How Does a Water Cooler Dispenser Work

We all love the refreshing and cool water we get from our water cooler dispensers, whether at home, school or office. But for most of us, the biggest question is how all this happens with just a touch of a button.

Are you curious as well? Stick here with us, and by the time you’re through with the article, you’ll have unraveled the mystery.

But before we get to the details of how a water cooler dispenser works, we need to know what a water cooler dispenser is.

So, what is a water cooler dispenser?

what is a water cooler dispenser

A water cooler dispenser is simply a water dispenser that dispenses cool water for homes, offices, hospitals, and schools. It’s an excellent alternative to water bottles in your home.

And while most water cooler dispensers provide chilled water, some high-end models provide both hot and cold water. Aside from those that provide hot water, there are 2 main types of water dispensers; bottled water dispensers and bottleless water dispensers.

Bottled water dispensers: These are freestanding units with a large plastic bottle that can be either top-loaded or bottom-loaded to deliver water.

Bottleless water dispenser: these units hook up to the main water supply (reservoir, tank, etc.) and fully utilize filtration services to provide clean and tasty water.

The Water Cooling Principle

For cooling to take place, heat must be lost from a high temperature to a colder temperature. This principle can work in 2 ways, depending on the nature of the water cooler;

The 2 ways are

  • By a refrigerant
  • By thermoelectricity

Within a water cooler is a water reservoir that gets refilled constantly. The water in the reservoir is cooled by a refrigerant using a compressor.

This refrigerant circulates through the water cooler and absorbs heat to chill the reservoir. As the water with the high temperature loses heat, it becomes colder.

The chemical nature of the refrigerant makes cooling easy.

Cooling by thermoelectricity depends on the Peltier effect that creates thermoelectric cooling. This is done by passing heat through 2 conductive materials such as ceramic or metal wafer.

As the heat passes from one end to the other, it absorbs into the conductive material, an effect that results in the cooling of the water in the reservoir.

Although cooling via a refrigerant is the most common method, thermoelectric cooling has more advantages than the former. These advantages include less vulnerability to leakages, portability, and long life.

How Does a Water Cooler Dispenser Work?

Most water dispensers use the same concept to dispense water. They extract water from an attached source, push the water through various piping systems, and then deliver it to you through the faucet.

Without the dispenser, you might have to fetch water, purify and then store it for use. A tiring and time-consuming experience, right?

Bottled Water Dispenser/Water cooler Dispenser

The most popular water cooler dispenser is the bottled water cooler dispenser. In this section, we unravel how it works.

This dispenser gets its water from an inverted water bottle (usually 5 gallons) placed on top of the cooler. It is the best option for individuals without the option of connecting into the main water line or those that don’t wish to drink tap water.

This bottled water is usually filtered and high-quality.

After placing the water bottle on top, the water bottle seal is severed by the spike allowing water to flow into the water cooler.

In the cooler, there’s a valve that prevents the incoming water from flooding. The water is then fed into the reservoir and cooled with a refrigerant (cooling medium).

The refrigerant changes from liquid to gas when moving in the pipes towards the reservoir. The cool gas in the pipes is then forced through a valve, a process that makes it colder.

When in gas form and circulating in the pipes, the refrigerant absorbs the heat from the mineral water in the tank, leaving cool and refreshing water.

As you dispense water, the process begins again. Should the water in the reservoir run out, it’ll take a few minutes before the cooler chills the water to a lower temperature.

One thing to note about water cooler dispensers is that they require regular maintenance. You also need to remember that a water cooler dispenser only delivers water from the water bottle source. Therefore, if there’s no water in the bottle, then there’s no water in the dispenser.

Water Dispenser Parts and Functions

  • A bottled water dispenser has the following parts:
  • A tank (reservoir) that stores the water to be cooled or heated before dispensing.
  • A refrigerating system to cool the water
  • A water heater to heat the water
  • A button/knob for you to dispense water
  • A tap or spigot to release water
  • A support collar which holds the water bottle in position and allows water to get into the tank
  • You’ll also require electricity if the dispenser can cool and heat water.

For convenience or luxury, some water dispenser models come with additional parts, including:

  • Cup dispensers attached to the housing to give you easy access to disposable cups.
  • Some have mini-refrigerators under the water tap to hold bottled or canned drinks and food items.


After going through this guide, we believe that you now understand how water from the bottle placed on top of your water cooler dispenser ends up in your glass. All you need to do now is ensure that you keep the water bottle with water at all times for a regular supply. Also, keep the dispenser clean at all times.

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