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Old 01-31-2011, 02:17 PM   #1
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Default Kegerator Conversion: Frigidaire LFPH44M4LM

Lowes is currently selling a 4.4 cu. ft. compact fridge for $149.99, which is $30 savings. Before I bought it, I was hoping to confirm that the fridge would work on this site, but there was no thread that had given the thumbs up to that particular model number. I took a flyer on it, and it works GREAT, and the build was even easier than for most of the kegerators I've seen on this site. Here's my step-by-step:

(1) Here's the product number at Lowes. If yours isn't this model number, you might now have the right fridge, so double check.



(2) Here's a view of the inside. You can see that the freon tubes don't go through the inside of the fridge, so there's no plate chiller to bend back, no lines to kink or break, and no risk of destroying the fridge. That's something I really liked about this model.


(3) First off, let's take the freezer door off. Find the two screws right next to the temperature controller and unscrew them. Then the door pops right off.


(4) Now that the freezer door is off, you can slide the freezer base right out; there's nothing holding it in place.


(5) Unfortunately, the door is a little more tricky than some others. You can peel the rubber seal right off (it pops back into place easily later on) but there are no screws. Instead, the molded interior is held in place with glue, and is bonded to the insulation underneath it.


(6) To get more working space on the door, I removed it by unscrewing the foot that holds it in place at the bottom of the fridge.



(7) I used a utility knife to cut the plastic, and then knocked the molded pieces out with a hammer. If anybody else can come up with a better method, they're welcome to share it!


(8) Once I was done removing the plastic, I cut down the insulation so it was all flush with the edges of the door. That gives me more room to store kegs inside.


(9) Next I flipped the door over, and used a one-and-three-eighths-inch hole bit to cut the exterior skin of the door where I want the tap to go. After the plastic piece was gone, I cut the insulation underneath out of the way using a flat-head screwdriver.

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Old 01-31-2011, 02:18 PM   #2
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Default Continued. . .

(10) I flipped the door again to expose the insulation. Carefully measuring the interior portion of the door, I cut a piece of project board to fit, and glued/screwed the board down. Then, from the outside of the door, I used the one-and-three eights-inch hole bit to drill a pilot hole into the project board. (The blade of the bit shouldn't touch the board, just the pilot bit, so be careful!) Finally, from the inside of the door, I used a one-inch hole bit to cut a hole. The shank/pvc/faucet goes through the two holes, and you've got yourself a finished door!


(11) Reattach the door by screwing the foot back into place. Then reseat the rubber seal around the edge of the door. It just pops into place, so that's not hard.


(12) Because the project board extends a little farther out than the original plastic pieces, the seal between the rubber and the door isn't perfect. I fixed this by adding weather-stripping from the home-depot. Between the project board and the weather-stripping, the fridge has trouble staying shut, but the lock at the top provides the perfect fix: just lock the fridge when you want it to stay shut, and the seal between the weather-stripping and the rubber seal becomes perfect.

Also, because the door's molding is gone, the light-switch won't turn off when you close the door. You can remove the light bulb to save energy, or just use a piece of tape to tape the switch into the off-position.


(Notes) At the moment I'm just housing one keg in there, so I'll obviously have to drill a second set of holes in the door for the next keg.

I'll also probably have to move the temperature control/light assembly, but that shouldn't be difficult: it's only secured in place by two screws, so it can easily be moved to the back of the fridge where it won't be in the way.
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Old 02-09-2011, 01:42 PM   #3
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How much would you say this project cost total? Are you happy with the end result? I like how the tap comes out the front, I'd love to have something that I could slide under my desk.

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Old 02-09-2011, 01:54 PM   #4
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The fridge was $149.99 + tax, so $157.49.

The CO2 tank, regulator, lines, clamps, wrench, keg, QDs, shank & hardware, tap, and handle came to $190.71 including both tax and shipping & handling. I bought them from beveragefactory.com, and was really pleased with their prices, and their customer service.

Charging the CO2 tank cost me $25 at a local Airgas.

I had most of the tools I needed on-hand, but needed to buy one of the two bi-metal hole-saws I used to cut the hole in the door. They're pretty expensive, because you have to buy both the saw and the chuck. I think it ended up being about $20 for both.

The weatherstripping was $7.99.

So all total, I paid about $400.00, not including the beer.


As for whether I'm happy. . . I can't even TELL you have excited I am to be done with the chore of bottling. The prospect of having the ability to pressurize a keg also opens a lot of additional doors to me that I wasn't even thinking about when I got started: now I can filter beer by pushing it from one keg to another. (My understanding is that you can't really filter without pressure.)

I can also use a counter-pressure filler to fill pre-carbonated bottles and avoid the yeast-plug at the bottom. That'll be good for clarity and for storage and, when I give bottles as gifts, I won't have to try to get friends to decant the beer off the yeast. I can also use the CO2 to flush the oxygen out of bottles before I use them, and that'll help them keep for a lot longer.

And because kegs are cheap, I can throw beers into kegs as they come out of my pipeline and crash-chill them in the fridge. Or else I can use the kegs as a vessel to secondary in without worrying about oxygen permeability.

Others may have a different experience, but this set-up has really expanded my interest in brewing. It eliminates the step I HATE (bottling) and it gives me the opportunity to pursue more complex fermentations. So definitely give the project a shot, and let me know how it turns out!

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Old 03-03-2011, 07:24 PM   #5
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Default Let's do it

I'm just starting this same project with this fridge. Good inspiration and awesome build. I have the door shaved down and just ordered the conversion kit from kegconnection. I am kind of nervous because I just destroyed a perfectly good door and being a newlywed I don't have money to throw away if I mess this fridge up. I don't have hardly any diy experience but feel confident after looking at your build. Should I be worried? Lol. The project should run me about the same 400 dollars. Can't wait to get the parts in to finish it off! After your build, have you realized a way to get the board in and still have a good seal without the lock? Oh and have you tried fitting one keg and a 5g carboy? I'll only be running one tap dead center under the lock and would like to lager on the other side.

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Old 03-04-2011, 01:33 PM   #6
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Quote:
I am kind of nervous because I just destroyed a perfectly good door and being a newlywed I don't have money to throw away if I mess this fridge up. I don't have hardly any diy experience but feel confident after looking at your build. Should I be worried?
Well, I'll be honest with you. . . you probably have voided the warranty on that fridge, and I don't think Lowes will give you your money back at this point.

That said, this wasn't a complicated build. There's no plumbing, and no electrical. And, even better, any errors you make can be pretty easily corrected: in the WORST CASE SCENARIO, you might screw up the hole you have to drill through the door. If you do, you can just fill the hole in with spray insulation, and patch the front of the door with duct tape (or whatever you have on hand.) It won't be pretty, but it'll work. And I'm sure creative minds can come up with good ideas to MAKE it pretty after the fact.

Quote:
After your build, have you realized a way to get the board in and still have a good seal without the lock?
I added weatherstripping around the edge of the door, and the jam, but it won't seal without the lock being engaged. The problem (for me) is that I don't know what the sealing mechanism is - magnets, air pressure, etc. I don't mind keeping the door locked, so I haven't invested a lot of time and energy figuring out how to do it any other way; you should look into it, and let us know!

Quote:
Oh and have you tried fitting one keg and a 5g carboy? I'll only be running one tap dead center under the lock and would like to lager on the other side.
I haven't but, just from looking at it, I don't think that that would work. You definitely CAN keep two KEGS inside though; If you want to lager - as opposed to fermenting - why not just lager in a second keg?
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Old 03-04-2011, 02:33 PM   #7
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A quick suggestion, run the fridge for a week or two before starting the conversion. That way you can return it if it has any start up problems.

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Old 03-04-2011, 07:11 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by ChuckO View Post
A quick suggestion, run the fridge for a week or two before starting the conversion. That way you can return it if it has any start up problems.

I ran the fridge for a couple of days without any problems, fridge got really nice and cold.

I was thinking for the seal problem... If I used something thinner than the project board you speak of (by the way where do I get this project board and what is it made of?) like a thin piece of sheet metal, I could probably get it to sit in there after shaving out enough insulation to where the seal meets cleanly. I could also put some nice spray paint and a clear coat on the sheet metal to give it a nice finished look. I don't know im just throwing out ideas.

One other thing to think about... is there any concern in removing this much insulation? It seems it may make the compressor run for longer periods of time and cause it to age quicker or burn out?
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Old 03-08-2011, 07:59 PM   #9
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Quote:
I ran the fridge for a couple of days without any problems, fridge got really nice and cold.
Great!

Quote:
I was thinking for the seal problem... If I used something thinner than the project board you speak of (by the way where do I get this project board and what is it made of?) like a thin piece of sheet metal, I could probably get it to sit in there after shaving out enough insulation to where the seal meets cleanly. I could also put some nice spray paint and a clear coat on the sheet metal to give it a nice finished look. I don't know im just throwing out ideas.
The project board is a piece of compressed paperboard - the same thing that you see on the back of Billy bookshelves from IKEA. It's cheap, and you can buy it from Home Depot. (Probably Lowes too).

As for sheet metal: you could definitely try that, but I'm not sure how much of a difference it would make. The project board is only a few millimeters thick, so the thinner sheet metal might not help. Also, I would be concerned that the greater weight would put strain on the doors joints, and prevent the door from lining up appropriately to seal. That said, give it a thought!

An idea that I had a few days ago was to run magnetic tape underneath the weather-stripping that I added. That locks the door shut nicely, but I still use the lock just to be safe.

Quote:
One other thing to think about... is there any concern in removing this much insulation? It seems it may make the compressor run for longer periods of time and cause it to age quicker or burn out?
Removing the couple of cubic inches that you have isn't going to cause the fridge to be significantly less insulated. It will, however, increase the total space that the refrigerator is cooling. Not, however, in my opinion, enough to cause the compressor to run significantly more.

What's more likely is that the defrost mechanism will run for longer periods, because the divider between the freezer and refrigerator compartments has been removed. That means that the overall temperature of a larger volume of air is colder, and will cause greater condensation.

Looking at my electric bill, my kegerator, with two kegs of beer and a 5lb canister of CO2, is running me an extra $4 per month or so. Given the savings in my bar tab, it's more than a wash for me.
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Old 03-08-2011, 11:13 PM   #10
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Sweet thanks for the advice. I ended up going with a couple sheets of plexiglass I had laying around and although I haven't put the door back on yet i think the seal should still work as normal. Before screwing in the plexiglas glass I spray painted the sheets black and I got to say it looks pretty professional. I'll try to put up pics when I'm done.

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