HOWTO: Build a kegerator in Iceland
Bottling beer sucks. We all know that. Here's the kegerator I got. It's a fairly standard build really, but I've included all the pricing and sources for parts here in Iceland. Some of us don't have a home depot around the corner, and things aren't as cheap here as they could be.
This was free. It's just a fridge. This is the least critical part of it. If you want a cheap fridge in Iceland, I suggest watching barnaland.is or asking your relatives. I've got nothing special to look for here, but the size and shape of the fridge, as always determines the capacity. Mine holds three cornies, if you build a shelf for the bottom to get them over the compressor hump.
To get the cornies to fit inside my fridge, with or without building a special floor required taking off the door shelves. I bought a sheet of oiled/waterproof board from Byko. It cost me 1000kr, but I got the whole board. I had a bitch of a time getting this all to mount up again properly, and the fridge door still doesn't close properly. I think the door warped between taking the shelves off and getting the panel remounted. Without the shelves, the door was really floppy and weak. Well, electricity is cheap here, and it's only a small gap in the seal, and the beer's still cold, so I'm probably not going to try any more. I've already tried remounting it about three times.
I always wanted to keep the gas bottle outside the fridge, just seemed more useful that way. Who wants to use up valuable beer space keeping a bottle of gas cold? I have currently gone fully ghetto, and just drilled (some small holes and some pliers to make one big hole) through the side of the fridge. I used a hand drill, so I never really felt in any danger of hitting any coolant lines, and I don't think any go in the sides of this fridge anyway.
Good luck. I came into a 5kg tank from an undisclosed source. Right now, I know of where three 5kg tanks are currently abandoned and ready for liberation, but well, you need to move in the dark. You have two other options. One is buying one from kolsyra.is and hoping they have one in a size you like. (They mostly have bigger ones, a 7kg one will cost you ~20k kr) You can also rent one from IS-AGA, iirc it will cost you ~10k kr per year. Once you have your own, an inspection will cost ~4000 kr, and a fill will cost 300kr per kg. (Icelandic for these gas tanks is kólsyrakútur, kólsyra is co2, kútur is the tank, it's the same word used for beer kegs)
You can get one at Gastec on Bildshöfði, but the output side goes right up to 60psi or so, so it will be hard to adjust in the 10-15psi range for beer, and it will cost you 9000kr. I bought one on ebay from england, and after taxes and shipping, it was 6500 kr, but it's designed for beer, and goes from 0-30psi, so it's nicer. Note that co2 tanks have different threads here in europe than in the US, so you must make sure that you get a regulator from england, europe or australia. (or deal with the fittings yourself) (Icelandic for the gas regulator is, (I think,) þrystistillingur.
Tubing and manifolds
My gas side uses 8mm (ID) food grade tubing from Byko. 110kr per meter. "plastslanga" is what you're asking for here. I probably would have used the same tubing for both gas and liquid if I was doing this again, and I bought 10m of this tubing, before doing a proper conversion of 3/16" into metric, and realising that 8mm tubing, was too thick. I spent a lot of time on landvelar's web site looking at their catalog of ID/OD for various tubings, and reading the US balancing guidelines, and realised that this 8mm tubing would be completely inappropriate for use on the liquid side.
However, the 8mm tubing has one great advantage. It slides snugly and easily over 1/4" fittings. and 1/4" fittings are what you'll find for all the brass nipples and t's. Iceland, like so many places, is in that unfortunate deadzone where some fields use metric, and some use imperial. As far as I can work out, pipes use imperial, and tubing uses metric.
So, that's the tubing, the bits you'll need to make it all go will depend on the fittings that came on your regulator, and how many kegs you want to run. For me, here's the following list. I have two kegs in the fridge, cold, but I have parts for running four kegs. I ran three for Australia Day
- Hose barb, 1/4" x 10mm x 4. One for the regulator end, and three to make the manifold. 75kr eaach at Vörukaup, through to 110kr at Byko. (Icelandic: Slöngutengi)
- Ball valves, 1/4" Male/Female x 2. These make my manifold. 650kr each at Landvélar Probably more at byko, if you can find the size you want. (Icelandic: Kúluloki)
- Brass t-piece, 1/4" x 1. The distributor part of the manifold. 150kr at Vörukaup. Also available at some Byko's, but more kr. (Icelandic: Té. you should be able to get this one easily enough :)
- Check Valve, 1/4" x 1. I put this on the back side of my manifold to protect the regulator. Some designs put one of these on each output side of the manifold to prevent cross talk between kegs. I didn't want to pay that much. 870kr at Landvélar. (Icelandic: eintefnuloki)
- Plastic t-piece, 8mm. 260kr at Landvélar. This is basically a three way barb. I use it to split one side of my manifold into two more paths, for the two kegs inside the fridge. (Icelandic: té, slöngusamtengi)
Connecting this was a bit of a bitch. I had to learn how to use teflon tape, and even still, needed a bucket of water to dip the assembly in and check for bubbles. Big tip: teflon tape needs to go on so that when you tighten up the fitting, the tape gets wound on further, not unwound! :) But I got it in the end.
Gas keg ends
I got my pinlock QDs from brewers discount They cost about 600 kr after shipping and taxes. (roughly, I bought a bunch of stuff from them) They were far and away the cheapest disconnects I found. This includes the MFL (flare) version, and the swivel nuts to fit them. I have NOT been able to find more 1/4" MFL swivel nut barbs here. This was unexpected. I should have ordered more than 1 per QD. You need at least 1 per QD, but whenever you make a special cable, like a jumper for transferring kegs, or anything else, you need one for each end of that cable. And the damn things have a little plastic washer, which is really easy to lose. (Buy a couple more than you think you'll need)
These are the only places on the gas side where I used hose clamps. Getting the 8mm tubing to clamp up leak free on the little skinny hose barbs was a bit of an effort. I'm using stainless (ryðfrír) 10mm hoseclamps from Landvélar, at 60kr each. the 8-14mm worm gear clamps I found at byko didn't work.
UpdateAfter running at 25psi overnight to rush carbonation, I actually blew the hosing off one of the manifold hose barbs. This was a horrible sound to wake up to! I now have hose clamps on the gas barbs on the manifold as well.
whew, so much text. Fortunately the liquid side, at least at present, is much simpler.
The liquid side at the moment is just a QD connected to a picnic tap. When I move house I might (will) buy proper taps, but the cost for this project had been spiralling out of control already, and I was still going to want picnic taps to take the system on the road for parties.
Again, the QDs, swivel nut barbs and picnic taps came from brewers discount. When I get taps, I'll probably buy from them as well.
The hosing on the liquid side is 5mm ID food grade from Landvélar. Byko doesn't stock this diameter. Getting this onto the 1/4" swivel barbs from brewers discount requires holding the tubing under the hot tap. I used stainless 9mm hoseclamps here, but I really feel it was a waste of time. I can't see that tubing coming off anytime soon. Tubing was 50kr per metre. I used about 5ft per beer line. My beer seems to come out pretty much perfectly with the regulator set at 13psi, so that's good enough for me at the moment.
Same at the picnic taps. The first one has a hose clamp on it, but the others are just snugged up onto the barb. With the amount of hot water I had to use to get them on, and at least with my picnic taps, they're not coming off anytime soon.
The final, but arguably most important part. As it's not really part of the kegerator, I won't go into much detail here. I've already spoken about them at my Homebrew in Iceland page anyway.
Summing this up, from above, and from receipts, I've got two figures. Optimal, knowing everything I do now, buying only what was needed, and from the cheapest sources, and the real total, how much I spent buying extras and duplicates and stuff.
- gas line 5m, 300kr
- beer line 5m, 250kr
- 4 hose barbs, 300kr
- check valve, 830kr
- 2 ball valves, 1,300kr
- t-piece, 150kr
- t-connector, 260kr
- gas regulator, 6,500kr
- qds and swivel nuts and picnic taps, (for 2 kegs only) 3,000kr
- gas bottle check and fill, 5kg tank, 7,000kr
- fridge door, 1,000kr
- 2 kegs, 10,000kr shipped. (I bought four for 20k)
- 2 hose clamps for gas side qds. 120kr
Grand total: 30,710kr or 458 USD. This is with a free fridge, and a free gas bottle, setup for two kegs.
Adding up my receipts, and bearing in mind I have parts for four kegs, bought four kegs....
Grand total: 46,550 or 687 USD. Bear in mind that 10k of this difference is straight two extra kegs. So the real difference between optimal and real is about 6000kr. This was a lot more than I'd planned. I'd sort of figured on maybe 25k or so. Now, four kegs for 5k each certainly blows it out a bit, but even still, I thought I could get the rest for 10-15k or so. As you can see from the "optimal", you actually can, but you have to know exactly what you want first :) UpdateAdd about 12,000kr for the three taps, and some extra connectors
So, hopefully if anyone else here on the rock wants to build a kegerator, I hope you found this useful. If there's anything missing, or you want more info, feel free to shoot me an email
What I'd do differently / What I'd like to do
I would like to mount some Quick Disconnect plugs/sockets on the fridge bulkhead. Having some raw tubing just pushed through a rough cut hole in the metal is ghetto at best. Some quick disconnects there would be handy when I try and take the show on the road. I've seen the sort of airline parts I want, but it's just more money, and I don't push and pull on the gas line, so it's fine for now.
Actual taps, and a drip tray. These are now installed
A wooden frame for the bottom of the fridge, to lift the kegs up over the hump at the back of the fridge,
and let me have three kegs in there. Now built and installed!
And finally, a beer
Cold conditioning does wonders to a beer. I haven't had much luck photographing through a beer so far, but I can clearly see pictures and things through a beer. Clearest beer I've ever made after a couple of weeks cold conditioning in the mighty kegerator.