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Air Cooled VS Water Cooled Chiller: Which One to Choose?

Nov. 02, 2021

Many regions of the world are struggling to cope with water scarcity. Numerous efforts in desalination and water trading attest to the magnitude of the problem. The World Bank puts the number of people with absolute water scarcity at 2 billion, a figure that could reach the 4.6 billion mark within the next 65 years. The water-energy nexus has been a regular theme in recent years. The power plants that supply most countries with electricity consume large amounts of water, either directly or indirectly.


In this article we review the differences between these two technologies, allowing you to choose which one to select. Huazhao Refrigeration will be happy to assist you in the decision making process.


Water-cooled chillers

Water-cooled chiller systems have a cooling tower, so they are more efficient than air-cooled chillers. Water-cooled chillers are more efficient because their condensation depends on the ambient bulb temperature, which is lower than the ambient dry bulb temperature. The lower the chiller condenses, the more efficient it is. The system has several basic components, including


Cooling towers

Condensate pumps

Make-up water pumps


TES water reservoir

 Water Cooled Scroll Chiller

Water Cooled Scroll Chiller     

What are the benefits of water cooled chillers?

Some users may prefer these chillers because they take up a smaller footprint compared to air-cooled chillers. These chillers also offer higher efficiency and a longer service life than the alternatives mentioned above. Those wishing to locate their equipment indoors may find a water cooler desirable.


In the evaporator

The role of the evaporator is to produce chilled water. The unit releases the water at approximately 6°C (42.8°F) and pushes it throughout the facility with the help of a pump. A network of pipes carries the chilled water through each necessary part of the building.


In the condenser

The refrigerant removes the unwanted heat from the evaporator and passes through the condenser. There is another circuit connected to the condenser - the condenser water circuit, which is located between the cooling tower and the condenser. After entering the condenser at approximately 27°C (80.6°F), the water leaves at 32°C (89.6°F) and enters the cooling tower.

In the cooling tower

This is where the unwanted heat in the facility ends up. A large fan supplies air to the unit. The air meets the oncoming condenser water. Through direct contact, the condenser water dissipates heat into the air.

 Air Cooled Scroll Chiller

Air Cooled Scroll Chiller          

Air-cooled chillers

Air-cooled chillers can be applied where aesthetic and environmental conditions or water supply restrictions exist. Both air-cooled and water-cooled chillers rely on airflow as a means of heat transfer. The difference is that water-cooled chillers or cooling towers use moist air flow (ambient airflow + water jets), whereas air-cooled chillers use ambient air flow.


How do I choose between the two?

Cooling capacity is the main criterion for choosing a chiller. Equally important is the balance between operating costs and capital costs. Some customers will make a purchase decision based on initial cost.

However, a value-based choice takes into account both operating and initial costs. To determine the initial cost of each option, add up the costs of the contractor and the equipment. For water-cooled chillers, remember to add cooling towers. When it comes to lifecycle costs, you must consider both the purchase cost and the operating cost.


When you evaluate each of the two chillers in this way, you will be able to determine their total cost. You must note that if you ignore the initial cost and the water cost, the water-cooled chiller will usually appear to be a better value. However, the true picture will only become clear once you have looked at a wider range of costs.

Jiangsu Huazhao Refrigeration Equipment CO., Ltd. is a manufacturing enterprise focus on high quality industrial refrigeration equipment research and development, production and sales. Our company various industrial chiller with competitive price include: Air cooled chiller; Water cooled chiller; Low temperature glycol/brine water cooled chiller; Heat pump hot water chiller; Maglev inverter centrifugal water chiller; Oxidation dedicated water cooled chiller. When you contact us, please provide your detail requirements. That will help us give you a valid quotation.

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