Written by Brian B

Cooling Tower Vs Chiller: What Are The Differences?

Both cooling towers and chillers are used for multiple cooling purposes, so what are the differences between the two systems? If you are searching for “cooling tower vs chiller” or “chiller vs cooling tower“, this article will compare and contrast these systems.

Cooling Tower And Chiller Differences

Within chillers, heat is removed directly from the coolant. The heat is then transferred to the surrounding air. This is an essential part of any cooling process. Cooling towers, meanwhile, remove heat from water that is discharged from a condenser. Any plant or factory that happens to choose a system that is not appropriate for the area will have trouble properly cooling their surroundings.

While chillers and cooling towers do produce similar results, the slight differences between the two systems are why they are used in different settings. Cooling towers are generally used in oil and gas refining plants, thermal power stations and power plants neighboring bodies of water. Chillers are found in plastic-industry applications, microbreweries and wineries.

Types Of Chiller

There are two main types of chillers used today.

  • Water-Cooled Chillers
  • Air-Cooled Chillers

Water-Cooled Chillers

Typically, this type of chiller is combined with a cooling tower for large-capacity applications. These applications include water-jet cutting and food processing plants. The combination of water-cooled chillers and cooling towers allows for maximum efficiency. Water-cooled chillers have been shown to produce an excess of heat at times, which is one of the only downfalls of this system.

Air-Cooled Chillers

These chillers absorb heat from water, then transfer this heat outside of the system. The heat flows back into the air surrounding the unit. As soon as the air is transferred outside, the temperature lowers drastically. Factories that do not produce a lot of heat will opt for these models frequently.

Cooling Tower Types

There are many more versions of cooling towers than chillers. Here is a list of the common models on the market:

  • Crossflow Cooling Towers
  • Forced Draft Cooling Towers
  • Induced Draft Cooling Towers
  • Factory Assembled Cooling Towers
  • Counterflow Cooling Towers

Crossflow Cooling Towers

A crossflow tower is designed to make the hot process water flow down the media fill due to gravity. This will occur while air blows horizontally, which cools the water down. The tower gets its name because of the airflow direction. Hot water basins are placed just above the fill, which allows the water to be evenly distributed.

Here is a look at how a crossflow tower operates:

Forced Draft Cooling Towers

Industrial plants will commonly choose these towers for their cooling needs. Forced draft towers are extremely powerful, yet cost-effective at the same time. In these towers, low-potential heat is removed during the production process. A counterflow of water and air results in a heat transfer. Chemical and paper industries frequently choose forced draft models.

Induced Draft Cooling Towers

A fan at the top of the tower pulls the air upward in induced draft models. This fan induces the hot and moist air out of the discharge. A powerful exiting air velocity is the end result here. Induced drafts will prevent any discharged air from flowing back into the intake point.

Factory Assembled Cooling Towers

HVAC and industrial applications that do not need a high cooling efficiency commonly use these units. Factory assembled towers can be custom made to fit your every need. Easy installation and transportation are two more benefits.

Counterflow Cooling Towers

In counterflow units, the hot process water flows downward all the way to drain onto the cold water basin. The air enters a lower section, though, which differs from crossflow versions. Air flows upward, passing through the water in the fill, with an end result of a cooling down phase. Airflow is free and not restricted in counterflow units.

Here is a look at how a counterflow tower operates:

Cooling Tower Costs

  • Cooling towers generally cost around $125,000 to fully replace. A replacement will typically cost between $50,000 and $200,000.
  • Commercial customers can expect to pay anywhere from $50,000 to $250,000 for a feeder water system
  • Typically, a blowdown system will cost around $300,000 total.
  • A side stream filtration unit can cost $50,000 for 100 GPM and a maximum of $300,000 for 1,000 GPM.

Cooling Tower Installation, Replacement, & Refurbishment in Arizona & Nevada

Our team offers complete cooling tower refurbishment that will save your company tens of thousands of dollars over buying and installing new cooling towers.  Cooling tower refurbishment and rebuilding adds about another 15 years of life to your equipment and helps you get your money’s worth out of your original investment in your cooling tower or property. We offer cooling tower installation, replacement, and refurbishment in Arizona and Nevada. We also sell other cooling tower parts and products.

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