The Avalon A8 is our top recommendation for a countertop hot and cold water dispenser. The hot water volume, heating time, and temperature make it well-suited for a home kitchen and the filter is easy to set up.
There are, however, a couple of things to consider. Also, being a countertop machine, it can’t be reached by younger children which can often be a plus. The lever design and dispensing height are not suited for dispensing water into tall tumblers or jugs.
For a small office, dispensing hot water into paper cups is not really suited to the design and traction of the levers. For the same reason, it’s not the best for a busy drink station.
For cold water at 54℉, you can dispense a 300 ml cup every 7 minutes. That’s fine for a small group of people, but under continuous use for over an hour, the rear grate gets very hot.
Things We Like
- Color design
- Hot water heating time
- Filter attachment design
- Side pocket handles
- Hot water safety mechanism
- Ozone self-cleaning
Things We Don’t Like
- Cold water performance
- Fixed nozzle design
- Narrow drip tray
The Avalon A8 is a small countertop bottleless water cooler dispenser with a filter system. This model has ozone self-cleaning while the cheaper Avalon B8 does not. The similar A12 series uses buttons, while the advanced A13CT-S has a touchless sensor for dispensing cold water.
Where to Buy Price at publication $250.56
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Compared to Other Water Cooler Dispensers
For its small size, the Avalon A8 countertop bottleless water cooler performed well for hot water heating time, temperature, and single draw capacity. This matched its overall build quality and attractive looks. For cold water, it was only able to produce 2.7 L/hr or one 300 ml cup every 7 minutes. For a small machine, this was not too bad, except that overall cooling times are very lengthy and the machine gets inordinately hot.
9.0 Hot Water Test
In our tests, the Avalon A8 proved to be one of the best Avalon water cooler dispensers for hot water performance. Its heating time was only minimally slower than the top-performing Avalon A1—as was the flow rate. The high temperature was well in line with other machines.
Heating Time One of The Fastest (8 / 35%)
The heating time is the time the machine takes to refill and reheat the tank after drawing off enough water until the heating light switches on. Avalon A8 takes on average 2 min 35 sec to heat 8.5 fl. oz. (250 ml) of water. Compared to even our top ranking freestanding machine, the Frigidaire EFWC519, this was one of the fastest heating times we recorded.
Serving Capacity a High Average
The back-to-back or single draw capacity of the Avalon A8 was around 22.76 fl.oz. or 673 ml. This means it can provide three 220 ml cups or two large mug cups in a row before refilling and reheating. We found it performed slightly better than its advertised capacity of 4 L/hr, and the flow rate was slightly higher too.
Temperature a Competitive Match (10 / 45%)
In our comprehensive testing of water cooler dispensers, the maximum temperature was by and large 198 ℉ (92.2 ℃). This is also the best safety standard for a water cooler dispenser. The Avalon A8 was a perfect match to the top average, with little deviation between hot water draws. If you prefer hot water at a lower temperature, the Avalon A1 may be a better choice.
Flow Rate Good For a Lever Design (8.5 / 20%)
Our tests have shown that button-operated machines generally have a better flow rate average than lever designs. For this Avalon countertop water dispenser with a paddle lever, the flow rate was good for the design—31 ml / sec. Compared to the similar lever machine we tested, the Avalon A1, the Avalon A8 flow rate was consistently one second slower.
5.0 Cold Water Test
The cold water test performance was the only real disappointment we had with the Avalon A8. Granted, it is a smaller machine, so we didn’t expect the same high-capacity performance as the freestanding Avalon A5 bottleless water cooler dispenser. The main issues were the lengthy cooling times and how hot the machine runs during high demand periods.
Working Hot With Slow Cooling Times
The first concern about the Avalon A8 is how hot the rear metal heat exchanger becomes. It also took the machine well over an hour to get down to its lowest temperature. Recalibration cycles to where the cooling light switches off were likewise comparatively lengthy.
Additionally, even when reaching a low temperature the working light remained on for an extended period. The machine rear remained quite hot until the light switched off. It appears that the machine may work to a fixed cooling period and not so much temperature fluctuations.
Capacity Acceptable Despite Poor Performance
After exhaustive testing, we found the Avalon A8 can produce around 91 fl. oz. ( 2.7 L) per hour at an average temperature of 50‒54 ℉ (10‒12℃). In practical terms, this means you can take a 10 fl. oz. (300 ml) glass of chilled water every seven minutes or enough water for nine people per hour. This was surprisingly low when compared to even another countertop machine , the budget Igloo dispenser.
The Avalon A8 countertop bottleless water cooler has excellent overall build quality from the well-ventilated metal sides, to the compact panel indicators, to nice pocket handles for easy lifting.
The color design of the levers is very attractive and, although they don’t detach for easier cleaning, the machine has an ozone function. The narrow drip tray could be faulted, but it manages a compact design even with the filters attached to the rear.
In the Box
- Metal adapter with valve
- Valve and tube assembly unit
- 2 Filter heads and flushing adapters
- 1 Carbon block filter
- 1 Sediment filter
- 2 Small PE tubings
- 2 Rear mounting brackets
- Roll of PE tubing
- User manual and bundled literature
Unlike the free-standing Avalon A5 which comes with a partially pre-assembled filter unit, this smaller countertop design requires you to do a full assembly. The instructions and parts are easy enough to understand, but no tools are included. The manual is well-produced and nicely illustrated coming in three languages, namely English, Spanish, and French.
9.0 Build Quality
We purchased the black model of the Avalon A8 and immediately liked its sophisticated and stylish look. The metal sheeting on the side is well-ventilated and the side pockets make it effortless to move around. Despite its size, this machine still weighs in at 18 kg.
The front panel, dispensing booth, and drip tray are all Bioguard™ bacteria-resistant plastic. The rear of the machine has a double-ply metal grate for heat exchange that acts as an attachment support for the filter heads.
9.5 Panel & Indicators
The display panel is very simple and ergonomic, using only three indicators—namely, the power indicator, the hot water, and then cold water indicator. These indicators all have dual functions, which are easy enough to understand.
When ozone is running, the power indicator will flash and you should refrain from using the machine for 90 minutes. Likewise, the hot and cold water indicators will flash when the filters aren’t working or need to be replaced.
Furthermore, if all three indicators flash there could be a leak. In this case, the machine will shut off any intake of water.
8.5 Water Inlet Controls
We originally thought the water filter would be a challenge to install. It was, however, very straightforward. We also liked how the filter brackets can clip at adjustable heights to the rear metal grid. With the filters attached, the depth of the machine is 18.5 inches.
The main water line goes directly into the sediment filter and then loops through the exit water line into the carbon filter. The carbon filter then runs a line into the machine and the cold water tank.
The setup of the cold water tank is almost identical to other Avalon machines. The water baffle is well-made and easy to remove and replace. For peace of mind, there is also a filter leak detection function.
This Avalon A8 has two large, paddle-type levers for dispensing water. They’re a solid plastic design and cannot be detached for cleaning. However, this machine does have an ozone sanitation function. We evaluate their use under ‘Ease of Use’.
7.8 Drip Tray
We found the drip tray of the Avalon A8 to be somewhat average. It’s small due to the compact nature of the design, but functional nonetheless. The black color makes it difficult to see the water, but it’s easy to lift up the cover.
To remove the tray, you press it slightly back and up and then just lift it out. It’s secure enough, but a child could easily yank it out. If you’re using this dispenser in a home kitchen, the lever design and dispensing height are not suited for filling up large tumblers or jugs.
The rear switches are the same as other Avalon machines. Facing the back of the machine, the hot water is on the far right, the cold water switch in the middle, and the night light on the far left.
However, to switch on the night light, it’s best to reach over the top of the machine and feel for the switch. In the same way, you can easily reach over the top right of the machine to operate the ozone function. The switches have lettering, but it’s somewhat difficult to read.
Door and Cabinet
Cord and Plug
The cord outlet is three inches above the ground and one inch above the drainage outlet. The water inlet is two inches above the cord. All considering the compact design, the setup is a little cramped. The length of the cord and plug type is fairly standard.
8.8 Ease of Use
The Avalon A8 countertop hot and cold water dispenser was easy to set up with minimal technical skill needed for the filter installation. Its neat side pocket handles make it easy to move around, and the switches are easy to reach.
On the downside, the drip tray is particularly narrow. This helps, however, to limit the footprint for the extra depth required for the attached filters at the rear. Also, considering the limited space available on such a compact machine, the tank drainage port is a little cumbersome to work with.
8.5 Dispensing Water
Avalon lever or paddle designs generally work much better than those of other manufacturers. The cold water lever has good tension so it’s steady to push back. It’s also easy to dispense cold water using just one hand.
The hot water, however, requires two hands to operate because of the safety mechanism. The lever requires slightly more pressure to dispense than for cold water. For a paper cup, it’s better to grip the cup firmly and use the back of your hand to press the lever. You cannot push the lever back safely with a paper cup—one reason why we don’t recommend this machine for a drink station.
The drip tray we found to be quite narrow, but good enough to do the job. For this lever design, it’s not feasible to place a cup on the tray anyway for dispensing.
9.0 Hot Water Safety
Although you need two hands to dispense hot water, the safety mechanism is easy enough to operate. In our testing, we have come across much more cumbersome safety features. We tried to dispense hot water by pressing a finger knuckle against the button before pushing back on the lever. However, the design and space didn’t easily accommodate this.
9.5 Bottle / Filter Changing
Avalon filters last for 6 months or the equivalent of 1,500 gallons (5,678 L) of water. Avalon filters are certified NASF 42, 53 which eliminate chlorine, lead, rust, and bacteria.
To change the filter, you untwist the old filter and screw in the new one. Then, you just need to run water through the spouts for two or so minutes to flush the new filters.
To flush the first set of filters, you need to run water through them for two minutes using the filter flushing adapter. You can do this into the sink or a bucket.
Once a new set of filters is installed, including the first set, you should press the filter reset button on the left side of the machine until the heating and cooling indicators stop blinking.
Detailed and clear instructions are provided in the manual. If you need help with complex setups, such as below-the-sink installations or connecting a refrigerator line, you can view the Youtube Avalon Support videos.
Considering its size and the material quality, the Avalon A8 is very easy to clean. The metal sides are not prone to fingerprinting, and the dispensing panel booth is coated in an anti-bacterial film.
Although the levers don’t detach for cleaning, you can regularly sanitize the water lines and spouts with ozone injection and clean inside the spout with a cotton swab.
Ozone for 100% Sanitation
To operate the ozone, you can reach over the top right of the machine to locate the ozone switch and hold it down for 5 seconds. The power indicator will blink, indicating the function is working. After ozone injection, you should not use the machine for 90 minutes.
Periodic Descaling Takes Some Effort
For large, freestanding machines you generally need a bucket to catch water from the rear tank drainage port. On these small machines, the drainage port is only 1.5 inches from the ground.
It was a tight fit to access the drainage port safety cap, but the machine is easy to maneuver. When draining water, you need to position the machine slightly over the kitchen sink or counter edge (with a bucket below).
As with other POU-type machines or bottom-loading water cooler dispensers, you periodically need to open up the top of the machine to clean the cold water tank. To do this, you need a flat screwdriver to pry loose the clips that keep the tank lid in place. We recommend you take a snapshot of the interior so you can reset everything as it should be.
Behind the review
Roger Shitaki is a writer, author, and editor. His niches are household appliances, health & wellness, and travel. He’s a freelance contributor to a Tokyo lifestyle website and a leading ophthalmology magazine in Asia.
Lap is Head of the Research, Testing, and Review Team (RTR Team) at HealthyKitchen101.com, where he directs and supervises the testing of kitchen gadgets and appliances.
Nguyen Ntk is a graphic designer, photographer, and videographer whose philosophy centers around respecting and celebrating the beauty of reality. Through his lenses, Nguyen strives to capture the true essence of objects and events, showcasing and highlighting authentic features without distortion or exaggeration.