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A Basic Guide to Water-Cooled Air Conditioners

July 14, 2022
A Basic Guide to Water-Cooled Air Conditioners

Although you may have just heard of the term “water-cooled air conditioner,” it’s not a new invention.

In 1902, a young engineer named Willis Carrier invented a cooling unit that uses water-chilled coils aimed at controlling the moisture level in the plant he worked in.

Incredibly, water-cooled air conditioners are used for the same industrial purpose today. But there are also portable models you can find to mitigate the blazing summer heat at home.

We will discuss what water-cooled air conditioners are in this guide—as well as their different types and how they work.

What is a water-cooled air conditioner?

You might be looking to get a pro to install a new air conditioning system for you. And you may want to know all your options for this water-powered AC.

But first, what’s a water-cooled air conditioner? In simple terms, it’s a type of air conditioner that uses water rather than refrigerant to cool your room.

Besides industrial plants, water-cooled ACs are widely used for commercial facilities like schools, offices, hospitals, and shopping centers.

It effectively and quickly brings cool air into the room at somewhere between 40℉ to 45℉ (4.4℃ to 7.2℃). 

And compared to residential ACs we know of, they’re more energy-efficient too, making them a solid choice for medium to large homes and buildings.

The Two Types of Water-Cooling Systems

With that in mind, water-cooled air conditioners come in two types. Let’s identify and take a closer look at each of them:

  • Chilled Water System
Chilled Water System

A chilled water system is suitable for large and wide buildings. The cool air blown by this machine can cover great distances to cool everyone inside.

It’s set up on the roof or within the building. Its task is to cool the hot air with water and circulate it to the area.

  • Cooling Tower System
Cooling Tower System

A cooling tower is installed on the roof of a building. It works by pumping water to the heat in the condenser coils to deliver cool air.

Its downside is that you have to ensure the system’s water is constantly filled for it to keep on cooling the building.

How does a chilled-water system work?

Below we’ve outlined how a water-cooled air conditioner works:

  1. A chiller system draws and removes the heat out of the building via its compressor.
  1. Heat now travels to the condenser water, and the excess heat is sent out of the building.
  1. The heat going to the condenser water is channeled through the chiller and evaporator to (as the parts’ names indicate) evaporate and cool it.
  1. Meanwhile, excess heat expelled from the building goes through the condenser coils, which cool it.
  1. The cool air that was evaporated is then released into the room from the air conditioning unit.
  1. And the entire process repeats itself to keep the building cool and comfortable to live or work in.

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