Last summer, I backed a Kickstarter for the Plaato Keg. It’s a scale that uses three pressure sensors to measure the weight of a keg in order to determine how much beer remains inside. My order for four of these devices arrived last week and I thought I’d share my initial impressions.
The hardware is quite nice. Each scale is less than an inch tall and barely larger than the footprint of my 5 gallon kegs. Other than an unfortunate placement of the drain plug in my keezer, I had no trouble fitting three scales on the floor and the fourth on the compressor step.
The initial set-up of the kegs in the Plaato app was simple. After powering up a scale, I joined its ad-hoc Wi-Fi network, tapped a few things in the app, and it joined the regular home Wi-Fi. The keezer isn’t that close to my access point, but the signal inside it is plenty strong enough. The only nitpick I can offer for the set-up process is the addition of Bluetooth, so the phone could communicate with the scale without having me join an ad-hoc Wi-Fi network.
Each scale comes with a generously long USB cable for power. They’re long enough to route inside the keezer away from everything else, up the inside wall, under the wooden collar and down the backside, with plenty of slack. A nice touch of these cables is that they are flat, minimizing their height under the collar.
The other, arguably more important, part of the product is the app. Unfortunately, it’s not as nice as the hardware, but, fortunately, it’s software, so I expect it will improve over time. The design of the app is great. The data is presented in a clean way. There is a main list of all devices, with the background acting as a bar graph indicating the beer level in the keg. It’d be nice if more information, such as beer style, were available on the overview screen. There is more on a detail screen, where you can also set up each keg, including its empty weight.
Needing that information is the only minor, but unsurprising, disappointment for first-time use. Of my four kegs, three are different enough that I expect they all weight different amounts when empty. Since they’re all partially full, I used Plaato’s estimate of an empty 5 gallon keg at 10.4 pounds. I’ll have to wait until each keg is empty to take a more accurate measurement.
Other disappointments that I hope are fixed soon are that the temperature appears to measure about 10°F high, even at the bottom of the keezer. The app also mysteriously loses the settings for one or more kegs every few days, switching back to metric units from US customary or changing the maximum volume. While the measure for a single pour looks quite accurate, the graph at the bottom of the detail screen shows what appear to be phantom pours. I also can’t reorder the device list.
I’m happy with the purchase overall. My primary desire was something that helped me know how much was left in a keg without lifting it and guessing. Plaato includes push notifications for low/high temperatures and liquid detection, too, which adds some peace of mind.
Update Feb. 2020: recent app updates have resolved the problem with lost settings, which was my biggest concern. The scales have also received a couple of firmware updates, so I’m confident the whole system will continue to improve over time.