4 Things You Should Know Before Renting or Buying a Chiller

July 16, 2021

Chiller Rentals By CTCA’s skid-mounted chillers are always ready for 24/7 emergency delivery and installation.

Whether you’re considering renting or buying a chiller, there are several factors you should consider before taking the first step to ensure you receive the right cooling level the first time around. In this article, we’ll be answering the 4 most frequently asked questions regarding renting or buying chiller units.

Table of Contents

What is the difference between HVAC and chiller?

What are the different types of chillers?

Which type of chiller is best?

How much do chillers cost?

What is the difference between HVAC and chiller?

HVAC is an acronym for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. It is an encompassing set of technologies and solutions geared toward delivering optimal levels of heat, ventilation, and cooling needed by residents, businesses, and organizations. Chillers are a subset of HVAC; more specifically, chillers are one of the technologies falling under the AC part of HVAC.

When you hear the term ‘AC, the first thing that might come to mind is window-type and split-type A/C units that are typically used to cool rooms. In a way, chillers are similar to these units since both solutions are designed to cool a particular area. However, there are some key differences in the purpose, size, and capacity of chiller units from their standard household counterparts.

Chillers are typically used for high-volume applications and industrial settings like hospitals, refineries, and power stations where a constant level of cooling is required over a large area. Considering their purpose, they’re much bigger in size compared to typical A/C units and can bring more than 1,000 tons of cooling power, depending on the configuration. Household A/C units are usually limited in their ability to cool below 16°C, but chillers are designed to cool an area to levels below 16°C when needed. Simply put, chillers are one of many HVAC technologies which are specially designed for high-volume applications and industrial settings.

What are the different types of chillers?

There are 2 main types of chillers you should know about: Air-cooled chillers and water-cooled chillers.

Both chillers share the same method and mechanics of cooling, which involves the use of vapor compression. The key difference is that the water-cooled chillers use a cooling tower to remove unwanted heat, while air-cooled chillers use fans for heat dissipation

Air-Cooled Chiller

Air-cooled chillers use air to remove the unwanted heat through the process of fanning the heat moving along the open tubes of the condenser.

Air-cooled chillers are the best option when the area to be cooled has limited space or doesn’t have access to continuous clean water. These chillers have lower cooling efficiency than their water-cooled counterparts, but they are quick and easy to install and cheaper than water-cooled units.

Water-Cooled Chiller

Water-Cooled chillers use water to remove unwanted heat through the process of forcing water through the condenser’s tubes and dissipating the heat through a cooling tower.

Because water-cooled chillers use a cooling tower, this type of chiller offers a higher efficiency rating compared to its air-cooled counterpart. However, these units require additional components like condenser water pumps and make-up water pumps on top of the existing cooling tower, which increases the overall cost of these chillers.

Which type of chiller is best?

The best type of chiller is one that gets you the cooling level you need without exceeding your ideal installation and operating costs.

Both air-cooled and water-cooled chillers are better suited to some situations than others, which is why they both exist and are both widely used today. Which solution is best for your situation will depend on a number of factors. For example, if you’re in an area with no continuous clean water supply or if the area’s water supply costs significantly more than electricity, an air-cooled chiller will likely be a better fit and help you better control costs.

While your decision-making process for the best chiller type for your unique situation may seem complex, knowing some key differentiating factors can help simplify your decision. To help, we’ve listed the pros and cons of each type of chiller below.

Air-Cooled Chiller


  • Great for small and medium-sized businesses with limited space
  • Lower installation and maintenance cost
  • Quick and easy to install
  • Good with outdoor installation and in areas where access to the water supply may be limited
  • Heat ejected from the unit can be repurposed to provide heating for the industrial area during cooler periods


  • Sensitive to the environment, making it more vulnerable to blockages and recirculation problems
  • Shorter unit lifespan than water-cooled chillers
  • Require more processing energy
  • The fanning process makes it noisier than water-cooled chillers

Water-Cooled Chiller


  • Works well for large spaces, even with extreme environmental temperature fluctuations
  • More efficient and uses less energy than air-cooled chillers
  • For long-term use or purchases, these units last longer than air-cooled chillers
  • Quieter cooling operation


  • More expensive to install and maintain due to the number of components required like pumps, towers, and tanks
  • Not suitable for areas with clean water sourcing problems
  • Required to undergo routine condenser water treatment to avoid the formation of sediments

How much do Chillers Cost?

Many reputable chiller manufacturers, including Trane, Carrier, and York Chillers, do not disclose chiller pricing on their websites. However, detailed research can reveal an approximate price range, depending on the type and size of your chiller unit.

Mark Stehney, a writer for CSE Magazine, developed and published a price comparison between air-cooled and water-cooled chillers. His research showed that a 200-ton air-cooled chiller costs approximately $250,000, while a 200-ton water-cooled chiller can run approximately $340,000. These cost approximations were based on previous-year pricing and accounted for a 3% annual inflation rate.

The $90,000 difference between air-cooled and water-cooled chillers can be attributed to the difference in unit structure and needed accessories. As previously mentioned, air-cooled chillers don’t require a cooling tower, condenser water pump, condenser pipe, or other controls and accessories.

However, this isn’t the only cost consideration when comparing chiller prices; the same report also showed that 200-ton air-cooled chillers cost about twice ($122,400) the yearly energy costs of 200-ton water-cooled chillers ($69,360). To calculate the true cost of ownership, you should evaluate a number of factors, including installation costs, how long you plan to own and operate your chiller, and any ancillary costs your company may incur.

Considering the significant amount of money and considerations involved, it’s best to test out your ideal solution first by renting a chiller. By using a chiller rentals, you can easily gauge which type of chiller is best for you at a fraction of the total cost. For short-term use, you may save tens of thousands of dollars vs. purchasing a unit directly. With a rental, you’ll incur less risk and have a maximum cooling capacity for your business!

Get Best Chiller Rental For Your Business

You don’t have to spend $250,000 or more just to get your own chiller. Instead, you can easily rent one with Chiller Rentals By CTCA and have it delivered and installed in 24 hours!

Trusted for 44 years, Chiller Rentals By CTCA offers nationwide portable chiller delivery, installation, and support 24/7, 365 days a year. Our chiller experts are always available to help you get the best chiller rental for your situation and your budget, saving you time and money.

Call us anytime at 1 (866) 880-9097 or contact us so our chiller experts can assist with your cooling problems today