Chillers differ in that some transfer heat to the surrounding ambient air and some transfer heat to a water source, such as a cooling tower. Air-cooled chillers and water-cooled chillers each have their advantages and disadvantages, and you should do your research to determine which type is better suited to your needs. If some of the following criteria apply to you, an air-cooled chiller may be the best choice for you.
Water-cooled chillers require enough water to operate, which makes them a poor choice in areas where water is scarce. In arid areas you may also encounter restrictions on the use of water-cooled systems. Air-cooled chillers don't use water, so you don't have to worry about wasting it. They do require a constant flow of fresh air, as they operate by using a condenser cooled by the surrounding air. This is why you shouldn't place them near walls that block air flow.
Compared to water-cooled coolers, air-cooled coolers do not require much maintenance. This is because they do not have cooling towers and evaporative condensers that require water treatment. The trade-off is that they usually have a shorter lifespan than water-cooled chillers.
The initial investment for air-cooled chillers is smaller than for water-cooled chillers because they have no components to deliver water. Cooling towers and condenser pumps raise the cost of water-cooled chillers. Air-cooled chillers also don't use water, so you don't have to pay higher water bills.
Air-cooled chillers require a constant flow of fresh air to operate and they are not suitable for placement next to each other or other objects that obstruct air. Obstructed air flow can cause recirculation problems and adversely affect the performance of the chiller, which is why there should be no taller walls around the chiller. If your building code requires you to have an outdoor wall, you are better off choosing a water-cooled chiller. Ideal places to put air-cooled chillers include car parks and rooftops.
Air-cooled chillers require open space, but water-cooled chillers require a mechanical room because of their equipment. Adding a mechanical room to your property is more costly than opting for an air-cooled chiller.
All chillers make noise, but air-cooled chillers use fans that make noise. If noise is an issue for you, you may want to opt for a water-cooled chiller. However, not all air-cooled chillers have the same noise level because they do not use the same fans.
Air-cooled chillers are not as good as water-cooled chillers when it comes to efficiency. This is because it takes a lot of energy to distribute heat into the air. Unfortunately, this means you will pay higher energy bills with an air-cooled chiller.
Water cooled chillers are more complicated to set up as they have more components. Air-cooled chillers take less time to start up and run and are also easier to operate.
Generally speaking, neither air-cooled or water-cooled chillers are better, but you want to have the type that best suits your situation. If you are still unsure which type to rent or buy, you should contact your chiller supplier for more information.