A friend had a bad night bottling his latest batch and is interested in taking the plunge into kegging — kegerator and all — and wanted to get my opinion of a deal he found on Craigslist.
It’s a kegerator with dual taps and includes 3 five-gallon kegs, a CO2 tank, fittings and such, all for $350.
In terms of price, here’s what you’d be looking at to buy a new one.
Count on about $250 for the frig. I use a 4.9 cubit foot Sanyo refrigerator — SR-4912M. It works well, is just the right size, and looks decent. It’s the kind of thing you could keep in your living room.
I should mention that if I was doing it all over again I would get a horizontal freezer. Those things have lots of room and can hold your kegged homebrew and your fermentation vessels so you can do true lagering. You’d have to rig a system to control the temperature, but there’s stuff online about how to do that. But right now we’re just evaluating the basic kegerator deal.
You can do the taps various ways, but I think the nicest is a double tap tower. Here’s one for about $100. You can spend a lot more than that if you want, and you can spend a lot less with just hoses and thumb taps.
Fittings, hoses and stuff are going to run about $50.
A reconditioned CO2 canister might cost you $75.
You’re up to $475, and that doesn’t include labor, any drill bits or caulk you might need, etc.
So a working kegerator for $350 isn’t a bad deal.
But how do you know if it’s a bad deal? Here are some things to look out for.
CO2 canisters have a useful life, after which you can’t even get them filled. Here’s a thread on the subject. If you can’t get the canister tested, the simplest thing might be to ask the guy who’s selling it to you when was the last time he got it refilled.
You’ll want to check the frig. Does it get cold? Give it a general once-over — check the power cord, see if the gasket on the door is in good shape, look for breaks in the plastic, etc.
The particular deal my friend was considering includes kegs, so you want to check them too. Do they leak? (I ruined a couple kegs by cleaning them with bleach. Bleach is great for plastic and glass, but never use it on a keg!) Fill the kegs with water and see if they leak. Replacing the rubber gaskets is no biggee. Also, look inside and see if they’re clean. If they’ve been sitting around dirty for a while, that’s not good.
If the kegerator passes all this, and the guy who’s selling it seems like an honest guy (most homebrewers are), you’re probably in good shape.