How to select the right industrial chiller

Industrial chillers are critical in manufacturing plants where equipment must be maintained at a cooler temperature. Often, this is due to the operational efficiencies required. Other times, components generate heat, and if overheating, can become damaged. Breakdowns are extremely costly for businesses relying on predictable operations as a proven path to profitability.

New improvements in chiller systems allow for reduced dependence on the municipal water supply. Also, cleaner cooling systems don’t depend on complicated processes. Due to this, they do not produce excess heat or unwanted waste. But of course, this is only true with the right chiller.

The Importance of Choosing the Right Chiller

Reducing, or possibly even eliminating downtime is the goal of many plant managers. Picking the wrong chiller is a costly mistake, potentially leading to knock-on issues like inadequate cooling performance, or short cycling issues due to an oversized chiller.

Air cooled chillers remove the water dependence associated with water cooled chillers. Not needing access to local water supplies, or a separate external tower, helps to ensure lower operating costs. Wastewater is no longer an issue when using air cooled chillers, which eliminates major environmental concerns.

Water cooled chillers are another option. These offer persuasive efficiencies while requiring a regular water supply to function. A water pump and a tank are usually needed for these systems. However, they tend to have a longer lifespan compared to their air cooled cousins.

In either case, when correctly sized and specified, chiller technology more than pays for itself in just a few years compared to not using one at all.

Specifying a Chiller Installation

Chiller performance is paramount for plant managers open to new approaches to heat transfer and heat management.

With any industrial chiller system, achieving the necessary heat load removal is key. Efficient heat load removal, by using appropriate cooling fluids, ensures the potential downtime due to excess warmth is minimised. With any chiller installation, it’s essential to begin with the right specifications for it’s intended use.

These specifications consider factors such as the process fluid mixture, the cooled temperatures required, pressure levels, desired flow rates, and more.

Other aspects that influence chiller selection, setup, and installation include where the installation is operating, space constraints, ambient temperature, and whether elevation will affect the operational efficiency of the industrial chiller units.  

Below, we look at the important factors in chiller selection and installation:

Process Fluid Performance

Cooling fluids must be compatible with the industrial chiller. The process of cooling fluid is typically a blend of propylene glycol or ethylene, combined with up to 50 per cent water. This manages setpoint temperatures at the end of the range. Operators often add a corrosion inhibitor to prevent seal degradation, too.

Seal failure has several potential causes, including early corrosion due to improper cooling fluid mixtures, having an inferior corrosion inhibitor added, an inhibitor omitted entirely, or the wrong size of chiller installed.

With the latest Atlas Copco industrial chillers, their centrifugal pumps are made from stainless steel to avoid rust particles, corrosion, and potential breakdowns. A low refrigerant charge is required, too, because of the use of aluminium condensers in their chillers.

Cooling Fluid Temperature

Setpoint temperatures alter cooling capacity with industrial chillers. As the setpoint is lowered, capacity drops. This changes which chiller is selected based on it’s intended purpose. To help with this, examining the published performance data of individual chillers is necessary.

A chiller must tolerate the lowest ambient temperatures through the season to operate as expected. Freeze protection relates to exposure to, and tolerance to, freezing temperatures, especially with outside installations, or otherwise exposed ones.

Process Flow and Pressure Requirements

Pump life is connected to correct chiller sizing, flow rate, and pump pressure levels. For example, inferior fluid flow rates will probably yield inadequate heat transfer. Due to this, heat removal is unsatisfactory. This can lead to exceeding the expected setpoint level, and higher temperatures for components and exposed surfaces, up to and potentially exceeding acceptable levels.

The entire cooling loop requires sufficient pressure to ensure adequate flow rates. With undersized pumps and pressure relief issues, the pump struggles to move the liquid through the loop. It may forcibly limit movement when the pump is improperly sized for it’s role. This results in potential damage and a shortening of the pump’s life.

Proper calculations must be made, including all equipment, impellers, and seals. Failure to do so creates the potential for increasing pressure requirements, and the additional issues connected to it.

Chiller Operating Environment and Spatial Constraints

Heat dissipation by air-cooled chillers is needed to avoid overheating. The chiller operating environment is a significant factor here, and a rising ambient air temperature reduces potential heat transfer. 

For chillers with a condenser relying on liquid cooling systems, the pump, compressor, and other parts may overheat should the chiller equipment get too hot. Higher ambient temperatures directly contribute to this and reduce the lifespan of affected components. Around 40-degrees centigrade is the typical maximum ambient temperature limit for many chillers, but each model varies.

Adequate air circulation space surrounding the chiller matters too. Proper airflow is needed for optimal performance, with insufficient airflow eventually damaging the chiller.

Chiller Size

A correctly sized chiller is vital. Undersized chillers struggle to provide the cooling needed. Oversized chillers run into problems like short cycling, where the system runs through the cycle too frequently, wearing the chiller out sooner.

It’s smart to work with an industrial chiller provider to get some help on the proper chiller size for your business’s needs. While there are some specific calculations, including flow rates, heat capacity, temperature variances, water density vs. volume, and other data points, and that’s only the beginning.

It’s also necessary to consider changing requirements based on potential future expansion, seasonally elevated temperatures, and whether the chiller will be situated at a higher altitude.

Maintenance, Safety, and Control

The latest industrial chillers are easier to use, safer, and smart too.

The ones from Atlas Copco are rated IP54, offer canopies for indoor/outdoor use, and allow easy access. Spot inspections (UK FGAS engineer inspections, for example) and maintenance requirements are satisfied easily.

Safety tools include probes, switches, and regulators to ensure heat levels, pressure settings, and other potential concerns are monitored. Also, the refrigerant is hermetically sealed, so no gas leaks or significant issues arise. However, access to the main refrigeration system and circulation system is easily obtained via the front and rear of the chiller unit, respectively.

Atlas Copco industrial chillers also come with a touch-screen controller. Enabling one of the energy settings, which relies on sophisticated algorithms, allows the operator to reduce costs, and it’s possible to use remote monitoring too.

How to select the right industrial chiller
AC Chiller


The question of how to select the right industrial chiller is worth considerable review. It’s all too easy to make a misstep when determining the size of the chiller you require. Remove the confusion over what is an optimal industrial cooling system for you, by talking with our team at Anglian Compressors. We can address your specific requirements through a detailed consultation.

Contact us below.