Vintage Kegerator

Vintage Kegerator

[Kerber] got his hands on a classic 1950’s General Electric fridge, and converted it into this classy vintage kegerator.

As his build log shows, it took an intensive restoration process to get this fridge back in shape. He completely stripped it down, scraping off the sixty year old insulation, fibreglass, and glue. Then the chassis was sanded down to a smooth finish and painted black. R-19 insulation was added to replace the old stuff.

Next up was electronics. An Arduino, DS18B20 temperature sensor, and a solid state relay were used to regulate the temperature and prevent frozen beer. There’s also a Guruplug server that reads data from the Arduino every minute. It makes this data accessible through a web page, so the temperature of the kegs can be monitored from anywhere. [Kerber] admits that this is overkill, but leaves room for future expansion.

The kegerator draws about 180 Watts, and runs for about 6 minutes per hour to keep the temperature regulated. This is pretty impressive considering the age of the fridge. The final restoration looks great, and serves up data along with the beer.

24 thoughts on “Vintage Kegerator

  1. Hey I made a few of these through the years .. mine was ran from a CO2 tank, so no pumping was required, worked great and no flat bear.

      1. Changing out the compressor would probably have cut your energy usage by a significant amount. I know our power company is always offering rebates on refrigerators. Maybe for the next rev? You’d probably need to co-opt a hacker-minded refrigeration technician…or maybe some cold beer would do the trick? :-)

        Very nice job on the rebuild.

        1. When you’re talking about old fridges drawing a lot of power, you have to look at how old. Pre-60’s, efficiency was important to manufacturers.
          While running, this fridge only draws ~180watts.

  2. I wasn’t sure at first, thinking the guy was performing scandalous actions on such a vintage beauty, but in reality I think it did this one justice. It appears he took the time to do it right.

  3. R-19 insulation only works if it is used in an uncompressed space 6 1/2 inches deep.
    Compressing the insulation down drastically reduces the insulation. A better insulation may have been polyurethane spray foam with an air gap.
    But the restore looks awesome

    1. Actually, R-19 or any other fiberglass batt insulation works just fine when compressed. Actually in most cases it works BETTER in terms of the R value per inch once compressed than it did when it was uncompressed. The downside to compressing this type of insulation is that the overall R value of the given quantity of insulation is decreased…..

      For example, a given six inch thick batt of R-18 insulation has an R value of 3-R-per-inch… The same material when compressed to a thickness of three inches may now have a total R value of R-12, which is 4-R-per-inch— an increase in the per thickness insulation value versus the uncompressed material, but a decrease in the total insulative capacity of the batt.

      Although the old saying “The insulating property comes from the air space between the fibers” has some value; In a circumstance where you only have a limited depth in which to place the insulation, it is often an advantage to compress fiberglass to fit rather than using other materials such as the styrofoam board or whatever.

      References: Research done on exactly this subject at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and many fiberglass manufacturers….

      http://www.osti.gov/bridge/servlets/purl/6488917-P1YRXj/6488917.pdf

    2. I’m definitely an insulation noob, so I appreciate the criticism. Honestly though, I’m really happy with how effective the insulation is. During the late summer heat, it only needed to run ~6min per hour to keep the fridge at 45F.

    1. Is aspiring alcoholic an option? I just love homebrew and can’t resist a tangentially related project that involves metal and microcontrollers.

  4. Slightly off topic:

    I’m not a beer drinker, but my friends refuse to drink beer that has been frozen, even though they can’t tell me what has changed in the beer. Can someone explain what has physically changed in it ?

  5. I Love what you’ve done here Kerber. Its classic and functional, simply amazing. I myself am a home brewer also and work in the craft beer scene. I would love to chat a bit more an dpick your brain about this (I want to make one myself) if you happen to see this post email me at lane370@gmail.com.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s