Using a mini-fridge as a keezer FAILSaturday, January 7th, 2012
In an attempt to save money, space, and time, I thought it would be a good idea to buy a mini-fridge online for use as a keezer or fermentation chamber. Turned out there was not enough room.
All mini-fridges have a hump inside them where the compressor and fan are located. This eats up some of the usable internal space. The shelves on the door further constrain the internal space. The lesson: going online to buy a fridge/freezer for use as keezer is a bad idea. Sometimes the product description will list internal dimensions, but that’s not enough to go on since the floor might be sloped or the shelves might be in the wrong spot.
The best thing to do is make cardboard cut outs representing the foot print of what you want to put in the fridge. Also note the heights of the containers, leaving room for airlock, hoses, couplers, etc. For example, a corny keg needs 27″ of vertical space to leave clearance for the couplings and is 8-1/2″ – 9″ diameter. Take the cutouts with you to the store and bring a tape measure. Then you can be sure what you are buying will work out.
The humps inside mini-fridges and chest freezers are a real drag. In my keezer, the CO2 tank sits on the hump along with a moisture absorption tray. One trick is to build a 4” collar around the top of the keezer. The hatch will have to be removed and then re-installed when the collar is in place. Often this is enough to take the hump out of the equation so 1 or 2 more corny kegs can be placed inside.
Towards the middle of my project todo list is a fermentation chamber. This is done by removing the door from a mini-fridge and building an insulated box that extends the conditioned space. With a temperature controller, a mini-fridge in this setup can be used for precise temperature control during fermentation. What I’m not sure about is how to safely heat the chamber, in the event it gets too cold in the shed (let’s say I want to keep it at 65F, but outside it is 40F). More on that when I get there.