Will The Glass Shelf In My Fridge Hold A 5 Gallon Beer Bucket

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When home brewing beer it is pretty important to control the temperature during the fermentation period. One of the best ways to accomplish this is using a fridge converted into a fermentation unit. However will the glass shelf in my fridge hold a 5 gallon beer bucket?

It will be a disaster if the glass breaks under the weight of the fermentation bucket. I imagine the glass is toughened glass, but still can it safely hold the weight of all that beer?

Will The Glass Shelf In My Fridge Hold A 5 Gallon Beer Bucket?

If the glass is tempered/toughened then potentially it will hold a 5 gallon bucket full of beer. A lot of homebrewers have no problems with mounting their beer on the glass shelf. However many homebrewers still replace the glass with wood or another strong material. I’m inclined to do the same, just to make sure my beer is safe.

That said, it will be interesting to find out if the glass is really up to the job.

What Does A Fermentation Bucket Full Of Beer Weigh?

Will The Glass Shelf In My Fridge Hold A 5 Gallon Beer Bucket

I should have weighed my last brew, but I didn’t, so without getting too involved, I will give an approximate weight.

A 5 gallon bucket filled with water weighs around 42lb/19kg. That is taking into account the weight of the bucket too, which will weigh between 1-2lb/0.45-0.9kg.

Although beer can weigh differently to water depending on the type and alcohol percentage. It is too small to worry about.

I would say then that whatever is supporting the fermentation bucket full of beer needs to hold a minimum of 45lb/20.4kg.

Are Fridge Shelves Tempered Glass?

Safety glass or tempered/toughened glass is around five times stronger than normal annealed glass. Also unlike normal glass which can break into lethal shards. Tempered glass will shatter into small less harmful pieces.

However are glass shelves in fridges normal glass or tempered glass?

I would assume for safety purposes that all fridge shelves are safety glass. So I checked out my fridge and yes the shelves are indeed safety glass.

There is normally a small stamp on one corner of the glass indicating that it is safety glass.

This is a good thing, however can they still hold the weight of a full fermenting bucket?

How Much Weight Can Glass Fridge Shelves Hold?

The glass shelves are not very thick, mine are around 3/16″/4.7mm and I wouldn’t feel safe putting a full fermenter bucket on that.

However I measured the glass shelf and used a glass load calculator to see how it would fair.

The shelf is 18″/457mm in width, 10.5″/266mm in depth and 3/16″/4.7mm thickness.

  • Normal Annealed glass load result is 13.75lb/6.23kg.
  • Tempered safety glass load result is 55lb/24.9kg.

If the glass is annealed then it is not going to hold a full fermenting bucket. However the tempered glass is up for the job and can hold the weight of the bucket.

Having said that, even though the tempered glass is up for the job, I would still replace it with an alternative.

Glass Shelf Alternative

For me I would still not be happy with a glass shelf supporting the heavy fermentation bucket.

I will replace it with a wooden shelf cut to the right size. A 12mm piece of marine ply would do the job well, and give me piece of mind.

Even better would be a small shelf unit with supporting legs sitting on the base of the fridge. This takes away any pressure on the small shelf supports that fridges have.

A free standing small shelf unit will give the best support for the heavy beer.

Get The Right Fridge

I recently acquired a used fridge to convert into a fermentation unit, however it didn’t work out. I forgot to ask if it had a freezer compartment. It was kindly dropped off for me and cost me peanuts.

However when I checked the fridge out, it had a moulded freezer compartment. So there is not enough room for a fermentation bucket.

This is not a mistake I will make twice. Make sure a fridge has the right dimensions to receive the fermentation bucket. Also make sure it does not have a freezer compartment.

Likewise measure the outside diameter of the fridge to make sure it will fit where you propose to house it.

Final Thoughts

It turns out then that the glass shelf in a fridge can withstand the weight of a 5 gallon fermentation bucket full of beer.

As long as it is tempered glass, which it should be, however always check that it is first. Also measure the width and depth of your glass as well as the thickness. Then use a glass weight load calculator to see if it is up for the job.

Whether or not you stick with the glass or replace it with wood is up to you. Many homebrewers who use a fridge as a fermentation unit stick with the glass shelf.

But for extra piece of mind when I do get another fridge to convert into a fermentation unit. The glass shelf will be coming out and replaced with wood.

If you have any thoughts on this, then do share them below. Have you replaced the glass shelf, and if so what with? Or is the glass shelf working okay for you as it is?

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