Everyone who has ever recognized the taste of drinks, especially beer, is sure to feel the need for a kegerator at home. But many of us wouldn’t want the luxury of having a refrigerator and a standalone kegerator, which is why a mini fridge becomes relevant.
If you don’t mind putting in a few hundred bucks and some DIY effort, you can easily build your own kegerator instead of getting a fancy kegerator worth a thousand dollars. In this article, we’ll try to enlighten you about the best mini fridge for corny kegs.
Understanding Corny Kegs and the Purpose of Refrigeration
Originally named Cornelius kegs, corny kegs are cylinders primarily designed for keeping and dispensing drinks. They used to be popular in the soft drinks and beverage industry until the arrival of Bag-in-Box. Certain qualities like robust construction, simplicity, and stackability brought them back in popularity among homebrewers.
Made of durable stainless steel, a corny keg can hold up to 60 PSI, being ideal for storing beverages of almost all types, needless to say, beers. Thus, these containers have become the kegs of choice for those looking to store homemade beer.
Corny kegs can store at least 2.378 gallons. Larger sizes can hold up to 10 gallons, where you would see 5 gallons being the most common. Here is a table to show you the exact volumes along with their corresponding dimensions.
|Size (Liters)||Diameter (Inches)||Height (Inches)||Maximum Pressure (PSI)|
If you have a keg of adequately carbonated beverage (beer) and you can keep it at 600 F, you can enjoy its fresh taste for about 12 months. But you know it is just a corny keg that only stores 5 gallons, and you’ll only have fifty bottles (12-oz each) to drink. Drinking one or two bottles a day, you’ll need to refill the keg long before a year.
There is a reason you should keep your kegs cold. Most beers prepared in the United States require refrigeration. If you want to store a corny keg (full of beer) at your room temperature (not in the fridge), make sure it has undergone pasteurization.
This process keeps the drink from spoiling, and most beers don’t come pasteurized. Eventually, you’ll need to find a way to store them in a keg at cool temperatures, and refrigerators are an excellent option. Mini fridges are a reasonable consideration as they only take up small space and come at more affordable prices than dedicated kegerators. Let’s get to the choices now.
What’s the Best Mini Fridge for Corny Kegs?
We’ll talk about seven mini fridges for cornelius kegs, each of which has some capacity to hold at least one corny keg. Since you are interested in choosing a mini fridge for corny kegs, we’ll discuss how each model suits your demand and try to necessarily disregard other keg sizes. We’ll also discuss in brief how they can meet your usual refrigeration needs.
1. Danby Designer DAR044A4BDD-6 4.4 Cu.Ft. Mini Fridge
If you need to know one particular fridge that packs useful features, this Danby model is as good as any mini fridge for corny kegs.
But its inside dimensions (about 18 x 17 x 29 inches, W x Dx H) make it stand out. A standard corny keg that measures 9 x 23 inches can easily fit inside. It means you can store 5 gallons/ 640 oz/ 40 pints. Alternatively, two 3-gallon kegs should fit instead of one 5-gallon container.
Apart from keeping kegs, you can store 53 cans containing 12 oz. This compact model fits in small spaces, allowing ease of use, thanks to the reversible door hinges and adjustable shelves. The mechanical thermostat and automatic defrost are just some features that make the model ideal for day-to-day usage.
Besides being energy efficient (backed by Energy Star certification), it uses R600A, which shows a significant improvement in overall environmental impacts, having a very low Global Warming Potential (GWP) value of 3.
- Scratch-resistant top with a smooth back
- Adequate space inside with removable shelves to house one regular corny keg
- Inverter technology for operational efficiency and less energy consumption (only 268 kWh/ Year)
- Space-saving design to fit in any small room, kitchen, and other indoor spaces
- CanStor system for quick dispensing of beverages
- Not much of a door gasket and magnet that could hold/ pull the door shut properly
2. RCA RFR321 BLACK Mini Refrigerator, 3.2 Cu. Ft.
There are reasons for this RCA refrigerator to have been the best seller in the compact category. Its capacity is 3.2 Cu. Ft., having the internal dimensions (14 x 15 x 27.5 inches) for one corny keg with a capacity of 5 gallons/ 640 oz.
Unlike the Danby DAR044A4BDD-6, this one doesn’t offer much space inside once you’ve placed the keg. Let’s reveal why so many people have liked this particular model out of the hundreds of others in the same category.
Its compressor cooling system delivers reliably in all weathers. An adjustable thermostat puts you at ease regarding optimal temperatures for the keg. The feet come with an adjustable lever, making themselves good enough to stand stable.
The glass shelves are removable, and the door is reversible. A can dispenser is available to allow you to keep more than a dozen beverage cans. R134a refrigerant, which shares properties of a hydrofluorocarbon refrigerant, has no potential for ozone depletion, resulting in little to no greenhouse effect.
- An affordable refrigeration solution to meet the needs of regular households and those of homebrewers
- Glossy finish with eight vibrant color options
- Space-saving design and energy-efficient compressor system
- Reversible door and hinges for opening and closing with minimal effort
- A good choice for eco-conscious consumers
- Not very quiet while in the operational mode
3. hOmeLabs Beverage Refrigerator and Cooler – 120 Can
Unlike some compact refrigerators on our list, this one isn’t built to keep your fruits, vegetables, and meats. All the space inside (16” x 29” x 12”) (W x D x H) is available for drinks. So, you have no worries about room for one corny keg, not even for the largest one.
Just remove all three adjustable wire shelves, and it is ready to store your keg. Apart from one Cornelius keg, you can keep several dozen standard beer/ soda cans or more than a dozen wine bottles.
The touch control pad with a digital display allows you to control and monitor temperature and cool the keg down to 34°F. The memory function restores any preset temperature automatically in case of power failure.
The cooler uses an additional sensor to sense the temperature and activate the defrost mode automatically when required. The compressor works without much noise.
- Stainless steel exterior with a glossy finish for a modern look
- Undercounter installation for a good economy of the kitchen/ interior space
- Convection fan to cool beverages quickly while keeping the air circulation consistent
- Touch control pad with a large display and interior LED lighting for users’ convenience
- An energy-efficient appliance (Annual Consumption and Cost: 288 kWh at $35)
- Not spacious enough to keep 120 cans (but it doesn’t matter if you only want the refrigerator for storing your corny keg)
4. COMFEE 115-120 Can Beverage Cooler/Refrigerator
We got another beverage cooler with almost the same features as the hOmeLabs model above. Let’s see why this particular model has become Amazon’s Choice in the beverage refrigerator category.
The fridge measures 17.32 x 18.89 x 33.1 inches (D x W x H), while internally, it measures 12.1 x 16 x 28.5 inches (D x W x H), which should be enough to keep a regular 5-gallon keg. Although it claims to have room for 115 cans, we think you can keep up to 60 of them.
The freezerless model weighs a little more than most others in the category. You can adjust the temperature from 33.8 ℉ to 50℉/ 1℃ to 10℃. The unit has a special mechanism to ensure the even distribution of temperature.
- Whole glass with SS frame for a delicate look
- Adjustable thermostat with mechanical control
- Low-e 3-panel glass for prevention of cool air from leaking and UV from entering inside
- Door with a reversible hinge/ recessed handle for easy closing/ opening
- A freestanding model with adjustable legs
- Not spacious enough to hold 115 cans
- Chance of seeing a pool of water in the bottom due to temperatures set above 45℉
5. Midea WHD-113FB1 Double Door Mini Fridge with Freezer
This Midea refrigerator is one of the most popular models in the compact category. It is not what you would see as a perfect refrigerator for beverages, but still, it might work for you. Do you know how?
Firstly, it is longer-lasting than 80% of all compact refrigerators on the market. Secondly, it is a freestanding fridge that easily fits under the counter. Thirdly, it features a decent compressor and advanced cooling technology that offers energy efficiency and low-noise operation.
Speaking of its suitability as a cooler for kegs, you may find its internal space (16 x 17.10 x 28.5 inches) not enough to hold a 5-gallon keg. But you can easily keep a 3-gallon keg that stands about 17 inches high. If you are not fond of frequent house parties, this capacity won’t be an issue since you can store 11.35 liters at a time.
- Space-saving and lightweight design
- Adjustable thermostat (easy-to-use knobs) with decent LED lighting
- Low energy consumption (Only 270 kWh annually)
- Reversible hinges on the door with adjustable legs for convenience in day-to-day uses
- Separate doors to eliminate concerns about the freezer section requiring to be opened or closed while using the fridge for keeping the keg
- Lack of uniform temperature all the time due to manual defrost system
6. BLACK+DECKER BCRK32V Compact Refrigerator
We know no particular fridge can be perfect for everyone. Still, this model can be very close to being the right one for you because of its energy efficiency, low-noise (45 dB) operation, adjustable temperature, and other standard features.
It offers adequate space (height: 27.10 inches and width: 15 inches) for a 5-gallon corny keg. As you’ve kept the keg in the fridge compartment, the internal freezer allows you to keep food items frozen without requiring you to look for another option.
This lightweight refrigerator comes with an Energy Star certification with a well-founded claim to be environmentally friendly. The glass shelves easily slide out as you need to use the space for your corny keg.
- Space-saving design with a smooth exterior finish to fit in any modern kitchen or office space
- Energy-efficient with a durable compressor
- Adjustable thermostat (32ᵒ F being the lowest setting)
- Recessed door handle and reversible position for hassle-free daily uses
- Use of R600a Refrigerant (known for causing zero Ozone depletion
- Reported issues of inconsistent distribution of temperature due to manual defrost system
7. NewAir Beverage Refrigerator And Cooler – 126 Cans
This one provides more internal storage space than all other beverage coolers on our list. Looking at the listed (external) dimensions, you may not feel the difference.
But in practice, the model can keep one 5-gallon keg or two (one 2.378 + one 3-gallon) corny kegs, which gives you an opportunity to store 20 liters of homebrewed beer. Alternatively, you can store up to 60 cans (of the standard size or more of the smaller size). You need to be clever while stacking them.
The thermostat features variable settings to allow temperature shifting between 34°F and 64°F. But don’t rely on this unit to keep perishable food items fresh.
No Energy Star certification is available for this refrigerator. The appliance requires 650 kWh per year, adding $6.5 to your monthly utility bills. However, its compliance and safety factors have been tested and confirmed by the ETL, part of Intertek Testing Laboratories, which is a nationally recognized organization.
- Stainless steel finish with glass door making a befitting beverage cooler for any modern room
- Thermostat with seven variable settings to adjust the temperature as required
- Durable compressor powered by advanced technology
- Double-paned door providing good insulation to keep up the coolness inside
- Suitable for boxes of cigars (may work as a cigar humidor with the correct temperature settings)
- Complaints about the temperature being not uniform (due to the manual defrost system)
- No temperature display
How to Choose the Best Mini Fridge for Corny Kegs?
In this section, we’ll explain the different styles and features of mini fridges so that you can choose the right mini fridge for kegs.
Mini Fridge Styles
These refrigerators come in any of the three options such as stand-alone units, ones built into kitchen cabinetry, and the ones that serve either way. Apart from placement, mini fridges are available as only refrigerators, refrigerators with freezers, refrigerators with microwave options, and beverage centers.
Refrigerators typically have adjustable shelves and capacities ranging from 3 to 6 cubic feet. Cube styles, especially the ones for tighter indoor spaces, offer 1.7 cubic feet. Most of these units feature beverage dispensers and room for taller items.
Models with freezers are also considered as the two-door style in which the freezer has a separate door. Having the thermostats inside the freezer section, temperature performance in this section is significantly better than that in their refrigerator section.
A fridge with a microwave is ideal for those feeling the need for both a refrigerator and a microwave unit, having a limited number of wall outlets. Both units are bracketed into one and only have one plug.
Whether you love beer or other drinks, beverage centers are a specialty that features certain temperature settings for cooling, not ideal for perishable items. Like the hOmeLabs refrigerator on our list, models under this type often list how many cans can be kept inside.
Were this article about refrigerator for general purposes, we would talk about the shelves, lighting options, and other smart features. But it is about corny kegs. So, we’ll only keep the following paragraphs relevant to mini fridges for kegs.
Temperature Control System
This feature is of great importance since you are likely to keep up the taste of your draft beer which is probably not pasteurized, thereby needing to be kept cold, neither too much nor too cold. Too high temperature causes the carbon dioxide to liberate too quickly, resulting in much foam and a poor taste. Too low temperature helps retain carbonation giving you a flat taste.
What is the optimal/ right temperature for draft beer? We would say it is 38°, particularly if you are fond of ales. Going slightly lower won’t hurt, but going higher than 38° is not recommended. So, choose a mini fridge that excels at maintaining the mentioned temperature.
Since the focus is on corny kegs rather than regular food items, you need to think about the interior layout of your fridge differently. On most occasions, you may want to keep a keg inside, which means models with removable shelves and storage compartments should be chosen.
If you want to make a kegerator out of your refrigerator, that is not impossible. In that case, we have more to tell you about the layout. Keep reading.
As long as you have the right model in mind, it won’t be hard to stay on budget. Most of the mini refrigerators cost anywhere from $200 to $600 although fridges with built-in kegerators might cost you more.
How to choose refrigerators for Kegerator Conversions?
You need to know the available options for kegerator conversion. Well, stand-up fridge and waist-high freezers are the two ideal choices among general-purpose refrigerators because they usually go well with common spatial considerations.
Kegs used most commonly are about 23 ⅜-inch high, which means your mini fridge is a good choice for the conversion if it has this much clearance.
Besides the dimensional aspects, your purposes of having a kegerator matter too. In practice, people look for kegerator conversion as they need a cold storage facility for beer and/ or beer maturation (lagering). You’ll also determine how many cans of beer you need to serve in one go.
Conversion of stand-up models is easier than that of other types. You just have to drill some holes into the refrigerator’s door and mount beer shanks. You can also mount a spill tray. Make sure there is no coolant line through the door. Check the hinges and the door seam to be sure.
A refrigerator door with a tube running into it or a bulky hinge typically has a refrigerant line. With one of such models, you want to remove the inner lining panel before starting to drill. Use a tape measure to find out if your refrigerator is tall enough to hold a corny keg inside.
The refrigerator bottom needs to be flat although yours might not be just flat enough. You can build a bottom so that the kegs can be prevented from falling out as you open the door. These cautions should be followed for stand-up fridges.
Those looking to have a kegerator with at least three taps or some extra space (for storing beer) should get a fridge with more storage inside. Converting one of those models into a kegerator takes more than just mounting a beer shank.
This conversion procedure allows you to mount a draft tower, giving you enough storage space for corny kegs. Some units can mount up to eight taps based on the size of the kegs. Try to gain some carpentry skills and knowledge about electronics before committing yourself to the job.
Since most instances of kegerator conversion require the modification or replacement of the thermostat (temperature controller), you shouldn’t attempt it without working knowledge of the electronic components. Also, make sure the fridge is unplugged.
We’ll offer a detailed explanation of the process in the next section. For now, keep the following points in mind before looking for a refrigerator for kegerator conversion.
Choose a refrigerator that comes with a 1/5 HP compressor. Otherwise, you’ll have difficulty ensuring sufficient coolness for the kegs.
There should be enough space inside the unit to house the kegs, beer lines, and the coupler. The interior height needs to be at least 28 inches.
How To Make Your Own Kegerator from A Mini Fridge?
You can convert your mini fridge into a kegerator without paying for a standalone unit. You need to get a kegerator along with a conversion kit. The question is whether building your kegerator is a good idea or not.
Before engaging in the endeavor, you should consider the cost. To get the required equipment and items, you can get on the cheaper or more expensive side, looking at as low as $50 and as high as $500. Then, you need a mini refrigerator, assuming that you don’t have one.
Converting a fridge into a beer kegerator is not a project people take up every day. Such actions result in a voided warranty, and you might also risk going about poorly. Two skills are essential such as drilling and taking measurements. Expert or not, you can still go ahead if you think you can do moderately well in those areas.
Choose a Conversion Kit
Due to the variety of available kits, you need to consider your needs first. If you’re only building this DIY kegerator fridge for home use, you can go with one serving tower instead of a two-tower tap system. A standard package/ kit includes,
- A Serving Tower with 1-2 Faucet Design(s)
- A 5-Pound CO2 Tank
- A Regulator with Pressure Adjusting Knobs
- Beer and Gas Lines
- A Disconnect
- A Snake
An affordable kegerator conversion kit including all of the above may cost you around $200. Higher quality may cost about $330.
Modify Your Mini Fridge
Don’t start pulling out the shelves and removing the door just yet. If your keg doesn’t require the removal of the door, don’t do that. Fridges with some hardware securely bolted into the interior walls may require you to remove the door and cover it with something less efficient. You need to be careful so that the keg properly fits in.
Remove the Fridge’s Top Part
Look at the top part and try to discover the seam, which looks like metal fitted on the refrigerator with metal on one side having a gap of one inch. A putty knife can be wedged under here to bring the seam out.
Now, you should see the cooling lines along with foam material. Take caution here because a drill machine needs to be used to cut a hole for the lines. Make sure it goes through the top and all the way down. This should be where the tap is intended to be.
Use the Drill Machine
Once you’ve chosen the spot for your cooling lines, you should start drilling a hole right into the refrigerator. The hole should be between your cooling lines which should touch or be around the pipes. As beer comes up all the way through it, the closeness helps chill that line.
You shouldn’t take this step without caution because you’ll be cutting through tons of foam and plastic. Alternatively, you can cut through the foam to create a circular hole in a way that lets you find the lines. Proceed from there.
Do Some Filling
Run the CO2 lines right through the fridge’s top part, putting the canisters inside. Run the beer lines carefully through it without attaching anything to any end of the lines. Take a piece of plywood, cut that to the required size, and use the cut piece to fill in the spot where you saw the foam insulation. Drill a small hole through the piece so that it can run the lines too.
Build a Conduit
Use a piece of PVC pipe and make a conduit for the lines hooked up before. Place that conduit through the top of the fridge and then secure it properly into the refrigerator bottom. Collect a piece of aluminum foil and rubber caulking (temperature-proof). Mold those around the pipe’s top and bottom.
Secure the Top and the Tap
Put the fridge’s top back properly in its place as you’re done drilling a small hole that fits around the pipe. The hole may not be the right size, but it is okay to patch it up.
Secure your tap carefully to the refrigerator top, keeping the lines running. If you’ve put everything in place, the CO2 lines should kick on just loud enough, so you can hear.
FAQs About Mini Fridge for Corny Kegs
At this point, we would like to answer a few questions that beer lovers often ask, especially when they plan on using a mini-fridge to store kegs.
Will a mini-fridge hold a keg?
Answer: Craft or homebrewed beer in kegs requires cool temperatures. Models without a freezer, as well as other mini-fridges, are suitable for this purpose as they can store a Cornelius keg perfectly.
A fridge with 3.2 Cu. Ft. in capacity holds a small keg. A kegerator with a standard barrel requires a refrigerator having 4.4 Cu. Ft. in capacity. You’ll need a mini-fridge with 5.5 Cu. Ft. in capacity for a two-tap serving tower.
How long to chill a corny keg?
Answer: You need to convey the beer (usually soda or cider wine) into your keg. Then, you must refrigerate it to a temperature under 45 degrees. Leave it there for 12 hours (half of the day). The beer should cool down to 45 degrees if the refrigerator does its job.
What is the most popular cornelius keg size?
Answer: When you’re planning to keep a corny keg in your refrigerator, and you are concerned about the size, the most important measurement is the height of the container. Cornelius kegs are primarily available in three different sizes (heights), such as 15, 17, and 24.75 inches.
The tallest among those three varieties, 24.75 inches, is by far the most popular one. Its capacity is 5 gallons/ ~19 liters, which matches what comes from a regular homebrew batch.
How long can a keg be unrefrigerated?
Answer: Depending on the beer type and the volume of oxygen pumped into the drink, your beer should taste good for at least eight hours before going stale. Sometimes, you may have 24 hours before getting the beer completely stale.
What temperature is recommended for kegs?
Answer: Regardless of the type of pump on your corny keg, you should ensure that it receives the right temperature. Else, you’ll experience issues with the taste and quality of your drink. Corny kegs should be kept at 38°F, which is a proven and recommended temperature.
How much does a mini fridge weigh?
Answer: The weight of mini fridges vary between 30 lbs and 80 lbs with 62 lbs being the average. According to another unit of measurement, these fridges weigh between 14 kilograms and 36 kilograms with 27 kilograms being the average.
By now, you may have become confident of being able to choose wisely. If you are NOT, take a look at our concluding remarks about the refrigerators we’ve reviewed.
The Danby Designer model costs higher than 90% of compact refrigerators. But as long as value matters, this is the product you want to have. RCA RFR321 and BLACK+DECKER BCRK32V are among the most reasonably priced appliances.
The NewAir model grabs our attention with its internal space, but you may look at alternatives like the hOmeLabs or the COMFEE model if energy cost is a significant consideration.
Well, that is all from our side for now. But we are happy to answer any of your questions about the best mini fridge for corny kegs. Feel free to let us know.