How Do Water Chillers & Instant Hot Water Dispensers Work?

Posted by
John Woodard on December 29, 2023

Water chillers provide a glass of cold water at a moment’s notice, while instant hot water dispensers heat water for a warm cup of tea or soup right when you need it. Both devices are an excellent addition to a kitchen, break room, or other location where you serve beverages. In this article, you can learn the difference between a water chiller and a water cooler and find some of the best of each device.

What is a water chiller?

A water chiller is an electrical device that provides chilled water through a special tap on your kitchen counter. These devices are installed under the counter, so they do not use up space in your refrigerator with a jar like a water distiller. The major benefit of water chillers is that you do not need to wait for the water to cool. Rather, it is passively cooled until you want a glass of cold water.

How does a water chiller work?

A water chiller uses sealed refrigeration just like a water cooler. A water cooler has a reservoir that it chills water in. However, an under-counter chiller doesn't have a big reservoir, but it's able to chill water at eight ounces per hour. Because water chillers use sealed refrigerant, they must be installed in a location with proper ventilation. Some water chillers have an upper fan that heats the underside of your kitchen cabinet. This changes the temperature of the ambient water feeding the water chiller. If the install location does not have adequate ventilation, the water going into the chiller will heat up, heating the output water as a result.

Types of water chillers

The main differences between water chillers are their sizes and amount of water they can cool in a given period of time. Chillers are measured in how many gallons of water they can chill in an hour. For example, the Crystal Mountain ICS-P1GFG1C Iceberg Chiller can chill up to 3 gallons of water per hour. Water chillers also come in various dimensions. Ensure that the dimensions of your install location can adequately fit and ventilate your water chiller.

How to install a water chiller

To install a water chiller, put an adapter on your cold-water line that serves your regular faucet. This will feed your water chiller. The chiller has an IN and an OUT. The out delivers water to a special tap that you install on the kitchen countertop. Keep in mind that anytime the temperature of water changes, it expands or contracts. As a result, chillers require extra tubing and a little check valve to give the water a place to go while it is expanding or contracting. A bypass, or an expansion kit, should be installed with your chiller.

How to maintain a water chiller

Water chillers do not require extensive maintenance. City water does not contain any contaminants that can damage them. In fact, water chillers can last a decade or even longer, and most come with a warranty to protect you from a faulty unit. The only maintenance you may need to perform on a water chiller is replacing internal fittings. Over time, they may crack and fail, but these fittings can be purchased separately and be installed simply.

What is the best water chiller?

A water chiller should be simple to install, possess a long lifespan, and work efficiently. We recommend the Crystal Mountain Iceberg Chiller for your home or office water chilling needs. It comes with a 0.5 gallon tank, a 3 gallon per hour flow rate, and a compact, easy to install design. Its thermostat allows you to control the temperature of water between 39.2 and 50 degrees, giving you versatility for your refreshing beverages.

What is an instant hot water dispenser?

An instant hot water dispenser, also known as an instant hot, heats water for hot beverages and soups, providing consistent temperature whenever you want a hot beverage. The instant hot tank provides hot water on demand through a special tap at the top of the unit. The temperature on instant hots can be adjusted within a certain range, allowing you to adjust for the application you are using the water for.

How does an instant hot water dispenser work?

Instants hot water dispensers work just like an electric water heater. A tank inside the water heater contains a thermostatically controlled heating element, allowing you to control the temperature of the outcoming water with the thermostat. This feature provides versatility for all hot water applications, such as soups, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and others.

When you open the faucet to get hot water, cold water is diverted into the hot tank and pushes hot water from the tank out through the faucet. There may be a slight delay in dispensing water. An open-vent faucet never builds pressure in the hot tank under your sink. Too much pressure would result in failure.

How to install a hot water dispenser

A hot water dispenser connects to the cold-water supply that feeds your regular faucet. Use an adapter to run the water directly to the faucet. If you want to add a filter to the system, it should be placed between the cold-water supply and the faucet.

Water flows directly to the faucet because the hot water dispenser creates steam, which in turn, creates pressure. These units use an open-vent faucet. That means that the hot water line comes from this tank through the faucet. The tubing goes all the way to the end of the tap gooseneck. There's no valve on the gooseneck, which allows the pressure that builds inside the hot tank and vent through the faucet.

How much energy do instant hot taps use?

The heating element inside an instant hot water tap uses about 0.066 kWh in standby mode. The heating element in an instant hot is thermostatically controlled, so it is not constantly heating. Rather, it is maintaining a specific temperature, much like your home water heater. As a result, its passive energy use is less than that of the active heating of an electric kettle or stovetop.

Hot water dispensers vs kettles

If you use hot water for beverages infrequently, using a kettle is more energy efficient than using a hot water dispenser. However, a hot water dispenser is better for those who need hot water frequently. The energy efficiency of hot water heaters is due to how the heating element inside works. Rather than starting from cold and ramping all the way up to the desired temperature, hot water dispensers maintain a consistent temperature throughout the day. As a result, there are not fluctuations in energy consumption like there are with an electric kettle.

What is the best instant hot water dispenser?

The best hot water dispenser should be easy to install and operate. With an open-vent hot water dispenser, you don't need to warry about expanding pressure or complicated installation. We recommend the Quick & Hot from Mountain Plumbing because of its energy efficiency, ease of use, and simple installation.


If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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