How Do Air-Cooled Chillers Work?

What is an Air-Cooled Chiller?

Air-cooled chillers are refrigeration devices of a sort. They utilize a process of evaporation and condensation within a closed system to chill the surrounding air. Typically, such devices are used for large industrial purposes, as they are more energy efficient than traditional freon-powered refrigerators. It is a common misconception that air-cooled chillers do not use water. This is incorrect. What the name actually means is that no water is used to absorb waste heat from the chiller's closed system.


An air-cooled chiller is a closed system. It starts with a device called an evaporator. It has a shell of tubes surrounding a central chamber. The tubes surround whatever item or material is meant to be cooled by the chiller. The central chamber of the evaporator then connects with a compressor. The compressor connects with a condenser, which then connects back to the evaporator.

How Do Air-Cooled Chillers Work?

The process starts with the evaporator, which contains a liquid refrigerant. The refrigerant radiates out cold to the surrounding tubes that are filled with water. The water is chilled and pumped through a circuit, absorbing heat from whatever items the chiller is meant to cool. When the water has finally reached a high enough temperature, it radiates the heat back at the refrigerant in the evaporator, causing it to turn into vapor. The vapor passes through a pipe into the compressor, which, predictably, compresses the vapor into a smaller space, putting it under high pressure and heat. This superheated vaporized refrigerant is then pumped through a condenser. The condenser is a series of air-cooled vanes, similar to those found in a car's radiator. The vapor gives off its heat into the surrounding air and then condenses back into a liquid. The liquid flows back into the evaporator to repeat the chilling process.