Fridgenstein Side-By-Side Kegerator / Fermentation chamber

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mistercameron

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The newest development - I started putting shelves in. Bottom in first. I bought some scrap 1" aluminum T and 0.080" plate from the metal supply warehouse. I haven't put full kegs on yet, but it feels extremely sturdy. I can post some photos this weekend.

Unfortunately, the morning after turning it all back on, the freezer evaporator fan sounded like it bit the dust. It revs up, then stops. Thankfully it seems the compressor is working fine (it does get cold, just no blowing air around inside while it's on).

On the fridge side, both of my computer fans are almost toast (again). I bought the AC fans from Fry's electronics (there's only one option). After about a year, it seems the bearings lose lubrication and they make this horrible whining sound. Possibly it's just too cold or humid for them. My project this weekend is going to involve adding an AC outlet so I can plug this 12V molex ac adapter in and hook it up to new fans.

Molex AC Adapter
Fan 1, Silenx - has a 3yr warranty (at this rate... why not?). If it dies prematurely, maybe I'll actually get a free replacement.
Fan 2 is an Antec (I think) - it's the cheap option.

While I hate the idea of having to use AC adapters, I think it's clear that these Link Depot AC fans aren't going to cut it. Seriously - stay away. I also saw the CoolTron, but it looks suspiciously similar to the Link Depot fan. I'll pass.

As long as either the Silenx or Antec fans last longer than a year, I'm already break-even for a cheaper replacement fee. If anyone has any other suggestions, I'm all ears.
 
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Another update:

The computer fans don't blow as much air, but I think it's probably OK.

I've since replaced the control board and the evaporator fan with no luck whatsoever. Something else is amiss, but I don't think I have the patience to figure it out when picking up another Kenmore on Craigslist would run less than $200. A keeper wouldn't cost that much different.

SO... I'm bummed out. I don't think a fix is in store for this one. Too bad - I really liked it.
 

maierhof

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That doesn't sound good - You were the one that inspired me to do mine and it bums me out to hear that you lost your kegerator!

All that work down the drain - but alas - you can rebuild it and maybe even use the old door on the new one - if you get the exact version again or just get plain lucky... The good thing is that you can strip your electronic parts off the old one so that should help also. Best of luck in your upcoming search!
 
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That doesn't sound good - You were the one that inspired me to do mine and it bums me out to hear that you lost your kegerator!

All that work down the drain - but alas - you can rebuild it and maybe even use the old door on the new one - if you get the exact version again or just get plain lucky... The good thing is that you can strip your electronic parts off the old one so that should help also. Best of luck in your upcoming search!
I appreciate the support and I'm glad I was able to help, even if only inspirational. Part of me wants this to "just work" again by buying another, but as we know - these models are getting up there in age. The thought of trying again (and all the work it takes) to have it fail makes me shy away from the idea. When the chest freezers and mini fridges are common and simple, the decision to move on becomes a little easier.

I've seen several of the Kenmore 106 models on Craig's List, which I think all have the circuit board on the refrigerator controls (freezer still uses the simple thermistor). I believe these are a couple years newer than my 256(?) model with the dual thermistor. Even newer models have digital controls, which is something I don't want to deal with.

Thanks again
 

maierhof

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I hear you on that one - I actually bought a square chest freezer (around 1980s in age) and converted it to my be my kegerator - but was saddened by the lack of cooling it performed - which is why it was on the market for $30. It became my fermenter box and serves me quite well in that regard but you are right - these things are getting old -

My kegerator is the side by side fridge that was in the house when we moved in - my wife wanted me to toss it (before I brewed) and I said no we can use it for beers, and drinks in the rec room as the kids get older. Now I have four kegs in there two 7.75s on the bottom and two 5 gal cornies on top. With your help I put the line in correctly the first time and I still get a good defrost cycle too - which scared the shyte out of me when it first kicked in - the power went out on my stc box and when I opened the door the light was still on. Waited a few hours and the box lit up again. Big smile then - so thank you (and a few others up here too) for your detailed help on the build!:rockin:

Come on - do it again - but this time make a video and inspire the next batch of new brewers to do the same... :mug:
 
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The Fridgenstein has been put to rest at the city recycling center, but not before I scavenged a few parts.

I picked up a 10.2 cu ft Igloo from Best Buy on sale for a keeper build, and a freezer less Kenmore mini fridge that's more or less the same specs as the legendary Sanyo. Big enough for my 6.5gal carboy. The keeper can fit 6 ball lock cornies, though I won't have more than 4 going at any time. I went for the extra space so I could lager if I wanted, or sky least have cold storage for aging.
 

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The Fridgenstein has been put to rest at the city recycling center, but not before I scavenged a few parts.

I picked up a 10.2 cu ft Igloo from Best Buy on sale for a keeper build, and a freezer less Kenmore mini fridge that's more or less the same specs as the legendary Sanyo. Big enough for my 6.5gal carboy. The keeper can fit 6 ball lock cornies, though I won't have more than 4 going at any time. I went for the extra space so I could lager if I wanted, or sky least have cold storage for aging.
If I'm reading this correctly, you are moving on to a separate kegerator and fermentation chamber. Although its sad to loose an old friend, I think you will like having those operations separate. Don't give up on a side by side for kegging. Inspired by you and others, that is what I built. and am loving it. 8 keg capacity with room for bottles (and the occasional loaf of bread. Thanks a lot SWMBO!). Also, no lifting kegs up over the keezer wall. Smaller foot print than a keezer with the same capacity. I'm a side by side convert. Wouldn't think of doing otherwise.
 
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Yup - made the move already. One benefit (and I haven't even started in the chest freezer yet) is that the garage feels bigger without the fridge. I also doubled++ my keg and bottle conditioning capacity. The chest freezer is roughly 6" wider, which I made up for my moving something's over. I also get a place on the wall for shelving. No matter what, I never had enough room for kegs + bottles in the old fridge. What I will be giving up is fermentation capacity. I'll cross that road when I get there.
 

Murphyslaw2

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I bought a fridge a couple months ago in the hopes of making one of these but I couldn't figure out the wiring for the termostat. I think my fridge only has one, and uses a manual knob to regulate how much air moves through a hole in the wall. I have a keezer already so I just figured I would use the fridge side as a fermentation chamber and not use the freezer side.

But I've been thinking.... And hoped some of you guys who have a better handle on this than me might be able to tell me if this would work...

What if I use one controller for the freezer, so it gives power to the unit to lower the temp and a heater to raise it, and the other controller cools the fridge side by powering a computer fan or two in the wall to blow the cold air in, and raises the temp with a heater? Perhaps a louvre vent cover over the fan to limit leakage.

As I said, that seems to be how this fridge operated anyway. There is a small hole at the top of the wall between the sides and a manual dial that adjusts the amount of air that moves through it.


I can probably test this pretty easily by just plugging the unit into the wall and putting a computer fan in place. I think the thermostat will cause the fridge to run until the freezer side hits normal freezer temps and I can see how well the fridge can change temp.

Do you think I could hold the freezer side at 45 and keep the fridge side at steady fermentation temps?
 

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That should work. Similar to what I did with my side by side, except I had to do more wiring to make it work. I would recommend storing something in the freezer side like bottled beer to provide a bit of thermal mass, it should reduce how often the compressor runs.
 

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I keep the freezer at 2c and can still change the ferm side quite a bit (from ale to lager ti carbing extra kegs at seveeing temp). The fans and heater are necessary imo
 

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And by the way, this photo of the dead fridge is rather concerning. It's the cold air port in the partition wall, next to the condenser & defrost coil.

Melted styrofoam. I'm glad it didn't catch fire!
View attachment 243735

I think it's a pretty safe bet this is related to the demise.
That is a little concerning. Especially since I just finished reading this entire thread and am about to start on my side-by-side conversion. Any idea what caused the melting styrofoam? Thanks for the write up, btw, and to everyone else who has contributed to this thread.
 

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Suppose I wanted to build one of these badasss mama-jammas in reverse, where the fridge side is the kegerator and the freezer side is the ferm chamber, and bonus I don't want lagering temps just room temp 65-75F on the freezer side only so I can ferment in my garage to keep SWMBO happy, and double bonus I can't imagine ever needing a heater inside as in TX the coldest it gets in my garage is in the 50's for 3 or 4 days a year and I could just plan my brews accordingly.

In my simple mind it seems I could just leave the fridge side alone as the normal fridge temp is what I want, and wire a controller into the freezer side to raise it up to room temp? Or maybe completely shut off the freezer and setup some kind of ghetto pass-through system to pull a bit of cool air from fridge side just enough to keep ferm side in the 70's? Or disconnect the freezer and hookup some kind of simple homemade A/C window unit type of thing to circulate the air through a cooling source just enough to get the heat down from the 90's into the 70's.....:tank:

I guess I don't know enough about how fridge/freezer combos work(yet)...any thoughts are appreciated
 

truvr

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In my simple mind it seems I could just leave the fridge side alone as the normal fridge temp is what I want, and wire a controller into the freezer side to raise it up to room temp? Or maybe completely shut off the freezer and setup some kind of ghetto pass-through system to pull a bit of cool air from fridge side just enough to keep ferm side in the 70's? Or disconnect the freezer and hookup some kind of simple homemade A/C window unit type of thing to circulate the air through a cooling source just enough to get the heat down from the 90's into the 70's...
I don't think that would work. All of the side-by-sides I have seen have all of the active cooling on the freezer side. The fridge side is cooled by pulling cold air in from the freezer. Unless you can find one with separate cooling systems for each side...
 

noggins

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I don't think that would work. All of the side-by-sides I have seen have all of the active cooling on the freezer side. The fridge side is cooled by pulling cold air in from the freezer. Unless you can find one with separate cooling systems for each side...
bummer. I guess I'll build a simple mini-fridge ferm chamber and wait on the kegerator.
 

murphyslaw

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Why do you want the kegs on the fridge side? Were you just hoping that it would be easier since it keeps at serving temps already?


I'm not sure that you could fit a fermentation bucket on the freezer side either. If I remember right my bucket needs 13" and my freezer is about 10" wide. The kegs are a tight fit at 8.5".
 

noggins

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Why do you want the kegs on the fridge side? Were you just hoping that it would be easier since it keeps at serving temps already?


I'm not sure that you could fit a fermentation bucket on the freezer side either. If I remember right my bucket needs 13" and my freezer is about 10" wide. The kegs are a tight fit at 8.5".
I primary ferment in cornies, secondary in cornies, serve in cornies, cornies cornies cornelius. Yeh, my only reasoning was if half of the thing already does what I want it to, why would I wanna change both sides when I can just change one side. Silly me.
 

noggins

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What if....I took a side-by-side and plugged it into a temp controller with no modifications to the fridge at all. Stick the controller temp probe into fridge side with controller set to 70f. The fridge/freezer combo in my kitchen runs about 35f difference from freezer to fridge, so if the ferm fridge is running near 70f I'd assume the kegerator freezer would be up near 35f? Seems too good to be true..

[EDIT]well I found this post: https://www.homebrewtalk.com/showpost.php?p=5555658&postcount=3 it seems my logic is sound. Yay Internet!

I just made a chamber out of a side by side, only I am holding the frig side to ale temps, which gives the freezer side a temp right around 40F (it swings between 37 and 43 depending on whether the frig side needs cooling), which is basically frig temps. I am going to ferment ales (65F - 18.3C) on the frig side, and use the other side to cold crash for bottling and as a frig for storage of grains etc....
[EDITEDIT]
Or maybe I'll make things easier on myself, get any 'ol fridge of cl, plug it in normal to use as 40f kegerator and buy a fermwrap plugged into temp controller for fermenting individual batches inside the kegerator at 65-70f.

[/EDITEDIT]
[/EDIT]
 

murphyslaw

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Or maybe I'll make things easier on myself, get any 'ol fridge of cl, plug it in normal to use as 40f kegerator and buy a fermwrap plugged into temp controller for fermenting individual batches inside the kegerator at 65-70f.

[/EDITEDIT]
[/EDIT]
You should ask the manufacturer of that would work. I don't know if a fermwrap can keep temps 25-30 degrees above ambient. It might.

But you'd have the thing fighting constantly to keep the temp up. You'd also have one compartment with 5 gallons of 70 degree wort and 5-10 gallons of 40 degree beer. Those would work against each other, too.
 

noggins

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You should ask the manufacturer of that would work. I don't know if a fermwrap can keep temps 25-30 degrees above ambient. It might.

But you'd have the thing fighting constantly to keep the temp up. You'd also have one compartment with 5 gallons of 70 degree wort and 5-10 gallons of 40 degree beer. Those would work against each other, too.
It looks like the advertised range of ferm-wrap is 5-20f, so I'd have keezer sitting at about 40f and be able ferm at 60f, which I've always dreamed of being able to do in TX. If the ambient temp becomes an issue I'll add some type of insulation :mug:
 

murphyslaw

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It looks like the advertised range of ferm-wrap is 5-20f, so I'd have keezer sitting at about 40f and be able ferm at 60f, which I've always dreamed of being able to do in TX. If the ambient temp becomes an issue I'll add some type of insulation :mug:
Good luck!
 

noggins

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well screw it, I'm just gonna get a second chest freezer so I'll have one dedicated for fermenting and one for keezer. If there's one thing I've learned in 10 years of 'trying' to homebrew, it's that a larger upfront investment is way cheaper in the long run than a bunch of half-assed attempts at ill advised shortcuts. I'm officially done high jacking this thread.
 

chessking

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well screw it, I'm just gonna get a second chest freezer so I'll have one dedicated for fermenting and one for keezer. If there's one thing I've learned in 10 years of 'trying' to homebrew, it's that a larger upfront investment is way cheaper in the long run than a bunch of half-assed attempts at ill advised shortcuts. I'm officially done high jacking this thread.

Congrats! You just leveled up.
 

slimgid

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Noggins... I was having the same idea as you with regard to one temp controller. Was thinking I could run the fridge normally and adjust the thermostats until I had a difference of 30-35 degrees then use a single temp controller set to 70 on the fridge (fermenting) side, which should give me 35-40 on the freezer (keg service) side. I really am curious if anyone else has done this. The other thread seemed to reference extra fans and such that I would rather not mess with. I don't have space for 2 dedicated appliances or I would go that route.
 

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chessking

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Thank you all for for the inspiration and guidance on this project. I finished my build about 2 weeks ago. I havent had the opportunity to try out the ferm chamber yet, but i will soon. The kegerator side works great.
It looks like you have individual fans to cool the fermentation side. And that you are trying to get two different zones. The only problem I see is that when you pull air from the left side, air must return. So if the bottom fan kicks in to cool the lower zone, air will return to the left side, and probably through the upper fan hole, unless it is running as well, so then the return would be the top hole where the original baffles were. If there is no return the cold draw will be diminished. If the return is through an upper hole then the cold air from the lower chamber will move up and cool the upper chamber, possibly more than you want, for instance , if you are lagering on the lower, and got an ale on top.

If you have problems maintaining temperature seperation, and want to completely isolate the two zones, you may need to cut return holes for each zone, and possibly make them one way with a flap, so the cold air only moves when and where you want.
Just a thought. Nice jog BTW. I love those side by sides.
 

murphyslaw

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It looks like you have individual fans to cool the fermentation side. And that you are trying to get two different zones. The only problem I see is that when you pull air from the left side, air must return. So if the bottom fan kicks in to cool the lower zone, air will return to the left side, and probably through the upper fan hole, unless it is running as well, so then the return would be the top hole where the original baffles were. If there is no return the cold draw will be diminished. If the return is through an upper hole then the cold air from the lower chamber will move up and cool the upper chamber, possibly more than you want, for instance , if you are lagering on the lower, and got an ale on top.

If you have problems maintaining temperature seperation, and want to completely isolate the two zones, you may need to cut return holes for each zone, and possibly make them one way with a flap, so the cold air only moves when and where you want.
Just a thought. Nice jog BTW. I love those side by sides.
Somehow I just saw this for the first time. Thanks for the advice. I've only used it once so far, and only the top compartment on the fermenter. It held steady, but it seemed to be cycling a lot. I'll keep a closer eye on it next time I put two in there.
 

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This is great and exactly what I'm looking to do!

Quick question, assuming the fridge doesn't have dual compressors and that the fridge is cooled by air coming in from the freezer, do you have any issues with the fridge (ferm chamber) getting to cold or the freezer (kegerator) getting to warm? It seems like the dual temperature controllers might fight a bit since there is only one cooling unit.

Awesome write up! Thanks!
 

murphyslaw

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This is great and exactly what I'm looking to do!

Quick question, assuming the fridge doesn't have dual compressors and that the fridge is cooled by air coming in from the freezer, do you have any issues with the fridge (ferm chamber) getting to cold or the freezer (kegerator) getting to warm? It seems like the dual temperature controllers might fight a bit since there is only one cooling unit.

Awesome write up! Thanks!


I have no trouble keeping my kegs at 45 and my fermentation side at any temp i want. Though i suppose I've only tried the 62-70 range. If you want something wacky like 80 degrees, i dont know.

There doesnt seem to be too much fighting and all of the fluctuations occur on the fridge side -- alternating between fan and heater which is less concerning than cycling the compressor.

The only thing that has given me trouble is cold crashing and fermenting at the same time. I built an insulated compartment on the fridge side so i effectively have two fermentation compartments. If i try to have my kegs at 38 (i lower it from 45 while cold crashing because thats where the cold comes from), one compartment on the right side at 38, and the other at 70, they fight a lot. The heater has to run constantly to fight the cold crash compartment and ends up keeping the freezer side around 50. But that is because of the different temps within the fridge side-- my insulated compartment can only keep a few degrees difference from each other (I've probably done 6 degree differentials). The insulation between the freezer and fridge is much better.
 

murphyslaw

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So I may have to take some of that back.

The other night I pulled a pint and it was 62*. I checked the temp of the bottle of water holding the probe and it was 40*, so its not a measurement error. That bottle of water is on the bottom of the freezer side and I was drinking out of a keg on top. I pulled a pint of the lower keg and it was 45*. At the time, I had a beer fermenting on the top right, set at 68*. So it seems like the warm right side is warming up the keg side.

I moved the fermenter to the bottom right, then set the top right to be cold so the fan would pull some of that air and hopefully get better circulation on the keg side. Now the keg side reads at 55*, the bottom keg is 55*, and the top keg is about 58*.

This happened once before and if I remember right, I think it was solved when my I just turned off the fermentation side. But I've had this going for 18 months and its only happened twice.

Of the 3 kegs in there now, 2 went in warm on 2/26, while a third beer was fermenting. On 3/1 I kegged the third beer and moved it over to the freezer. Also on 3/1, I brewed another beer and put it in the top right at 68. I don't usually have this thing running at full capacity, so maybe I just need to let it crash the kegs with the ferm chamber off, then turn the ferm chamber back on and see if it can maintain.
 

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