When searching for a water cooler, you may notice that there are several different types on the market today. And of course, each water cooler operates differently. So understandably, you may have a few questions as you try to determine the best water cooler for your commercial or residential needs. For instance, how does each cooler work? Do the water coolers come with water, or do you need to supply water separately? Which is the best water cooler for me?
These are all great questions. We’re here to help you understand the ins-and-outs of water coolers, including the different types, how they work, and the water sources they use. By the end of reading this article, you’ll better understand which water cooler is ideal for you!
Related: Water Dispensers: Types and Top Vendors
Water Cooler Types and Water Sources
Let’s start by walking through the different types of water coolers and how they provide filtered water.
Top-Loading or Bottom-Loading Coolers
Water Source: Plastic Gallon Bottles (Contain filtered water)
Some water coolers use plastic gallon bottles filled with filtered water, that are loaded directly into the machine. Think of these gallons as larger water bottles that attach to the machine. Then, you can dispense the filtered water through the spout for each use. Pretty simple!
Top-loading water coolers require users to load the gallon onto the top of the machine. Bottom-loading coolers will have a small cabinet underneath the water dispenser where you attach the gallon. Both are fairly simple to use. However, gallon bottles are bulky and heavy to lift. They also require frequent bottle deliveries, which can be pricey and inconvenient for some.
Point of Use coolers
Water Source: Your building’s water line
There are also point of use water coolers. These coolers are often either freestanding units or countertop units. They work by connecting directly to your building’s water line. Then, a filtration unit purifies the water before dispensing it into a cup. Point of use coolers actually look a lot like top- and bottom-loading coolers, except without the gallon bottles.
Point of use coolers can be great choices for those who already have a water line in the building. They tend to be more cost-effective and hassle-free, as they do not require deliveries or heavy-lifting of bottles. Your water supplier will install the cooler for you and connect it to your building’s water line. Then, they’ll come back periodically for routine maintenance. Plus, the water supply is the same if not better than bottled water!
Water source: Your building’s water line
You have probably seen a wall-mounted water cooler at your local fitness center, airport, school, healthcare center, or similar place. They can often be found next to a water fountain. Wall-mounted coolers are popular today since they save space and allow for easy water refills in eco-friendly containers.
Like point of use coolers, wall-mounted coolers connect directly to your water line, but they are also hooked up to your electricity. By doing this, they can both purify and cool tap water before dispensing it into your cup or water bottle. Then, they dispose of unused water using a connection to the building’s waste disposal system.
Wall-mounted water coolers are some of the most convenient options. However, keep in mind that they often require more in-depth installation and more frequent maintenance, which can get pricey.
Ongoing Water Services
Next, you probably want to better understand where to get your gallon bottles or how to get your water cooler installed. Most businesses accomplish this by choosing a reliable water service supplier. When signing up with a water service supplier, they will help walk you through your different water cooler options. Then, once you choose, they will usually come to your location to install the unit for you.
|Top-Loading||Bottom-Loading||Point of Use||Wall-mounted|
|Gallon bottles delivered on regular basis||Gallon bottles delivered on regular basis||One-time installation of water line connection and filtration unit, then regular maintenance by supplier||One-time installation of water line connection and filtration unit, then regular maintenance by supplier|
If you choose a top-loading or bottom-loading water cooler, your machine will be delivered and installed. Then, you’ll have bottles delivered at the frequency of your choosing. Keep in mind that you will need to load the bottles yourself when each is empty. For reference, 5-Gallon bottles weigh just over 40 lbs. You will also have to set aside a monthly budget to order more gallon water bottles. For reference, one 5-gallon bottle costs $6.99 on average, depending on the supplier.
If you prefer a point of use or wall-mounted unit, you’ll simply need a one-time installation. The supplier will come to your location to connect the unit to your water line and/or electricity. Then, you can enjoy unlimited water without deliveries or bottle-loading. Keep in mind that the supplier will recommend a schedule for cleaning and maintenance visits.
Related: Point of Use Water Service: How Does it Work?
Which Water Cooler is Best for Me?
Many choose their type of water cooler based on personal preference. But there is also the matter of practicality. For instance…
- Are you able to load heavy bottles into your water cooler regularly?
- Will you have the time to manage water bottle deliveries (say, once per month)?
- Do you have a place to store gallon bottles?
- Do you have a limited amount of people using water daily?
If you answered YES to all these questions, you may consider a top-loading or bottom-loading cooler. On the other hand, if you answered NO to any of the above questions, we recommend asking the following.
- Do you have a functioning water line?
- Would you prefer to avoid frequent deliveries?
- Do you want to avoid lifting heavy bottles?
- Could you benefit from an unlimited water supply?
- Are you looking to save space by doing away with bottle storage?
If you answered YES to these questions, a point of use water cooler or wall-mounted unit is your best choice. Note: wall-mounted units are best for businesses that have access to frequent maintenance and services.
Related: Bottled Water vs. Water Coolers: Pros and Cons
If you are looking for water coolers or water services, we can help! Our free online tool helps you find the best water service for your particular circumstances and needs. Tell us a few things about your business and we’ll match you with our water suppliers that best fit.
Best of luck on your water cooler search!