Most water cooler dispensers have a two-tank reservoir system for heating and cooling water. Tanks are usually fed by a 3‒ or 5‒gallon jug or via an in-line filter connected to your building’s water source. At the back of the machine you will find switches for both the hot and cold tanks so you can run them independently.
While there are various things to keep in mind when buying a water cooler dispenser, here are four types you can choose from:
- Top-loading dispenser
- Bottom-loading dispenser
- Bottleless dispenser
- Countertop dispenser
Countertop dispensers are small enough to fit on a tabletop, while other dispensers are typically free-standing but also need to be close to an electrical outlet. Water cooler dispensers with an ice maker can be freestanding or countertop. You can get wall mounted water cooler dispensers, but they are found more in institutional buildings.
Top-loading dispensers are the cheapest because they simply rely on the force of gravity to fill the tanks. Some have their own cabinet storage compartment. Top loaders tend not to have ozone or UV sanitation features, but this is not always the case. Also, paddle levers and faucets show up more often than buttons.
Best For: Top loaders are office favorites for their high visibility and easy maintenance. They also suit limited budgets, but require a little heavy lifting.
Bottom-loading dispensers are convenient because less heavy lifting is required. You simply shift the water bottle into the bottom compartment. They have a pumping mechanism so they cost more than top-loading dispensers. However, they often have ozone-injection or UV-light cleaning features. Most use push buttons or flat-panel buttons for dispensing.
Best For: A home or office that needs advanced sanitary features or to avoid heavy lifting. Daily sanitation is easier, but periodic descaling requires more effort.
Point-of-use (POU), or bottleless water dispensers require a direct connection to a nearby water source. They cost more but typically have sanitization features like UV light or ozone injection. You can usually connect the in-line filter to additional appliances like a refrigerator, coffee machine, or ice-maker. The filters generally need changing every six months, but the cost per gallon can be cheaper than bottled water.
Best For: An ergonomic and cost-effective water solution for the long term. They also suit apartments with no elevators and locations without a trustworthy or affordable water supplier.
Countertop models are simply miniature versions of either top-loading or bottleless water cooler dispensers and have similar pros and cons. For top loaders, you need to consider the height of any overhanging cabinets or shelves. These devices can usually take 5-gallon as well as 3-gallon bottles.
Best For: Small office kitchens, home kitchens, city apartments, or drink stations. They also make good personal water cooler dispensers for dorm rooms or studio apartments.
About your Tip
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.