Water-Cooled Commercial Ice Condensers: The Good and The Bad

Water-Cooled Condensers


Condensers are the refrigeration systems for ice makers and vital to the efficiency of your ice machine. There are 3 types of condensers that are used with commercial ice machines: water-cooled, air-cooled and remote-cooled. Many manufactures are phasing out water-cooled condensers, but they can offer some distinct advantages over air-cooled condensers in certain circumstances.

cool water

Water-cooled condensers use water to cool refrigerant vapor and turn it into liquid. There is one water line that flows into the ice compartment to produce ice and another water line that runs along the condenser to pull heat away from the system. A water-cooled compressor must have a continuous water supply to function properly. A once-through system does just what it sounds like – it pulls the cooling water through the system one time, then dumps it out. A closed-loop system, on the other hand, recycles the water, rather than draining it, which means it uses less energy and creates less water waste.

Advantages of a Water-Cooled Condenser

  • Quiet-no condenser fan is needed
  • Energy efficient – less electrical energy needed
  • Consistent and effective cooling
  • Keeps heat out of building
  • Performs well in high temperature or tight confined spaces
  • Low maintenance

Disadvantages of a Water-Cooled Condenser

  • Inefficient
  • High water consumption–for a one-through system, water is used once to cool the machine, then drained
  • High water/wastewater bill
  • Banned in some cities that have water shortages
  • Narrow market where cost of water is cheaper than electrical
  • Expensive

Even though the advantages of a water-cooled condenser may seem attractive, in most cases, they do not outweigh the expense of the unit and the cost of water. Similarly, a closed-loop condenser is an incredibly complicated machine that comes with an expensive price tag. Closed-loop condensers only make sense when used for large scale operations. Do your research. Find out which condenser is right for your ice production needs and your budget.


For more information on condensers, read The Good and Bad of Remote-Cooled Condensers and Why Choose an Air-Cooled Compressor?

For buying tips: Commercial Ice Machines: A Buyer’s Guide.

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