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Water-Cooled And Air-Cooled Systems

At Darrow, we have extensive experience working with both water-cooled and air-cooled systems. Not every building or facility has the same requirements. With our vast industry knowledge, we’ll help you identify essential factors and weigh all the options. Following, we can engineer and install the most effective design possible.

Our services include:

  • Cooling tower design
  • Cooling tower installation
  • Cooling tower maintenance

We excel at coming up with alternative solutions and implementing customizations to fit your unique needs. For instance, we have completed several successful retrofits that utilize direct expansion (DX) heat pumps. No matter how challenging or restricting the parameters are, we’ll devise a solution that works—and works well.

Understanding the pros and cons of various cooling systems and parts can be challenging. You can read about the basics below, but we’re happy to talk with you personally concerning the details and address any questions or concerns you may have.

 Contact our expert team today to explore your options!

How Do Cooling Systems Work?

Using a refrigeration system, water-cooled and air-cooled systems remove heat from an enclosed space and transfer it to the external environment. Both systems contain an evaporator, compressor, expansion device, and condenser. Once a refrigerant absorbs unwanted heat in the evaporator, it travels to the condenser. Water-cooled and air-cooled systems differ in how the condenser cools the refrigerant—in other words, how the extracted heat is expelled.

Water-Cooled vs. Air-Cooled Systems

Water-Cooled

  • Lower initial investment
  • Highly efficient
  • More compact chillers, smaller units
  • Don’t require ventilation (good indoors)
  • Don’t rely on ambient air (good in high temperatures)
  • Require available water
  • Require water treatment
  • Require a cooling tower (high maintenance)

Air-Cooled

  • Don’t require available water
  • Don’t require water treatment
  • Don’t require a cooling tower (low maintenance)
  • Require ventilation (good outdoors)
  • Higher initial investment
  • Higher energy consumption costs

Water-Cooled Chillers

In a water-cooled system, the warm water leaves the condenser and goes to the cooling tower, where a large fan feeds the unit with air. Once incoming water from the condenser meets the air and loses heat, it cycles back to the condenser.

Typically, water-cooled chillers are cheaper and more efficient than air-cooled systems. However, one of the big problems with cooling towers is that they waste a lot of water due to evaporation and require a ton of maintenance. Critical maintenance demands include chiller condenser-tube cleaning, mechanical maintenance, and freeze protection.

Furthermore, due to poor water conditions, water-cooled systems require regular water treatment. Thus, installing a cooling tower makes you reliant on a water maintenance company for the duration of the equipment’s life. While we design, install, and service all parts of water cooling systems, we do not perform water treatment. However, we will put you in contact with companies in the area whom we trust to take care of your water.

Air-Cooled Chillers

In contrast, air-cooled systems use ambient air to cool hot refrigerant, similar to car radiators and outdoor AC units. Fans force the ambient air over tubing containing the refrigerant, cooling it, and transferring excess heat to the surrounding air. The now-cooled refrigerant then circulates to provide a cooling effect.

Though typically less efficient, air-cooled systems are more straightforward and don’t require a cooling tower. While they eliminate extra maintenance costs, they need outside ventilation and may be inconvenient in certain indoor situations.

Factors To Keep In Mind When Choosing A Chiller

Choosing the right type of system comes down to a variety of issues that all need to be considered.

Influencing factors may include::

  • Indoor vs. Outdoor
  • Available Space
  • Environmental Conditions
  • Local Regulations
  • Cost: Initial and Long-Term

Making a final decision isn’t easy, but we’ll be there every step of the way to make sure your needs are met.

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Have a question or need to get an estimate for an HVAC or Mechanical Contractor project in the Los Angeles area?

Call us today or request a call back to discuss your industrial or residential project with one of our experts technicians.