Water-Cooled Chillers vs. Air-Cooled Chillers – Which Type of Chiller Best Suits Your Needs?
Before that question can be answered, a clear understanding of what is a chiller and then the difference between a water-cooled chiller and what is an air-cooled chiller can to be answered.
What is a Chiller?
A chiller is a refrigeration system that cools a process fluid in an industrial facility. A chiller is comprised of 4 basic components: evaporator, compressor, condenser and expansion valve. There are two types of chillers; water-cooled or air-cooled.
What is a Water-Cooled Chiller?
Water-Cooled Chillers remove heat from one location and move it to another location by circulating a liquid to cool products and machinery. Water-Cooled Chillers require a cooling tower or another source of chilled water and are also often used in high temperature areas because they use an external source.
What is an Air Cooled Chiller?
Air-Cooled Chillers, using air to fuel condenser cooling, remove the heat from process water and then release the heat into the air. Outdoor applications typically use air-cooled chillers as excess heat is released into the ambient air.
A key factor when considering water-cooled chillers and air-cooled chillers is the difference in the ways each must be housed.
Air-Cooled Chillers can occupy any flat, open space and generally require less room than water-cooled chillers. However, since the heat is released in to the ambient air, sufficient air flow is required. Simply, Air-Cooled Chillers should not be placed near walls that block airflow or too close together.
Water-Cooled Chillers which use water (or another liquid) from a cooling tower (or other external source) for cooling may result in the need for re-piping and makes a water-cooled chiller less portable.
Air vs. Water Cooled Chiller Cost Comparison
From an installation and maintenance standpoint, Air-Cooled Chillers have the advantage. Requiring the outside water source Water-Cooled Chillers are typically more expensive in regards to installation. However, water-cooled chillers generally have a longer life span and are typically more efficient because of that outside water source.
Pros and Cons Considerations
Water-cooled chillers often present:
- More precise heat-transfer
- More Energy Efficient
- Longer Lifespan
- Outside Water Source is Required
- Additional Maintenance
- Lack of Portability
Air-Cooled Chillers, on the other hand, are not quite as capital intensive.
They often require:
- Outside Water Source is Not Required
- Easily Set-up
- Lower Maintenance Costs
- Shorter lifespan
- Adequate ventilation is required
- Higher costs per volume of cooling due to cooling properties of air.
So, Which Chiller is Best for Your Company?
It really depends on your situation. Water-cooled chillers typically have a longer life and are more energy efficient. However, air-cooled chillers with ease of set-up may be the best option for your situation.
For assistance choosing and sizing the right cooling system call 209-522-3701 to speak with a team member or contact BV Thermal Systems.