Difference between air cooled and water cooled condenser

The main important factor to note in the comparison between the air-cooled condenser and the water-cooled condenser is the cost of purchase, maintenance, and installation. Here this article gives the main difference between air-cooled and water-cooled condenser to better understand this topic. 

What is Air-cooled condenser?

The air-cooled condensers use ambient air for cooling in the refrigerant cycle. These can often be seen outdoors, as they are commonly used in the exterior unit in the residential and rooftop cooling system.

What is Water cooled condenser?

Water cooling systems have been widely used for years, although they are also on the rise in small businesses and some residential applications. The system operates through a network of water coils used to transfer the heat from the condenser coil. These systems typically work in tandem with the cooling tower in order to circulate out the heat.

Difference between Air-cooled and water-cooled condenser:

  • In an Air-cooled condenser, the initial and maintenance cost is low due to simple construction. While in water-cooled condenser cost high since construction is complicated.
  • Air-cooled condenser used for low capacity, while in water-cooled condenser used for large capacity.
  • An air-cooled condenser no handling problem with air but in water-cooled condenser difficult to handle.
  • While the used air-cooled condenser fouling effect is low since no corrosion, while water-cooled condenser fouling effect is high due to corrosion inside tubes.
  • Air-cooled condenser low heat transfer capacity due to the low thermal conductivity of air, while in water-cooled condenser they have high heat transfer capacity due to the high thermal conductivity of water.
  • The hot air can easily dispose of in air-cooled condenser while in there is the problem of disposing of in water-cooled condenser used water unless the recirculation system is provided
  • Air cool condenser operates on higher condensing temperature so more power required, but in water-cooled operate on lower condensing temperature.
  • In Air-cooled condenser, the efficiency advantage lessens at part load condition, while in water-cooled condenser efficiency advantages much less due to additional cost of CT and pump. 
  • In Air-cooled condenser do not require a sophisticated piping arrangement for carrying air, While in water-cooled condenser piping arrangement is required for carrying water.
  • Air-cooled condensers required more power for the circulation of air and high power fans are noisy. But in water-cooled condensers require less power to the circulation on water.
  • Air-cooled condenser refrigerant condensing temperature is higher due to dependent on DBT, while in water-cooled condenser refrigerant condensing temperature is lower due to dependent on condenser water temperature which is dependent on WBT.
  • Air-cooled condenser life approx 15 to 20 years, while in water-cooled condenser longer equipment life 20 to 30 years.