Difference Between an AC and Chiller

Difference Between an AC and Chiller

What is the basic difference between an AC and Chiller ? A confusing question to many, all of them considers AC is a smaller unit and chiller is it?s bigger unit.Actually the working principle of both the products are entirely different ,so have some discussion on both AC and chillers in detail and how it differs each other in purpose.

Air Conditioners

As it sounds, an air conditioner regulates the temperature of a room. It can convert air to hot or cold, depending on its setting. It?s also designed to dehumidify an area. Set on cooling, a basic refrigeration principle is used: A condenser removes heat and is on the hot side of the air conditioner. Condensers transfer heat to the air or to a water or glycol fluid and remove it from the air that will be circulated.

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In most air conditioning systems geared for cooling, the principal refrigerant is chilled water. Air passes through a coil of chilled liquid and the heat is transferred from the air to the chilled water. The chilled water is cycled through so that chilled water is always present as air comes through. This type of environmental temperature maintenance is the most common in offices, homes, and retail outlets.


With chillers, heat is removed from a liquid via a vapor-compression or absorption refrigeration cycle. Cooled liquid passes through pipes in a building and coils in air handlers or through fan-coil units, which help dehumidify the air. Generally, chillers are air and water cooled. Air cooled chillers are located externally to a facility and have condenser coils cooled by fan-driven air.

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Water cooled chillers are usually located internally and water is recycled to a heat sink or external cooling method. The external cooling method can include a cooling tower or in some cases, a water fed cooling system, which is more efficient at heat rejection.Chillers are powered by different means as well.

There are four types: Reciprocating, centrifugal, screw-driven and absorption. The first three are powered by electrical motors, steam, or gas turbines. Absorption is powered by a heat source, such as steam or hot water. Generally, management of heating and air is done by a chiller.

Application of AC and Chillers

Air conditioners allow for a precise regulation of air temperature and humidity level in more confined spaces. Air conditioners are used in homes, small buildings and some offices and the units vary in size and practical application.

Chiller driven refrigerant has applications in cooling equipment and other manufacturing processes, such as MRI machines, assembly processes and tooling equipment. Air cooled chillers are used commercially and in industrial facilities to cool fluids and dehumidify air in larger venues, such as factory floors, arenas and larger facilities like hotels.


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Maintenance is very important for both Air conditioners and chillers. Comparatively AC are less costly when compared to chiller maintenance.But maintenance experts of chiller companies in Sharjah ,suggests that, chiller maintenance is done periodically by most of the companies as per the chiller installation packages for a particular period of time. Dedicated employees are deployed for maintaining chiller equipments that regulates the air circulation and temperature of an entire building or commercial space. Air conditions cause many global warming issues ,so new technologies has to be evoked in air cooling system which are Eco friendly and sustainable for a good place of living earth.


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