Chilled Water Cooling Systems: A Few Advantages And Disadvantages To Keep In Mind

Chilled water cooling systems, also known simply as "chillers", are a popular choice for commercial air conditioning repair and institutions such as schools and hospitals. If you are in the process of making decisions about your future cooling needs, then chilled water cooling should be one of the systems on your list. Below are a few advantages that chillers offer over other cooling systems and a few disadvantages that you should also keep in mind:

The advantages offered by chilled water cooling systems

Safer for humans

Safety should always be a primary concern when making decisions about the environment in which people live, work and play. Chilled water systems are fundamentally safe due to the use of non-toxic, chemically-stable water as the refrigerant; chillers don't require that potentially-hazardous refrigerants be circulated throughout a building in close proximity to occupants.

Cost effective

A chilled water cooling system can cut energy costs by up to one-half if it utilizes the latest in high-efficiency equipment. Water is better at absorbing heat than air, and this fundamental fact of physics means that it will always have an advantage in this regard. Not only that, water is plentiful and cheap; eliminating the need to use costly refrigerants can contribute greatly to the overall cost savings.

Sheltered from the elements

The operational machinery for chilled water cooling systems, except for cooling towers, is typically installed in a mechanical room, basement or other interior space. This means these complex components, such as evaporators and condensers, are less exposed to the elements than systems that are mounted on rooftops or in exterior locations. Less exposure to rain, ice and heat can extend the lives of these components by several years.

Quiet operation

Another advantage offered by chillers is they operate at much quieter levels than air cooling systems. The flow of water through the system is less susceptible to the expansion and contraction that causes air to affect mechanical components such as ducts and vents. This degree of quietness is important for building occupants, particularly in sensitive environments such as hospitals and schools where noise would otherwise be unhealthy or distracting.

The disadvantages of chilled water cooling systems

Cooling towers

Chillers utilize external cooling towers to transfer heat to the atmosphere, and these structures can be costly to build. They don't need to be located immediately adjacent to the building that holds the operational machinery, but they do utilize valuable real estate which adds to the cost. Cooling towers are also unsightly, and the water vapor generated during operation can be uncomfortable for those who pass by these structures.

Enhanced maintenance needs

Since chilled water cooled systems use water for transferring heat, this exposes the water to a variety of conditions that can create scaling. Scaling is an accumulation of deposits on metal, and this can cause corrosion as well as decrease system efficiency. To control the problems associated with scale, the water used in chillers must be treated to remove impurities that can lead to scaling. In addition, periodic inspection and cleaning of the chiller's internal machinery and components will be necessary. This necessitates downtime for scheduled maintenance and added maintenance costs.

Less effective in humid environments

Chilled water cooling systems don't work as well in climates with high prevailing humidity. Higher levels of humidity raise the wet-bulb temperature, which is an indicator of how efficiently water absorbs heat. An increase in wet-bulb temperature corresponds with increased operating costs as well as lower comfort levels due to the higher ambient humidity. Chillers can create a cold, clammy feeling for occupants if the humidity is too high. In this scenario, air cooled systems are much better at extracting moisture from the air.