Having a water cooler means you can enjoy fresh drinking water, either cold, room temperature, or hot, whenever you want. To top it off, you’ll encounter various health benefits, save money, and have a positive impact on the environment.
The fact of the matter is, despite tap water having gone through some serious improvements in the past decade, its quality across the world is still not stellar. From heavy metals, bacteria, viruses, and a large number of other impurities, you can never be too sure what you are drinking.
The water cooler was actually invented in 1906 and has since then continued to evolve. As a result, knowing which is the best water cooler for your needs can be extremely difficult.
To help you, we’ve created this comprehensive guide which will tell you everything you need to know about water coolers. We’re going to start with the basics and tell you about the ins and outs of a water cool.
We’ll then give you information about the various types on the market today and explain the difference between a water cooler and a water dispenser.
From there, we’ll share some of the many benefits of having a water cooler, highlight some of the most reputable manufacturers, and tell you how to efficiently clean your water cooler.
With further ado, let’s get started:
What Is A Water Cooler
Water coolers are used to provide quick and easy access to drinking water and can typically be found in office environments, doctors clinics, and even residential homes that do not have good quality water or do not like the taste or smell of their tap water.
A water cooler is an appliance that dispenses cool, room temperature, or hot water, depending on the type of cooler you choose. Despite popular belief, water coolers come in various different forms.
Modern water coolers are not limited to cold and room temperature water, they are not necessarily bulky, and they are able to dispense water from various different sources, not just a big blue container.
The Various Types Of Water Coolers
When the word “water cooler” is mentioned, many imagine a machine that has a big blue bottle on top, but nowadays, there are numerous different models available that are not only more stylish, but also more efficient.
Before you can choose the ideal water cooler for your home or office, you need to be familiar with the different types that are available, so here it goes:
As the name suggests, wall mounted water coolers are mounted to the wall and are traditionally hooked directly to the building’s plumbing and electricity systems so that the water can be cooled before it is dispensed.
These types of coolers are best known as drinking fountains and store cold water in a unit that can then be dispensed at the push of a button or via a sensor that detects someone wanting to use it.
Top loading water coolers have the benefit of being less prone to contamination because the water is stored above the cooler. They do not dispense water from the general plumbing of the building, but from a container.
Although healthier in some ways, top loading water coolers can be more strenuous as the water container needs to be replaced once finished. Depending on the size of the cohort you are rehydrating, you may need to replace it quite often which is a challenging physical task.
Bottom load coolers are the same as top loading ones, but are more practical because instead of replacing the water container at the top, it can be loaded into the bottom. Also, for aesthetic reasons, most bottom load coolers are fitted with a door which hides the container.
Point Of Use
Also referred to as direct-piping water coolers, a point of use cooler is connected directly to your in-house plumbing and dispenses both hot and cold water. With it you don’t have to worry about monthly water delivery bills, storing spare water containers, and of course, running out of water when you need it most.
As with wall mounted one's, point of use coolers cut out the need for plastic bottles, thus having a more positive impact on the environment.
Countertop water coolers are great if you are looking for something more compact as they just sit on top of your counter or table.
That said, they do not dispense anywhere near the same amount of water as other types and therefore would not be great for an office or large household.
Essentially, freestanding water coolers are like top loading and bottom loading coolers. They are commonly referred to as “towers” and are bottle fed.
They now come in a huge variety of colors and designs and are most often seen in offices. Their downfalls are that they take up floor space so are not ideal for small rooms and can be difficult to replenish if they are top loading.
Water Cooler Vs. Water Dispenser
Despite them being similar, the terms water cooler and water dispenser are not the same. Today, we use them interchangeably because they are similar, but they do have a minor difference, meaning one should not be mistaken for the other.
Basically, all water dispensers are not water coolers, however, all water coolers are dispensers, here’s how that works:
A water dispenser is any appliance that takes liquid from a container and dispenses it through a tap. Examples of water dispensers could be:
- Water jugs with taps
- Water dispenser systems incorporated into fridges
- Kitchen, bathroom, and garden taps
- Water bottles or containers that dispense liquid through a tap
As we mentioned above, all water coolers are water dispensers, meaning all the above applies to water coolers as well. The key difference is that a water cooler is able to cool and sometimes heat the water it dispenses, giving the user cold, room temperature, or hot water, depending on the model.
The Benefits Of A Water Cooler
Despite it being no secret that water coolers have become increasingly popular in both office and residential environments, the real question is: Why? Water coolers have a number of benefits, both from a health point of view and an environmental one. Here are some of them:
The most obvious benefit is the fact that you will be able to drink, clear, crisp, odorless, and tasty water whenever you want.
The harsh reality is, despite your local government telling you your tap water is safe, they don’t filter out all contaminants, meaning you could still be consuming things like heavy metals, viruses, excess fluoride, chlorine, and various other chemicals and bacteria.
Whether you choose a cooler that is plumbed into the mains of your building or dispenses water from a container, your water cooler should come with a filter fitted, meaning you won’t be subject to all the usual impurities found in tap water.
These filters are sturdy and do not have to be changed very often. They are also not expensive and very easy to replace.
Safe And Easy To Use
It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to use a water cooler. In most cases, all you need to do is lift or push down a lever or a button to enjoy your chosen temperature of water. Easier yet, some coolers operate with a sensor.
Water coolers with a hot water option traditionally come with a safety feature, meaning children cannot activate them and burn themselves. For extra precaution, safety locks for the cold tap are also available to stop children from running the water out of the tap.
Despite being extremely safe, it is very important to get assistance when replacing top loading containers. These can be very heavy and if not lifted properly, can cause serious injuries. Bottom loading models are easier to refill and point of use coolers do not require refilling at all.
Easy To Maintain
Maintaining a water cooler is also very easy. You will need to clean your unit once a month depending on how much use it gets and where it is.
For example, if you are a household of two using it on a daily basis, you may get away with only cleaning it every six weeks or so. On the other, if your water cooler is on construction site being used by forty odd workmen, you may want to consider cleaning it every week.
We suggest you choose a water cooler from a manufacturer who offers a good warranty and provides the original setup and regular maintenance included in the final costs.
Positive Environmental Impact
Although reports show that bottled water has become more popular than soda in the United States in the past year, this is having a significant negative impact on the environment.2
Yes, people are making more positive health choices by drinking water, eliminating sugar, and many other contaminants that are found in tap water, but where do these bottles go?
Aside from the fact that not all bottled water is chemical free, some of which have been linked to diseases such as breast cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes, plastic bottles are also clogging up landfills, polluting the environment, and killing our ocean life.3
Although you may believe that your water is coming from mountain peaks, 45% of bottled water brands are sourced from your municipal water supply and then filtered, so why not just opt for a water cooler instead?4
Water coolers can be plumbed directly into the mains or use a larger container that is recyclable. The water is filtered and you can choose your preferred temperature as well.
Water coolers are healthier, easy to use and maintain, and better for the environment, but some models are also more cost effective. Point of use water coolers offer cold, hot or room temperature, filtered water directly from your mains supply.
You don’t have to place a monthly water container order, your electric bills will be cheaper from not having to boil the kettle every time you want hot water, and you’ll be having a much more positive impact on the environment by cutting out plastic altogether.
What Are The Cooling And Heating Methods
Let's take a look at the cooling and heating methods used in water coolers.
When it comes to chilling water, water coolers typically use vapor compression refrigeration or thermoelectric cooling techniques.
Vapor Compression Refrigeration
Vapor compression refrigeration uses a liquid refrigerant that absorbs and removes heat from a unit where water is stored and cooled in the water cooler. This chilled water can then be dispensed when requested and the unit is automatically refilled.
Thermoelectric cooling uses the Peltier effect to cool and heat water.5 Basically, the process uses a device that has two sides. When a direct current runs through the device, one side gets hot and the other gets cold.
The hot side actually remains at room temperature because it is attached to a heat sink, while the other side goes below room temperature.
Traditionally, water coolers that also offer hot water use a heating element to heat water in a separate unit. The reason it takes virtually no time at all for hot water to be dispensed is that this water is kept at near boiling temperature at all times.
When someone presses the lever for hot water, the electric heating coil will quickly reheat the water that is dispensed.
Reputable Water Cooler Manufacturers
If you have made the decision to buy a water cooler but don’t know who to buy it from, here is some information on some of the best and most reputable manufacturers in the industry today:
Founded all the way back in 1910, Oasis provides water solutions to more than 80 countries across the various Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. the company prides itself on offering eco-friendly systems to companies and individual households alike.
Oasis provides point-of-use water coolers among other water systems with the goal of providing potable and refreshing water that is free of unhealthy contaminants and impurities found in regular tap water.
Most recently, the company has had a significant focus on offering affordable products that are made of the most durable materials, including its copper antimicrobial for pressure coolers.
Primo’s mission can be broken up into four sections. These include providing safer water to families that are free of impurities, encouraging people to drink more water, making drinking water convenient, and reducing waste.
The company uses a purification process that significantly reduces the presence of chlorine and chlorine by-products, bacteria and parasites, heavy metals including lead, as well as trace levels of pharmaceuticals and other chemicals and viruses.
Primo water coolers provide instant access to cold, room temperature, and hot water. The company’s products range from budget hand pumps to more advanced water coolers in a variety of finishes and styles.
Based in Texas, Igloo went from a modest metalworking shop to a three-building facility with more than 1,200 employees.
Despite this growth, the company is still focused on offering innovative products to its clientele.
With a more prominent focus on portable products, Igloo makes having fresh, clean water while on-the-go possible.
Whether it is for a family camping trip, a festival, or just a barbecue out in the garden, Igloo water coolers are good for all occasions.
Elkay has grown with the changing markets since 1920. What started as a company providing the highest-quality stainless steel sinks in America went on to innovate faucets, drinking fountains, and of course, water coolers.
The company manufactures both indoor and outdoor water coolers in various finishes and styles. Using copper components and lead-free material, Elkay uses a Filtrex System to reduce the chances of contaminants from entering its coolers.
Elkay’s efficient refrigeration systems are heavy-duty, vandal-resistant, with a focus on energy-efficiency.
Whirlpool is the top major appliance manufacturer in the world today.
The company is focused on designing purposeful products that allow families and individuals to regain the time to focus on what matters to them.
Whirlpool as for vision to provide the best branded consumer products to people across the world and its water coolers are no exception.
Today, Whirlpool has a range of self-cleaning, bottom loading, and top loading models.
Some of its most innovative models are made of stainless steel and use the company’s new accu-chill technology. This method involves ice being created inside the water cooler, providing individuals with close to freezing water no matter what the temperature is outdoors.
How To Clean A Water Cooler
As mentioned above, the regularity at which you choose to clean your water cooler will depend on the number of people using it and its location. Typically, you should give your dispenser a deep clean every month or so. Here is a short step by step guide:
1- Prepare A Cleaning Solution
You do not need to to go and buy expensive cleaning solutions to clean your water cooler. In fact, chemical-based cleaning solutions could be counterproductive and leave you with foul tasting and smelling water.
To prepare your cleaning solution, consider using a very minimal amount of vinegar mixed with water. You can also opt for a solution made of two tablespoons of baking soda to each cup of water.
2- Consider All Safety Precautions
Once you’ve created your cleaning solution, put it to one side and run through all your safety precautions. Start by unplugging your water cooler and make sure the plug is as far away as possible from any water or cleaning solution to avoid it getting wet.
3- Remove All Components
If you have a water cooler that dispenses water through a container, start by removing the container. Then, turn the back of the dispenser to face you and place a bucket or bowl under the drain plug to avoid flooding your floor.
Start by dispensing any leftover water through the taps. Then remove all the components to clean them. This could include a water guard, the probe assembly, and the plastic baffle from the inside reservoir. This will depend on the type and model of water cooler you have.
4- Clean Components
Using your pre-prepared cleaning solution, gently clean all the components with a soft cloth. Be sure to wipe the inside of the reservoir and the area around the taps of the water cooler.
If you find a white chalky deposit on your cooler, this is mineral build-up. To get rid of it, use a rust or calcium removing product.
5- Rinse The System Through
It is essential you remember to clean the inner system of your water cooler. To do so, pour one or two gallons of water through the system and into a bucket. Remember to also remove any remaining water from the reservoirs by dispensing all the water from all taps.
6- Inspect The System
Once you’ve thoroughly cleaned every part of your water cooler, both inside and out, inspect it carefully for any mold or other chemical build ups. These can contaminate the water dispensed through your water cooler and be hazardous to your health.
7- Replace Parts
Now that your cooler is clean, put all the parts back where you found them. When replacing the various small parts of your water cooler, be sure to inspect them for any build-ups, cracks, or defects.
When you complete the cleaning process, close any latches, turn the water cooler with its back against the wall, install a new bottle depending on your model, and plug it back into its power source.
Some manufacturer’s offer regular maintenance and cleaning services. This can be especially useful for point of use water coolers which can be harder to disconnect from the building’s water supply.
Water Cooler Wrap Up…
When choosing a water cooler, you need to consider your location, physical capabilities, and whether or not you need a heating feature as well as a cooling one.
Remember that water coolers do need regular maintenance and cleaning, therefore, opting for a manufacturer that offers free servicing is essential. Alternatively, do research into how hard your preferred model is to clean or look for self-cleaning ones.
Always look at the filtration methods used and check which contaminants each water cooler is able to filter through. Before making a buying decision be sure to do research into the various manufacturers around today and choose one that is reputable.
If you are still struggling to choose a water cooler for your home or office, visit our water cooler buying guide for more information.
In it, we’ve listed some of the best water coolers on the market and shared some additional information about the various features to look out for when buying a water cooler.