Chiller Facts

Portable Chiller Facts

The industrial portable chiller is a cooling system that removes heat from one element (usually water) and deposits into another (usually ambient air or water). The standard chiller design is a system that will cool water to 45° F and water/glycol to 20° F and then deposit the heat into the ambient air at 95° F or water at 85° F. An industrial portable chiller can be used to cool both the process as well as the process machine. The chiller is a self-contained unit including compressor, evaporator, condenser, process pump, and coolant reservoir – all on casters. Our chiller capacities range from 12,000 to 480,000 Btu/hr. They include air and water-condensing models, models with single and multiple compressors, and special configurations for low temperatures, hazardous atmospheres, and different applications.

Portable Chiller Facts

Definition: What is an industrial portable chiller?
Applications: What can an industrial portable chiller be used for?40
Purchasing: How do you purchase a chiller?


An industrial portable chiller is a single pump chiller that can be supplied with either air or water cooled condensers and can be used to cool one or two machines. Its process water flow is limited to 2.4 gpm/ton restricting its range of applications.

A typical industrial portable chiller has six components:

1. Evaporator – cools the water, water/glycol or air by transferring the heat to the refrigerant which is turned into a gas.
2. Compressor – takes this gas and increases its pressure so that ambient air or water can remove the heat.
3. Condenser – rejects heat gained by the gas using ambient air or cooling tower water to condense the gas back to a liquid for use again by the evaporator.
4. Holding Tank – holds the circulating coolant, usually water (can be water/glycol), tank is sized large enough to prevent turbulent flow in tank causing pump cavitation.
5. Pump – circulates coolant from the holding tank to the evaporator and from the evaporator to the machine or process being cooled and back to the tank.
6. Control Panel – houses temperature controller, compressor contactor, pump starter, 3-phase fuses, control transformer, safety controls, run and fail lights.


An industrial portable chiller has a wide range of applications. It can be used to cool any machine or process that operates at 60° F or lower. Some of the more common applications are listed below:

In the plastics industry, a portable chiller can be used to cool the hot plastic that is injected, blown, extruded or stamped. It can also cool down the equipment that is used to create plastic products (hydraulics of the molding machine, gear box and barrel of the extruder) that saves on energy and on the wear and tear of the machine itself.

In the printing industry, a portable chiller not only removes the heat generated by the friction of the printing rollers, but cools down the paper after it comes out of the ink drying ovens in the process.

In the laser cutting industry, light projection industry, etc. a portable chiller can be used to cool down the lasers and power supplies.

In the rubber industry, you can use a portable chiller to cool everything from the multizone water temperature control units of the rubber extruder barrel, the rubber mill to the calendar and bambury mixers.

In the beverage industry, i.e., the dairy, beer and wine industries, you can use a portable chiller to remove the heat gained from the process of mixing, cooking, or pasteurizing the product.


Before you decide to buy a chiller, the chiller manufacturer will need to know more about your process and what kind of equipment you already have.

Process: a manufacturers needs to know certain things about your process in order to size the process pumps and tank size.
1. What type of process or process equipment needs to be cooled?
2. Is there one large machine or many smaller machines to be cooled?
3. What is the lowest temperature required by the process?
4. What is the total flow required by the process?
5. Is the process flow varying or constant?
6. What is the maximum water pressure required by the process?

Plant Environment and Equipment: a manufacturer will also need know something about the facility or plant, its general layout, conditions and existing equipment in order to select the type of cooling equipment.

1. Is there an existing cooling tower, and if so, how much free capacity does it have?

  • If there is enough free capacity on the cooling tower and the process requires 85° F (or higher) water, add the new cooling load to the existing cooling tower.
  • If there is enough free capacity on the cooling tower and the process requires 60° F (or lower) water, a water cooled chiller should be used – add its condenser load to the existing cooling tower.
  • If no cooling tower exists, and the process will be cooled by 85° F water or higher, a cooling tower system should be used.
  • If a cooler temperature is required, i. e., less than 60° F, a chiller must be used.
  • If chilling is required but there is no cooling tower, the chiller must be air cooled.

2. What are the existing conditions in the plant, i.e., is it a clean environment?
3. What is the maximum air temperature during the summer months?
4. Where is the chiller going to be located? Outdoor or Indoor, by a loading door.
5. What is your power source: voltage or hertz?
6. Do you expect to expand your process in the future?

Here are some more things to consider when purchasing a chiller or even an entire chilling system.

Material: The first thing you should think about when buying a chiller is the kind of material that is used to make the chiller. A popular trend in the construction of chillers today is the switch to stainless steel. Chillers can be supplied with stainless steel frames, panels, pumps, tanks, evaporators and in some cases water piping. There is no painting required if stainless steel is used saving our environment from the noxious paint and solvent fumes.

Components: Try to make sure that the components of the chiller are standard “off-the-shelf” components from major corporations who specialized in the supply of refrigeration components like compressors, valves, electronics, pumps, etc. You want your chiller components to be available from local refrigeration electrical and pump wholesalers, not only from the manufacturer.

Efficiency: With the cost of energy as it is, the cost of buying a chiller has to be compared with the money you save on energy over the length of period that you plan on using the chiller. Check the EER rating (Energy Efficiency Ratio) of the chiller, the higher the number, the less energy will be used to drive the compressor. Note: that in order to achieve a higher EER rating, the chiller evaporator and condenser will need to be oversized which raises the cost of the chiller.

Operation: Chiller controls should be easy to read and use, the chiller should be “user friendly”.

Maintenance: The major components on the chiller should be placed for easy access for inspection, service or replacement. Avoid small-compact units because they will cost you more in the long run as the whole unit has to be dismantled to get at a major component for inspection or service. Also, avoid chillers with a “cooling coil” in the tank, these units cost less to initially purchase but will cost you more in the long run to service since you can not get access to the cooling coil in a sealed tank.

Warranty: One way a manufactures stands behind their equipment is with the warranty offered. Nowadays 5 year compressor warrantees are standard with industrial portable chillers, 1 to 2 year parts warranty on the balance of the unit is available. 3 to 5 years on electronic boards, or life time flat fee for repair of electronic boards. Check out what is being offered before you purchase your next chiller or chilling system.

As always the decision to purchase a chiller is going to be a choice between the quality of the chiller or the chilling system and its price. Buying the best might cost more in the beginning but will save you money in the long run.

Good luck with your next purchase and please call us if you have any questions about your process cooling needs, type of equipment required or the existing chilling equipment you already have.