Air – or Water-cooled Chiller Choices

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Understanding the factors that drive chiller choice

Deciding which chiller is best suited for a building is an essential step in any project. For mission-critical cooling, however, it’s a key factor to success.

Data centers, hospitals and manufacturing facilities typically have 24/7 operation cycles – and that means the factors that determine which chiller to use are essential. As Johnson Controls VSD experts write in ASHRAE Journal, considerations like power cost, water cost, weather and load profile all play a big factor in determining which chiller to use. After these are considered, the authors go on to share deciding factors:

“…we posited initial capital costs, annual operating costs, and a combination of both, along with the total cost of ownership (TCO), all of which are typical deciding factors in equipment selection. Sensitivity to these factors influences different decisions based on capital or financing available to the building owner. Of course, many technical, commercial, compliance and site-specific factors can also influence the choice by eliminating either option as a non-starter.”

The article goes on to discuss these factors, as well as key findings between sample chiller locations across the world.


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