Types of Chiller Units

Different Types of Chillers for Industrial and Commercial Use

Chiller systems are essential for temperature control and cooling in several industries. Choosing the right kind of industrial chiller for process and space cooling can lower cooling costs, minimize downtime, and improve operational efficiency.

This article will cover the different types of chillers for commercial and industrial applications, as well as the pros and cons of each. The aim is to help you make an informed buying decision.

Types of Industrial Chillers (Based on Condenser Type)

The three major types of industrial chillers in use today are air-cooled chillers, water-cooled chillers, and evaporative condensed chillers. Let’s take a closer look at all three:

Water-Cooled Chillers

The most common types of water chillers use water from an external tower to cool the gaseous refrigerant in the condenser. After expelling its heat, the refrigerant undergoes a phase change into a liquid and is recirculated into the system.

The Pros

  • Water-cooled chillers are generally more efficient than air-cooled chillers
  • They have a quieter operation than air-cooled systems
  • They are suitable for both small-scale and commercial-scale cooling
  • Portable solutions are available for facilities with space constraints

The Cons

  • Water-cooled chillers can be costly to install and maintain due to the additional cooling water tower, tanks, and water pump
  • Since they require a constant supply of water for cooling, they might not be suitable for locations with water shortages or restrictions
  • Water-cooled systems require periodic condenser water treatment to prevent the formation of mineral deposits in the system. 

Explore portable, stationary, central and custom water-cooled chillers from Cold Shot Chillers here.

Air-Cooled Chillers

Air-cooled chillers use ambient air to reject heat from the refrigerant in the condenser before condensation and recirculation. Additionally, air fans attached to the unit help speed up the cooling process.

Different Types of Chillers

Air-cooled chillers are suitable for applications where the discharged heat will not be an issue, as they tend to produce a considerable amount of warmth at the site.

The Pros

  • Portable solutions are available for facilities with space constraints
  • Air-cooled chillers are available for small-scale and commercial-scale cooling depending on sizing and chiller capacity
  • They are cheaper to install and maintain than water-cooled systems
  • The heat ejected from the chiller can be used to warm the facility during cold periods, providing additional cost and power savings. 

The Cons

  • Air-cooled chillers use cooling fans which produce some level of noise
  • The life expectancy of an air-cooled chiller can be less than that of a water-cooled chiller

Cold Shot Chillers offers a range of top-quality air-cooled chillers of varying sizes and capacities.

Comparison Between Air-cooled and Water-cooled Chillers

While the components of both air-cooled and water-cooled chillers are mostly the same (condenser, expansion valve, evaporator, and compressor), the main difference is in how the refrigerant is cooled.

In an air-cooled chiller, hot refrigerant entering the condenser is exposed to atmospheric air which rejects the heat before it condenses back to its liquid state. On the other hand, in a water-cooled chiller, hot refrigerant gas is sent to a water-cooled heat exchanger or condenser, and the refrigerant is cooled using water from a cooling tower. For a better understanding, learn how cooling towers and chillers work together.

Classification of Chillers (Based on Mode of Operation)

Comparison Between Air-Cooled and Water-Cooled Chillers

Industrial chillers can be further grouped as “vapor compression” or “vapor absorption” type based on the way the refrigerant is transported within the system. Take a closer look at how a chiller works in these different system types.

Vapor Compressor Chillers

Vapor compressor chillers use a compressor to pump refrigerant which extracts unwanted heat from a process. The components of the system are the same as in the absorption type – we have an evaporator, a condenser, and an expansion unit. However, there is no absorbent medium in the unit.

Vapor Absorption Chillers

Unlike vapor compressor systems, vapor absorption chillers use a heat source to transport the refrigerant around the system for cooling. The components of the system are the same as in vapor compressor type chillers, but in place of the compressor, there is an absorber, a pump, and a generator.

The heat source can be heated by water or steam, the refrigerant can be a low Global Warming Potential (GWP) type like R-134a or R1234ze and the absorption medium can be a solution of Lithium Bromide or ammonia. The heated water or steam helps regenerate the adsorption solution.

Screw Chiller vs. Centrifugal Chiller

Centrifugal chillers are very dependable vapor compression cycle chillers ideal for medium to large scale cooling operations (from 150 – 6000 tons of refrigeration). They consist of the usual evaporator, compressor, condenser, and expansion device set-up but with additional rotating impellers, which compress the refrigerant and transport it around the system. 

Screw Chillers are vapor compressor chillers that use a screw compressor to transport the coolant through the system. Some key benefits are their compact installation, quiet operation, lower maintenance costs, and high energy efficiency. They are also ideal for high-rise buildings.

Both chiller types offer efficient cooling for facilities. However, Cold Shot Chillers recommends using centrifugal chillers for high-volume cooling and screw chillers for dependable operation in facilities with space constraints. To better determine your needs, feel free to use our chiller sizing calculator.

Cold Shot Chillers Has the Best Industrial Chillers for Your Application

For over 30 years, Cold Shot Chillers has manufactured the best industrial chiller systems to meet the process cooling needs in industrial and commercial applications all over the country.

Cold Shot Chillers offers ruggedly dependable and efficient water-cooled and air-cooled industrial chillers with close tolerances for any application as well as parts and accessories. For inquiries, please contact us online today or call us at 1.800.473.9178.