KegeratorFor the ultimate homebrew experience, the ne plus ultra of beer, you need a draft system. I wanted to build two taps into the bar in my home, but after much head-scratching, I concluded that it couldn’t be done in the space I had to work with. The next-best thing is a kegerator, a mini refrigerator with a draft tower on the top.

Ideally, I wanted a design with two 5-gallon Cornelius kegs, two faucets on the draft tower, and all the plumbing (including CO2 bottle) inside. Such a design would be nice addition to my bar. I was able to acieve it quite nicely.


Bar Fridge


  • Must be able to run the plumbing through the top. That will be very awkward for any design that has a freezer compartment at the top, as most do.
  • Must be able to accomodate the height of a 5-gallon Cornelius keg, with room for the plumbing.
  • Must be able to accomodate the footprint of two Corny kegs, side-by-side.
  • Ideally, must be able to accomodate a 5-lb (at least) CO2 bottle and regulator as well.

I needed to test how well the components would fit inside the various fridges I was looking at. Rather than carry around two kegs, I made a cardboard template of the footprint of two side-by-side kegs (looks like an infinity sign), and cut a piece of wire represent the height of a keg. These were easy to use at the shops to test the fit.

I looked at many mini bar fridges from various manufacturers, and settled on a Danby DAR452BL. It has these benefits:

  • There is no freezer compartment at all. The evaporator of the cooling system (ie, the part that gets cold) is a flat panel at the rear of the fridge compartment.
  • Plenty of height to accomodate the kegs and plumbing.
  • Room enough for two kegs, if the fancy door lining (with all the shelves and stuff) is removed.
  • Room enough for a 10lb CO2 bottle, sitting at the back on top of the rectangular intrusion that houses the compressor.
  • Very elegant appearance, the condenser (ie, the part at the back of a fridge that gets warm) was somehow hidden away (details later), so the fridge looked pretty good even from the back.
  • The top of the fridge features a plastic trim piece that looks very elegant, and has a slight concavity which can contain regrettable spills of precious, precious beer.

I also found some suitable Sanyo models, include the SR-4460W at Costco. Their web-site shows some other suitable models, SR-2410K, and SR-4911M.

Draft towerDraft Tower

This part is pretty straightforward: just buy one. Lots of vendors on the Internet sell them. I got a chrome two-faucet tower through Paddock Wood. It was actually shipped from the manufacturer, Canadian Beverage Supply, in Mississauga, just down the road from me. Maybe it’s possible to order from them directly, but they don’t seem to have any web presence. The tower is lined with insulating foam, useful if you want to blow cold air into it to keep the beer lines cool all the way to the faucet.

Drip Tray

A drip tray is fairly essential, if you want to keep the kegerator looking nice in use. There are again lots of Internet vendors, but they’re all bloody expensive for what you’re getting. I discovered that Danby themselves make a kegerator (more on this later), and it comes with a drip tray. I ordered the drip tray alone from a Danby parts distributor, Reliable Parts (“The House Of A Million Parts”) and got it relatively cheaply. Note that the tray comes as two pieces (the bottom tray, plus the top grill that fits into it), which have to be ordered separately. I didn’t know that, and had to make an extra trip to Toronto because of it.

The part numbers are 445.03 (“DRIP TRAY, DBY”) and 445.02 (“DRIP TRAY, GRILL, DBY”).

Beer Plumbing

The draft tower I purchased comes with fairly long beer lines with a 3/16″ID, which provides enough restriction for a fairly well-balanced draft system. But the lines were terminated with professional “beer nut” style fittings, which won’t connect to a Cornelius keg. I ordered (from Paddock Wood as usual) a pair of ball-lock (ie, Pepsi-style) to MFL (male flare) quick-connects. As usual, I gravitate toward flare fittings instead of hose-barbs, for ease of disassembly.

I cut off the “beer nut” fittings from the end of the lines, and installed a copper tubing flare and flare nut. TODO: write a page on flare fittings.

CO2 Plumbing

Again I used ball-lock to MFL (male flare) quick-connects from Paddock Wood to connect to the kegs. The regulated CO2 pressure needs to supply two kegs. I wanted to be able to swap one keg, or run with only one keg if I run out of the other beer. The quick connects have a built-in shut-off feature when they are disconnected, but I don’t trust it not to leak slowly, so I wanted valves to shut off the CO2 supply to either or both kegs.

I assembled a distribution manifold out of pipe fittings from the local hardware store. I used rather expensive “steam cocks” to shut off the CO2 flow. I also used quick tubing connects (used extensively in the automation industry with compressed air) to connect the CO2 tubing to the manifold, for easy dissassembly. I just happened to find these at the hardware store, so I used them.

Preparing the Fridge

Because of the need to drill holes, I thought it might be prudent to contact Danby first, to confirm that no important plumbing would be in my way. The droid I got on the phone was uncooperative. All I got out of her was the standard schpiel about voiding the warranty, we can’t be held responsible, blah blah blah. Whatever. I’m doing it anyway.

The fridge comes with a parts list in the manual, which includes an illustration that shows tubing coils in the side walls of the fridge. This explains the mystery of where the condenser is, since it isn’t on the back of the fridge like they used to be back in the day. There’s a condenser coil inside each side wall. The sides of the fridge do in fact get warm when it’s in operation. So, there it is: do NOT drill holes in the side walls of this fridge! I wonder what catatastophe it is that Danby believes they averted by not telling me about that when I phoned them?

Get to Work


The door will need to be modified to remove the shelving. As I recall, it’s just a couple screws on the bottom holding the door hinge on. Remove the hinge, and the door will come off easily. This, incidentally, is also how you would switch the door to open from the other side if you wanted.

The plastic molding on the top can be removed by some screws at the back of the fridge, and under the overhang at the front. There’s a metal bracket under it that can also be removed, I don’t remember whether that was necessary or not.

Layout the Hole

Hole templateI took some measurements on the outside of the fridge, and the inside of the fridge, and produced a template that showed a kind of X-ray view from the top of the fridge, and 1:1 scale. The lighting fixture on the top inside of the fridge must also be on there. There is enough space behind the lighting fixture and in front of the evaporator for the large hole required to mount the draft tower. This puts the tower rather towards the back of the fridge, but it looks very nice there, and leaves space in front for the drip tray.

I used the chrome cap of the draft tower to outline the hole. The hole needs to be big enough to allow cold air to circulate inside the tower (keeping the beer lines cold), but small enough to leave a good margin for the tower mounting screws.

I attached the template to the top of the fridge with tape, so that the features depicted lined up.

Cutting the Hole

Nibbling toolThere are three layers we have to cut through: the outer sheet-metal, some foam insulation, and the inner plastic lining. The metal is the hard one. I used a “nibbling” tool to cut the large circular opening in the sheet metal. Nibbling tools are great for cutting irregular or large shapes in sheet metal or other thin materials. They work by using a hook-like hardened metal punch and anvil, taking a small bite out of the material with each squeeze of the handles. I bought it many years ago at Radio Shack. With their slow, steady transformation from a hobbyist shop into a cheap consumer-goods shop, I don’t know if they still carry it.

To start the tool, drill a 1/4″ hole near the boundary of the hole, on the inside. Then poke the jaw of the nibbling tool into the hole, and start nibbling. Wear gloves, or you will get a blister. Nibble, nibble, nibble… it takes a while. It won’t seem as long if you have a homebrew.

Nibbling away...Actually, at this point I discovered that the paper template actually was getting in my way. Preparing it was a useful exercise in getting to know my way around the fridge (the rear wall is thicker than you may think), so it’s still in these instructions. I scribed the circle outline into the paint with a nail instead.

While you’re nibbling, you’ll notice that the space under the metal is entirely filled with foam insulation. It’s fairly soft, the nibbling tool can just push it out of the way.

Tower holeAfter a couple beers, you’ll have a nice hole. When you finish cutting out the circle, pry off the metal disc (it will be stuck to the foam insulation. Then use a knife to carve out the insulation. It’s about an inch thick. Carve it all away, until you reach the plastic lining.

To continue the hole through the plastic lining, I just did something quick and dirty: I used a saw drill in my hand drill, using the existing hole as a guide. A saw drill is like a regular 1/4″ drill bit, but it can cut sideways. It’s a very blunt instrument. The result is rough, but servicable.

Saw drill Finished hole
Hole from the insideHere’s how it looks from the inside of the fridge. Pretty ugly, but nobody will ever see it. That’s the evaporator on the top of the picture, and the light fixture on the bottom. Notice how we conveniently avoided damaging the thermostat capillary tube (the thermostat is also mounted in the light fixture.)

Vapour barrierIt is generally important to protect the insulation from condensation using a vapour barrier of some sort. Insulation loses it effectiveness if it gets wet. I improvised a vapour barrier here with some plastic sheet and packing tape.

The same hole must also be cut in the plastic trim we removed earlier. I replaced the trim on the fridge. Reaching through from the inside of the fridge, I used the existing hole as a guide to scribe the circle on the trim piece. This is a bit tricky, because the trim does not actually sit flat on the top of the fridge cabinet, there’s about a 1/2″ space that is normally occupied by a piece of styrofoam. I didn’t transfer the line very accurately, so when I cut it out, it didn’t come out quite right. Fortunately, it all gets covered up by the draft tower’s mounting flange anyway. The plastic trim was too thick for the nibbling tool, so I used a spiral bit in my Dremel.

At this point, I test-fit the tower to see how it looks. Pretty sharp! But we’re not done yet.

Wooden spacerAs I mentioned before, there is a piece of styrofoam filling an approximately 3/8″ gap between the sheet metal top and the plastic trim piece. The draft tower will have to be screwed into something solid, clearly styrofoam won’t work. And if the screws bite into the sheet metal, they’ll compress the foam when tightened, bending the trim piece. I decided to replace the 3/8″ foam with something more substantial: 3/8″ plywood. We’re going to have cut that damn hole one more time! I found a suitable scrap piece that would fit nicely into the underside of the trim piece. Marked out the circle on it, and cut it out with a jig-saw.

It is not yet time to install the tower mounting screws, however. There is still the small matter of the door.

Modifying the Door

Door lining removedThe fridge door has shelving built into it which takes up too much space inside the fridge compartment. We can fit even a single keg in there with the shelves. If you pull aside the rubber gasket on the fridge door, you will find screws holding the plastic panel in. Remove them all (there are quite a few). Inside the door is more foam insulation, which will require a new vapour barrier. And, with the the lining removed, the door is very flimsy, it needs to be stiffened up. I did both jobs by replacing the original shelf lining with a sheet of thick plastic.

The best would be Plexiglass (“Perspex” for you Brits), about 3/16″ thick. But that’s expensive. A much cheaper alternative, available at Home Depot, is the light diffuser sheets used for commercial fluorescent light fixtures. They’re dirt cheap. Just find one that reasonably smooth on one side. In hindsight, if you can spare the change, get the Plexiglass. The light diffuser panel is made of an astonishingly brittle plastic, I had a lot of trouble drilling holes in it without shattering.

Carefully remove the rubber gasket from the original door lining. Using the lining as a template, cut the Plexiglass to size. The score-and-snap method is easiest. Then, again using the original lining as a template, mark out all the mounting holes on the new lining. Drill them all out. Test fit on the door.

Finished doorCarefully install the gasket on the new lining. Install on the door, and replace all the screws. The door should now be much more rigid.

Reinstall the door on the fridge now. There should now be lots of room inside for two beer kegs.

With the original door lining removed, there is nothing to press the light switch when you close the door, so the light will stay on all the time. The easiest way to solve this is to just remove the light bulb from the fixture. You won’t have to look inside the fridge very often anyway.

Installing the Draft Tower

We’re almost there now. Reinstall the plastic trim on the top, including the new plywood spacer. Test-fit the draft tower. Mark through the mounting flange holes. Pilot drill the holes through the plywood. I also piloted (with a slightly smaller bit) into the sheet metal top of the fridge. Install the rubber gasket that came with the draft tower, and install the mounting screws.

Completed kegerator Kegerator tower
Looks pretty good! But there’s something missing…

Tap Handles

The draft tower came without any handles. You can buy them, or you can make them. I made a pair of handles out of red oak on the lathe. Turned by hand, I somehow managed to make two almost identical handles. I tapped the standard tap-handle thread (8-32 NC, I think. TODO) in the bottom. Sanded with fine grit paper, rubbed in a little teak oil, and screwed them on. Sharp!

Tap handles


When I was nearly finished this project, I discovered (at Home Depot, surprise surprise) that Danby actually makes their own kegerator, the DKC445. Their’s is designed to handle a single brewery keg. I took a close look at it, and found that it’s almost identical to my own. They started with the same base model, and made basically the same modifications to it. They have the CO2 tank outside the fridge on a shelf on the back. They added a nice little railing around the edge of the top. I think mine is better, for homebrewers. It holds two Cornelius kegs, and all the plumbing is inside. And, to top it off, I think mine is cheaper. Danby’s model was around CDN$800, I think. My cost was probably closer to $500, including the draft tower.

Kegerator with kegs


Paddock Wood

132 Responses to “Kegerator”

  • Would the company that sent you your tower be They have quite a large web site.

  • Yeah, I think that’s them. I guess they have set up that site since I wrote the article.

  • Just like to say thanks for the great writeup. I’m in the process of building my own kegerator and am using your guide to do so.

  • Great info! I just started looking into a keg fridge, and just happened upon your site. Initially I was looking only for the pros and cons of pin lock versus ball lock Cornelius kegs, and WOW! I got all the answers I need for the whole enchilada! With nice pictures, too!
    Thanks for taking the time to document your experience.

    I hoist a pint in your direction!


  • Kirstin Holtberg

    Thanks so much for the great instructions. I was just trying to find a frig that will fit in a spot below our existing bar and still fit a 5 gal speciality keg. You mentioned the SR-2410K but it is only 25 1/4″ high and a 5 gal keg is 23 1/2 without the tap. Will it still fit? We were thinking we needed 29″ clearance inside to include the tap. Problem is we only have 28″ clearance below our counter, which is granite.
    thanks again for the info,
    Kirstin Holtberg

  • Thanks for the great detail and documentation. I will be starting installation on my own homebrew kegerator in a couple of weeks. I found the Sanyo SR-4912M at Best Buy thanks to your suggestions. Hope I can throw a couple of questions your way during the process if I have any. Your info is a great guide to go by. Thanks again.

    Andy Hewitt
    Versailles, IN

  • Thanks for the tips! all the pieces have arrived today so I’ll be spending the weekend putting it together!

  • This was a great find, my husband and I decided to get a keg fridge for us for xmas only they seem to be so pricey by the time taxes are added. We discussed building one only didn’t know sizes of fridge and everything we would need. This gives us a great list and my husband is pretty handy so I am sure he can build this.

  • I suppose if I wanted the tower mounted ‘on-top’ of my bar, all I would have to do is drill a suitable hole for the hose to go through? Could that be correct?

  • For anyone converting a Sanyo fridge: There is a freon line running through the top of the fridge. Plug the fridge in and feel the top with your hand once it has warmed up, you can tell where the line is.

  • That’s good to know. I hope you didn’t discover that the hard way!

  • For the door panel replacement, I used an inexpensive piece of ‘white board’ type panelling. It looks really nice, has the right thickness, and you can note dates, pressures, etc with dry erase markers. Cheapo shower backing panels work the same, but you usually have to buy a full 4×8 sheet.

  • Help! My compact refrigerator will no longer cool after I drilled the tower hole into the top. I did NOT hit any coils…all I see is the insulation. After drilling, I did notice a vacuum of air moving into the fridge. I fear that I just ruined a brand new refrigerator. Any suggestions?

  • Perhaps that hiss of air moving in was actually coolant moving out. Or perhaps you hit the capillary tube of the thermostat.

    Anyway, sure seems like you hit something.

  • How cold does the fridge get?
    Can it really cool a keg?

  • Very easily. Can a regular bar fridge cool a bottle of beer? Of course. Cooling a keg just takes longer. But once it’s cool, it will stay cool with little electricity spent, because, unlike a bar fridge, a kegerator’s door is very rarely opened.

  • Just got a Sylvania SE80106-2. The top seems very thin. I took the top plastic panel off and it has a thin piece of syrofoam, then a layer of spray foam. I tap on the top and it doesn’t seem too thick. My question is, if I don’t feel any heat does that mean the line is not there but on the side?

    Second question: Does anyone have this fridge and does it have the freon line on top?


  • The lack of heat does not necessarily mean there’s no coolant line there. Only that the condensor isn’t there.

  • I don’t think there will much of an issue hitting anything. At most I’m only tapping a 1/2″ – 1″ hole in the top to accommodate the beer line pipe to my bar top tower. Chances are probably slim, but to be on the safe side I’ve emailed Sylvania, hopefully they don’t give me a hassle and hand over the info.



  • Here is another question. Can you keep the CO2 in the fridge? I’ve seen sites which say you can keep it inside, others say you shouldn’t? Does it matter, if not inside why?.

    I’d like to keep it inside as it will fit on the compressor shelf and it would be easier to get to.



  • I keep my CO2 inside the fridge. Very clean, self-contained look that way. Had no problems with it.

    I’ve not seen any sites advocating against it. I can’t imagine what the problem might be.

  • Nor can I. One site when so far as saying you should NEVER keep the CO2 in the fridge. And I’m thinking, why? Its cold as it is.

    Okay, in the fridge it is.



  • I am interested in building a kegerator; however, I would like to know how long your beer will stay fresh in a keg and do you ever have problems with foam?

  • I am in the process of doing this myself and it’s a lot of fun! I just bought the SANYO SR-4911M at Best Buy yesterday for under $200 after taxes – quite a deal considering other online offers were for around $235 plus $50-$150 for shipping. CostCo members might be able to find it at the warehouse for $169.99 but I’m not a member; I just saw it online. If you order online it will be more than $200 after shipping though.

    Anyway, the first thing I did was unscrew the door lining, take out all the trays, and flip it upside-down to re-attach. This way the bottom protrusion where the tray used to be doesn’t interfere with your equipment. I still need to buy a 5 lb CO2 tank; my 20 pounder doesn’t come close to fitting – I wasn’t thinking ahead when I bought it. I am still deciding if I want to sell it on ebay (where I got it) or keep it for reserve.

    Just wanted to say thanks for the site!

  • Flipped the door upsidedown? That sounds much easier than replacing the door lining like I did. Not sure if it would have worked on my Danby model. But still, I wish I had thought of it.

    Since your fridge is a Sanyo, note the comment by Andy Hewitt above… there may be some important plumbing in the top of your fridge that you don’t want to drill into.

  • I, luckily, did NOT have to find the freon line the hard way! I used a 1 inch whole saw and later found a website that informed me of the freon line. I also keep my CO2 tank inside the fridge and have no problems. For “happy keg life”, I turned my fridge all the way up to maximum cooling, and it froze the beer in my cornelius keg. So yes, as Piper said, it will definately keep your beer cool.

  • Andy, what website did you find that on? Thanks!

  • Casey, the following address shows pictures and instructions on converting the sanyo models. This is the site i found AFTER i successfully and luckily did mine! Best of luck!

  • Hi I live in Guelph, I am having trouble finding a place to fill my Co2 tank BOC doesn’t do it. I noticed you were in Erin and wondered where you were getting yours done.

  • I’m not in Erin… I just bought my Corny kegs there.

    I get my CO2 filled at Acorn Fire & Safety in Waterloo.

  • Thanks for the site Anonymous! I found this one too, for the Sanyo 4912.

  • Reconfigured the Sylvania fridge. Keep getting foam even though its been chilled for 24 hours. Put a themometre in and won’t go below 10 degrees Celsius. I modd’ed the door (trimmed the liner to make it flat with some plastic liner), noticed that the light will not go off because there is nothing to depress the button, so I taped it down. Not sure if the light heat will cause this problem. I only drilled a 1-1/2″ hole to accommodate the beer line and insulted with foam. Why won’t the temp go down even at ‘5’? This is annoying me as I think it should be settled by now?

    Any ideas?

  • Darcy:

    I’d be suspicious that the light being on was your problem. Depending on the wattage of the bulb, it would be a fair source of heat in there. Perhaps more than the compressor can pump out.

    I found tape didn’t really work for me… the tape kept peeling off under the constant spring pressure. I just unscrewed the bulb.

  • I suppose taking the light bulb out would probably be a better option, but I was in a red-green mood.

    I’m thinking that the compress doesn’t have enough air flow. I have the fridge incorporated into a section of my bar. I just checked and I have about 3″ or so before it comes to the back of the wall. I might just cut an opening and cover it with a nice wooden vent. Hopefully that is the problem.

  • Here’s another question. I have about 2-1/2′ – 3′ from top of my keg to the top of the bar mounted tower. Should I cut my beer line shorter? I figure the less beer sitting in the tube the better, so if I have a straight short vertical climb up less beer sits. Also, what would be a good way to get some of the cold from the fridge into my tower? I was thinking some 1/2″ pvc piping to replace the pipe insulation I currently have around my line. Does it matter with such a short run?

    Any suggestions?



  • For anyone interested, i found another great site demonstrating the conversion of a sanyo fridge. It is very informational….here it is

    Hope this helps someone!

  • Thanks for posting such a well-written and detailed guide for those of us wanting to do our own kegerator!

    I’m in BC. Can anyone suggest where the corny kegs can be found out here?



  • Will this fridge handle a full half keg?


  • help, I am homebrewing and have a cornelius keg with ball lock quick dissconnects, I want to be able to keep this in my beer refrigerator and hook it up to my draft beer tower like you did. Under the section “Beer Plumbing” when you stated that you cut off the beer nut fittings and put in copper tubing flare and a flare nut, is that what allows the 1/4″ hose to connect to the 3/16″ hose of the beer draft tower? Where do you get these parts, sizes, exact names, etc… if you could email me with this answer I would really appreciate it, thanks so much you have had great information

  • My keg connectors do not have hose-barbs, they have flare fittings. They look like this:

    Here is a page that talks about flare fittings (among others):

    As you can see, the end of a piece of copper tubing is “flared” outwards to make a conical shape. A flare-nut compresses this flared end against the conical end on the keg disconnect. The nice thing about the flare fittings is that, unlike hose-barbs, they are very easy to take apart and put back together.

    The tool for flaring the ends of the tubing is very common. I got mine at Home Depot.

    The piece of copper tubing is actually very short (a couple inches), and only flared on one end. The tubing to match the keg disconnect is 1/4″OD, if I remember right. It just happens to be a pretty tight fit on the inside of the 3/16″ID beer line. So I just slipped the beer line over the end of the stub of copper tubing, and put on a hose-clamp.

    This is some plumbing that you would probably very rarely need to take apart, though, so using the hose-barb type of keg-disconnect would probably not be a terrible idea.

  • I was wondering how quickly do you have to consume the beer?

    I build this setup into my bar but I’m worried that the beer will go bad before I drink it all.

  • Is it possible to mix a hard drink in the kegs and use it as a hard drink dispensor instead?

  • I bought a danby kegerator and it sucks It won’t get cold enough does anyone know how to change the thermostat

  • bryan - ready to drill...

    Awesome info – thanks! I have purchased a Danby DAR446BSL from Costco (Canada) and it appears to be the ideatical internal layout. I have a service email into Danby to confirm that there are no lines in the side or top of the fridge – however thought I would ask here if anyone has had any experience or comments on this fridge…

    Thanks again in advance!

  • bryan, I converted a sanyo fridge and when i called sanyo to ask about important lines running through the fridge, they would not help me in any way. they said they can not assist in any modifications to their products. i would assume you could expect the same response from danby. check out his link, it may give you a little insight before drilling into your new investment –

  • Have a bit of a dumb question. My CO2 tipped over while I was moving it, it landed on the volume gauge. It bent the actual housing a little, enough to pop the plastic cover off and tilt the paper volume sheet inside. Should I worry about a leak on the rest of the regulator? Its not the actual pressure gauge, just to tell if the tank is full or empty.

  • Test for leaks with a spray of soapy water. Dish liquid is good. Any leaks will form a blob of bubbles.

    And do be careful about securing CO2 tanks. Compressed gas cylinders can be extremely dangerous. If it falls over and the valve gets knocked off… you don’t want to be anywhere near that. They’ll go straight through a brick wall.

  • Ouch. I can see how that could hurt! 🙂

    I am also having some problems with the temp. Doing a little research and I found out that the thermostat in my unit has a set screw or an temp. adjustment screw which you can twist to increase the temp range. Fiddled with it last nigth and got my unit down to about 40degF or 5degC. Got a little paranoid because the compressor was getting pretty hot. Unplugged and went to bed. I’ll have to play again tonight.

    Anyone else try this?

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