Over Engineered Kegerator is Glorious

keger

When [Joey] decided to build a kegerator, he didn’t skimp. No commercial unit or simple kit would do. [Joey] wanted complete temperature monitoring, with a tap on the kegerator itself and a cooled tap remotely mounted at his bar. He started with a box freezer, which was a bit short for his purposes. Not a problem, as [Joey] cut an extended collar for the freezer from HDPE on his shopbot. The new collar gives mounting points for the beer lines, gas lines, as well as all the electronics.

Temperature control is handled by a commercial controller, however temperature monitoring is another thing altogether. An Arduino sits in a custom aluminum case on the outside of the kegerator. The Arduino reports temperature, beer type and also controls the cooling system for the beer lines. The cooling system alone is incredible. [Joey] designed everything in CAD and cut the parts out on his shopbot. Two fans sit in an aluminum air box. One fan is used to push cold air out from the freezer around the beer line. A second fan pulls air back in, keeping the kegerator/line/tap air system a (relatively) closed loop. The entire line set is insulated with 2″ fiberglass flex duct.

Temperature data and trend graphs can be monitored on the web, and [Joey] is using a Raspberry Pi to create a wall mounted status screen for his bar room. We love this build! [Joey] we’d buy you a beer, but it seems like you’ve got that covered already!

Comments

  1. fartface says:

    It’s not clear the advantages to his Rube-Goldberg setup over a simple closed kegerator that doesnt move air around. Does it cook a keg faster? is the beer kept at a perfect temperature? I can not see any advantage over the commercial two tap mini-fridge sized unit I bought off craigslist for $100 that my wife is happy to have in the game room.

    • Tyberius says:

      I dunno. For me, this would be better.

      I’ve an ornate carved bar. I don’t want to get rid of it. I can only have a tiny college fridge next to it or else it looks bad. (Actually, anything looks bad next to it.) The beer fridge is in the basement.

      With the setup above, I could have my ornate bar, and a tap.

      • Joe D'Anna says:

        only problem doing an air cooled system in your case would be the length. after a certain distance, air wont cut it and you need to go to a liquid cooled setup. if its straight up from the fridge into the bar you should be ok, as long as you insulate enough and get a powerful enough blower or fan.

        to go up from the basement you will also need to adjust for the vertical rise.
        all draft beer systems need to be properly balanced. what this means is that the beer is supposed to have a particular volume of CO2 in it. you need to apply the correct pressure to the keg to maintain that amount of carbonization at the temperature the beer is stored at.

        then adjust your line length/width to achieve the desired pour speed. many people make the mistake of troubleshooting foam or pour speed issues by adjusting CO2 pressure – this is absolutely wrong in every case.

        often with a straight vertical run, the correct amount of CO2 pressure isn’t enough to push the beer straight up against gravity. if it isn’t a huge run you can just use larger diameter line (which offers less resistance) to make up for the effect of gravity.

    • Rufus says:

      The air circulation is to keep a beer line running to another room cold.

    • Joey says:

      The advantage is two fold. First and foremost – it is a remote dispense setup. The beer line must be kept cold the entire run to the tap, or it will foam like crazy. If beer gets about around 38F it turns to foam.

      Second, the circulation inside the cooler helps keep the keg temperature uniform. A freezer or kegerator is going to have natural hot and cold spots if air inside it isn’t moving.

      Also it fits more kegs then most kegerators, and is expandable. there’s room for at least one more line in the cooling conduit, and more taps on the unit itself if needed.

  2. spbogie says:

    When did taking the time to design something that looks nice and functions well become “Over” engineered? This looks like a well engineered solution to a defined problem.

    Also, the original /r/DIY post where [Joey] has answered a number of questions is here: http://www.reddit.com/r/DIY/comments/1gel3k/we_just_built_and_installed_a_custom_draft_beer/

  3. Joshua Robinson says:

    Actually that would be a Keezer since it is built out of a Freezer

  4. justdutch says:

    Why is everybody building kegerators? I would think building an inline beer cooler as used in just about ANY commercial setup this side of the pond (Netherlands) would be a much cooler project. On top of that, no wait time to get a perfectly cool beer once you connect a fresh uncooled keg.

    • Joe D'Anna says:

      An inline cooler only works if your going to go thru the keg very quickly, like in a bar or at a sporting event. If the keg isn’t cooled, bacteria can grow much easier and faster, and the beer will spoil much quicker. Especially since kegs for the most part aren’t pasteurized.

      For a home setup where you want to keep the beer fresh for a lot longer, you need keep the keg cooled.

    • cpirius says:

      In line beer coolers are very simple, not much to build really, though they can be fun to make. Also they are only used commercially for beer festivals and the like where they are serving outside of a building. In a bar, all the kegs are kept cold, for the reasons Joe points out, plus they will produce less foam when pouring that way. Notice how often they are pouring into pitchers at beer fests when they are using jockey boxes.

  5. cpirius says:

    Cool project, I always like to see beer hacks :)

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