Push-Fit Connectors Collide In Your Kegerator
Draft lines should be pretty simple: Get your clear vinyl tubing, barbed connectors, a few hose clamps and you were done. Beer flows from your keg to your faucet and you’re done, right.
That approach works well enough, but what if your lines have started to get funky? You should have changed them months ago, but what job – who has time for that?
Enter push-fit connectors. Some new players have rolled into town to kick out your barbs & vinyl. They talk a good talk, but there are multiple factions that want to move in on your turf.
Who Are These Guys?
The push-fit guys all have a similar story: Upgrade your connections with quick-connect fittings. Just push your line in for a leak-free seal. Hose clamps? Gone. Ready for a change? Just push in the collet and pull out your line.
On top of that, consider that push-fit connectors enable you to use barrier line tubing for better flavor. Sound good? Maybe, but first consider the your options:
- John Guest – The OG of push-fit systems, most well-known for their commercial-grade fittings. Used extensively by professional plumbers and pro draft system installers worldwide, less common in kegerators. Remember when we introduced you to Johnny earlier? Of course you do.
- DMfit – Another option in the commercial world. Similar offerings to JG with a several unique fittings.
- Duotight – Manufactured by KegLand, a consumer-grade product line focused on home kegerators. Also used on Komos-brand kegerators.
While the vendors and details may vary, the same rules apply to all push-fit connectors:
- Keep It Stiff – By design, push-fit systems rely on rigid or semi-rigid tubing. For draft systems, that means ‘poly’ (aka LLPDE) barrier lines. There are many suppliers: Accuflex Bev-Seal and KegLand EVABarrier are common examples. No one wants to see your soft & flaccid vinyl/PVC tube.
- It’s All About the OD – When it comes to your lines, the only dimension that matters is the outer diameter (OD). Since internal O-rings wrap around the tubing to make a seal, the fitting size must match the tubing OD. Tubing inner diameter (ID) doesn’t matter.
- Clean Cut – A clean, square cut at the end of your lines is important. Without it and you asking for leaks. Get a tubing cutter or razor blade and let someone else run with the scissors.
Can’t We All Just Get Along?
While every vendor would like you to use just their stuff and no one else’s, the truth is push-fit components are quite interchangeable. The key is to know your dimensions: John Guest and DMfit are most commonly specified in inches whereas Duotight uses metric.
Here’s the secret decoder ring for common draft line dimensions used in kegerator and direct-draw systems:
- 8mm = 5/16″
- 9.5mm = 3/8″
If you do the math, the unit conversions are not exact, but close enough for the rubber O-rings to make a good seal. Go ahead and connect your 8mm EVABarrier lines to John Guest 5/16″ fittings or your 3/8″ Bev-Seal barrier lines to Duotight 9.5mm fittings. You get the idea.
Which should you choose? First, find out what’s available in your area, after all what good are fancy new fittings if you can’t get your hands on them? In the US Freshwater Systems is a great place to find John Guest and DMfit components. Many homebrew shops now carry Duotight.
If availability is not a problem, keep in mind that pros often prefer the durability of John Guest whereas Duotight can be easier to work with for home users. If you have a long-draw system John Guest will make more sense.
What About Keg Monitors?
You are monitoring your kegs, right? If not, it’s time to upgrade to your draft system. While you’re at it, consider push-fit connectors as a complementary upgrade while you’ee at it. Here’s how to make use of them:
Kegtron Gen 1
The ever-popular Kegtron Gen 1 keg monitors have integrated stainless barb connectors designed for 3/16″ ID vinyl/PVC lines. While this works well, some of the cool kids have been using Duotight + EVABarrier lines. If you want to be cool and fit in (and who doesn’t), here’s an example of EVABarrier 8x4mm lines connected to a KT-100 Single Keg Monitor:
What’s needed here is a barb-to-push-fit adapter. To make one, you need a short length of 3/16″ ID vinyl line and a 5/16″ tube-to-1/4″barb adapter (John Guest SI271008S or DMfit APBBC 0504). Don’t forget your host clamps on the vinyl!
If you can’t find a single-piece tube-to-barb adapter, a two-piece alternative is an option. Use a 1/4″ barb-to-5/16″ stem (John Guest PI251008S or DMfit ATBC 0504) plus a 5/16″ straight union / joiner (John Guest PM0408S, DMfit AUC 0505 or Duotight KL02370) as shown below:
The Kegtron Pro product line was purpose-built for commercial applications, so push-fit connectors are standard issue. All Pro keg monitors include John Guest 3/8″ connections. Couple this with the many different adapters out there and you’ve got a veritable Swiss Army Knife ready for any draft configuration.
To see a comprehensive list of available options, check out the Kegtron Pro Installation and Setup Guide. That said, let’s revisit the EVABarrier 8x4mm example for Kegtron Pro:
Everything is push-fit, so no clamps are required and installation is a snap. Super clean. In this example we used 3/8″ stem-to-5/16″ tube reducers (John Guest PI061210S or DMfit ARD 0506). The optional stem elbows (John Guest PI221210S or DMfit ATEU 0506) make it easy to make those 90 degree turns without stressing your lines.
With all of these options in your toolbox now you can get best of both worlds when building out your draft system. It turns out you don’t have to pick sides, there are plenty of ways to mix and match put-fit options for your application.