Author Topic: To Build or Buy?  (Read 2528 times)

Offline lazydog79

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To Build or Buy?
« on: January 25, 2015, 04:41:58 AM »
As I proceed with finishing my basement man cave, complete with bar, of course a kegerator is a necessity!  I have been planning to build a keezer - maybe in a coffin, maybe not; maybe with towers, maybe not.  Whatever I do, I'm planning on building a 4-tapper.  Something like:



Recently, I have been debating, though.  Why not buy an under-counter kegerator??  Something like this one:



By my chainsaw math, my keezer build will take about $1300 to build my keezer (including price of new chest freezer, hardware, etc.).  The under-counter model above is for sale for $1600.  Obviously, that's $300 more and I am loosing a tap.  However, I will have a unit ready to go that can be directly incorporated in the bar and the tower mounted on the bar.  I am finding myself a bit indecisive, so any opinions would be appreciated.  Thanks!

Offline dcb

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Re: To Build or Buy?
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2015, 04:52:40 AM »
In my opinion, I choose to build because either believe I will enjoy the process or end up with a better product than store-bought.  Or usually, both.  Isn't this what attracts people to homebrewing?

Offline lazydog79

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Re: To Build or Buy?
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2015, 04:57:20 AM »
In my opinion, I choose to build because either believe I will enjoy the process or end up with a better product than store-bought.  Or usually, both.  Isn't this what attracts people to homebrewing?
I hear ya! I might be friggin' DIY'ed out by the time I get this basement done, though!  :P  There is something about thumping your chest and saying, "I built that!"  I think part of it is debating towers on the bar or keezer as part of my barback.  I think I might like that better anyway.  Thanks again!

Offline dcb

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Re: To Build or Buy?
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2015, 05:07:42 AM »
I hear ya! I might be friggin' DIY'ed out by the time I get this basement done, though!  :P  T

There's always that burnout to be factored in as well.  Sometimes it's nice to just write a check and have it done with.

Still, given the time, I'm rarely sorry I do things myself, as I usually feel like I'll take more care and get something  done right.   There are some things that are worth farming out to a pro, like open heart surgery or an automatic transmission rebuild.   Your keezer isn't on that level though, and given your chest thumping reference I suspect you'll get more satisfaction out of rolling your own.  I know I would.

Offline majorvices

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Re: To Build or Buy?
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2015, 11:44:53 AM »
I just typed up a half page pros and cons on the difference between the two and it was really detailed but the F#CK&^% cat jumped on the keyboard and erased the F#CK&$% thing. So here's shortened version.

I just got rid of my homebuilt 6 tap "keezer". Compressors die after about 4-5 years, not meant to be cycled on and off. So be prepared. The condensation is an issue that if not taken care of regularly it becomes a real nasty problem. Once mine went so long between cleanings that it became a living, breathing biosphere. NASA actually contacted me about exploring it for signs of new kinds of life. All this condensation also causes rust. In 15 years I've gone through 3 keezers. That said, you can keep the frame so not hard to drop $400 down on new one and just put frame back on.

I have a 3 tap commercial grade keggerator. It was used. I paid $400 and the compressor went out almost immediately. The guy I bought it from was a friend though and he gave me $100 back and it cost me $250 and some beer to get a new compressor installed. So not a bad deal.

Cons are you can only put 3 or 4 cornies or sixtels in it. I drilled a hole so I could keep my tank outside and keep 4. But that's a lot less space that I used to have - in my "keezer" I could store 8 cornies/sixtels! When I was a full fledged homebrewer at one time I had 3-15 cu ft chest freezers and sometimes still ran out of pakces to store beer (though, 2 were dedicated "usually" to fermentation.)

Commercial ones might be a bit louder than residential ones. Also, make sure whatever you get has the fan to keep the tower cold if you go that route.

I also have a 3 tap refrigerator in the garage. The refrigerator route is better than the keezer in the end me thinks. There is no condensation problem. Also, the compressor was designed to run at beer storage temps so that is not a problem either. The only cons with mine is 1) i had to design a platform to stabilize kegs (basically just slats of wood cut to fit the base the glass shelf had been on and 2) while I can probably fit 5 kegs and close the door it's a tight squeeze between top of kegs/lines coming off kegs and ceiling of fridge.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2015, 01:08:16 PM by majorvices »

Offline TMX

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Re: To Build or Buy?
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2015, 02:33:39 PM »
I have a 2 tap Diy keezer less than $400 total cost and ready to be upgraded to a 3 tap for less than $100. Used freezer on CL can stretch the budget. And the Diy was pretty simple
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Offline tommymorris

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Re: To Build or Buy?
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2015, 02:58:03 PM »
I have a side by side fridge. It only holds two kegs and a co2 bottle. Plenty of room to store other items (soda, beer, etc).

I used to have a fridge with freezer on top. That one held 4 kegs and a bottle.  Space was cramped above the kegs as majorvices mentioned. I liked that one better but needed for a rent house.

Offline ScottBeh

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Re: To Build or Buy?
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2015, 03:49:30 PM »
For serving my choice is a craiglist fridge for the barn and a perlick for the house.  If you use a freezer, keep a shop vac handy.  And be prepared to rebuild it every few years.

Offline majorvices

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Re: To Build or Buy?
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2015, 03:58:18 PM »
I have a 2 tap Diy keezer less than $400 total cost and ready to be upgraded to a 3 tap for less than $100. Used freezer on CL can stretch the budget. And the Diy was pretty simple

Yep. I just went new on mine, but you can get used ones cheap on craigslist. You might be paying a lot more for them in your utility bill as opposed to a brand new one. Which is why I chose to buy new.

So, after 15 years and $1200 buying a new freezer every time the compressor burned up I could have bought a nice keggerator!

Offline TMX

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Re: To Build or Buy?
« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2015, 05:49:55 PM »
I have a 2 tap Diy keezer less than $400 total cost and ready to be upgraded to a 3 tap for less than $100. Used freezer on CL can stretch the budget. And the Diy was pretty simple

Yep. I just went new on mine, but you can get used ones cheap on craigslist. You might be paying a lot more for them in your utility bill as opposed to a brand new one. Which is why I chose to buy new.

So, after 15 years and $1200 buying a new freezer every time the compressor burned up I could have bought a nice keggerator!

Mine was a 7cuft, less than a year old
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Ferm 1: Irish Red Ale
Ferm 2:

On Deck: American Wheat

Keg 1: Un-Common
Keg 2: Switchback Stout

Total Gallons brewed (2015) - 10

Offline coolman26

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Re: To Build or Buy?
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2015, 02:13:25 PM »
I've seen some nice deals on commercial ones.  Watch for restaurant liquidation.  A local golf course went belly up and had their auction.  They sold the unit that had 6 taps for $600.  Like a fool I didn't go.  I too like the fridge better than freezer.  I can fit 6 ball locks in my fridge.  I think one with the bottom freezer would be ideal. Plus the upright design makes for a better footprint when space is limited.
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Offline bengelbrau

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Re: To Build or Buy?
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2015, 05:26:48 PM »
If it were my decision, I would ask whether I would want to be limited to only three taps.

Offline rob_f

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Re: To Build or Buy?
« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2015, 03:46:18 PM »
If it were my decision, I would ask whether I would want to be limited to only three taps.

Exactly.  I went with four taps and still have to use picnic taps in the keezer to get the variety.
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Offline Rhoobarb

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Re: To Build or Buy?
« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2015, 10:25:43 PM »
Just my 2 cents, but I went with a used chest freezer on CL.  $75 and the thing looked like it had never been used. It was relatively new - still had the Energysaver sticker on it. Converted it 9 years ago and have never had a single problem with it.  Still going strong. That said, if I found a comercial unit at a cheap price, I'd jump on it and convert the chest freezer to a fermtation chamber.
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Offline duboman

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Re: To Build or Buy?
« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2015, 11:30:02 PM »


This is mine, total cost $335, freezer was from Craigslist. Complete project took 5 days, beer is great!
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