Having a REAL Soda Fountain in Your Home
Introduction to Soda Fountains
Soda fountains are designed to mix bag-in-box (BIB) syrup with carbonated water (also called soda water, seltzer..) to create delicious, fizzy, beverages. They are found in many places including restaurants, convenience stores, concession stands, and more! Even better, you can have one in your own home! It can be a permanent installation in your kitchen, garage, or wet bar. Or, it can be something you only bring out for special occasions like birthdays or weddings. Either way, once you have one, you'll certainly be the envy of your friends and relatives.
So, let's look at what a soda fountain is comprised of. The primary components are:
- Cooling Device / Cold Plate
- Carbonator (mixes plain water with CO2 to create seltzer)
- CO2 (carbon dioxide) tank
- Syrup pumps (run on CO2, not electricity!)
- Bag-in-box syrup (BIBs)
Whether you want to do-it-yourself or have one installed for you, there are some important things to be aware of before you purchase anything.
REAL vs. Novelty Soda Fountains
The Difference and How it Affects You
If you're interested in having your own fountain soda dispenser, you need to know what your options are. When referring to "real" soda fountains, I'm talking about the same type of equipment you would find in a restaurant, convenience store, or other commercial settings. "Novelty" soda dispensers refers to small appliances that claim to offer real soda fountain beverages at cheap prices.
There are some advantages and disadvantages to either type of soda machine. Most "real" commercial-grade soda fountain machines cost thousands of dollars (even up into the tens of thousands if you purchase from one of the major soda vendors - I don't think it's necessary to name names; we all know who they are). "Novelty" soda machines can often be bought for under $200.
What is important to note is that the novelty variety of soda dispensers typically use proprietary technology; not the industry standard equipment relied upon by businesses worldwide. This means that if it breaks or you just need refills, you are locked into buying what you need from the company that makes your dispenser. The most popular of these "novelty" dispensers is the SodaStream (by Soda Club). Because you can only get refills or replacement parts from the manufacturer, they are able to set the prices to whatever they desire (which is always bad for the consumer).
Real soda fountains are designed for quality and longevity. They use standard parts and equipment that are available from many vendors and distributors. Major brands of soda equipment include: Cornelius, Manitowoc / Servend, Shurflo, and Flojet.
If you don't mind paying a premium for your soda for the sake of convenience, then something like SodaStream might be a good fit for you. However, if knowing that you're spending your money efficiently and getting industry standard equipment that you can easily replace is more important to you, then read on!
Home Soda Fountain Installation - How Hard is it?
Like many other DIY projects, it all comes down to how handy you are. If you can't operate a pair of pliers without causing serious injury to yourself or others, then you'll probably have a hard time. The truth is, soda fountains are not all that complex. They certainly may look complicated, but they are actually just a few components working in harmony to make carbonated water, cool the syrup and carbonated water, and then mix and dispense the beverage.
Check out this video below. This system was purchased from a company called Soda Dispenser Depot, which sells new and used soda equipment, including complete remanufactured soda fountain systems. Obviously, this is a purpose-built party room, but you can also get smaller, more discrete dispensers, as well. SodaParts.com specializes in soda fountains for home and office. They set up the system according to what flavors you want to dispense and do a lot of the pre-assembly for you, including clamping and labeling the hoses.
Both of these websites offer free technical support to customers who purchase complete soda fountain systems. They only do local installs, but if you don't want to get your hands dirty, it isn't hard to find a refrigeration technician who can make the final connections and ensure it is set up properly.
Soda Fountain Applications
Who Uses These Things?
As more people realize that they don't have to spend 5K - 10K on a soda fountain from a major vendor, more people are getting in on the action everyday.
Soda fountains can dispense anything that can be found in bag-in-box packaging. This includes sodas (obviously), but also:
- Plain or Sparkling Water
Bottom Line: Bottles and cans are wasteful and expensive and they're helping to destroy the environment around us on a daily basis. Bag-in-box syrups are made from recyclable materials (cardboard and plastic) and just one can eliminate ~57 2-liter bottles.
Soda Dispenser Poll - REAL vs. Novelty
Real soda fountains use bag-in-box syrup and have a variety of dispenser types including ice and beverage dispensers, soda gun / bar gun dispensers, drop-in dispensers, draft arms, and counter electric (which is like a refrigerated unit).
Novelty soda dispensers are small, but come in a variety of colors and shapes, but use proprietary technology to carbonate beverages.
Would you rather have a REAL soda fountain or a
Complete Home Soda Fountain Systems on Amazon.com - Everything you need to have a working soda fountain at home!
These systems are designed to be fully-operational soda fountain systems - just like the ones used in restaurants around the world - just smaller. They're perfect for the soda enthusiast at home, office or other low-volume application.
Soda Fountain Systems on eBay
Here's a tip: If you see something on SodaDispenserDepot's eBay store, you should go to their website and give them a call. Everything they sell on eBay is available through their website and complete soda fountain systems are priced a little bit lower on their website compared to eBay.
Home Soda Fountain Links
- Home Soda Fountain Machines, Soda Guns, Draft Arms, Towers, and more - SodaParts.com
Real soda machines designed specifically for the home or office. Soda guns / bar guns, pop machines, home soda maker, soda parts and soda fountain accessories.
- Complete Soda Fountain Systems, Parts & Accessories | New | Remanufactured - SodaDispenserDepot.
We offer a complete line of commercial and residential soda fountain dispenser systems pre-assembled and ready for installation.
- Setting up a Home Soda Fountain
A guide to setting up a soda fountain system in your home.
- Manitowoc Beverage Systems USA - Manitowoc Beverage Systems
Manufacturer of ice and beverage dispensers as well as ice makers.
Comments are open to everyone, but if you've done business with any of the companies or websites I've referenced, please share your experience(s) for everyone else to see!