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Air-cooled chillers are refrigeration systems used in both commercial and industrial facilities to cool fluids and/or dehumidify air. They are used in a wide variety of settings including hotels, corporate events, restaurants, sporting events, large-scale construction, industrial and manufacturing plants, and so forth. Our portable air-cooled chillers are great for one-time events or permanent infrastructure. They are compact and highly efficient, as well as easy to install and remove. This makes them ideal for supplemental, temporary or emergency applications.
While it's often assumed that water-cooled chillers are more efficient than air-cooled chillers, this is only true if you look exclusively at compressor costs. If you take a closer look at the variable speed control and centrifugal compressors, air-cooled chillers may make a better choice.
How Do Air Cooled Chillers Work?
Air-cooled chillers actively absorb heat from process water; they then transfer this heat into the air around the chiller unit. This type of unit is typically used in areas where additional heat discharge is not an issue, but instead works as a benefit. For instance, the additional heat can be used to warm a space during the winter for less money than traditional heating systems.
The cycle starts with the evaporator, which has a liquid refrigerant that flows over the evaporator tube bundle where it evaporates. In the process, heat is absorbed from the chilled water circulating through the bundle. The compressor then pulls the refrigerant vapor from the evaporator. The compressor is then tasked with pumping the refrigerant vapor to the condenser, which increases temperature and pressure. The refrigerant condenses when it's in the condenser tubes, releasing its internal heat to the air or cooling water. The high-pressure liquid then moves through the expansion device and into the evaporator; in the process the refrigerant pressure is reduced along with the temperature. To complete the continuous cycle, the refrigerant flows back over the chilled water coils and absorbs more heat.
What Sets Air Cooled Chillers Apart From Water Cooled Chillers?
Water cooled and air cooled chillers work in a rather similar manner. They both have an evaporator, compressor, condenser and an expansion valve. The main difference is that one uses air to fuel condenser cooling and the other uses water.
All chillers require basic maintenance in order to perform at optimum levels, but air cooled chillers are easier and less expensive to maintain than water-cooled units.
Air cooled chillers do not require a cooling tower or a condenser water pump.
Air cooled chillers consume around 10% more power than a water-cooled unit; wet surfaces are better at transferring heat than dry surfaces.