Basement to first floor long line keezer build: contribute your advice & information!

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Oxynostu

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Hello world! I'm just one more of many lurkers-turned-posters in this amazing community. I've been researching how to make my plans a reality and am finally posting my thoughts and plans here for two reasons: 1) As a sounding board where I can put my thoughts down into one cohesive plan, whereby you all can offer your advice and constructive criticisms to help me improve the plan, and 2) To ask some questions that I don't yet have answers to.

I'd like to also say that while there are many posts similar to what I'm writing here, nothing I've found has been "quite right" for my objective, and many forums are over 5-10 years old. That being said, a side-quest goal of mine is to contribute to this community via this forum. My hope is that it will ultimately contain a lot of information so that someone else in the future might find it helpful. I will do my best to summarize the thoughts, findings, and details in as organized a fashion as I can to make it all the more useful. Ok, on to the project!

First off, known questions:
I thought I'd first write down some of the questions I already have so that people don't need to scour a long post to figure out what I will be asking. Plus this way you can see at a glance what I need help with so you'll know whether or not you can help. These are just the overviews of the questions, the specifics will be in the actual post as I go over the build.
  1. Keezer build
    • To collar or not to collar? That is the question with my unordinary chest freezer. It is massive and can easily fit kegs and CO2 inside it without a collar's added height. Due to rounded corners and a weird plastic lip, I might need a collar that sits snugly "around" the body of the freezer rather than attaching onto the top of it. So far I have planned to not build a collar, and to instead drill a hole through the lid of the freezer out of which will run the trunk line. This seems faster and easier than building a collar, though then the question becomes how do I have the lid open if lines are coming out of it?
    • Liquid cool or fan cool for lines and shanks? I've seen quite a few homemade liquid cooled lines. Currently my plan is to do a salt-water pump liquid cooled line that will run with the beverage lines through the trunk, up to the shanks, attach to copper tubes that surround the shanks, then back down. I plan to keep the reservoir of salt water in the keezer with the kegs and to have a submersible pump. However, I think I might be right on the upper threshold of being able to use a fan to blow cool air from the keezer up with the lines to an insulated body surrounding the shanks, then back down to the keezer to complete the air flow circuit. If you think one method is better than the other, please let me know why!
  2. Lines and tubing
    • How to choose "ideal" lines & lengths. It's roughly 9'5'' vertical distance from center of kegs to center of taps. However, there will also need to be some extra slack in the lines to accommodate opening and closing of keezer lid and the kitchen drawer that the taps will attach to. I've seen a lot of back and forth between 3/16'' and 1/4'' ID tubing, but I'm not sure how to decide which will be best for me and which "type" of tubing to use for beverage line, coolant line, gas line, etc.
    • How to make my own trunk line. I can afford to drop some skrill for this build, but it seems that making your own trunk line can save you a lot of money. I'm planning on buying all the lines I need to make my own trunk line.
Ok, that's enough of a question preview. If you see any of those thoughts and think to yourself "Hey! I know a bit about that!" then you should drop your thoughts as a reply! Read on to learn more specifics about the build.

Build overview:
At the end of this project I will have four taps on a cabinet in my kitchen. The lines will come up from the keezer in the basement through what used to be a laundry chute. The lines will be cooled by either liquid or fan (not sure which yet, though I'm leaning toward liquid).

cabinet closed.jpg

This is the cabinet in my kitchen where the taps will be. I can do 4 taps at 2.8'' apart or 3 taps at 3.5'' apart. I'm planning on doing four (you can see the chalk marks where the centers of the taps will be).

cabinet open.jpg
base baord.jpg

Here's the view of the open cabinet. Please disregard the trash in there, I didn't notice until I attached the picture, and now it's far too late. It used to be a laundry chute, so it goes straight down into the basement. The wooden base board that is the floor of the cabinet is just screwed onto the bottom from the basement side. The plan is to drill a hole in the base board to allow the trunk line run up from the keezer directly underneath. The trunk line will come up the near-left corner of the cabinet, and then connect to some insulated housing on the back of the cabinet wall that will surround the shanks to keep them cool.

basement view.jpg

Here's the view of the keezer as you come down into the basement. The wooden base board that is the bottom of the kitchen cabinet is directly above the water heater, as you will see in the following pictures. The trunk line will either A) come straight through the lid of the freezer or B) come out of a collar on the freezer, then run upwards, above the water heater, into the kitchen cabinet above. I'd like to avoid the hassle of building a collar, but if I drill through the lid of the freezer I'd need to come up with a build that would allow the lid to open and close.

front view water heater.jpg
looking up at base baord.jpg

The base board as seen from the basement, directly above the water heater. If the bricks you see in the picture are North, the trunk line will run up the Southeast corner of the base board.

Breaking up the build: step by step
So I don't have much experience building things, but I like to be organized and think of things as a process, so I'm going to break up what I need to do into distinct steps. The order is unimportant, but they're all things that need doing:
  1. Prepare shanks
    • Install shanks into cabinet wall
    • Loop copper tubing around the shanks for coolant to flow through
    • Build housing to contain and insulate the shanks. Housing will connect to trunk line.
  2. Make trunk line
    • Trunk line will consist of 4 beverage lines, a coolant out line, and a coolant in line.
    • Lines will be wrapped in saran wrap to contain condensation, then foil, then some sort of foam? then PVC pipe? Not sure the "best" build for the trunk. If trunk line is contained in rigid structure such as PVC, be sure to accommodate movement from freezer lid and cabinet wall opening and closing.
    • Trunk line will run up from keezer, through the base board above the water heater, into the kitchen cabinet, then connect to the insulated shank housing.
  3. Prepare keezer
    • Keezer will need to connect to the trunk line. Trunk line will exit either A) Through a hole drilled in the lid or B) Through a collar.
Ok, I know there's more to it than this, but this post is getting way too long and I'm getting tired of writing, so we will leave the to-do list at that for now.

Questions that need answering!
  1. Should I just build a damn collar?

    I wanted to avoid building a collar because there are rounded corners to this freezer and there is a blue plastic ridge that the seal sits snugly around that would prevent a collar from being placed flush on the freezer body. If I were to build a collar, I think I would need to build a sort of collar-frame that sits snugly around the freezer body rather than attaching to it, because I'm not skilled in wood working and don't want to deal with mitering/rounding corners/anything else outside of basic wood working stuff. The alternative to a collar is drilling a hole through the lid of the freezer because I know I won't run into any cooling lines or anything important in the lid. However, if I do that then I need to figure out how I can have the lines leaving through the lid and still be able to open the lid.


  2. What lines to buy and how long?

    I don't know what lines I want to buy (beverage, coolant, and gas) or how to figure out if I want 3/16'' or 1/4'' ID. I've read a lot about balancing the lines, but it kinda boggles my brain. It's about 9'5'' vertical distance from center of keg to center of tap. Pulling a guess out of thin air I was thinking of about 12' lines to have ample slack for opening and closing of lid and cabinet, variable line length needed depending on where in the freezer the keg is sitting, whether the line is connected to the nearest tap or the furthest tap, etc. etc. etc. Any advice regarding lines is highly appreciated!

  3. Is liquid cooling the way I want to go?

    Liquid cooling seemed preferable to me. For one, to get the trunk line from the keezer to above the water heater to the insulated shank housing will require a couple angles and turns. I feel like incorporating angles and turns with air cooling from a fan isn't ideal. If I use liquid cooling it doesn't matter if I have to make even a 90 degree turn. If anyone has strong opinions about fan cooling vs liquid cooling, especially considering my build and the distance it's traveling, let me know.
  4. Good trunk line ideas?

    I feel like I get the gist of building a trunk line, but I thought I might as well put it out there to see if anyone has some good ideas about this. Rigid trunk line (PVC)? Soft trunk line (some sort of foam)? Let me know what you've seen work well!

  5. Places to purchase.

    Last I guess is just good resources for purchasing the materials I'll be using here. I know there are lots of resources to be found, so this is more of a "hey, if you have a link to a good site for buying hundreds of feet of beverage line you might as well drop it here".
Thank you!
I know this post is super long, so thanks for reading through it. I really hope to turn this into a good source of information that will help many people for years to come. I will update it, organize it, and do my best to make it useful as time goes on. If you feel like you have something that can contribute to this thread, whether or not it's directly related to something I asked, feel free to drop it in a comment and I'll include it how I can!

All the best,
Oxynostu, Time Travelling Wizard of the Multiverse
 

Nate R

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Sounds fun!! A dream of many!
I will weigh in on #3:
You MUST liquid cool. No way can you air cool that run. Even 12" in a beer towel gets warm fast.
Which means you will need glycol. No "cold water in a fridge" is gonna cut it.
So... you will need a $2000 glycol machine. Or used, here, often for say $800 to $1200.

So, if you got that scratch... why a chest keezer?
Go easy!
Upright freezer (or fridge).
Build a shelf. 4 to 5 kegs on top, 4 to 5 kegs below.
Make or a run a trunk line and pass through one hole.

My $0.02.

Good luck with the build!! Keep us updated!!
 

Tallgrass

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This is something I considered a while back and you both got the wheels spinning again.

A side by side fridge would be a good option. I've seen some that would fit four cornys on the fridge side and you could get a glycol container on the freezer side.

If that freezer was in my basement right now...I would add some hinges to the back and split the lid with an angle grinder. smooth the rough edges and find a way to gasket the kerf(gap left by your cutting tool of choice). Assuming you could find some replacement hinges. Or just have the lid sitting on top.
I know a lot of people use chest freezers but collars and condensation steered me away. My fears may be more ignorance than reality.

Using this Hose length calculator
EVAbarrier 6mm(.236)x9.5mm could be a good compromise between 3/16" and 1/4"
That puts you at 15.69 feet of line length.
I don't know "the roughness" of EVA but changing that value doesn't effect line length too much.

1/4 flare x 9.5mm at the keg then something similar on the shank side.


There are many variables. I would go long on the line and cut back if required.
 
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Dland

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On the glycol chiller, one can make them for low money if one has an old window AC kicking around. The flat discharge tubing I use works OK around my fermentors & kegs, it might be closer to ideal for cooling your long vertical run.


Another option to calculating and using long thin dispenser lines is to go with flow control taps.
 
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Oxynostu

Oxynostu

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No "cold water in a fridge" is gonna cut it.
So... you will need a $2000 glycol machine. Or used, here, often for say $800 to $1200.
Why do you say no cold water will cut it? I think I've seen numerous posts expressing success with salt water circulations. While maybe it isn't going to be as good as it could possibly get, it sounds like still a viable option that will do a decent job.
 
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Oxynostu

Oxynostu

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Using this Hose length calculator
EVAbarrier 6mm(.236)x9.5mm could be a good compromise between 3/16" and 1/4"
That puts you at 15.69 feet of line length.
I don't know "the roughness" of EVA but changing that value doesn't effect line length too much.

1/4 flare x 9.5mm at the keg then something similar on the shank side.


There are many variables. I would go long on the line and cut back if required.
Thank you for the awesome advice!
 
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Oxynostu

Oxynostu

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Another option to calculating and using long thin dispenser lines is to go with flow control taps.
I was considering this. I have a buddy who has some extra taps lying around collecting dust who said he'd give them to me. I was considering this to be a free score, but I've been wondering about flow control taps and if it'd be worth the additional cost when I have the other ones for free. I haven't actually seen the taps he has, so I'm hoping that I'll get extra lucky and they'll be flow control, haha 😂
 

Nate R

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Why do you say no cold water will cut it? I think I've seen numerous posts expressing success with salt water circulations. While maybe it isn't going to be as good as it could possibly get, it sounds like still a viable option that will do a decent job.
Yeah... you probably shouldn't let me design your system for you. Although you asked for advice, so i thought i would pass it along.
But... i think for a long run like yours, the liquid cooling should be below 36... more like 26 or 28. So, you need an anti-freeze, like glycol.
Glycol really needs a direct coil cooling system (like posted above).
I tried looking into keeping a glycol bath in my freezer for a cheap diy glycol cooler, but the science just wasn't there.

In my uneducated and unscientific opinion only... unless you have a very tightly insulated and well wrapped trunk line with a very (very very cold!) Coolant line, your beer will become warmer in the lines then in your keezer. Therefore the first pours (whatever is in the lines from the keezer to the tap- 1 ounce per foot usually) will be warmer and very foamy.
Just my $0.02
 
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Oxynostu

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Yeah... you probably shouldn't let me design your system for you. Although you asked for advice, so i thought i would pass it along.
But... i think for a long run like yours, the liquid cooling should be below 36... more like 26 or 28. So, you need an anti-freeze, like glycol.
Glycol really needs a direct coil cooling system (like posted above).
I tried looking into keeping a glycol bath in my freezer for a cheap diy glycol cooler, but the science just wasn't there.

In my uneducated and unscientific opinion only... unless you have a very tightly insulated and well wrapped trunk line with a very (very very cold!) Coolant line, your beer will become warmer in the lines then in your keezer. Therefore the first pours (whatever is in the lines from the keezer to the tap- 1 ounce per foot usually) will be warmer and very foamy.
Just my $0.02
Fair enough, and thank you for your input. Very much appreciated!
 

Tallgrass

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Well I couldn't help myself.
The new freezer will be here Saturday and bits are arriving in the mail each day.

If you hold off for a couple weeks you can learn from my mistakes.

Using 6mm EVA and 3/8 soft copper.
The EVA comes in 39ft rolls so 2 rolls cut in half should be a good starting point for four taps.
I have a few bends and the copper should help hold the shape of the trunkline.
I ordered the micromatic moisture barrier tape. Plastic wrap may be used under the tape just incase really I screw this thing up.

My situation is unusual. I just completed and mini fridge kegerator under the counter with a tower. My wife recently started making seltzer on the regular and I moved to 10 gallon batches. Quickly realized 2 taps is not enough and I needed more cold storage.
This trunk line will enter the bottom of my mini fridge and go up to the tower so I'm going to try water cooling first.
 

Tallgrass

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One more thing.
It looks like you're using type b vent on your water heater. That's better then the single wall but you should stay clear of of it as much as possible. I just installed a new heater with single wall and it has a 6 inch minimum clearance. I think the double wall is one inch but you don't need any heat near your trunk line.
 

duncan.brown

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Here are my answers based on my experience:

Should I just build a damn collar?
Yes. It's going to be a high PITA running the trunk line through the lid of the keezer. You're right that the problem is going to be opening and closing it. Trunk line is not particularly flexible and so I think you're much better off building a small collar and running the trunk line through that.

What lines to buy and how long?
The advantage that EVABarrier has is flexibility for single line installs where the taps and kegs are in a collar keezer. If you're building trunk line, flexibility matters less so I'd go with BevSeal Ultra 235 for a long-draw system. It's cheaper per foot and comes in longer rolls. I used copper for my coolant lines, but PEX works well too (Micromatic trunk link uses PEX, for example).

Is liquid cooling the way I want to go?
I agree with @Nate R that you really need a glycol chiller and run glycol in the loop. I scoured the forums when designing my system to compare people past success with water vs glycol. My conclusion was that 28F glycol works 100% of the time and keezer-temp water maybe works... If you do go with keezer-temperature water, don't add salt. There's no need. The water won't get cold enough to freeze and salt water will corrode things like crazy. Don't forget, your cooling loop doesn't just need to keep the beer in the trunk lines cool, it needs to cool the taps as well. You also need to factor in that the pump will generate heat so whatever is chilling the coolant will need to be able to dissipate that heat as well.

Another advantage of a wooden collar is that you start with water in the keezer, and if you find that it doesn't work, you can upgrade to glycol later by running the glycol lines from the chiller through the collar into the keezer where they can connect with the trunk lines.

Good trunk line ideas?
My post below (and my article in BYO magazine) describe how to build your own trunk lines. If you search the forums, there's a post from me that compares the cost of self-built lines to pre-build from Micromatic and calculates the break-even point for pre-built lines. You can also search eBay and Craig's List as people have picked up commercial trunk line at bargain prices there, if you don't want to build your own.

Places to purchase.
My build thread has a ton of links to all of the pieces that I purchased: Keezer and bar build

Good luck and post pictures of the build!
 
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Oxynostu

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One more thing.
It looks like you're using type b vent on your water heater. That's better then the single wall but you should stay clear of of it as much as possible. I just installed a new heater with single wall and it has a 6 inch minimum clearance. I think the double wall is one inch but you don't need any heat near your trunk line.
That is some solid advice, thank you very much!
 

Tallgrass

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I think we have similar arrangements.
My keezer is under but about 5 ft to the left of the taps. About 10ft head height. So my trunk line would be just be a few feet longer than yours.

I hadn't realized all the different things that need to go in and out of the keezer. I wood collar is really the way to go. All you need is a handsaw and screwdriver. My 105 year old basement ain't pretty and either is my collar but its airtight and functional.

I tried a 7 gallon fermonster filled with water in the keezer and it just wouldn't cut it. My trunk line enters the bottom of a minfridge where the copper cooling line goes up to the cold plate before returning back into the trunk line. Ideal conditions really and overnight the fermonster temp rose and stabilized at 10 degrees above the keezer temp. I'm assuming the heat from the pump was the main source of temp rise.
The fix? I already have a diy A/C chiller (water) set at 34 that is used to keep fermentation temps in check. It wasn't anywhere near my keezer but it is now. I'm using this tiny 12v pump that claims to have a 22ft head height. Don't know about that but it has no trouble circulating water upstairs and back. The return water is just a 1/2 degree above the supply temp. The chiller runs for 5 minutes every few hours. They are not hard to build. In fact I put a screw into a refrigerant line( second in the past few months) and had the next 5k A/C stripped and installed in about an hour.

The 2 beer lines are 19ft(half roll) Evabarrier 6.5mm. The water line is 4mm Eva. Pay close attention to all the variables in that calculator. At 10psi the pour rate(10 seconds) is a bit slow for my tastes. So I'm up to 12psi and will see if it over carbs. My kegs aren't completely carbed up yet but so far I'm happy with the line choice.

This whole project has been a learning experience but I don't regret any of it. No more carrying kegs up the stairs and a lot more cold CO2 storage. One thing I didn't expect is the popularity of the water tap.

If you need more kegs, Adventures In Homebrewing has used cornys on sale for 39 right now. They shipped free and there is a 10% off coupon. The kegs arrived quick and had a small amount of what I believe to be soda in them. A PBW soak fixed them right up.
 
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