Whether you’re in the market to replace an inefficient cooling tower, or you’re purchasing one for the first time, both cooling towers and air cooled chillers are effective solutions. However, certain machinery is better suited for certain contexts. Selecting equipment without careful consideration of your unique situation could lead to less than stellar performance and higher than average utility costs.
In order to make an informed decision, you will need to learn more about how cooling towers and air cooled chillers differ in price as well as function.
Air Cooled Chillers Vs. Cooling Towers: What Is The Difference?
Both air cooled chillers and cooling towers do exactly what it sounds like—cool things down. Specifically, they remove heat; however, how they achieve this differs based on the system. This chiller will remove heat from the coolant material and release it into the chiller’s surrounding air. A cooling tower, by contrast, removes heat from the water that is passing by on its way from the system’s condenser or heat exchanger. Which system is right for you depends on how your building is structured, how much space you have, and how powerful you need the cooling effect to be.
How Chillers Work And Which To Choose
As mentioned above, these chillers draw heat directly from the system coolant. Some chillers use water as their means of heat transfer, which is one of the most efficient types of cooling available. However, water-cooled chillers can be too efficient at times and may produce excess heat because they are so effective at removing it from the system. In cold environments, this extra heat removal can make the water too cold and could produce unexpected issues.
Other types of chillers, called Air-Cooled Chillers, use air rather than water for the transfer process. Air-cooled chillers are not as effective for large operations as water-cooled options. The benefit of air-cooled chillers is that they are an affordable and effective choice for factories that do not output significant quantities of heat. Maintenance is relatively inexpensive, and very little or no water treatment may be necessary.
Industries focused on microbrewing, plastics, and even food processing will benefit from air cooled chillers. This is to their relative efficiency and footprint when compared to cooling towers.
Types of Cooling Towers to Choose From
Cooling towers are available in different styles and types. The most common are crossflow and counterflow cooling towers. As their names suggest, these towers operate by blowing air across hot water as it returns from the condenser or heat exchanger; the only difference is what direction the air blows.
In a crossflow tower, the air cools by blowing across the hot water stream; in a counterflow tower, it blows air in the opposite direction of the water flow. Other facilities have found success with induced draft cooling towers, which use a fan to draw hot air up and out.
Paper production facilities, chemical management locations, power plants, and other energy refinement processes (such as oil, gas, and thermal power) often select cooling towers over chillers. However, you should evaluate your specific situation to decide whether industry averages apply to you or if you will need something more non-standard.
Budgeting for a Air Cooled Chiller or Cooling Tower
Heat removal is not a simple task, and the machinery you choose must be powerful enough to meet your needs. In terms of chillers, air-cooled systems are typically more affordable due to their smaller size; expect the equipment costs to be anywhere from $188,000 to $250,000.
Cooling towers cost anywhere from $50,000 to $200,000 to replace, but they often come with additional hardware like water treatment systems, sand filters and other machinery that may be necessary for your facility. Energy ROI will play a role as cooling towers are generally much more efficient than air cooled (from 100 to 1000 times more efficient).
Choose an option that is appropriate for your industry. An investment in an appropriate and well-constructed cooling tower now can lower your future utility bills and ensure the quality of your systems performance under many different conditions.
Trust The Experts To Help You Choose And Maintain Your Building
Choosing a cooling mechanism for your facility is a critical choice with a high cost, but you don’t have to stress over the decision. Consult the experts to learn about your options and find the cooling tower or air cooled chiller that is best suited to your needs. The professionals at Tower Water would be happy to walk you through the process. Reach out to learn more or to schedule an appointment and get started.