DRAFT BEER FAQS: KEGERATOR
How can I set up my beer to be dispensed 5' away from my refRIGerator?
It must be kept in mind that temperature is the most important factor in dispensing draft beer. Temperatures of non-pasteurized ale and lager type beers must be maintained between 36-38° F all the way to the point of dispense.
Simply insulating the length of the beer hose from the refrigerator to the tower will cause problems. Even a few inches of beer hose that is not kept at 36-38° F will result in foam and promote sour/cloudy beer. See What Temperature Do I Need to Store Draft Beer At?)
Dispensing draft beer from a tower located a short distance from your home refrigerator (or freezer) is quite simple. To accomplish this, create an air-cooled system; cold air from the refrigerator is circulated alongside the beer hose to maintain the critical 36-38° F temperature as the draft beer travels from the refrigerator to the draft beer tower.
Maximum Distance and Blower Size
The system length is limited to a 5' maximum distance due to the small size of blowers used within residential grade refrigerators (or freezers). These small blowers have a cubic foot per minute blow rate of (12 to 15 CFM), which is not sufficient for an air-cooled system greater than 5' in length.
NOTE: Large air blowers (60, 131, and 273 CFM) are intended only in large commercial-grade refrigeration units or walk-in coolers. This is because such blowers are large in size. They generate considerable heat in which residential and small commercial-grade refrigerators do not have the cooling capacity to overcome.
Creating an Air Duct
The first step to building a (home) air-cooled system is to construct a duct from the refrigerator (or freezer) to the draft beer tower base. Through this duct, the beer hose will be run and cold air circulated to maintain the temperature of the beer from the refrigerator all the way to the point of dispense. This is best done with a length of 2” PVC pipe, which can be purchased at your local hardware store.
If your PVC duct will include a turn, be sure to use a long sweeping type of PVC elbow fitting, which will allow easy airflow rather than a sharp 90° elbow fitting, which will restrict airflow. Determine the locations where the 2” PVC pipe will connect to the refrigerator; as shown in the diagram and depending on the location of your kegerator, a hole will have to be drilled on the side of the unit, preferably a location where the manufacturer recommends is the safest area to drill thru, extending the 2” PVC pipe to the underside of the countertop above which the tower will be mounted. In both locations, using a 2-1/2” hole saw, drill a hole to accommodate a snug inside fit of the 2” PVC pipe.
Using silicone to seal the joints and prevent any leakage of the cold air circulating through the pipe. Install the PVC pipe (and PVC elbow fitting if using one). Then use some bracing to secure the pipe in place until the silicone dries.
Insulate Air Duct
Once the silicone has dried, insulate the pipe with 2-1/2” I.D. foam insulation. While PVC is a natural insulator, the addition of foam insulation needs to be done. The cold air circulated through the PVC pipe will cause the pipe to become cold, which could cause condensation issues in warm or humid climates. The addition of the insulation will help to prevent condensation.
Increase Beer hose length
Keep in mind that the PVC pipe length is limited to a maximum of 5 feet. It would help if you also kept in mind that the tower comes with a 5-foot length of 3/16" I.D. vinyl beer hose that approximately 1 foot is within the tower. If your beer hose is not long enough to reach your keg due to the length of the PVC pipe used, you will need to purchase 12 feet of 1/4" I.D. vinyl hose.
While this length may seem too long for a 5’ run, it should not be shortened to ensure proper restriction and pressure. The extra length of hose can be coiled up neatly inside the refrigerator. (See What is restriction?)
Mounting the Tower
Mount the tower to the countertop, and run the beer hose through the 2” PVC pipe into the refrigerator. Most draft beer towers include a mounting gasket that is installed between the draft tower and the countertop. The mounting gasket helps to prevent any accidental spills of liquid on the countertop from flowing beneath the tower. Be sure the gasket is properly positioned when mounting the tower. And if you wish, apply a bead of silicone between the gasket and the countertop as this will further help prevent any spills on the countertop from getting beneath the tower.
Installing the Blower
At this point, the duct is complete. The last step is installing the air blower, which will create the constant cold airflow through the duct and maintain the draft beer temperature between 36-38° F all the way to the point of dispense.
Mount the blower inside the refrigerator, on the opposite side from where the PVC pipe connects to the refrigerator. This will ensure the blower draws cold air and allows the warmer air to return through the duct to circulate within the refrigerator and become chilled again.
Creating Good Air Circulation
Place one end of the 1” flexible blower hose into the blower and secure it in place with silicone or duct tape. Be sure not to push the blower hose too far into the blower because the hose may hit the blower intake's louvers.
Remove the cap from the top of the draft tower. Route the blower hose through the PVC duct and up into the draft tower. At the end of the hose, in the tower, peel back the plastic on the outside of the hose, so about 2” of the inner wire coil is revealed. Then form the wire into a small hook and using the hook hang the hose from the shank assembly near the top of the tower.
Verify Cold Air Circulation & Beer Temperature
Before replacing the cap on the top of the draft tower, check air circulation. Apply power to the blower. Hold your hand over the open tower; you should feel the cold air escaping. If circulation is present, replace the top cap. Allow the cold air from the refrigerator to circulate and cool the beer line for 10-30 minutes.
Now you are ready to connect the keg coupler and allow the beer to flow in the line. Pour a glass of beer and take its temperature. Compare the dispensed beer’s temperature against the temperature inside your kegerator. They both should read 38° F. As we mentioned at the start, the point of the air duct is to maintain the refrigerator’s temperature all the way to the faucet. Maintaining temperature is essential to dispensing a consistent glass of cold draft beer. Cheers!
NOTE: Do not plug the blower into an outlet controlled by a wall switch, as this could result in the blower accidentally being turned off. The blower needs to constantly run to assure cold air circulation and maintain the 36-38° F temperature throughout the system that is critical for non-pasteurized ale and lager types of draft beers.
Items You Will Need
1 Each - 2-1/2" Hole saw
5 Feet - 2" PVC Pipe
1 Each - 2" PVC Long Sweep Elbow
1 Tube - Silicone
6 Feet - 2-1/2" I.D. Foam Insulation (ES-FRI258)
1 Each - Tower Kegerator Conversion Kit
12 Feet - 1/4" I.D. Beer Hose (548C)
2 Each - Hose Clamps for the Beer Hose (705W)
1 Each - 12CFM Air Blower (2C782)
1 Each - Hanger Bracket for Air Blower (2C703)
8 Feet - 1" Flexible Blower Hose (1651-10)
1 Roll - Duct Tape
THE GLOBAL LEADER IN DRAFT EQUIPMENT SOLUTIONS
For over 60 years, Micro Matic has been recognized as one of the world’s leading suppliers of draft beer equipment. Specializing in keg-to-glass technology, we offer a total solution for meeting your draft beer equipment needs. Our dedication to customer service is supported by four regional sales and distribution centers, the Micro Matic Dispense Institute for training and education, and a Certified Installer Network for draft beer installations. Want to speak with a “perfect pour” expert? Contact Micro Matic today.