more homebrewers are dabbling in Sanke keg use.