Designing a kitchen wet bar can be an exciting project that adds a dedicated area for beer and/or wine in your home. Adding in a kegerator or wine fridge in the floorplan not only increases the value of the kitchen, but gives you specific temperature control over each beverage.
Standard kitchen refrigerators usually hold temperatures around 38 F and while some beer styles are recommended to be served at these cold temperatures, others require a warmer serving temperature to highlight certain flavors. Dual zone wine refrigerators can offer you two temperature controlled zones for red and white wines.
Before you decide to add a kegerator into your new kitchen or bar, take a moment to consider the following points.
Step 1. Power Requirements
Do you have the required power outlet you need in the area you would like the new kegerator? If not, consider the nearby outlets that you might be able to daisy-chain the required outlet for power to the kegerator. Remember that installing too many receptacles on a circuit presents the probability of overloading the breaker. Check local building and electrical codes to determine if GFCI outlets are needed if you have a sink nearby.
Step 2. Dimensions for cabinetry
Kegerators come in all shapes and sizes, so think about what amount and style beer you would like to have on tap. Once you decide on how many kegs you need the kegerator to hold you can choose the appropriate sized kegerator. Most built-in kegerator installation guides will have a ventilation spacing diagram showing the required distance between the unit and the cabinetry. Hire a local cabinet maker to build the desired cabinet or use pre-made cabinet boxes (IKEA or similar) and have custom cabinet fronts and doors built by a company like (Semi Handmade).
Step 3. Drainage
Most kegerators come with a non-draining drip tray that requires you to have to empty out old beer when it fills up. You can add a drain to any drip tray with a Drain Conversion Assembly for Draft Beer Drip Trays or even a glass rinser. Some kegerators are equipped with drip trays that do have drains that can be ported into a bottle or nearby drain plumbing. Factor in the plumbing fittings and labor to have this installed if you are not a skilled plumber.
Step 4. Upper cabinet clearance for beer tower
During the cabinet design process, make note of where the draft beer tower will be placed. Make sure the upper cabinets allow enough clearance for not only the draft tower and tap handle(s), but also room for a person's hand to easily grab the handle to dispense.
Step 5. Built-In Rated (Front or Rear ventilation)
Kegerators made for undercounter installation have specialized venting either though the front toe kick or a blower on the rear. Most built-in kegerators are designed with the condenser on the bottom (instead of on the back for freestanding) and a fan/vent to blow the air out. A general recommended spacing is 3 inches on all 3 sides to allow free air space around the unit.
Step 6. Finishes
Kegerators are available in a variety of colors and finishes to match your kitchen or home wet bar. Just as design trends change for appliances and fixtures, so do they for kegerators. You can find a variety of door, draft tower and faucet finishes (stainless steel, black stainless steel, brass, chrome, chalkboard, etc..) to match your design plan. You can even create custom graphics and have the kegerator door wrapped, so the options are truly endless.
Step 7. Panel Ready
If you require your kegerator to have an integrated look and match your cabinetry, you can buy a kegerator with a panel ready door. These units are usually more expensive, but feature an integrated frame door that allows you to attach a custom wood door panel and hardware pull to match your cabinets.
Step 8. Door Position (reversible)
Take a close look at the specs when buying a built-in kegerator. Some units have fixed position doors. If you think you will ever move the kegerator to a different location it might be a good idea to get a unit with reversible door hinge options.
Step 9. Converts to Refrigerator
Some kegerators have an option to be converted into a mini refrigerator if you ever need to remove the beer dispensing components. This includes a top cabinet plug and interior shelves. This would come in handy as a wine refrigerator or a secondary fridge for a game or dorm room.
Step 10. Foam Insulated Beer Lines
If you need to run long beer lines from the kegerator to a remote tap location, you can utilize an insulated glycol trunk line to keep the beer in the beer lines cold. Small glycol chillers can be pricey, but this is how professional bars run long beer lines while keeping the beer lines frosty.
*Check your local city codes for building new structures and pull all required permits for any electrical, plumbing, mechanical or framing changes you make to your home.
*You can use computer design software to help you visualize and plan the project. Floorplan software for 3D renderings like Home Designer Pro allow you to import custom 3D objects (.obj) like draft beer towers or kegerator units.