Refrigeration Choices for Your Home Bar

What’ll you have? Your preferences for liquid refreshments will help determine what sort of refrigeration you need when planning and building your home bar. There are several different options. Your choices depend on what types of beverages you plan to stock and enjoy.

It is important to plan ahead for your refrigeration needs. The location of electric outlets, drain pipes and water lines will need to be considered to create the perfect home lounge. In addition, refrigeration units typically need some space around them for proper air flow, or they must have compressor vents that face outward to the front. Improper ventilation will increase utility bills and shorten the life of any refrigerator.

So just what type of cooling device should you install? A standard refrigerator is one option. This can be a back bar refrigerator or an under-counter model. A small dorm-size cooler might be adequate for keeping wine, soda and bottled beer cold. If you plan to entertain often, a larger model may be more suited to your needs. Although a full-size refrigerator takes up a lot of space, you can choose one with a built-in ice maker so there is always plenty of ice to freshen your guests’ drinks.

Built-in units are more costly but are more space-saving than a free-standing model. A small front-opening unit can be installed below the counter top. Top-opening refrigerators are also available, although these are typically sold by merchants who cater to commercial bars and restaurants. A top-opening model like the bottle chillers found in many bars is a convenient choice. It eliminates much of the bending and stooping an under-counter front-opening refrigerator requires.

Specialty cooling units are another option. For the micro-brew aficionado or home brewer, a kegerator draft beer system is the sensible choice. Many people feel that draft beer tastes better. Having beer on tap in your home bar also lends a certain aura of sophistication. However draft beer must be kept cold at all times or it may turn into something neither you nor your friends will want to drink.

Kegerators are available in both stand-alone and built-in models. Single and multiple tap models are offered. They often have a black or stainless steel front to blend into most decors. Kegerators can be purchased online, from some appliance stores or from commercial restaurant suppliers.

For the brew lover on a budget, a draft beer conversion kit may be the answer. With a conversion kit a large apartment-sized or kitchen refrigerator becomes a beer tap. The converted refrigerator will take up more space in the bar area if a full-size refrigerator is used, but the kits are usually only $100-$200.

If you are an oenophile, you’ll want to consider a wine chiller for your bar. Sizes are available that sit on the counter top for the occasional bottle all the way up to those that hold several cases. Like other refrigeration devices, wine chillers are made in both freestanding and built-in models. Because different wines need different temperatures to taste their best, dual temperature wine coolers are available.

A wine chiller in the home bar is a great step-saver, especially when entertaining. You won’t want to spend your party running up and down stairs to the cellar to fetch more wine. The wine chiller also serves as extra storage when the wine cellar is getting a bit crowded.

Many back bar refrigerators and wine chillers have clear glass doors for ease of use. You’ll also want some extra space in your bar refrigeration for mixers and perhaps some appetizers. By planning ahead and adding ample refrigeration in your home bar from the start, you’ll save yourself a lot of extra steps in the future.