What Is a Kegerator?
A kegerator is simply a combination of two machines: a standard refrigerator and a beer keg. More specifically, it is a keg inside a fridge, with a dispensing spigot on the outside, allowing the dispensation of cold tap beer at any time without the need for ice. Knowing how a kegerator works requires an understanding of how its component parts operate.
Kegerators are becoming increasingly popular for home use. They may be purchased or homemade.
A modern refrigerator uses an electrically-powered mechanical process to compress a chemical gas, specifically tetrafluoroethane. This liquid has an extremely low boiling point, so when it travels as a gas through the cooling coils of a refrigerator, it is extremely cold and pulls heat from the refrigerator compartments. After traveling through the coils that cool the inside of the fridge, the gas moves to coils outside the fridge, where it loses heat to the room around it. It then converts to a liquid, and is then heated into vaporizing. After this happens, the cycle can begin again.
In essence, the process is the same as the gas cycle of water and the cooling effect you can observe when water is evaporating off dry skin. The only difference is that tetrafluoroethane is much colder.
To make a homemade kegerator, you must obtain a mini-fridge without a small inner freezer, or else there won't be any room for the keg.
A beer keg is made of a large, extremely durable aluminum can that holds non-carbonated beer. Unlike bottled or canned beer, which is carbonated via a natural sugar-metabolizing process, tap beer is carbonated manually, using a separate tank of compressed gas--usually carbon dioxide, nitrogen or a combination of the two.
The container that stores the gas is the tap itself. The gas is pumped into the keg, which causes carbonated beer to flow out of the tube and nozzle and into a glass.
A kegerator is designed for outside access to the beer spout, so the beverage may be dispensed without opening the refrigerator. Usually, this spout is placed on top of the fridge, placing it at the optimum beer-serving level. In homemade kegerators, openings must be cut in the refrigerator to thread the pour spout through. This requires the proper sealing of said holes so the cold doesn't escape from the fridge.
- Photo Credit Wikimedia Commons
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