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-   -   Fridge Conversion & Faucet Comparison (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f35/fridge-conversion-faucet-comparison-271501/)

AngryTurk 09-28-2011 05:21 PM

Fridge Conversion & Faucet Comparison
This is my first contribution after having learned so much from all of you. I am going to document my piece-meal conversion of an old used fridge into a shiny new kegerator. Why did I chose to convert a fridge and not a chest freezer you ask? Well, I see that many people in fact use chest freezers (keezers) for this, but
  1. loading/unloading a chest freezer with 50lb kegs is not the easiest thing in the world for my minions... errrr... kids, who aren't strong or tall enough yet,
  2. you have to use a temp controller to maintain serving temperatures that a fridge handles normally. I'll spend that $70 on a cool brewery sign instead!
  3. quite often the design of the keezer (with the tower on top) requires that you move the full unit away from a wall in order to access the kegs inside. Sure you can put it on casters, but that's more work and less time to drink my creations. Plus it's a wee bit heavy for the aforementioned minions.
  4. but MOST IMPORTANTLY, the people from whom I bought my house left me a old beat up POS fridge for free! :rockin: No matter how you look at it, free beats Craigslist ANY DAY!

OK, so the fridge is truly a piece of junk, but it works. It's in my basement, where I plan to keep it. It's in a room that few guests will visit so I plan to make this project more utilitarian versus the WHAM-BAM sweet gitup. But... being the only family member that is in proud possession of a Y chromosome, I am sure it will be hard for me to NOT tweak it up at least a little.

So here's what I'm working with...

As you can see, it holds 6 kegs nicely, which is ANOTHER bonus over a keezer (unless you want to blow in excess of $500 for a new bigger one).

So... the plan... 6 kegs, 6 taps on the door. Modify the inside to stagger the front and back rows a little. Keep the freezer working and use it perhaps to store glasses for serving. Single CO2 tank stays outside the fridge, with a 6 way distributor on the inside. Make the front facade presentable, and perhaps get it to a point where I (more importantly my dear wife) won't mind having it someplace in the house that guests CAN see. I like shiny... Maybe something shiny on the outside...

Now... during my initial research into converting a fridge to a keg serving machine of pleasure, I found one piece of information to be lacking. I noticed that when it came to serving beer, I couldn't get much useful information on the choice of faucets, except the obvious recommendation to avoid the cheap ones. Ummm duh! I don't make cheap beer, so I won't buy a cheap anything... Inexpensive... YES... cheap... NO!

Anyway, I found that everyone has strong opinions about one faucet over another (typically the Perlick), but I haven't found any reliable information from anyone that's tested more than the one they claim is the best... So I decided that I will be the community guinea pig and order a number of different faucets and let you all know what I think of each. Feel free to bang away with questions regarding performance, price, look, flow, taste, magnetic resonance, etc... Yes... I am putting my time and wallet on the line, just for you... all of you, because that is the kind of selfless and modest man that I am! When I'm done, I'll eBay the ones I don't want (or sell them to my fellow brewophiles here). Hell, maybe I'll just keep them all hooked up and use them all anyway. Who knows what we'll all learn!

Stay tuned for my shopping list that will get this ball rolling...

AngryTurk 09-28-2011 05:27 PM

BTW... the magnets came with the fridge... Yeah... That's it... NOT mine, definitely... nope... they were from the previous owner. Yep!

And NO... That is NOT Dr. Pepper. Though minion #1 would surely appreciate if it were! Was just too busy to clean that particular keg prior to bottling. That is my first lager... pilsner.

Finally... the middle keg is called "Southern Girls Got Wit"... I feel I have to clarify, as my dear father misread the last word as "Wet"... TOTALLY different!!!

AngryTurk 09-28-2011 05:56 PM

Faucets Ordered
I placed the order for a bunch of crap. Few hundred dollars just got forcibly removed from my back pocket. I got the distributor, hoses, and all the gas side connections for 6 kegs. I got liquid side connections for 3 kegs.

We're going to play with three faucets to start with (links for ref only, not the place I bought them, or the cheapest place for each faucet):
1. The obligatory Perlick Perl SS525
2. The NADS Stout Faucet
3. The uber-sweet European Chrome Faucet

Now the rationale for the choices... I don't need to get into why I ordered the Perlick because clearly they rock according to everyone. But sine I like different and don't want the same thing you all have...

I also ordered the European faucet for its COOL factor. It is NOT SS like the Perlick, which sucks... I guess... I dunno, does it? Not even sure if it's forward or back sealing. Dunno yet... Let me play with it and I'll tell you. But you gotta admit, it's sweet as pie ain't it? It's like the faucet that goes to 11!

The Stout faucet... Ahhh yeah! Who doesn't like a nice creamy stout? "But I don't brew stouts," you may say. Well... have you ever had a Boddignton's? Stout faucets are not just for stouts! I plan to use this for my Blonde or my Triple. I had not planned to get a mixed gas cylinder with N, and will try it with straight CO2 to see how it works. If it's a loser then I might sink the cash into a mixed gas cylinder too, but that will require a slight modification to my gas setup in the fridge.

The plan: Install these three to start. Then try each, one at a time, on the SAME kegs with the SAME brews and see what we get. Right now I have a Pilsner, Blonde, Chimay clone, Triple, Wit, & Blackberry White in there. So I'll try each beer passed through each faucet and try to objectively gauge flow, head, taste, etc... Any other suggestions on what metrics I should be measuring?

What other faucets should we try? I got room for 3 more. I was going to test the Perlick Creamer, but I understand that this is essentially the same faucet as the 525... Thoughts?

lou2row 09-28-2011 06:36 PM

Love what you are doing! I am about one step behind you on getting set up. Nice to see you fit 6, as I was worried about getting four in a fridge. I should be able to fit 4 and my CO2.

Would have liked to see how a low end unit compares pour wise and such.

neut2004 09-28-2011 10:14 PM

Don't forget that you'll have to fit your co2 tank in the fridge, or drill a hole in the fridge side/back to run tubing to the regulator.

AngryTurk 09-29-2011 02:21 PM

CO2 Tank

Originally Posted by neut2004 (Post 3338899)
Don't forget that you'll have to fit your co2 tank in the fridge, or drill a hole in the fridge side/back to run tubing to the regulator.

Yeah I was actually thinking to leave it outside the fridge and run the hose from the side, near the back. It's a little bit of Russian Roulette hoping to not nick any lines, but I think the odds are in my favor.

AngryTurk 09-30-2011 04:58 PM

Thank You Farmhouse!
Got the Perlick 525 and the shanks today from Farmhouse Supply. DAMN they ship fast! Too bad my gas side isn't here yet, I would have liked to start with that this weekend... I'll post my materials list and pictures once I have everything in hand.

AngryTurk 10-05-2011 05:24 PM

Got the rest of my parts yesterday. Construction is a GO for this weekend. I'll post pictures of the progress as well as all the parts beforehand. I plan to lay everything out in a "dry run" to make sure I have everything I need before I begin cutting holes in the fridge!

AngryTurk 10-07-2011 05:05 PM

Materials Dry Run
Well, I got everything in hand that I need and started putting everything together last night before I drilled the fridge to make sure I have everything. The darling wife picked up a 6 pack of Hex Ourtoberfest from Magic Hat for the occasion. It was good.

So here is what I've bought for my fridge conversion and faucet test:
  1. (1) Perlick 525 SS Faucet $ 30.49
  2. (1) European Chrome Faucet $ 72.99
  3. (1) NADS Chrome Faucet $ 94.99
  4. (3) 1/8" SS Shanks w/ Nut, Washer, and 1/4" tail pieces $17.89
  5. (3) 1/4" barbed Liquid Side Ball Lock Disconnects $ 5.99
  6. (2) 6" SS Drip Trays $ 29.99
  7. (1) Hex/Faucet Wrench $ 7.99
  8. (12) 3/16" PVC Beer Line (more on this later) $ 0.70/ft
  9. (18) SS Tubing Clamps $ 0.50/ea
  10. (1) 3-Way CO2 Distributor $ 39.95
  11. (6) 1/4" Barbed Gas side Ball Lock disconnects $ 5.50
  12. (1) 5/16" Barbed Swivel Nut $ 2.50
  13. (1) Ball Check Valve $ 2.50
  14. (25) 5/16" Gas Line $ 0.70/ft

Total cost to me including delivery for all this came out to: $ 486.34 (thankfully my wife doesn't read my posts)

In addition to this I already had a 10lb CO2 tank, CO2 regulator, and one 3-way CO2 distributor. Here is what the setup looks like:

Had I bought this all from scratch I would have gone with a 6-way distributor for inside the fridge, but since I already had one 3-way, I figured why not just get another 3-way and link the two since it's cheaper than one 6-way. That is why I bought the swivel nut and check valve. In fact you don't need a check valve to make this connection as each shut-off already has one built it, but the problem with doing your shopping online, is that sometimes it's hard to find the right piece by browsing the virtual isles... It'll work, but it's over kill.

As you see I already removed the stop bolt from the opposite end of my existing 3-way and replaced it with the check valve and swivel nut. This BTW... is NOT easy! They have used a sealant on this that has the connection on there REALLY well. I stripped the hell out of the nut trying to remove it, but I finally jimmied it out of there!

The liquid side seems like it will work just fine as layed out below. The only problem are the tap handles. Not sure I like them much, which is why I didn't list them above. Since I plan to use the freezer part of the fridge, these 6" handles will have me place the faucets lower than I'd like. I might get shorter European style handles so that I can mount the faucets a high up as possible. We'll see... I am going to make do with these for now.

Stay tuned... more to come!

lou2row 10-07-2011 05:19 PM

I already thought of a fix for this. Put a stop on the fridge door so the freezer door cannot be opened without the fridge door opened first. You can open the fridge without the freezer, but this will stop the freezer from hitting the handles. Unless you are in your freezer a lot, it should be fine.

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