Which systems type is best for air conditioning applications: water-cooled or air-cooled? There’s no single answer. HVAC professionals have a lot of questions and to ask and considerations to make before advocating for one type over the other. The system selected is often dependent on a variety of factors, including:
- Environmental efficiency
In order to make the best decision, one must consider the differences between water-cooled and air-cooled systems, as well as the benefits of each system.
How U.S. energy policies affect HVAC system designs
The United States Federal Government has made significant strides in both recognizing threats to the nation’s energy sustainability and implementing policies to protect the environment. The Recovery Act of 2009, which was signed into law in 2009, has invested over $90 billion in the clean energy economy:
- Development of renewable energy and clean technologies
- Smart electric grid and energy-efficient spaces
- High-speed rail and smart car batteries
Executive Order 13514 furthered the U.S. commitment to sustainability by committing the Federal government, the country’s largest energy consumer, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 28% by 2020, increase energy efficiency, and reduce fleet petroleum consumption.
Each of these policies has a significant impact on HVAC system designs and the decision to select water-cooled systems over air-cooled systems and vice-versa.
LEARN MORE: U.S. Government Impact on HVAC Design
What are the benefits of water-cooled systems over air-cooled?
Some professionals may prefer water-cooled systems because of the smaller size required as compared to air-cooled systems. Water-cooled systems also feature higher efficiency and long-term lower maintenance costs.
Additional benefits of a water-cooled system include:
- Reduction in annual energy consumption by 47%
- Peak energy demand reduced by 45%
- Annual operating costs decreased by 33%
- Reduced plan size
- Reduced sound
LEARN MORE: Differences Between Air-Cooled and Water-Cooled Systems
What are some considerations before choosing a water-cooled system?
Overall cooling capacity is the primary consideration before choosing a water-cooled system. While the water-cooled system has a direct impact on energy usage, there are other factors to consider.
- Cost - Initial installation costs, water and chemical costs, and maintenance
- Building Size - Usage in larger buildings provides a clear-cut economical and environmental justification for expenses
- Location - Smaller footprint but requires a larger equipment room
- Maintenance - Requires treatment to control scale/ corrosion and biological growths
- Energy Efficiency - Water usage and waste. Water-cooled systems recycle 95% of the total water.
CTI’s Guide to the Benefits of Water-Cooled vs. Air-Cooled Systems for Air Conditioning Applications
To learn more about the benefits of each system and considerations before choosing a system, download CTI’s Guide to the Benefits of Water-Cooled vs. Air-Cooled Systems.