Chilled-Water Cooling Basics

While most people have heard of air conditioning, few have heard of water-chilled cooling. This makes it sound scary and new. But in reality, water-chilled cooling and heating have been around since the 70s and can regularly be found in hotels, hospitals and universities, as well as high-heat environments like server farms.

October 7, 2014

While most people have heard of air conditioning, not everyone has heard of chilled water systems. This makes it sound scary and new. But in reality, water-chilled cooling and heating have been around since the 70s and can regularly be found in hotels, hospitals and universities, as well as high-heat environments like server farms and indoor agriculture.

While typically only found in commercial environments in the US, worldwide, water chilled technology is increasingly being used in residential buildings as well. Additionally, in some areas, chiller systems are actually mandated and required by local building codes for buildings over a certain square footage due to their superior energy efficiency.

If all that hasn’t convinced you yet that water-chilled climate control is a real and valuable way to cool your garden, maybe a short explanation of how the system works will ease your mind.

How Water-Chillers Work

Water-chilled climate control uses water, instead of air, to cool a space. A reservoir holds a water and glycol mixture that is circulated throughout the building through pipes. Inside each room, there are air handlers, which work in the same way as traditional air conditioning. The cold water is run over cooling coils inside the air handler and a fan blows the air from the room over the coils.

How Does the Water Get Cooled?

Warm water returns from the air handlers back to the initial reservoir of water. Once the overall temperature of the water in the reservoir goes above a certain point, the chillers, located outside the building, turn on. The reservoir water is then run through the chiller, where it is cooled down to the appropriate temperature.

What is Hydronic Cooling?

A bonus of using water-chilled systems is that the chiller only turns on when the water in the reservoir gets above a certain temperature, chillers are not directly connected to air handlers. This means that as long as that water is within a certain range, the chiller is not running but the air handlers are still able to cool the rooms.

This provides significant energy savings. Additionally, because water has 20 times the heat absorption rate of air, it takes much longer for the water mixture to reach a temperature that causes the chiller to turn on that it does for air.

Think of it this way, if you are standing outside on a cold day, say 35 degrees out, you will be cold and uncomfortable, but not deathly so, However, if you were to jump into a pool of 35 degree water, you could start to experience hypothermia in as little as 30 minutes.

As a bonus, if a chiller needs to be repaired, it is possible to take one chiller out of circulation and still maintain the temperature of your water reservoir, and thus the temperature inside your rooms. This is not possible with traditional air conditioning where each air handler is tied to an individual condenser.

It is also important to note that in water-chilled cooling systems, there is no evaporation of water. The system is closed-loop, running water through pipes and back to the reservoir, so no water will be added to your environment. As a bonus, any water that is collected from the condenser can be collected and used to water the plants in your garden, providing water savings as well as energy savings.

Overall, water-chilled cooling systems are a great way to control the climate of any building. If you still aren’t sure if water-cooled climate control is for you, please contact us to get answers to any questions you may have.

Contact Us

Ready to get started or learn more about how we can help your facility succeed? Fill out the form and a company representative will be in touch.

Area of Support*


Featured Articles

Interview with Brandy Keen: Emerging from the Indoor Growing Dark Ages

In this episode of the Cannabis Equipment News Podcast, Brandy Keen, co-founder and senior technical advisor of Surna Cultivation Technologies, discusses her nearly 17 years of industry experience helping some 800 cultivators.

Dodging Downtime [Case Study]

TruGro turned to Surna to provide a grow room HVAC solution that was efficient and would keep them running reliably for years to come.

4 Ways to Maximize Grow Room Square Footage

Staying competitive means maximizing your available grow room space. Cannabis cultivators and indoor food producers who can increase yields without sacrificing product quality or adding square footage are on the path to increased ROI. Here are 4 ways you can maximize your commercial grow space.

10 Questions to Consider When Vetting Design Firms

To make your assessment of proposals easier, download our “10 questions you should ask your potential facility design firm.”

Do I Need a Dehumidifier for Cannabis?

Depending on your situation, you will most likely need to use dehumidifiers to remove excess moisture from your grow room environment. But, there are many factors to consider such as HVAC approach, sizing, and quality. Let's examine these factors.

How Much Does it Cost to Start an Indoor Cannabis Grow?

How much will it cost to start an indoor cannabis operation? There are many variables to consider that can drastically affect price including equipment, size, location, and more. We'll dive into what these variables are and present an example of what a start-up cost for a cannabis facility could look like. We'll also look at some of the tools you can use to help you shape your budget.
Sign up to receive blogs and other news


© 2023 Surna. All rights reserved.
Scroll to Top
commercial indoor farm considerations and setup examples