They are a staple at frat houses, and beer snobs are known to have them, but what exactly is a kegerator? Is there a certain brand or model that stands out against the rest?
What features should you look for before purchasing? There are so many questions that go into a big purchase, and it can be overwhelming.
We hope to answer all these questions and more in the below article on how to buy the best kegerator. Whether it is for parties or casual use you should be happy with your decision, and we aim to provide you with all the information you need to make an informed choice.
What is a Kegerator?
A kegerator is a type of refrigeration device (like a mini fridge) that is made for storing kegs at an optimal temperature and pressure. There is a built in tap on top of the fridge that allows for the dispensing of the kegs. By maintaining a set temperature and pressure combination the beer inside the keg will stay fresher for a longer amount of time than if left out. The average amount of time is a few months. These amped up fridges can be used in restaurants and bars, but also for homes. There are models that cater to each of these usage scenarios. Also, if you want to save money you can buy something called a kegerator conversion kit that allows you to transform a fridge (that can fit a keg inside of it) into a kegerator. The main beverage that is dispensed from kegerators is draft beer, but other people are beginning to use them for niche beverages such as coffee and fermented tea (kombucha).
Best Kegerators of 2017
Now that we have covered the basics of kegerators let’s take a look at some of Whatsflame’s favorites. These are all taken from Amazon, so you can easily purchase them and have them shipped to your door. We based our recommendations off research and customer reviews. With so many different types of kegerators out there this should make your search a bit easier. So without further ado, let’s check out the top picks….
|Keg Name||Weight||Our Rating||Price|
|Nostalgia KRS2100 |
|EdgeStar KC2000||81.6 pounds||4.3/5||$$$|
|Keggermeister KM2800BK |
|Kegco K309SS-2||97 pounds||4.0/5||$$$$$|
|EdgeStar Full Size Triple Tap||88 pounds||3.8/5||$$$$$|
|Krups BeerTender||14.3 pounds||4.4/5||$$$|
1. Nostalgia KRS2100 – Best Kegerator for Home
The KRS2100 is a popular pick for first time keg buyers. It can fit a full-size half keg or two five gallon kegs. It comes in two finishes either black or stainless steel (more expensive) and has a clean, modern design. All the equipment you need to get started (except for a keg) comes with it including a 2.5 oz COs tank (you will need to have it filled). The beer tower has a spring loaded tap. This means that there is resistance when you pull back the handle, so once you let go it will fall back into position and cut off the beer flow. The entire unit is mounted atop caster wheels, so it can be rolled around to the location of your choice. These casters are not required though, if you do not want the added elevation and mobility you are free to not install them. Finally, there’s a touch of chrome as it makes up both the drip tray and the guardrail. There aren’t more advanced features like child locks, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a cheaper (unless you convert a fridge) kegerator.
One reviewer was especially impressed with a few features. One of them was the lockable output valve on the CO2 regulator. This means that once you set your desired CO2 settings you can lock the regulator, so nothing gets accidently adjusted/knocked around when you are switching out kegs or maneuvering internal components. Other reviewers noted how silent the Nostalgia is, and one person even had to check on it to make sure it was on, because it is practically silent. Finally, the instructions have been updated (they used to be almost unintelligible) to be incredibly clear and easy to use. Multiple reviewers have updated their comments to reflect the continued functionality of their KRS2100 over years of use. All in all, this is a reliable product that comes in at an unbeatable price.
2. EdgeStar KC2000 – Best Kegerator for Home Bar
EdgeStar is one of the leaders in kegerator manufacturing and has an entire line of products spanning into categories such as freezers and ice makers. This machine will fit a standard 15.5 gallon keg, but barely. Reviewers mention that it can be tricky to load the keg, because there is barely any interior space. This make oversized kegs a definite no, and rules out storing any other beverages (cans/bottles) inside the fridge along with the keg. On the positive side, the decreased interior space means that the KC2000 saves space in your home (it is about 4 inches less in width than a standard kegerator). In regards to temperature control, the EdgeStar is able to get to temperatures that are in the low end of the 30’s. This is a great ability (who doesn’t love cold beer) but there are sometimes problems with the temperature not falling. A quick call to the responsive customer service team, and you’ll learn how to adjust a temperature regulation screw, and lower the temperature. This is a hassle, but on the off-chance that this problem happens for you at least the fix is relatively easy. Another thing to note about the EdgeStar is that the CO2 tank is mounted on the back of the unit. This can lead to some awkward positioning problems, because you can’t put the fridge flush to the wall.
Reviewers love the EdgeStar when it works, but problems with adjusting the temperature seem to be a recurring theme. Something else that you should be aware of is that the product is made in China, and the CO2 tank contains lead. We would recommend purchasing a new CO2 tank. These quality problems make it hard for us to fully recommend this machine, but some say this is what is to be expected of something that is lower cost. We would disagree, and point you to the Nostalgia. You won’t be able to get your beer as cold (by a small amount) but the increased reliability/usability is worth it.
3. Keggermeister KM2800BK – Best Kegerator for the Money
The KM2800BK is another one of the most popular entry level kegerators, and it has a reputation for being a solid choice. It can accommodate one standard keg, and comes with a CO2 tank and dual-pressure regulator. This unit is carefully shipped with two layers of protective packaging; this helps cut down on shipping damage. Assembly is pretty easy, but there is one thing that many people forget-you should allow the fridge to operate for 24 hours before attaching a keg. Users who have not followed this have had problems. The two most common problems being improper temperature control, and overpressure. Allowing the machine to run for 24 hours (pre-keg) normally solves the first problem, but in other cases adjustment of the temperature screw (call customer support) or the addition of a small interior fan may be necessary. In regards to the issue of pressure, it is normally a matter of lowering the pressure. One reviewer recommends starting at 4 or 5 PSI, and working your way up until you get the desired foam level.
If the above issues are avoided the Keggermeister performs admirably, and has (as one reviewer put it) “a near perfect pour.” With its attractive chrome guardrail, affordable price, and keeps beer for up to 3 months. It is definitely worth your consideration, and should be carefully weighed against the Nostalgia, although we believe it wins out over the EdgeStar.
4. Kegco K309SS-2 – Best Kegerator Under 500
The Kegco comes with a complete keg tapping kit, so all the parts you need are present at assembly. It has a large interior, which means it can truly hold any full-size keg. Whereas some kegerators cannot fit oversize or rubber kegs the K309SS-2 can do so with ease. You can even fit 2 1/4 slim kegs inside if you raise one of them, and use a short coupler. Being able to have two beers on tap at the same time is convenient, as it is a feature normally reserved for commercial grade fridges. Aside from the high capacity, the Kegco also has excellent cooling. It goes as low as 32 degrees, and has an interior fan to ensure even cooling throughout the entire interior. There is even a special feature known as “Deep Chill” that rapidly cools a warm keg by overworking the Kegco’s compressor. All of these innovative temperature features are easily controlled through a clear digital display and easy to press buttons. The interior of the Kegco also contains a stainless steel floor mat. This evenly distributes the keg’s weight, and allows for easier (and less damaging) insertion/removal of the keg. There are caster wheels on the bottom of the keg, but they aren’t the highest quality, so be gentle when moving the K309SS-2 around.
The outside of the K309SS-2 is just as impressive, and features a brushed stainless steel front that looks clean and modern. The twin faucet beer tower is a convenient addition, and the drip tray is removable for easy washing. This setup is complemented by the well designed chrome guardrail. All these features aside, every kegerator is bound to have some negative features-aside from the CO2 hose leak which has happened to a few people more common complaints include bad faucets and inaccurate temperature readouts. The taps are said to get sticky, which means they are hard to pull/push. Many people end up replacing these taps with Perlick faucets which are of higher quality. In regards to the temperature, although there are few problems with the machine’s ability to chill, the actual displayed temperature can be very off. People solve this through the use of a thermometer to get a better reading. One final adjustment people sometimes make is the addition of a beer tower chiller. This solves the problem some people have of getting very “foamy” pours.
The above issues are relatively minor, and easily fixable if they occur. The main benefits of size, temperature control, and aesthetics far outweigh these costs. Ultimately, the Kegco K309SS-2 is one of our top picks for the consumer who can afford a higher cost item, but not a commercial grade one.
5. EdgeStar Full Size Triple Tap – Best Air Kegerator
This EdgeStar is fully constructed from stainless steel, and certified for outdoor usage. This means that it is durable enough to be kept outside without worry. The floor is made of reinforced stainless steel, and allows for better weight distribution and overall support. There is ventilation built into the front of the unit, so you can install it into a countertop, or you can leave it freestanding (up to you). One other interesting feature is that the direction of the door’s swing can be adjusted in either direction. This means you can have it match how your cabinets open. EdgeStar really wants to make sure this product is as functional as possible. This is evident from the large capacity (any full size keg including beveled/rubber varieties) and the fact that it comes shipped with everything you need to get started (minus the keg). The triple tap faucets allow for variety when stocking this unit, and the included caster wheels make this appliance easier to move.
Aside from the core features that make this a solid product, Edgestar took it a step further and built in exceptional temperature control. There is an electronic control panel, and buttons to adjust the temperature. Some machines unevenly cool the keg leading to “hot spots” (areas of warm beer) but the EdgeStar avoids this problem through a fan that forces the cold air to properly circulate around the entire keg. The temperature is controllable within a 32 to 60 degree fahrenheit range, so whichever temperature suits your beer is available. This system of forced air is also used to cool the beer tower. An air cooled beer tower is a rarity on non-commercial kegerators. It is a significant addition, because it not only ensures the beer stays cold from keg to glass, but also reduces the problem of excess foam being produced while pouring.
There are also some features that have specific use in an outdoor keg. One of them is interior LED lighting. If you are entertaining people at night, and it has gotten dark out it would be hard to adjust things on the inside of the kegerator without a flashlight. EdgeStar’s interior LED’s ensure this is never a problem, and provide hands free visibility to all inside components. Another concern with outdoor kegerators is that someone may tamper with the settings, or steel the keg. This risk is lessened due to the addition of a lock that will prevent tampering.
Reviewers noted a few things regarding this outdoor Edgestar. The first being that it is not the quickest to set up. One reviewer mentioned that it took him over an hour to complete assembly. He also commented that the unit requires a few days before it will be properly cooling and dispensing. Aside from these quips, there is one very important issue prospective buyers should be aware of. If there is a power outage the kegerator will not resume functioning when the power comes back on. You will have to unplug the machine and plug it back in. This is not a huge problem (unless your power goes out frequently) but it is definitely something you should be aware of.
Overall, this is a strong candidate for the best kegerator. It has a great industrial design, important features, and is durable. If you can afford the steep price tag then this is the kegerator to buy.
Best Mini Kegerator
While these machines are not as full featured as their big sized brethren they definitely deserve a closer look. Not everyone wants to keep 15.5 gallons of beer on tap or put up with the maintenance of a larger system. Mini kegerators fill this niche, but the selection is relatively slim. Below we have provided a brief review of what we believe to be one of the better options in the space. Let’s have a look…
The Krups Beertender fills an interesting niche. It is capable of maintaining a 5 liter mini keg for 30 days. Operation is relatively easy thanks to “Draughtkeg” technology developed by Heineken. These “Draughtkegs” or “mini kegs” as we like to call them, are internally pressurized, so you don’t need to use an external CO2 source. You simply insert a mini keg that is Krups B100 compatible (Heineken/Heineken Light or Newcastle Brown) inside the machine, and turn it on. There is an indicator light at the top that will light up when the beer has been chilled to the proper temperature (37.4 degrees). A word of advice, this process takes a long time if the keg is warm, so it is recommended that you chill the keg beforehand. It takes around 10 hours to chill the keg in the fridge vs. 18 hours in the Beertender. Once the beer is chilled, simply dispense it via the tap as you would any draft beer. In regards to maintenance, the beer lines have to be changed after each mini keg is used. Packs of them are sold for around $9 for 6 tubes on Amazon, but it can be pricey to keep changing lines (it is necessary to avoid sickness though). Some people have reused lines after “washing them,” but we would not recommend this approach. The drip tray is dishwasher safe, so you can just toss it in the dishwasher after it has been used.
Overall, we have mixed feelings about the Krups B100 and mini kegerators in general. They are relatively pricey considering the small amount of beer that they store, and the beer variety is painfully limited. There are no craft options or even other popular offerings. That being said the ability to easily have draft beer at home is alluring. Unlike the extra maintenance and hassle that comes with full size kegerators, the Krups Beertender is simple to use. One reviewer commented on how it is a great addition to gameday. If you can put up with the small selection of beers then this may be a worthwhile purchase-especially if you can find it on sale.
Parts of a Kegerator
- The beer keg (goes inside): These are made of either stainless steel or aluminum, and can normally hold 15.5 gallons of beer. There is a hole on one end of the keg that is known as the “bung,” and a plastic tube comes out of this opening. The flow of beer is controlled by a self closing valve. The beer is pushed out of the keg by carbon dioxide.
- CO2 Tank: This will be what maintains the pressure of the beer over time. These tanks can be purchased at many party supply stores, or beer supply stores. They come in sizes ranging from 2.5lb to 20lb. Which size you end up choosing is dependent on the size of the keg you will be storing. For example a 2.5lb CO2 will be good for 2 to 4 15.5 gallon kegs, and many more smaller kegs (eg. 12-15 3 gallon kegs).
- CO2 Regulator: This device is critical. It attaches directly to the CO2 supply and is used to set the desired pressure for your beer. Some beers require more pressure than others, but in general 12 PSI is a standard pressure. If you want to be exactly certain it is recommended that you contact the distributor or brewery that provided the keg, and ask their advice in regards to PSI.
- Beer Tower: This is the part of the kegerator that actually dispenses the beer, and resembles a draft beer tap that you would find in a bar or pub. There are different configurations of these dispensing towers. Some can only dispense one beer, but others are able to do upwards of 8. You are limited by how many different kegs your kegerator can store. Most beer towers will not be cooled. A cooled tower produces less foam when beer is dispensed, so if possible buy an air cooled beer tower or buy a small fan that will cool the tower internally (see “accesories” heading below).
- Drip Tray: This is a perforated metal tray at the bottom of the tower (similar to the tray on the bottom of a fridge water dispenser). It is meant to prevent spillage onto the ground if you overfill your glass.
Things to Consider Before Buying
- Size: Kegerators are like bulky mini fridges, so you are going to need space in your home to put them. They must be able to accommodate a standard keg, which is about sixteen inches wide and twenty three inches tall. If you at least this much room available then you’ll be fine. Some models can fit into existing rows of cabinets. Depending on whether the style of the kegerator matches your home decor this can be a viable option.
- Maintenance: It would be great if you never had to take care of it, but there are some duties that will have to be performed on a regular basis. The first is cleaning the beer lines. Dirty beer lines will make you sick and your beer taste disgusting. You should have your lines cleaned every two weeks. Commercial establishments have a service do this for them (around $20) but that would be incredibly expensive over time for home usage. Cleaning is not too difficult, and entails mixing some powdered beer line cleaning compound with water, and flushing it through the beer lines. It should take around 15 minutes. See the “accessories” heading below for a recommendation on which cleaning kit to get.
In addition to cleaning you will need to fill the CO2 tank every 2-4 standard (15.5 gallon) kegs. This will cost around $10 and can be done at a paintball or welding shop. These establishments are normally best equipped to fill smaller size CO2 tanks.
- Buy vs. Convert: Since kegerators are basically an upgraded fridge many people opt to buy conversion kits to transform their existing mini fridge (that can fit a keg) into a kegerator. This can be a viable option as it saves a lot of money, but you lose the aesthetic appeal, and some functionality. How much functionality you lose is dependent on how heavily you modify your fridge. If you are comfortable cutting large holes in it to accommodate a beer tower then there will not be much difference, but if not then you will have to open the fridge and dispense through the nozzle. In the end this is a decision that you’ll have to make based on your level of DIY experience.
NOTE ON CONVERSION: Some people like refurbishing retro fridges into kegerators, but be careful doing this, because the power consumption of older fridges is incredibly high. You may end up paying a lot more in electricity bills!
- Transporting/Moving Kegs: Kegs can be delivered to your house, or you can transport them yourself if you are capable. Once the keg is at your home it will still take some effort to move it to the kegerator, so make sure you will have help (or you are incredibly strong).
- Beer Consumption: A kegerator might not be the right option for you depending on how much beer you drink a year. If you drink less than or equal to a keg’s worth of beer over a year’s time then you are better off just buying bottled beer, because the cost of the kegerator and maintenance (cleaning/CO2) will get rid of any savings. On the other hand, heavy beer drinkers can expect significant savings as kegs are 50%-70% less than their bottled counterparts.
Benefits of a Kegerator
- Taste: Draft beer is the primary choice of beer drinkers, because of its freshness, and incredible “texture” due to the carbon dioxide. Having draft beer at home means you will always get the freshest tasting beer whenever you like.
- Less Cleanup: When drinking from bottles and cans there is always the hassle of cleaning up tons of bottles/cans/caps/and cases. Having a draft beer system at home means you can use the same glass over and over again. Less cleanup and more enjoyment!
- Portion Control: Ever want half a beer, but there’s no one to split it with? Problems like these are easily resolved with a kegerator, because you get to choose the exact amount of beer you want dispensed at each pour.
- On Demand: Having the kegerator means that your beer is always stored at the right temperature, and the draft system means no bottles to open. This creates a beautiful situation where you can come home from a hard day’s work, and pour yourself a cold one complete with foam on top.
- Social: While a kegerator can’t help you make friends it can make your house the de facto hangout spot for a guy’s night out. People love the taste and convenience of draft beer, and being able to enjoy all of this at a friend’s house in comfort is a huge attraction. Be warned though, you may have to keep some friends away as they’ll turn into keg moochers. That’ll be your problem not ours.
Types of Kegerators
- Stand Alone: These kegerators are freestanding and mobile. They have castor wheels attached to them, and can be moved around freely. These are great for people who store their kegerator in one place, and move it for social events like get togethers and birthday parties.
- Undercounter: These types fit underneath a countertop, and are meant to be flush with an existing cabinet setup. These are great if you have room for them underneath your counters, and if you don’t want to take up extra room as you would with the stand alone option.
- Mini (Tabletop): These kegerators can be picked up and moved around. They have a much smaller capacity (they can only accommodate mini kegs). These work well for intermittent use, but would probably be a poor option for regular drinkers.
- Outdoor: Some people like storing their kegerator outside as it frees up indoor space, and is great for outdoor parties. These models are designed to withstand the wear and tear of the outdoors, and are recommended over traditional kegerators for outdoor use. A normal model will break down more quickly as the internal components are not meant to handle the changing outdoor temperatures.
- Commercial: These can be the close to traditional full size standalone models, but they are built to meet strict requirements for public usage. They are normally larger, and feature more towers for faster dispensing, or keeping multiple draft beers on tap.
- Beertower Cooler: One of the main causes of foamy beer is a warm beer tower. An easy fix is a kegerator tower cooler, which blasts cold air into the beer tower and cools it. Our prefered brand is Coldtower, which is the go to brand for these cooling solutions. They are easy to install, and significantly reduce the foam that comes out during dispensing. The only complaint some reviewers had is that the power cord is too short.
- Perlick Faucets: These faucets are one of the main upgrades that new kegerator owners perform on their machines. They are high quality and don’t stick after a few days of non-usage. Additionally, the spout angle is non-vertical which allows for a better pour.
- Tap Handles: This is the easiest way to add some character to your home kegerator. Simply unscrew the current handle, and attach a new one that best suits your personality. From retro themed to solid wood there is a handle to fit your home’s decor and personality.
- Tap Soother: This is a beer faucet cap that prevents pests (most notably fruit flies) from constantly landing on the faucet. It also helps prevent the faucet from sticking in place.
- Cleaning Kit: You will have to clean your beer lines eventually (read: every two weeks) so might as well buy a kit early on so you are ready. Everything you need to clear the lines is included in this kit. Instructions can be easily found on YouTube, and the overall process only takes about 10 to 20 minutes depending on your level of experience.
- Kegerator Skin: Some people may like the modern aesthetic of most models, but some prefer personalizing their unit. One of the easiest ways to do this is with skins that have different designs and pictures. From flames to an Iowa Hawkeyes logo the possibilities are endless. These skins are definitely not for everyone, but if you want some extra flair then these should fit the bill without breaking the bank.
Kegsmarts by Picobrew
This product deserves lengthier coverage, because of its many features. It is essentially a connected beer tower that will work with existing kegerators to turn them into “smart” appliances. It can control the temperature of the beer through its dual faucet chilled tower. It can also tell the user how much beer is left in the keg. This feature requires some setup, you place a metal pressure sensitive plate underneath the keg inside the kegerator. Information on how much beer is left is relayed to the small display screen at the top of the Kegsmarts. This screen can also show the ingredients and rating of the beer that is being dispensed. These same statistics can also be viewed on a phone or tablet. All of these features combined make the Kegsmarts an impressive addition. There are a few downsides, one being that the Kegsmarts is relatively expensive. The second is that it is not currently universally available. It was launched via the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, so the initial production run is still being fulfilled. It should come to Amazon sometime during 2017.
As you have hopefully discovered, the world of kegerators is diverse and exciting. There are a variety of different options to choose from each of which cater to a different kind of user experience. You have the reliable simplicity of the Nostalgia all the way to the ruggedly high tech EdgeStar outdoor. Having a kegerator can be a rewarding experience, and a chance for bringing people together. It is our sincerest hope that after reading this buying guide you were able to come to a decision over which is the best kegerator for your personal needs. Once you’ve purchased one of the excellent kegerators we’ve recommended, keep your drinks ice cold even after it’s been pumped with a double vacuum insulated tumbler cup. As always, never hesitate to email us any questions, comments, or concerns. Cheers!