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Does anyone have experience and recommendations for a good fridge/freezer for conversion into a kegerator? I'm basically choosing between a full sized fridge, a mini-fridge and a chest freezer. I'll likely start by using it just as a fridge for kegs and lagering and one day make the kegerator conversion. My priorities are to be efficient, fit at least 2 5 gallon soda kegs, cost-effective and not completely unsightly. Here is what I already know....

The full size fridge seems a little big for my needs, I live in an apt and would rather not have an additional full refrigerator/freezer. I have no yard, garage or basement to stash it. The advantage is they are abundant and cheap on craigslist (although most are not in great condition).

The mini fridge seems popular and there are some good conversion tutorials online. Unfortunately when I go looking I rarely see any that would actually work. Either they are very small or contain bulky freezer boxes or crispers that get in the way.

The chest freezer seem perfect, aside from being a freezer. The inside is large and open and they are relatively cheap and compact. I own a temperature controller but have never used it. Will the constant turning on and off of the freezer damage the compressor? How often should I expect it to flick on and off, is it annoying? My fear is I'll go away and come back to find either the compressor died or the controller did and the beer is either warm or frozen solid.

Any and all experience welcome!

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The controller won't cycle the freezer's compressor often enough to cause damage. Don't worry about that. –  Dean Brundage Apr 24 '10 at 13:17

3 Answers 3

I have converted all three at one time or another and am currently using a chest freezer for the following reasons:

  1. Chest freezers are larger inside.
  2. Chest freezers are better insulated and use less energy.

My current kegerator is the smallest chest freezer I could find at Lowes. It fits 3 soda kegs and a 5lb CO2 cylinder. My taps are on the front of the freezer. The Johnson Controls thermostat/controller has a 3 degree set-point which essentially means it needs to get 3 degrees warmer than my set point to activate the compressor which significantly reduces the on/off cycles.

I recently helped a friend convert a mini fridge from Sears to do the same thing. It has a stainless steel door and so looked better in his bar. To modify it we had to gently bend he ice box which contains all the cooling tubes into a flat plate and bend it down to the back of the refrigerator but it works fine and fits two kegs and a 5lb CO2 cylinder. Do this manipulation before you turn it on as the materials are more flexible when they are warm.

A used refrigerator was my first experiment and you have to be careful about a couple of things. Firstly, they are quite inefficient as there tends to be a lot of airspace, the compressor is less efficient and the door it not as well insulated. Also if you put the taps in the wall instead of the door, you need to be careful to avoid the cooling lines embedded in the insulation. The same applies to the chest freezer but the taps tend to be near the edges whereas the lines tend to be a few inches in front he edges.

The only downside with the chest freezer is needing to lift the kegs above shoulder height to drop them in and they are comparatively harder to clean as you end up leaning into them over the lip and the temperature range is quite prone to mold. No issue to your kegged beer but a little scary to look at for the uninitiated.

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Jim makes good comments. Especially regarding chest freezer efficiency at staying cold, even when open.

I'll add that I like a standing fridge for ease of loading and unloading. However, its tough sometimes to reach in and add/remove the connectors from the top of the kegs. Unless you have a full standing fridge (without a freezer portion) it got a little annoying if a connector gets stuck you have to pull the whole thing out. Often your lines get tangled. The other thing is that if you have a standard fridge with freezer above, you need to mount the faucets at a weird height sometimes if you want to use tall tap handles. Otherwise they'll interfere with the freezer door if you need to get in there.

The chest freezer is easy to deal with lines and connectors. Using a wooden collar makes attaching faucets a breeze and allows a bit of opportunity for style points. The down side is lifting kegs in and out however. And they also tend to collect moisture in the base.

I have a chest freezer set up now and prefer it to the standing fridge kegorator I used to use.

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I converted a dorm sized fridge simply because that's what I had. All of the cooling is provided by the freezer box. I successfully bent it into the area above the 'shelf' in the back. Works great but I am building a temperature controller from an stc-1000 to cycle it on and off to prevent freezing. I have a dual tap tower and a drip tray and it looks very nice in the basement. The stc-1000 (google it) has a compressor delay you can set to prevent cycling the compressor too rapidly. They are like 20$ instead of the 80-90$ of the Johnston Controls Model.

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