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Difference Between Water Cooled And Air Cooled Chiller System

Dec. 10, 2022

Many regions of the world are grappling with water scarcity. Numerous efforts in desalination and water trading attest to the magnitude of the problem. The World Bank estimates the number of people suffering from 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 recurring topic in recent years. The power plants that supply most countries with electricity consume large amounts of water, directly or indirectly. The debate on water consumption or not is very important in the feasibility studies for cooling plants. Based on the results of this study, the choice will be between water-cooled or air-cooled chillers.

What is a chiller plant?

This plant uses a refrigeration system to remove heat from the load and transfer it to the environment. This heat transfer unit is the chiller of choice for power plants and other large facilities. It is simply a system consisting of vinyl + water or a reservoir and circulation components. The coolant is circulated from the reservoir to subcool the equipment. There are also air-cooled chillers that use fans to dissipate heat. These are newer and common in power plants. In this article we will review the differences between these two technologies and leave the choice of which one to choose to you. huazhao will be happy to assist you in your decision making process. 

 Water Cooled Scroll Chiller

Water Cooled Scroll Chiller

Water-cooled chillers

Water-cooled chiller systems have a cooling tower, so they have a higher efficiency than air-cooled chillers. Water cooled chillers are more efficient because they condense according to the ambient temperature bulb, which is lower than the ambient dry bulb temperature. The less the chiller condenses, the more efficient it is. The system has several basic components, including

Cooling towers

Condensate pumps

Charge water pumps


TES water reservoir

What are the advantages of water cooled chillers? Some users may prefer these chillers because they take up less space compared to air-cooled chillers. These chillers also offer higher efficiency and a longer service life than the alternatives mentioned above. Those who wish to locate their equipment indoors may find water chillers preferable.

 Air Cooled Scroll Chiller

Air Cooled Scroll Chiller

The benefits of using air-cooled chillers are as follows.

No cooling towers

Better environmental stability - no wasted water

Low maintenance costs

Easier to operate and control - no tower freezing and no tower bypass

Avoid chemical costs

Avoid water costs, especially in cities

No need to deal with water problems in the event of a disaster

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 will consider both operating and initial costs. To determine the initial cost of each option, add the cost of the contractor and equipment. Remember to add cooling towers for water cooled chillers. When it comes to life cycle costs, you must consider both the purchase cost and the operating cost. When you evaluate each of the two chillers in this way, you can determine their total cost. You must note that water-cooled chillers usually appear to be better value if you ignore the initial cost and the water cost. However, the true picture will only become clear once you have looked at the wider costs.

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