How Does a Water Cooler Work? – Explained by Industry Experts
A water cooler does the “unexplained” job of cooling water. In most cases, you find the water cooler attached to a dispenser. Like me, several readers are curious as to how water gets cooled over time in a water cooler or refrigerator. According to the elementary laws of thermodynamics, heat can only be transferred from a higher temperature to a lower temperature.
There are two types of water coolers; based on the source where it dispenses water. The first is the bottled water cooler common in offices while the second connects the water cooler to a direct source of water (reservoir, tank, etc.).
The water cooler directly connected to the water supply source has a filtration chamber to ensure healthy water is dispensed. It also employs a reverse osmosis process to remove ions, unwanted molecules, bigger particles, and more from the water source. An exciting development is that some high-end models of water coolers provide both hot and cold water. In the successive lines of this article, you would find out how the water cooler works.
The Water Cooling Principle
Elementary physics states that heat must be lost from a higher temperature to a colder temperature. This happens during cooling; the body with a higher temperature is usually the liquid you put in the water cooler. There are two ways the water cooling principle can work, depending on the make-up of the water cooler. These are:
1) By a refrigerant
2) By thermoelectricity
Within the water cooler is a constant reservoir of water constantly been refilled; this reserve is cooled by a refrigerant using a compressor. The compressor alongside the refrigerant sweeps through the water cooler absorbing heat to chill the reservoir. As the water with a higher temperature loses heat, it becomes colder. The amazing chemical nature of the refrigerant makes cooling below room temperature possible. A refrigerant boils faster (sometimes below 0 degrees), and condenses quickly at lower temperatures. A cooler working by thermoelectricity relies on the Peltier effect. Peltier effect creates a thermoelectric cooling by passing heat through two conductive metals connected by a semiconductor. The vapour compression system through a refrigerant is widely used, but the thermoelectric cooling has some advantages above the former. Advantages of thermoelectric cooling include the absence of a circulating medium, less vulnerability to leakages, portable, and long-lasting.
The Mechanism of Water-Cooling
The water from the cooler constantly replenishes the cooler reservoir. Coils surround the cooler, with refrigerants flowing within the coils, reservoir, and water cooler. Four compartments ensure the success of this cooling process, namely:
- The Compressor
- The Condenser
- The Expansion valves
- The Evaporator
The compressor is saddled with the task of passing the refrigerant to the condenser at a high temperature and pressure. It does this by using the piston to compress the refrigerant; these reduce the volume of the gas, which inversely means a higher pressure (according to Boyle’s law). A reduced volume translates to more collision within a small space, which increases the average temperature of the gas molecules. It is afterwards passed to the condenser.
The condenser cools the temperature of the refrigerant. It passes it through coils, and tubes built to ensure it is cooled overtime as it circulates the condenser. The fan attached to the back of the fridge also ensures cooling in the condenser is optimally accomplished. Haven lost heat through the condenser, a liquid refrigerant of moderate temperature and pressure is obtained. After this process, the refrigerant is passed through expansion valves.
The Expansion valve reduces the temperature and pressure of the refrigerant further. It works by taking-in the compressed liquid refrigerant into a wider space (expansion valve). This results in a wider volume counterbalanced by reduced pressure and invariably a lower temperature. After the success of this process, the cold refrigerant is passed to the evaporator.
At the evaporator hot air from the region to be cooled is sucked in through a fan. The cold refrigerant comes in through the pipes in the evaporator, cooling them while gaining heat to itself. The refrigerant has a maximum temperature that results in boiling. If it absorbs heat up to this temperature, it turns to vapour, and then it is channelled by pipes into the compressor where the cycles repeat itself continuously.
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Taking the most popularly used water cooler (bottled water dispenser) for example, let us create an imaginative explanation of how the cooling works. By placing the bottled water on the top of the water cooler, you have punctured an opening through the spike. This opening let’s water flow into the water cooling, a valve regulates the amount of water that gains access to the water cooler. Out of the water that gains access to the water cooler, the reservoir is fed with water. You should clean your water cooler once in two to five months for enhanced performance.
The water is cooled in the reservoir through a refrigerant circulating through pipes around the reservoir. A gaseous refrigerant is obtained by the action of the compressor in the pipes; it is afterwards passed into a valve for further cooling. This repeatedly happens to cause a resultant cooling of the reservoir; since the pipes are around the reservoir, they cause a heat transfer when they are passed cold through pipes. Cool water is settled in the reservoir as long as this cycle continues. If the water in the reservoir is exhausted, it would take some time before cold water can be obtained again.
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