Chiller vs Air Conditioner: The Differences You Should Know

chiller air conditioner system

As the temperature starts to rise, you’re probably already thinking about how to beat the heat? Well, you can’t control the weather outside, but you can make it a little cooler inside your home. All you need is some kind of a cooling system.

Now the real question is, between a chiller and air conditioner, which one is the best for you? That’s what we’re here to figure out.


A chiller system usually works along an absorption refrigeration cycle to remove heat from an area. They take hot water, cool it down in its liquid form, and this ‘chilled’ water circulates the building.

This water also goes through fan-coil units, which allow the liquid to pass through them and, subsequently, help dehumidify a room as well.

What’s more, there are different types of chillers, such as air-cooled and water-cooled chillers. The main difference between the two is how they cool the condenser coils to get rid of the heat.

One uses the air, and one uses water. Typically, air-cooled chillers are placed outside a building, while you would keep a water-cooled chiller inside.

Air Conditioners

The primary purpose of an air conditioner system is to manage the temperature of a room. This can usually go both ways, as many air conditioners can cool down as well as heat up a room.

To cool a room, air conditioners take the hot air, cool it down by removing the heat, and throw out cold air.

Similar to a chiller, an AC also has some kind of condenser to take away the heat. Moreover, it can also work as a dehumidifier in a room.

Read also: Top Rated Dehumidifiers for Basements

How Do I Choose Between Chiller and Air Conditioner?

Essentially, both machines have the same purpose, to cool down the air. However, precisely how they do this, is different for both, and ultimately, this affects how they are used.

Normally, you’ll find air conditioners in houses, buildings, and other small spaces to bring down the air temperature. In comparison, chillers are usually used in processes to cool down different machines and equipment.

Most air conditioners can only go till 60 °F (16°C), while chillers can cool water to even 35 °F (2 °C).

Therefore, if you’re looking to cool down your bedroom or office, an air conditioner will be better. If you’ve got a more commercial use or you need really low temperatures, a chiller is the best option. You’ll have to choose between the two based upon your own need and usage.


You can eat ice creams and drink iced water only for so long. At some point, you’ve simply got to do something about that sweltering heat.

Alternatively, even if it’s not the weather and you just need something stronger to cool down those cookies, a chiller and AC are excellent options.

They are not drastically different, and you might even be able to use them interchangeably. However, understanding how they work will help you determine what they are best suited for. More importantly, you’ll be able to decide which will serve you best.