Kegerator Basics - What You Need To Know About CO2
An essential part of dispensing beer from your kegerator involves your carbon dioxide (CO2) Tank. To get the perfect pour, your CO2 tank needs to be properly installed and optimized to deliver you the best taste. If it's your first time owning a kegerator, you may have many questions about how to set up your CO2 and a number of other questions on how a CO2 tank works. As the beverage experts, we have some tips on how you can be sipping away your troubles.
CO2 can be dangerous! Please use caution and always follow these steps:
Always connect the CO2 gas cylinder to the reducing valve or regulator. Failure to do so could result in an explosion with possible death or injury when the cylinder valve is opened.
Never connect the gas cylinder directly to the keg.
Always secure the gas cylinder in the "upright" position.
Always keep gas cylinders away from heat.
Never drop or throw a CO2 gas cylinder.
Always ventilate after CO2 leakage.
Always check the D.O.T. (Department of Transport) test date located on the neck of the cylinder before installation. If over five (5) years, do not use, return the gas cylinder to gas supplier.
Never connect a product container unless there are two (2) safety mechanisms in the pressure system.
One at or on the CO2 regulator (the regulator supplied should be inclusive of such a safety mechanism).
One at or on the product container coupler or in the pressure gas line (the keg coupler should be inclusive of such a safety mechanism).
If it becomes difficult to breathe and your head starts to ache, abnormal concentrations of carbon dioxide may be present in the area. Close the main valve on the CO2 cylinder and leave the room immediately.
Gas cylinders should be stored in the coolest part of the establishment, preferably at 70 degrees, and securely fastened in the upright position before the primary regulator is attached to the cylinder.
How does a CO2 regulator work?
1. Low pressure gauge: reads the amount of internal keg pressure
2. High pressure gauge: indicates existing pressure in the CO2 cylinder
3. Pressure adjustment: before tapping the keg, screw clockwise until low pressure gauge indicates the desired pressure
4. CO2 inlet nipple
5. CO2 inlet nut
6. Pressure relief valve
7. Optional shut-off valve
8. Outlet fittings
How do I know what pressure my CO2 is set to?
A regulator is an essential part of a kegerator dispense system and monitors your CO2 pressure. You can find single gauge regulators or dual gauge regulators, which connect to the air line and read the pressure.
With a single gauge regulator, the display will show you your CO2 pressure. With a dual gauge regulator, you want to look a the gauge that shows a range of 0-60 PSI (pounds per square inch). On the regulator, you will see an arrow point to your current CO2 pressure.
What pressure should my CO2 tank be set to?
This will depend on the beer you are serving but most American breweries recommend a pressure between 10-14 PSI. If you aren't advised on the pressure by the beer maker or perhaps it's your own homebrew, it is best to start dispensing at 10 PSI and adjust accordingly to achieve your perfect pour.
How do I set my CO2 tank pressure?
1.Securely attach the regulator to the gas cylinder.
2. Close the regulator's shut-off valve "C".
3. Completely open the gas cylinder valve "A".
4. Slowly turn the regulator adjustment "B" until the low pressure gauge "D" displays the desired pressure. Turn clockwise to increase the pressure, and counter-clockwise to decrease the pressure.
5. Briefly pull the ring on the keg coupler's pressure relief valve "F" to allow the pressure already in the keg to vent.
6. Open the regulator shut-off valve "C" to allow gas to flow to the keg coupler.
7. As the keg pressurizes, the needle on the low pressure gauge "D" will drop temporarily until the pressure has equalized, and then will return to the point you previously set it at.
8. Briefly pull the ring on the keg coupler's pressure relief valve "F" again to allow gas to flow through the regulator to obtain a more accurate reading on the low pressure gauge "D".
9. Re-check low pressure gauge "D" and use regulator adjustment "B" to readjust if necessary until the desired pressure is displayed.
If you will be dispensing multiple kegs that use the same CO2 pressure, you can split the gas flow to each keg using a two product regulator or an air line distributor. However, if you will be dispensing multiple kegs with different pressure requirements, secondary gas regulators will be needed to adjust the pressure for each keg.
How many kegs can I dispense with one CO2 tank?
A typical 5lb. CO2 tank can dispense between 2 to 4 full-sized kegs, depending on the ambient temperature. The colder the ambient temperature the closer you will get to 4 kegs.
It takes approximately 1/2 lb. of CO2 to dispense a 1/4 barrel of beer. Depending on what size keg you will be dispensing and what size CO2 tank you purchase, you can expect to dispense the following number of kegs:
Should my CO2 tank be store inside or outside the kegerator cabinet?
We offer kegerators that store the CO2 tank both inside and outside. The Kegco K Series 309 kegerators store the tank on the outside and the K Series 209's store them inside. This is mostly a matter of preference, as it doesn't make a tremendous difference. However, as we stated previously, ambient temperature can affect the number of kegs that can be dispensed from one CO2 tank.
Where can I get my CO2 tank filled?
At our physical location, Beverage Factory offers CO2 tank refills but you can also get your tank refilled at any homebrew supply shop, welding supply stores, sporting good stores that sell paintball guns, or places that fill fire extinguishers.