Chiller systems are essential for temperature control and cooling in several industries. Choosing the right 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 and 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.

Air-cooled chillers are suitable for applications where the discharged heat will not be an issue, as they tend to produce considerable 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 from the chiller can warm the facility during cold periods, providing additional cost and power savings. 

The Cons

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

Comparison Between Air-cooled & Water-cooled Chillers

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

In an air-cooled chiller, hot refrigerant entering the condenser is exposed to atmospheric air, rejecting the heat before it condenses 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)

Industrial chillers can be further grouped as “vapor compression” or “vapor absorption” types based on how 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 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 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, use our chiller sizing calculator.

Types of Industrial Chillers (Based on Application Type)

Food & Beverage Chillers

Maintaining optimal temperatures for food and beverage products is critical to ensure their safety and quality. Food and beverage chillers are used in the industry to achieve this, whether it’s to cool liquids like milk or juice or to keep food products fresh. Different types of chillers are available, including air-cooled and water-cooled units, with the size of the chiller depending on the amount of product being cooled and temperature requirements.

Medical Chillers

Medical chillers designed for healthcare applications play a vital role in maintaining optimal temperature levels, particularly when it comes to sensitive medical equipment like MRI machines and CT scanners. With precise temperature control, these chillers ensure consistent performance and prevent overheating, which can impair equipment and patient safety. Chillers also help maintain sterile environments by precisely controlling humidity levels.

HVAC Chillers

HVAC chillers are critical components of various industrial and commercial applications, including hospitals, data centers, and manufacturing plants. These chillers help to cool water or other fluids to provide air conditioning or process cooling. These chillers can range in size from small units that fit under a desk to large systems requiring an entire room. Choosing an appropriate chiller size and type can help businesses improve efficiency and reduce energy costs while extending the life of their HVAC mechanical systems.

Metal Finishing Chillers

Industrial chillers for metal finishing ensure high-quality metal plating and chemical processes. The precise control of temperature provided by these chillers is necessary to avoid corrosion, pitting, and other defects resulting from incorrect temperature regulation. Therefore, when selecting an industrial chiller for metal finishing, it’s important to consider factors such as the size of the application, the required temperature range, and the type of chemicals being used.

Industrial Chillers

Industrial chillers are applicable in a wide range of commercial and industrial operations where they can be used to cool large-scale machinery and equipment to ensure optimal performance. Different industrial chillers are available, including air-cooled, water-cooled, and evaporative cooling systems. With proper planning and adequate maintenance, industrial chillers can provide reliable cooling for several years.

Plastic Processing Chillers

Maintaining precise temperature control is crucial in the plastics industry, which is why chiller systems play an essential role. The right chiller system can improve productivity and enhance product quality while reducing energy costs. Air-cooled and water-cooled chillers are available to meet various application-specific requirements.

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 nationwide.

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.