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Air Cooled Chiller Vs Water Cooled Chiller

Jan. 18, 2022

Industrial processes generate large amounts of heat that must be dissipated to avoid damage to sensitive equipment and to protect finished products. One proven method of monitoring and regulating temperatures at optimal levels involves the use of a chiller system, which can be either water-cooled or air-cooled. This article will focus on the differences between water-cooled chillers and air-cooled chiller systems.


Air-cooled chillers vs. water-cooled chillers

Although both air-cooled and water-cooled chillers remove excess heat from the manufacturing process, they differ in different ways. Deciding which chiller type is best for your industrial process depends on several factors, including


Chiller condenser mechanism

Cost differences

Environmental and location considerations

Air-cooled vs. water-cooled condensers

There is a distinct difference between the condenser of an air-cooled chiller and the condenser of a water-cooled chiller. Air-cooled chillers are equipped with condensers that use ambient air to lower the temperature of the refrigerant. Fans are used to force the air through the ducts containing the refrigerant, thus removing the heat from them. The cooling refrigerant used in the cooler can then be circulated through the industrial process to achieve cooling.

 Air Cooled Scroll Chiller

Air Cooled Scroll Chiller     

In contrast, water-cooled chillers utilize the high heat capacity of water to promote refrigerant cooling. The typical coolant used in a water-cooled system is a mixture of water and glycol that is circulated in a network of sealed pipes. Cooling occurs as the cooled refrigerant passes through a heat exchanger that interfaces with the industrial process at hand. The heated coolant is then returned to the cooling tower or refrigeration unit to remove the heat gained in preparation for another cooling cycle.


Cost Difference

Another important factor to keep in mind when comparing air-cooled and water-cooled chillers is the cost of purchase, installation and maintenance.


Depending on their design and operation, air-cooled chillers appear to offer a higher value at face value. First, the installation cost of an air-cooled system will include ducts, fans and temperature regulation controls. In addition, these chiller systems consume a lot of energy to power the fans, thus contributing to their cooling effectiveness, which translates into a higher electricity bill.


On the other hand, although water-cooled chillers are less expensive to set up, they typically have more long-term operating costs, as most of these chiller types require the installation of cooling towers. In addition, considering chiller maintenance costs such as water quality testing, mandatory water treatment and refrigeration system operating costs, the operating costs of water-cooled chillers can rise significantly.


Environmental/Location Considerations

The planned location of the chiller plant is another important point to consider when deciding on an industrial chiller plant. Depending on the site plan, there are advantages and disadvantages to choosing an air-cooled or water-cooled chiller.

 Water Cooled Scroll Chiller

Water Cooled Scroll Chiller          

Outdoor locations

Choosing an air-cooled chiller in an outdoor environment is advantageous because of the unrestricted access to the high flow of ambient air needed to promote coolant cooling. Water-cooled chillers are rarely installed outdoors.


Environments with elevated temperatures

Water-cooled chillers are the best choice for installation in industrial areas with high heat output. Air-cooled units do not perform well in areas with elevated temperatures because chillers and cooling towers will have difficulty dissipating the heat in the coolant tubes.


Where water supply is poor

It is easy to make a choice where the water supply is inadequate. In this case, an air-cooled chiller is the best choice, as long as it is installed in a well-ventilated area. Thus, the available water can be directed to other essential production processes.


Environmental regulations

Local or regional industrial wastewater regulations are a key issue to address when selecting a chiller system. In this regard, air-cooled chillers are more beneficial because there is no need to worry about waste material being released into the environment.


At Huazhao Refrigeration Equipment, we offer a wide range of air-cooled and water-cooled industrial chillers designed to meet all your industrial and commercial process cooling needs. Welcome to contact us online today!

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