Air-Cooled Chillers and Water-Cooled Chillers: What’s the Difference?

Update:04 Jun 2020

Air-Cooled Chillers and Water-Cooled Chillers: What’s t […]

Air-Cooled Chillers and Water-Cooled Chillers: What’s the Difference?

When working with large, industrial facilities it is important to protect and maintain the equipment at hand to avoid damage and high-cost repairs. One of the main concerns of large industrial equipment is overheating. This is where chiller systems come in. Air cooled chillers and water cooled chillers help to maintain the temperature of the machines and remove heat for large and small scale facilities.

A refrigerant is used to regulate heat from manufacturing processes using either an air cooled or water cooled system. The air or water is circulated though the chiller’s system, helping to maintain the temperature of a room or a storage. The basic role of both air cooled chillers and water cooled chillers are to control the temperature however, they differ in compatibility, energy efficiency, cost, resources and other factors. If you are considering whether to get an air cooled chiller or a water cooled chiller, here are some highlighted differences to help you make up your mind.


Air-Cooled Chillers versus Water-Cooled Chillers

Both air-cooled and water-cooled chillers work to regulate high temperatures in an indoor or outdoor setting. The main difference between the two can be categorized into factors such as the chiller mechanisms, environment, energy consumption, location and additional components required. Make sure to take these factors into consideration when selecting a chilled cooler that is suitable for you.

Air-Cooled Chillers

Air-cooled chillers work by circulating ambient air with the help of fans and air ducts to maintain a steady temperature. As the system releases heat into the ambient air, it requires good ventilation and an open space for better air circulation, making it suitable for outdoor cooling.

Air-cooled chillers are not favorable for high temperature environments as the ambient air will have a higher average temperature. This increases the energy consumption by the cooler to regulate and to lower the temperature of the ambient air.

While the energy consumption may be higher compared to water cooled chillers, it does not require additional components and regular maintenance of the said components in the long run. This will reduce the maintenance cost of the air cooled chillers.

Such chillers are also a good option if you are looking for coolers that are environment-friendly or if there is limited or no water access. In such circumstances, air-cooled chillers can be the correct choice.

Water-Cooled Chillers

Water-cooled chillers function with the help of water flowing through a cooling tower to maintain the surrounding temperature. It does not require open ventilation as the water circulates within the refrigerant, thus it is suitable for indoor temperature maintenance.

Water cooled chillers are also a better option for regions with tropical climates as they do not rely on ambient air for cooling. It can be placed in rooms with high temperatures without worry.

Although water-cooled chillers require additional components to function as compared to air-cooled chillers, they are smaller in size. The main components of a water cooled chiller are the cooling towers, condenser, water pumps, make-up water pumps, chillers and TES reservoirs. Condensers on water-cooled chillers are more compact than an air-cooled chiller which makes it better suited for indoor cooling.

As cooling fluid is circulated from a water reservoir to the equipment under cooling, water-cooled chillers are the best options for places with easy and regular supply of water.

What should you choose?

When it comes to choosing between an air-cooled chiller and a water-cooled chiller, the main thing to remember is the cost and easy availability of resources. Water cooled chillers are great for locations with a good and easy supply of water. While the initial cost of water cooled chillers are low, there are additional costs for installing the extra components, providing water supply and water treatment. On the other hand, air cooled chillers may have high initial cost but do not require as much maintenance as water cooled chillers. However, they consume larger amounts of energy to run the fans and thermoregulation controls. Energy consumption can also rise depending on the average temperature of the ambient air.

Choosing between water-cooled and air-cooled chillers is a tough decision to make. However, analyzing the features of each should help you to decide which cooler to go for.