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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > DIY Projects > Kegerators and Keezers > My first kegerator! Lots of questions, expert advice needed
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Old 07-28-2012, 09:05 AM   #1
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Default My first kegerator! Lots of questions, expert advice needed

I've been wanting to start kegging and get a kegerator for some time now. I've been reading the forums and pricing out parts as well as keeping an eye on craigslist for kegerators. I had a vague idea of what I wanted, an upright top and bottom refrigerator that is roughly the same size as my regular 'fridge. I'm fortunate/unfortunate enough to be a bachelor...I can get away with having a kegerator in my kitchen next to my regular fridge! (My girlfriend has informed me that when we get married and live in the same house there will be no such thing in her kitchen.) I've been collecting corny kegs from my lhbs, and now have three, ready to fill.

Today, I found a college kid selling a kegerator, and I was able to get it for a really good price. It came with an empty 20 lb co2 tank and an empty 15.5 gal bud light keg, as well as the regulator and coupler. I promptly listed the keg and coupler on craigslist, and if i get close to what I'm asking, I'll only have about $40 into the whole thing.

I'm happy with the deal I got, however, it's not quite what I need it to be for my application. So here are some questions for you guys:

The exterior of the fridge is in rough shape. One side has been spray painted silver, and the front is dirty and has stickers on it. I want to repaint it to match my regular fridge. I figure I can wash, sand, prime, and paint with appliance paint. Seems easy enough...any tips?

The 20 lb co2 tank had a tag attached that said "CO2 cylinders will at times remain the property of...and if not returned when empty or on demand, buyer agrees to pay $125 per 20 lb cylinder". Does this mean that I need to return the tank for a full one? Can I sell the tank, or trade it for a 5 lb full tank? What are my options for getting a smaller full tank? Also, how can I tell if the tank is within certification and can I have it refilled if I choose to keep it?

Finally, I would like to run three, possibly four (if they will fit) corny kegs. I would like to be able to control the pressure to each keg from one co2 tank. What is the most cost effective way of regulating pressure to each keg? The regulator that came with the kegerator is a standard two gauge, single output.

I'll try to post some pic's on sunday.

Thanks in advance!

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Old 07-28-2012, 12:59 PM   #2
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In no particular order...

To regulate different pressures in each keg, you'll need something like this
http://morebeer.com/view_product/161...ulator_-_4_Way

You're on the right track with taking the stickers off (I'd use goo-gone or something similar), sanding & priming the old paint, and adding a couple new coats of whatever. Just take your time with the prep-work and be sure not to get paint on any of the rubber seals.

From my limited experience, most gas places don't fill your tanks. Instead, they trade 1:1 empty for full and sell you the gas already inside their tank. When I had my brand new shiny 5 lb bottle, I was really upset about trading it in on an old crappy-looking bottle, but from what I could find, that's just how it is done. I'm not sure how you will manage to trade it down to 5 lb. Before trying to sell it, you might just ask the shop how much they charge to certify/check the tanks and then sell it on your own. A new 5lb tank will cost about $100 new.... no clue what you should ask for your 20lb.

Hope this was somewhat helpful but my experience with these things is a bit limited.

Best of luck.

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Old 07-28-2012, 01:12 PM   #3
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  1. Get all those stickers off before sanding so you don't clog up the paper.
  2. If the 20 lb CO2 tank came from some place close take it there and they will exchange it for a full one. I'm sure they will be happy to downsize you to a 5lb tank. If they aren't local find a welding supply store and they will more than likely fill or exchange it.
  3. To run separate pressures to each keg you need a Low Pressure Regulator for each keg. I use this setup for my 6 kegs. http://stores.kegconnection.com/Detail.bok?no=471. You basically run a hose from the 2 gauge regulator on the tank to this manifold and regulate each keg pressure using the individual secondary regulators. They are available in 2 to 6 body configs.
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Old 07-29-2012, 02:46 AM   #4
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Hydroponic stores love switching out 20lb tanks for around 20$.. Even if they care (they won't) just remove the tag.

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Old 07-29-2012, 03:34 PM   #5
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Look for a paintball shop. They fill mine for 2 bucks a pound.

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Old 07-29-2012, 03:49 PM   #6
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Dicks sporting goods fills co2 bottles

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Old 07-30-2012, 01:27 AM   #7
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Thanks everyone! I got started cleaning up the outside of the fridge today (in fact I'm just taking a break right now...) Are there any other options for low pressure regulators? The parts listed in the links in the first few replies are running from $175-210. That seems a little high, can you buy the parts individually and assemble the manifold at home for less money?

With regard to the co2 tank, I'm gonna call the place where it's originally from and see about exchanging it. I know I could probably get it filled, but I wanted something smaller.

Thanks again. I'll try to post some pic's later tonight. I'm super stoked about this project. I have a brown ale in the primary right now, so maybe that will be the first kegged brew

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Old 07-30-2012, 01:41 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 60sd View Post
Thanks everyone! I got started cleaning up the outside of the fridge today (in fact I'm just taking a break right now...) Are there any other options for low pressure regulators? The parts listed in the links in the first few replies are running from $175-210. That seems a little high, can you buy the parts individually and assemble the manifold at home for less money?

With regard to the co2 tank, I'm gonna call the place where it's originally from and see about exchanging it. I know I could probably get it filled, but I wanted something smaller.

Thanks again. I'll try to post some pic's later tonight. I'm super stoked about this project. I have a brown ale in the primary right now, so maybe that will be the first kegged brew
You can assemble your own but when your done buying all the parts and the same quality regulators your savings are minimal. Must curious why do you think the price is high?
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Old 07-30-2012, 01:56 AM   #9
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Personally I would stick with the 20lb tank. Its amazing how fast you can go through it if you get a small leak. Plus if you plan on keeping 3-4 beers on tap that's the way I would go. I had a 5lb tank given to me and I traded it for a 20lb as soon as I emptied it, I just had to pay a little extra for the bigger tank You will go through more gas than you think.

As for the tank most any gas supply will take the tank and give you a full one. Dont worry about making sure the tank is inspected. The gas supply places go through so many of those things the don't really pay attention it. It's pretty much just the same as a propane exchange give the old get the new.

Tanks have to be inspected once a year visually, and every five years a hydrostatic. (Scuba tanks at least) Its just part of the normal day to day business of a gas supplier.

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Old 07-30-2012, 04:49 AM   #10
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Here we go:

The Fridge is a POS, but it works and it stays cold. I mostly bought this one because I got all the parts I need with it.

The pics show what it looked like when I got it. I had to take the shank and faucet off to get it through the door at the house where I bought it. Today, I took a swing at stripping the paint. (Yes, thats silver spray paint on one side, I have no idea why anyone would do that...) I had a can of spray on paint stripper, but that was proving to be messier and more labor intensive than I wanted. I picked up a can of brush on gel stripper and applied that. The label says it takes 30 min to 24 hours to fully lift the paint. I'm gonna let it sit overnight and check it in the morning.

Regarding the low pressure regulators, it just seems like they are expensive... I would have guessed it would be around $100, but it would have been a shot in the dark guess, I had no idea.

Regarding the 20 lb tank, how do you guys plumb the gas line? I have seen set ups with the 5lb tank on the top shelf of the fridge, so everything is contained inside. With a 20lb tank, it would cut into the keg capacity if I put it inside the fridge. If I keep it, which is sounding like the recommendation, should I drill another hole in the side of the fridge and run the gas line in from the outside?

Thanks again for the help!

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