September 22, 2012

Primo Flavorstation for only $35?

I wondered when the Sodastream knockoffs would show up.  Enter the Primo Flavorstation. 

I'm not sure why I'm getting livingsocial deals to my inbox for the Washington DC area, but apparently for the next seven days you can get a Primo Water Flavorstation 100 for only $35 from livingsocial. It looks to be identical to the Sodastream, but only does 16.9 ozs (0.5 liter for you across-the-pond types).  I guess I can't knock it until I've tried it.  But I've long lamented the SodaStream's puny 1 L capacity, so the point of a half liter is sort of lost on me. 

One thing that Primo has going for them is their wide range of different appliances.  While the Sodastream folks have found different shapes of the same thing, including one designed by the legendary Yves Behar, Primo has actually come up with soda makers that perform different functions.  They have some that run off of 8g CO2 cartridges, some that run off of 12g, a number that are compatible with Sodastream's cylinders, some that have 0.5, 1.0, and 1.5 L bottles (this is definite progress), something called a turbo system, something called a Smart Wall, something called a Smart Wall with music (emblazoned with the slogan, "Sparkle & Dance" because who doesn't dance when making beverages), some that carbonate two bottles at a time (this is again, definite progress), a system that incorporates a water filter (I'll +1 that!), and then a couple that apparently dispense it straight into your glass and use little flavor cups much like the keurig coffee gadgets. 

So at first I was thinking this Primo Flavorstation business was just a "me, too" copycat.  Now I'm wondering who's the copycat now.  There's definitely some forward thinking and some solid R&D going on at Primo, no Yves Behar needed.  But, I'm not sure there's much necessity in having a soda maker that plays music, or in having the machine add the flavor for you (particularly for the still setting on that one, do you really need a machine to add water to flavor, really?).

Anyway, so I thought I'd throw that out there.  For $35, it may very well be worth a shot.

September 9, 2012


So I saved this fine mini fridge from certain death.  I came home one day and found that my neighbor was cleaning house and had this among some junk that was going to the dump.  I don't normally like to snag something that's designated as trash, but I couldn't resist and I asked my neighbor if I could rescue this.  He said that was fine, but warned me that they were pitching it because it was freezing up.  That didn't bother me much because I know numerous people on the homebrew forums use modified freezers anyway, so I brought it home hoping that it would hold a couple corny kegs.  After some cleaning and investigating, it turns out that it's freezing things up because the thermostat is shot.  This one didn't have a freezer shelf like a lot of mini fridges, so it is just tall enough for a keg without having to bend any crucial refrigeration parts.

It's only 3.6 cubic ft.  Some Google searching suggested that if I want to fit two kegs, then I'd need to upgrade to 4.4, but you can't beat free, so I'm ok with only one keg.  I set to work on the door, because it ended up only holding on keg, even with some modification.  I had to cut out the shelves from the door even to get one to fit.  The cover for the bolts was easy enough to pop off, then loosening these bolts was all it took to get the door off.  I ended up reversing the door so it swings from the other side now. 

 Once the door was off, I set it down and went to work pulling off the shelving.  All it took was to peel back the magnetic seal to reveal the screws that hold on the shelves.  I was surprised how thin the plastic was for them, and behind it is just expanding foam insulation covered with kraft paper.  Because the screws hold the magnetic seal in, which snaps on to the vacuformed shelves, I cut away the shelves easily with a razor.  The picture you see here is putting the edge of the shelving plastic back on so the seal will stay on the door.  

With the door off, you can see a corny keg fits quite nicely along with the tank and regulator.  I really wish that I could fit a second in here, because it's just so close.  I know some people have built an extension onto their fridges to fit a second keg or even a big 1/2 barrel sanke keg, but I don't want to go too ghetto. Someday maybe I'll get a Kegerator Conversion Kit but right now I'm content just to chill a keg in here when I need it.  Having the thermostat basically non functional, it makes it so the compressor is always on, or never on.  So I have to be careful how long I leave my keg in there.  I know that pop cans sometimes explode when frozen.  I'd hate to have that happen on a 5 gal. keg.  So I basically just plug it in for a few hours at a time when I need it.  It comes in handy and I don't have to worry about too much power consumption.  I'll probably get something like the STC-1000 Temperature control relay from either Amazon or Ebay and just use that.  That's typically what people use when they want to turn a freezer into a kegerator, which is essentially what I'm doing.  Here's one of the Homebrew Talk forum threads where it's discussed.  It's actually less expensive that way than getting an OEM thermostat replacement part.  The plus side is that I'll have a digital readout of what the actual temperature of the fridge is, the downside is that it only reads in Celsius.  Good thing I'm a scientist and not afraid of Celsius.
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