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What is the difference between air and water chiller

Chillers are electronic devices that remove heat using a refrigeration system. They play an important role in many residential, commercialand industrial spaces. There are two types of chillers. Water chiller operates water reservoir circulation components while the air chillers disperse heat using fans. Both air cooled and water cooled chillers depend on air stream for heat transfer. Theair-cooled chillers use the environmental air while the water cooled chillers depend on airstream paired with water. However in the current scenario of water scarcity and go green movements the water cooler may tend to be anti-movement. The technology has evolved with fast-paced innovations and offer sophisticated features with efficient building design and maximum energy savings in both the models.

  • TO assist your purchase we bring you a detailed brief about the water and air chillers in the market.

  • • Water Chillers

    These are common for indoor installation. To ensure proper functionality of the extra components and cooling tower, an extra mechanical room is required. Watercoolers use water as the refrigerant and are free from any toxic element. It has separate condenser water loops for cooling and cooling towers to expel heat.

It comprises the following components:

• Cooling towers
• Chillers
• Reservoirs
• Condenser water pumps
• Makeup water pumps

These are usually preferred for medium to large spaces with sufficient water.They transfer heat more efficiently, thereby saving on the energy cost. Since water chillers are suited for indoor installation, they aren’t exposed to environmental factors like rain, snow, heat and ice making them more efficient. Water chillers provide cooling at a lower pressure comparatively as the water temperature would usually be less than air which is directly proportional to low operating cost. Water chillers don’t create any sound. Water chillers are comparatively more efficient in cooling the surroundings.


• Long lifespan
• No need for frequent replacement
• Less vulnerable
• Operate quietly
• Highly efficient


• Periodic maintenance is required
• Regular cleaning
• Requires a large amount of water
• Less efficient in a humid environment

• Air Chillers

The air-cooled chillers transfer heat into the air. Air coolers use aluminium fins for air flow and copper tubes for refrigerant flow. Air chillers are prominently used in small to medium, commercial and industrial spaces to humidify air or cool products. They are compact, highly efficient and easy to remove and install.They directly utilize outside air with mechanical circulation through condenser coil to expel heat. Air coolers require outside space as they need plenty of fresh air to operate. This also makes them vulnerable to environmental factors like heat, ice and rain often resulting in replacement of parts. Any obstruction in the airflow can cause an air flow restriction leading to complications. Air coolers are often a better choice. Combining advanced technologies and modern manufacturing highly efficient models of air chillers are available in the market that showsa progressive increase in performances.


• Comparatively cheaper
• Hassle-free installation
• No additional parts
• Less functional space
• Better environment stability - no wastage


• Creates noise
• High power consumption
• Comparatively lower cooling capacity
• Low lifespan

How it works

The use of air or water to effectively cool hot spots combined with overall temperature provides the means to optimise the watts or power consumption. The capability to create and operate using air or water as a medium to cool the surroundings depends on the function performed by the condensers. The water-based chiller sucks in water while the air based chiller sucks in air. A water-cooled condenser uses the water coil to transfer heat from condenser coils while the air basedvariant has a smaller impact on the environment has a condenser that is cooled by air.

Best among the two

Selecting the chiller depends primarily on the various factors, surrounding and purpose of buying a chiller. Some make the buying decision based on initial investment but it is essential to consider the following before making the purchase:
• Energy saving
• Installation cost
• Maintenance cost
• Operational Cost
• Number of equipment’s
• Life cycle cost
• Cooling per square feet

Both the chillers require basic maintenance to ensure optimal level output or performance. Many regions are grappling with water scarcity facing water drought in such situation air coolers are of great use. Water cooled chillers are more energy efficient and cheaper and are very impressive in terms of footprint and noise. However cooling towers or evaporative condensers are one of the disadvantages with the water-based chiller and the water treatment is an added hassle too. These costs or hassles do not restrictair based chillers. Space is also a major point that may influence your purchase. Air-based chillers can be set up in an outdoor space while the water-based would occupy a mechanical room indoors. Air cooled chillers consume 20% more watt(power) that a water-based chiller but the output is better with water based chillers as wet surfaces are better at transferring heat comparatively.