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Old 09-09-2011, 05:46 PM   #1
JamieScanlon
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Default Fridge-less Kegerator?

I've been looking into kegerators lately but I have two problems with them. The only space I have for one is in my basement but I don't want to run down there every time I want to have a beer. And, it seems like an awful waste of energy to keep my kegs refrigerated 24/7.

So I was thinking what I really needed was a fridge-less beer chiller, something like a tankless water heater, only for cooling liquid rather than heating it. It would be small so could mount it anywhere I want to put the tap and run a line down to the kegs in the basement. It would also be a ton more energy efficient if it only cooled the beer as I poured it.

Does anybody know if anybody has tried to make something like this? It does not seem like it would be all that difficult, but I'm wondering if there would be any drawbacks to chilling beer this way or if anybody has any ideas about how I would go about building one?

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Old 09-09-2011, 06:03 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum. You should check out "Jockey Box" design. They are essentially on demand beer coolers, but generally (always?) use ice as the cooling mechanism.

Definitely worth looking at & experimenting with though if you are serious about wanting to build something custom. I've built a jockey box for outdoor use out of an old cooler and an aluminum (with internal SS beer lines) cold plate. The basic idea is that you put ice on top of the plate, which acts as a very efficient heat exchanger. As the warm beer runs through the lines inside the plate, it is cooled..but this melts the ice. You could probably replace the ice with something higher tech (and less messy) like propylene glycol, but systems for cooling and circulating that stuff are very expensive.

In the end, I think most of us have found that it is more efficient to just build a standard kegerator or better yet (for energy efficiency) a keezer, but I encourage you to experiment and do additional research if you are interested.

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Old 09-09-2011, 06:04 PM   #3
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Look into jockey boxes, you might find inspiration.

Anything that offers the convenience of cold beer on demand is going to "waste" energy. But you could probably put something together that could reach 40F in 15 minutes or so that you could put a coil in. You'd just need 15 minutes notice before you wanted to serve you're first beer.

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Old 09-09-2011, 06:13 PM   #4
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A couple thoughts on this:

Warm storage of beer causes it to go bad quicker. Probably okay if you are drinking it quickly.

Warm beer requires higher co2 pressure vs cold beer. May help if you run long beer lines. Bars often run n2/co2 mixes for long beer lines.

I don't know for sure but I would think you would have major foaming issues with it but I don't have any proof, it is already a balancing act.

The mythbuster's did an interesting show on how fast you could cool a can of beer. I think the fastest they could do it was with dry ice and like 5 minutes.

If I was wanting to do this, I would look into gutting a water cooler that refrigerates the water. Maybe put in a small holding tank, like 3 or 4 pints.

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Old 09-09-2011, 06:18 PM   #5
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Another thought, I think you'll find that in the long run, a highly efficient freezer based design that cools the beer in the kegs is more energy efficient than cooling beer on demand. Modern chest freezers are super efficient and when filled up with liquid (lots of thermal mass) they can maintain ideal temperatures for all your beer for pennies per month.

Again, I welcome you to experiment and would love to hear what you come up with, but most if not all "on demand" chilling systems are inherently inefficient as they generally involve more exposure of the cold bits to the warm bits.

Of course, there is the space issue to consider. I just want to mention that keeping the beer cold all the time is not necessarily less efficient than chilling it on demand.

Just my thoughts, good conversation started - I hope others will chime in with their thoughts as well.

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Old 09-10-2011, 04:13 PM   #6
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One thing that comes to mind is using a "jockey box" design but but in a bucket of water in your main fridge.

You place a 5 gallon bucket full of water in your fridge, the fridge will cool the water down to 34ish degrees, use a type of heat exchanger in the bucket (such as an immersion chiller or a length of stainless tubing). Warm beer lines --> Fridge --> Heat exchanger in bucket --> Glass --> Belly

You can adjust the design from there to meet your needs (such as the volume of water, length of heat exchanger tubing, bucket material).

If you really want to make a stand alone "tankless beer cooler" you could do it using thermoelectric cooling, but you would probably need to be an electrical engineer to design it, and could be expensive.

If neither of these ideas are an option, your best route would probably be glycol cooling, or simply bottling your beer and keeping it in your kitchen fridge.

Anyways, hope this helps!

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Old 09-10-2011, 11:47 PM   #7
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I hear your desires...but think you are better off w/ a basement keezer. Keezers are pretty energy efficient and cold storage of your beer is best IMO...nice and clear perfect pours. The basement isnt too far...I actually frefer the keezer 20 steps away...my god if it were any closer I'd be at it 24/7...kidding!

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Old 09-11-2011, 01:18 AM   #8
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sounds like you are looking for a premix soda dispenser. something like this

http://www.chicompany.net/index.php?...oducts_id=1719

a premix dispenser works just like a jockey box but has it's own refrigeration system built-in so no ice is needed. the soda taps on the units are usually plastic, but work just fine for beer.

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Old 09-11-2011, 01:23 AM   #9
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I know the idea of kegging is pretty alluring, but it sounds like it might not be too practical for you. I'll play the devils advocate here, why don't you just bottle?

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Old 09-11-2011, 12:34 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the replies. I think I'll end up going with a keeper solution similar to what this guy did: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f16/bost...r-taps-267647/ where there are insulated lines going from the keezer to my taps upstairs.

I'm still a little surprised that that a true instant cooling solution, one that does not require 24/7 refrigeration of some sort, has not been done. I mean, I run my hot boiling hot wort through a plate chiller and can cool it down to room temp at a flow rate much faster than a tap would require. I'm thinking if I took that same plate chiller and ransom refrigerant through it, it would do a nice job ( of course I'm ignoring the safety issues of running freon through a plate chiller ).

Anyhow, it gave me a lot to think about in the mean time.

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