A blend of the words “keg” and “refrigerator,” a kegerator is an at-home draft (draught) beer dispensing device. A keg, typically of beer, is stored in a refrigerated container in order to keep it chilled, allowing you to keep beer for extended periods of time without losing quality or freshness. Full-size kegerators also include a pressurized carbon dioxide (CO2) tank and coupler to push beer out of the refrigerated keg to a beer faucet where it can be poured.
Kegerators come in a variety of styles and with a number of accessories to suit your needs. The most important aspect of a kegerator, however, is that it enables beer enthusiasts to enjoy their favorite draft beer the way the brewer intended – cold, fresh and out of the tap!
There are four main types of kegerators: mini kegerators, full-size home kegerators, commercial kegerators, and outdoor kegerators.
A mini kegerator is a self-pressured, countertop beer dispenser that holds a “mini” keg of five-liters of beer—equivalent to 11-12 cans. Mini kegerators are best for storing beer with limited space and can be tapped two to four times.
Full-Size Home Kegerators
A full-size home kegerator is a residential draft beer dispenser that contains up to a full-size (or half barrel) keg, typically in a freestanding refrigerator (though built-in in or undercounter models are also available). A full-size kegerator comes with a pressurized carbon dioxide (CO2) tank and coupler to dispense beer.
Commercial kegerators are similar to full-size home kegerators, but are constructed to meet commercial quality standards. Many models are built for either freestanding or built-in / undercounter installation, offering a solution for those who want to integrate a draft beer system into standard-height cabinetry. Commercial kegerators hold half barrel (full-size), quarter barrel (half-size or pony) or mini kegs (5-liter).
Outdoor kegerators are draft beer dispensers rated for use outdoors, with some models working in temperatures ranging from as low as 45 degrees to as high as 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Outdoor kegerators are ideal for those wanting to keep beer frosty in environments above 85° or below 50° - great for garages, basements or on the patio.
In choosing the right kegerator for you, you may want to familiarize yourself with the different keg types available.
The three most common keg types in the United States are:
A “full size” keg, this is what most people think of when they think of a keg. Standard kegs are typically 23 inches tall and about 16 inches diameter, weighing about 160 pounds when full. A half barrel kegs hold about 15.5 gallons (58.67 liters, 124 U.S. pints) or about 165 twelve-ounce glasses of beer (1,984 total ounces). Full-size kegerators are designed to hold a standard half barrel keg.
Also known as a pony keg, this “half-size” keg has approximately half the capacity of a standard, half barrel keg. A quarter barrel keg measures 12 to 13 inches tall, 16 to 17 inches wide, and weighs about 87 pound when full. It holds 7.75 gallons (29.3 liters) or 82 twelve-ounce glasses of beer.
A mini keg is a 5-liter keg produced for retail sales; you've probably noticed these showing up more and more in your grocery store's beer aisle. The most common you'll find is Heineken, but other brands are available. Quite portable, mini kegs are 10 inches tall, 6.75 inches in diameter, and only weigh about 13 pounds. They hold 5 liters (1.33 gallons) or 13 twelve-ounce glasses of beer. Unlike larger kegs, mini kegs usually cannot be returned for cleaning and refilling and should be recycled. Mini kegs are recommended for our mini kegerators
Other common types of kegs include Cornelius kegs, smaller sixth barrel kegs, and taller “slim” quarter kegs. To see what size keg will fit in your kegerator, please refer to our Keg Comparison Chart
Though included parts vary between models, most kegerators include a tap kit with all the parts you need for dispensing beer. These typically include: a beer tower with faucet, handles and hoses and a carbon dioxide (CO2) tank, coupler and regulator.
Please consult our Kegerator Parts and Kegerator Assembly Guide.
Because keg fit varies between different kegerators, we recommend consulting this Keg Comparison Chart.
Some units cannot hold certain brands of beer kegs—most commonly Coors Light and Miller Lite, which are “oversized” or bulkier than other standard kegs. An easy way to gauge if these brands will fit in your kegerator is by checking its width. Kegerators with an overall width of 23 inches or more can accommodate light brands.
To find the right coupler for your favorite beer, please consult our Keg Coupler Types chart.
Most kegerators come with an American Sankey "D" system keg coupler, which is compatible with all domestic-brand kegs and fits 95% of American domestic beers.
All you need to do to tap your keg is supply a full keg of beer and fill the CO2 tank.
We recommend consulting our Kegerator Parts list and Kegerator Assembly Guide.
When your kegerator is ready to be tapped, check out our tips on Achieving the Perfect Pour.
The recommended temperature for storing and serving chilled beer is between the high 30s and mid 40 degrees Fahrenheit—about 34° to 39°. (Keep in mind that beer freezes at 27°, with light beers freezing at as high as 31°.) These temperatures apply whether the beer is a domestic beer or an imported one. The same holds true whether or not the draft beer is pasteurized. Beer stored between the high 30s and mid 40s will retain the level of carbonation that was created during the brewing process.
During summer months, adjust the temperature control to a cooler setting accordingly.
The ideal method for monitoring the liquid temperature (inside the keg) is done by use of a beer thermometer. This provides a constant accurate reading of the liquid (beer) temperature within the refrigerator.
If refrigerated, a keg will last about one month before losing freshness. Kegs can be tapped for up to 60 days, but begin to lose taste in about half that time.
A standard, 5-pound CO2 tank will last from two to four half barrel (full-size) kegs, largely depending on if it is kept cold.
Heat causes carbon dioxide to expand, limiting its usability. However, if kept cold, CO2 should last for up to four half barrel kegs.
Only outdoor kegerators should be used outside. Using an indoor kegerator outside stresses the unit’s compressor, shortens its life, and will not chill beer to its optimal temperature. Most home kegerators function best in room temperature environments (mid-70 degrees Fahrenheit). For any environment above 85° Fahrenheit or below 50° Fahrenheit, an outdoor kegerator is recommended.
After turning your kegerator on, you must wait 24 hours for the unit to cool properly. You may then adjust the temperature setting based on your preferences.
Most kegerators are freestanding (not supported by another structure), but undercounter kegerators that build into cabinetry are also available.
Freestanding kegerators cannot be built in. This is because many refrigerators vent heat out the back of the unit, which would be trapped if built into cabinetry.
Yes! Many people repurpose a refrigerator or freezer using a kegerator conversion kit.
If you are going to convert an old refrigerator, make sure to measure before you start. Compact fridges can be great because of their size, but often have freezer compartments or drawers that can’t accommodate a full-size keg. Also, if you want to build a kegerator into your home bar, make sure to look for an undercounter or built-in unit. Most compact refrigerators vent heat out the back of the unit, which would get trapped if built into cabinetry, causing problems.
Also see our complete list of Kegerator Parts and Kegerator Assembly Guide.
Please consult our Kegerator Troubleshooting guide here.
You can also give our kegerator experts a call at 1.866.950.8710 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST Monday through Friday or use our Customer Support page. We’re here to help!
It is not usually necessary to defrost your kegerator. Ice that has deposited on the evaporator is automatically defrosted when the compressor cycles off. The defrosted water collects in the water drip tray located on the top of the compressor in the rear of the unit and then evaporates.
However, if the door is often opened or you are using your kegerator in a humid area, excessive ice may build up on the evaporator. In this case, turn off the unit and allow the ice to melt once your keg is empty. Be careful to soak up the excess water with a towel.
Using a kegerator cleaning kit to flush your kegerator’s beer lines and clean its faucet is highly recommended. Please see our Video Guide on how to clean your kegerator.
Cleaning is recommended after every keg.
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