What’s better than a cold beer on a Saturday afternoon? A cold beer fresh from the keg.
You don’t have to be a homebrewer or a craft beer aficionado to see the appeal of a kegerator in your own home. Not only does it taste better, but it just makes your summer beer bash feel…legit. We’re not just crushing cans here; this is a drinking establishment.
When you decide to invest in a cooler for your keg, you have a choice to make: do you want to go out and buy a kegerator beer fridge, or convert a bar fridge into a kegerator yourself? There’s something to be said for both options, but for some people, one is clearly superior to the other. We’ll take your through the pros and cons of buying or building a beer keg cooler.
What About the Warranty?
Most of the bar fridges and pre-built kegerators on the market come with a warranty. In the case of Danby, a popular choice for kegerator builds, it offers a 12-month warranty + service on both its kegerators and mini-fridges.
But most warranties only cover ordinary defects. In other words, if you take a saw and a power drill to your fridge, you’re not going to be eligible for a refund. So, once you’ve started your kegerator project, you’re stuck with the fridge you’ve chosen, even if something goes wrong. You’re not likely to get your money back, even if it does have a factory defect.
Kegerator builds are fairly simple as do-it-yourself projects go, but there is room for error. The biggest pitfall is the cooling line. Not all bar fridges have it in the same place, and if you cut into it by mistake, your $300 fridge is toast. That’s a big hit to take, especially if you’re doing this to try and save money (which talk more on that later).
Labour of Love
Converting a bar fridge into a beer keg cooler isn’t rocket science. Plenty of amateur DIYers have successfully done it, and there are tons of tutorials online to help guide you. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Building a kegerator involves a lot of research. You must pour over instructional videos and tutorials, find out the tools and materials you need, and then figure out where to buy everything. You can save time by using a kegerator conversion kit, but it isn’t cheap (see next point).
Of course, anyone with a hands-on hobby knows the inherent joy in building something and seeing your work in action. That’s the biggest appeal of this project. All the blood, sweat and tears you’ve put into the keg cooler will make the beer taste ever better.
If building a kegerator is a labour of love for you, it might be worth it. But if you’re only doing it to save money, it probably isn’t.
Does it Save Money?
One of the much-touted benefits of building a beer keg cooler is the associated cost-savings. But when you break it down, the savings are pretty slim.
The above-mentioned keg conversion kits can run you anywhere between $200 and $400, and that’s not including the cost of the fridge. A mini fridge costs about $200 to $300 if you buy it new. That means the project will run you at least $400, plus the cost of the most important component: the keg.
On the other hand, you can get a full-sized kegerator for just $500. That’s far from a huge difference, considering it comes with a year-long warranty and service. If the main draw of the DIY build is the cost, you should think carefully about whether all the time and labour you spend building it is worth that $100 difference.