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Air Cooled Chiller vs Water Cooled Chiller

Aug. 16, 2021

Air-cooled chillers are refrigeration systems used to cool fluids and/or dehumidify air in commercial and industrial facilities. They are used in a variety of environments, including hotels, corporate events, restaurants, sporting events, large buildings, industrial and manufacturing plants, etc. Our portable air-cooled chillers are perfect for one-time events or permanent infrastructure. They are compact, efficient, and easy to install and dismantle. This makes them ideal for supplemental, temporary or emergency applications.


While it is often assumed that water-cooled chillers are more efficient than air-cooled chillers, this is only true if you focus solely on compressor costs. If you look closely at variable speed controls and centrifugal compressors, an air-cooled chiller may be a better choice.

Air Cooled Chiller

 Air Cooled Chiller

How do air-cooled chillers work?

Air-cooled chillers actively absorb heat from the process water; they then transfer this heat to the air surrounding the cooling unit. This type of unit is typically used in areas where additional heat emissions are not a problem but can be beneficial. For example, the extra heat can be used to heat a space in the winter at a lower cost than a conventional heating system.


The cycle begins with the evaporator, which has a liquid refrigerant that flows through the evaporator tube bundle where it evaporates. During this process, heat is absorbed from the chilled water circulating through the bundle. The compressor then draws the refrigerant vapor from the evaporator. The task of the compressor is then to pump the refrigerant vapor to the condenser, which raises the temperature and pressure. The refrigerant condenses in the condenser tube, releasing its internal heat into the air or cooling water. The high-pressure liquid then passes through an expansion device into the evaporator; during this process, the refrigerant pressure decreases as the temperature rises. To complete the continuous cycle, the refrigerant flows back into the chilled water coil and absorbs more heat.


Water Cooled Chiller

Water Cooled Chiller

What is the difference between air-cooled chillers and water-cooled chillers?

Water-cooled chillers and air-cooled chillers work in very similar ways. They both have an evaporator, a compressor, a condenser and an expansion valve. The main difference is that one uses air to fuel the condenser cooling and the other uses water.


- All chillers require basic maintenance to operate at optimal levels, but air-cooled chillers are easier and less costly to maintain than water-cooled units.

-Air-cooled chillers do not require cooling towers or condensate pumps.

- Air-cooled chillers consume about 10% more power than water-cooled units; moist surfaces transfer heat better than dry surfaces.


Types of air-cooled chillers

- Stationary air-cooled chillers: Used when overheating is not a problem.

- Portable air-cooled chillers: These units are portable and function just like stationary chillers.


Placement of air-cooled chillers

Air-cooled chillers are usually located in mechanical equipment rooms or areas of a building near the cooling point. In some industrial environments, chillers are placed next to the area they are cooling; this depends on the size of the chiller and compressor. In some cases, the chillers are placed outdoors. One of our cooling experts can help you determine the best location for your air-cooled chillers.

If you want to know more about air-cooled chillers or water-cooled chillers, which one suits your needs, welcome to contact us today or visit our website.

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