I did a bunch of searching/research here before I did this, so I figured I'd post in case someone finds what I've done useful.
Here are the parts:
-Simple chrome dual-tower w/ heat exchanger etc
-Perlick 545PC faucets
-2 line beer trunk line
-Used 5000BTU AC unit (kijiji, $40)
-Coleman "party stacker" cooler
-Digital aquarium thermometer
-Marineland Maxi jet 1100 powerhead/pump
I got hooked up at a local commercial "beverage distribution" company with everything but the chiller (ie - AC, pump, cooler). The tower has some sort of heat exchanger that the copper glycol lines run through to cool the shanks/etc.
Step 1 was to find an AC unit on kijiji. I found one for $40 with dials - exactly what I wanted. This turned out to be one of the easiest parts of the whole project.
The AC unit actually had a sticker with the wiring diagram. It was simply a matter of connecting "red, white, blue wires" and boom, "low cool" mode. I used an STC-100 from eBay as a temperature controller.
The only AC unit modifications required were:
-Remove the exterior.
-Remove the squirrel cage
-Cut approx 1/3 of the plastic bottom away
I chose the cooler I did because it has quite thin sidewalls. I cut a notch out of it, then dropped the AC unit on top. This required absolutely no bending. I then used the foam/etc that I cut out and a ton of aquarium sealant/adhesive to seal it all up. Not pretty, but it should work. The glycol level isn't this high anyway.
Connecting the STC-100 was easy - it's a simple unit.
I set it to 1C and switched it on. After the 1min compressor delay setting, it kicked on. Around 1min later it started getting cold. I then watched the temp drop approx 1degree every 15 seconds - my jaw dropped!
It hit 1C on the display after a few min. The temp continued to drop (the glycol wasn't circulating, no pump yet) and hit approx -1.8C. I didn't hear it kick on again for another 4hrs.
I think 5000BTU is enough
The pump I bought is rated for 6' head. It barely made it - I had to suck on the return line a bit (and spit out some nasty tasting glcol in the mean time - I recommend drinking some strong beer while doing this to wash the flavor out of your mouth
. One running it was all good. We'll see how long it lasts.
I also bought a $12 aquarium thermometer, and jammed the sensor in between the 2 beer lines and 2 glycol lines at the tap. This way I can verify line temp etc.
Anyway, here are some pics. Sadly, I've gotta wait a week for my homebrew batch to finish =(
If you have any questions, ask away!
-Get a 5000BTU AC unit. Any more BTU is overkill. I might even remove the stock fan and replace it with silent PC fans.
-Get an AC unit with knobs. Not sure how a digital unit would compare, but this seriously couldn't have been easier to setup.
-The STC-100 does a great job for this. No need to spend more than $15.
-Get a wife like mine, who'll let you put a beer tap in your kitchen
My new kegerator. Found it on kijiji as well, $70, no freezer. This is pre-chiler setup.
The trunk line. I had to tape it up to compress it to fit it through the 2.5" hole I cut in the floor & cabinet. Not fun pushing it through, but was too cheap to buy a bigger hole saw.
The aquarium thermometer. NOTE: This is while it was cooling down, approx 10min after I turned it all on.
My AC chiller unit
The STC-100 temperature controller. I should probably put all the connections into a box, but for now they're just marette connections.
Inside the cooler. Didn't get a pic while I was doing it, but this shows how deep the heat exchanger is:
Here's the notch in the cooler:
EDIT: I'll post an update once I get the beer flowing