Home / Accessories / Best Hydroponic Water Chillers Reviewed + Buyers’ Guide

Best Hydroponic Water Chillers Reviewed + Buyers’ Guide

Hydroponics is a method in which plants are grown in a water solvent with the required nutrients dissolved in it. In this method, plants are grown without the soil in mineral-rich solutions. It is also called soilless gardening.

This type of gardening is gaining popularity due to its myriad of benefits. It allows the plants to grow faster and it requires less space. Nonetheless, it is a difficult process and hydroponic gardeners have to face many problems. The most common problem is the overheating of the hydroponic reservoir.

The amount of oxygen reduces as the solvent gets warmer. As a result, the roots of a plant are not being able to get the required oxygen and the plant dies.

Moreover, the rising temperature increases the chance for pathogens to survive in the solvent. These pathogens can cause immense damage to the hydroponic environment. Therefore, it is quintessential to keep the solvent cool in this method.

In this article, we will look at a device called Water Chiller, which is used to remove heat from the hydroponic system. We will try to explain how it works. Then, we will review some of the best Water Chillers available on the market and look at their features. In the end, we will try to find out the best water chiller.

Why Use A Water Chiller?

Hydroponic gardeners can increase their crop yield by controlling the temperature of their environment. This can be done by placing iced bottles, ice packs, or any other container filled with ice in your reservoir. You need to continuously replace them to keep your reservoir cool.

There are many methods to cool down the hydroponic system. However, the best among them is to use a water chiller. Although this method is a bit expensive yet it is the most effective and reliable one.

It makes the cooling of your hydroponic system very easy and efficient. Also, a water chiller can be used for aquarium and hydroponic of any size.

Moreover, using a water chiller you can set the optimal temperature required for the growth of different plants. There is no fixed temperature that can be considered best for hydroponic or indoor gardening. You have to alter the temperature with the kind of plant you are growing.

Normally, the temperature between 16-30 °C (60 – 85 °F) is considered best for hydroponic. A water chiller gives you the functionality to set different temperatures as required.

How Does it Work?

There are commonly two types of water chillers. One is a refrigerating unit which has a pump located inside the reservoir. The hydroponic solution is pumped into the unit where it is cooled by the cooling coils. Then, it is pumped back to the reservoir. This type of chiller is mostly used in hydroponic systems.

The other type of chiller is a solid-state thermoelectric cooling system. This chiller removes heat from the reservoir with the help of a probe which is inserted into the reservoir. Then, a fan in the chiller radiates that heat away.

Best Water Chillers for Hydroponics

Now, we will look at some of the best water chillers available on the market and discuss their features in detail.

1. Hydrofarm Active AQUA Chiller

Hydrofarm Active Aqua Chiller Hydroponics Water Chiller

What We Liked Most About This Product

This product is from one of the most reliable manufacturers of the chillers. It comes with all the necessary equipment required for its use.

You don’t need to buy them separately. Also, it has a great cooling capacity and the price is reasonable too.

Product Overview

Active Aqua is one of the most popular chiller companies. It manufactures a variety of chillers varying in their capacities. But all these chillers come with more or less the same features.

Hydrofarm Active Aqua is a great refrigerating chiller manufactured by Active Aqua. It comes in 4 sizes.

  • 1/10 HP – recommended for 13-60 gallons
  • 1/4 HP – recommended for 26-80 gallons
  • 1/2 HP – recommended for 52-132 gallons
  • 1 HP – recommended for 80-250 gallons

Further specifications about the chiller of each size are given in the below table.

HP Power

Dimensions(inch)

Weight(lbs.)

BTU/hr.

Current(A)

1/10

15 x 21 x 21

33.5

960

2.2

1/4

20.7 x 20.3 x 19.9

38.4

2300

4.7

1/2

22 x 23.3 x 21.2

49.4

4020

5.4

1

20.5 x 18.9 x 15.8

79.2

10,050

10.2

It is a powerful chiller with great chilling capability. The device runs quietly and is energy efficient. It is user-friendly as well. The chiller has an LCD display and microprocessor control system which makes it very easy to set up and use. You can check the progress through the display and can easily operate it through digital control.

It is safe to use. The device has a temperature control system that turns the machine off when the system reached the desired temperature and prevents overheating. The device also turns off automatically in case of a power surge.

This chiller comes with the necessary equipment, i.e., pump and tubing. Pump and tubing are available as per the flow rate (Gallons per hour) and the size of the chiller.

The Product is also environment-friendly. It uses ozone-friendly and Freon-free refrigerant R410a. Moreover, it has an anti-corrosive titanium evaporator which does not contaminate the hydroponic solution.

This is a great chiller; however, there have been complaints about its built quality. Some people have a complaint that it starts to leak after a few months. Some have complained that it has sensor problems.

Pros:

  • Easy and Safe to use
  • Environment-Friendly
  • Temperature Control System
  • Comes with Pump and Tubing
  • Effective cooling capabilities

Cons:

  • Inconsistent build quality
  • Slight cooling inaccuracies on the temperature sensor

Check Price on Amazon

2. Coralife Energy Saver Aquarium Chiller

Coralife Energy Savers ACL36061 Hydroponics Water Chiller

What We Liked Most About This Product

The chiller has great customer ratings. It has a great build quality and is energy-efficient. It has an air filter that keeps contaminants away from the motor of the chillers and gives it a long life.

Product Overview

It is one of the famous refrigerating water chillers that is used to cool the hydroponic systems. It is one of the better-reviewed products online and its online customer rating is better than Active Aqua.

It comes in 5 different sizes and specifications of each size are given in the below table.

HP

Dimension(inch.)

Weight(lbs.)

Capacity(Gallons)

Current(A)

1/10

14.5 x 13 x 16

18

55

2.0-2.4

1/6

19 x 12.5 x 18

35

90

2.0-2.4

1/4

22 x 15 x 18.5

40

125

4.2-4.6

1/2

24.5 x 18 x 19

60

250

5.6-6.0

1

24.5 x 18 x 19

67

400

8.0-8.3

The product is very powerful and has a great design. The heat exchanger of this device is made up of titanium which gives the corrosion resistance. Thus, the product is also durable. Along with quality construction and durability, these chillers have accuracy in temperature control.

These filters have an air filter that keeps dust and other contaminants away from the cooling unit to ensure the longevity and efficiency of the motor. This air filter is easily accessible and can be removed for cleaning.

It has a digital LCD display which allows you to adjust the temperature as per requirement. Moreover, the chiller is also energy efficient. It doesn’t consume a large amount of energy.

The product is easy and safe to use. It is environment-friendly.

Though this is a reliable product yet it a few loopholes. It is a bit expensive as noisy. Also, it does not come with a water pump and hose. You need to purchase them separately. However, it has adjustable connectors that allow for hose attachment from any angle.

Pros:

  • Great customer reviews
  • Easy to use
  • Good build quality
  • Energy-efficient
  • Air filter to keep contaminants away from the motor

Cons:

  • A bit expensive
  • Need to buy a water pump and tubing separately

Check Price on Amazon

3. JBJ Aquarium Arctica Titanium Chiller

JBJ Aquarium Arctica Titanium Hydroponic Water Chiller

What We Liked Most About This Product

JBJ is a reputable supplier for Water Chillers. The best thing about this product is that it has many features. It is powerful and has a great design. It is also easy to use because of its digital control system. Moreover, JBJ shows great value for its customers and offers a warranty of 2 years for its chillers.

Product Overview

JBJ is a renowned brand for manufacturing Water Chillers. JBJ Arctica Titanium Chiller consists of a family of 4 chillers. The maximum capacity of each model is given below:

  • 1/10 HP – 130 gallons
  • 1/5 HP – 180 gallons
  • 1/4 HP – 260 gallons
  • 1/3 HP – 340 gallons

Each of these models has a warranty for 2-years while other products on the market have a warranty of only 1 year. Further specifications of each of these models are given in the below figure.

Source Website: http://www.jbjchillers.com/contents/en-us/d81.html

Each of these is a refrigerating unit in which the hydroponic solution is pumped into the chiller and then cooled by the special titanium coils. When the solution is cooled to a specific temperature, it is pumped back to the reservoir.

JBJ Chiller has a powerful chilling machine that generates very little sound while running. It cools the solution in very little time. It also has a very good design.

The coil of these chillers is designed in such a way that it offers a greater area to contact with the solution. In this way, it cools the solutions quickly without consuming much energy. Moreover, these titanium coils are corrosion resistant and do not contaminate the solution.

Thus, it is suitable to cool the fresh water because of its titanium built.

It has an LED display and digital control. The LED display allows you to see the temperature of the system at night. While digital control allows you to operate the device easily. The device is also free from any temperature fluctuations and the water is kept at a consistent temperature.

It is also equipped with the latest technology. It has a built-in thermostat which turns off the cooling when the system reaches the set temperature. It also has a temperature memory. It reminds the set temperature in case of a power loss.

The Chiller is also environment-friendly as well. It uses an ozone-friendly refrigerant R-134A.

Although this chiller is expensive yet it is recommended to buy because of its many features. Now, we will look at the pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Quiet and Energy Efficient
  • Environment-Friendly
  • Ease to use
  • Comes in 4 different sizes
  • Long warranty period
  • Its website allows the customers to calculate the capacity of the required chiller

Cons:

  • Expensive than other products
  • Need to buy pumps and hose separately
  • Some non-reputable suppliers selling this product. So, complaints about the quality of the product.

Check Price on Amazon

Petzilla Aquarium Chiller Fish Tank Cooling Fan System

Petzilla Aquarium Chiller For Hydroponics

What We Liked Most About This Product

This chiller is very cheap. You can successfully offset the lights and UV filter using this chiller and you don’t need to buy an expensive and larger one. Moreover, it doesn’t require any water pump or tubing.

Product Overview

This is a thermoelectric chiller which helps to cool the reservoir with the blow air across the reservoir with the help of fans. It comes with 2,3, or 4 fans. It works like a cooler.

It can only be used to cool your hydroponic reservoir as much as 5 °F. So, it is the best choice when you need to slightly decrease the temperature of your reservoir in hot weather.

It is very easy to use and you don’t need a pump and hose for it. It is of small size and light in weight. However, it can only fit into a system whose wall is less than 0.5 inches in thickness.

Pros:

  • Very cheap
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • May not fit in some setups
  • Effective for specific cooling needs

Check Price on Amazon

EcoPlus 317 GPH Chiller

EcoPlus Chiller, 1-10 HP For Hydroponics

What We Liked Most About This Product

This product costs less as compared to other water chillers. It is also very energy efficient. Moreover, it has a titanium heat exchanger which optimizes performance and gives corrosion resistance.

Product Overview

EcoPlus Chillers have been around for a while and becoming popular. The water chillers from EcoPlus come in 3 sizes. The specifications for each of these sizes are given below.

HP Power

Dimensions(inch)

Weight(lbs.)

Capacity

Current(A)

1/10

17.1 x 15.5 x 18.3

30.6

40 Gallons

2

¼

19.7 x 18.7 x 21.6

51

65 Gallons

3

½

24.5 x 20.5 x 20

58

80 Gallons

4.4

Chillers from EcoPlus cost less than the other chillers but they are less powerful. For instance, a chiller with 1/10 HP power from Active Aqua can be used for 60 gallons of water, one from JBJ for 130 gallons, while EcoPlus for 40 gallons.

This device has an LCD display which can indicate temperature. It also has the temperature memory feature which resets the same temperature after the power cut. Moreover, it is very energy efficient because of a reliable compressor.

Besides, it has a titanium heat exchanger which gives the cooling effect to the machine by absorbing the heat. In this way, the exchanger optimizes the performance of the device. The exchanger also gives corrosion resistance.

Although this is a great chiller to use yet there are some loopholes. The chiller doesn’t come with pumps and tubing of its respective size. So, you need to get this equipment to run it effectively. Furthermore, some parts of this chiller are being manufactured in China which has compromised the built quality.

Pros:

  • Reasonable Price
  • Energy Efficient
  • Titanium Heat Exchanger

Cons:

  • Noisy
  • Not as powerful as other chillers with same HP
  • Does not come with Pump and tubing

Check Price on Amazon

IceProbe Thermoelectric Aquarium Chiller

IceProbe Thermoelectric Chiller For Hydroponics

What We Liked Most About This Product

This product is small, budget-friendly, and less noisy as compared to other water chillers. It can be used efficiently to cool small aquariums and hydroponic systems. Also, you don’t need to buy water pumps or tubing for this chiller.

Product Overview

The chiller costs way less than the other water chillers in the market. This chiller is best for small hydroponic systems. It can be used in small aquariums up to the size of 10 gallons. If you use it for larger aquariums it doesn’t provide the proper cooling.

It uses thermoelectric cooling technology. It cools a reservoir by emitting heat into the ambient environment with the help of a low-speed fan. You don’t need a pump, compressor, or tubing for this chiller.

It has dimensions of 9 x 0.5 x 8 inches which indicates its compactness. It is designed in such a way that it produces almost no sound. All components used in it are of high quality.

It can only be used to cool your hydroponic system to 8-degree Fahrenheit. And, you cannot control the temperature of your reservoir according to your wish as there is no temperature controller to stabilize the temperature.

It does not have an on/off switch and starts cooling as soon as plugged in. However, you can buy a separate temperature controller to turn on and off the device at the desired temperature.

Pros:

  • Budget-friendly
  • Small and Compact
  • No Noise during operation
  • No water pump or tubing needed

Cons:

  • Only suitable for small hydroponic systems
  • No temperature controller

Check Price on Amazon

Buying Hydroponic Water Chiller?

You must buy a water chiller considering the size of the reservoir of your hydroponic system. A larger system would require a larger water chiller to cool it.

Estimating the Size of the Required Water Chiller

You need to choose the size of the water chiller carefully for your hydroponic system. Because an oversized one will consume more electricity. While an undersized one will never be able to cool your system properly.

The water chillers come in standard sizes. The size is proportional to the capacity/ cooling ability. Capacity is measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units) or Tons (BTU per hour/12000).

One BTU increases the temperature of 1 pound of water by 1 Fahrenheit. A unit with higher BTUs quickly removes the heat than the one with lower BTUs.

Following are the sizes with their respective capacities:

1/10 ton = 1,200 BTU’s

1/4 ton = 3,000 BTU’s

1/2 ton = 6,000 BTU’s

1 ton = 12,000 BTU’s

It’s good to know the number of BTUs required to cool your hydroponic system to the desired temperature. And, you must buy a water chiller of associated size accordingly. However, the rated BTU is not actual. Thus, you must buy a slightly larger chiller. For instance, if you need 3,200 BTUs, you must busy ½ ton water chiller.

To calculate the capacity of a water chiller required for a particular hydroponic reservoir, we have to follow the following steps.

Calculate the amount of water in the hydroponic system.

Turn on everything that produces heat on the hottest day in your garden. In this way, the hydroponic solvent will get to its maximum temperature.

Then, cool the system to the desired temperature. This must be done by any method so that you won’t be adding extra water to the system.

Once you reached the desired temperature, remove the cooling source.

Note the temperature. Let’s say it is ‘T1’.

After an hour, again note the temperature. Let’s say it is ‘T2’.

Temperature differential = T2 – T1

The required BTUs can be calculated by the following formula.

Required BTUs = Gallons of Water x 8.34(weight of a gallon of water) x Temperature differential

Alternatively, you can convert BTUs to horsepower(HP) by dividing it with 2,545.

However, the manufacturers do not rate the water chiller according to BTUs anymore. Now, the capacity of water chillers is given in horsepower (HP) corresponding to the size (No. of gallons of water) of the reservoir it can be used for.

Things to Look for in a Hydroponic Water Chiller

A good chiller must have the following features:

  • Competitively Priced
  • Fast cooling
  • Small in size, albeit have the power to cool your system
  • Ability to keep the hydroponic solution at a constant temperature without any fluctuations
  • Noiseless
  • Easy to Use
  • Durable and Reliable
  • Energy Efficient
  • Safe to use with Hydroponic Solution
  • Must have Anti-corrosive Heat Exchanger so that hydroponic solution must not be contaminated with leached metal
  • Digital Control System and LCD Display
  • Temperature Memory
  • Safety Features, i.e., overheat, surge, etc., protection
  • Package must contain all the necessary equipment, i.e., pump, hose, and tubing.
  • Environment-Friendly

Note: Make sure to purchase the Water Chiller from a reputable supplier.

Conclusion

It can be inferred from the above discussion that the size and capacity of a water chiller should be looked at before buying it. It is quintessential to do your homework on the size of the required chiller. Each hydroponic system is different and requires a different type of chiller to cool it.

The water chillers discussed in this article are all good. It is usually up to the customer which one they want to buy.

If you look for an energy-efficient water chiller with good customer ratings, then you should look to buy Carolife chiller. It is energy-efficient than all the chillers discussed in this article.

If a gardener is looking to find a water chiller for his small-sized reservoir, they must try IceProbe Thermoelectric Aquarium Chiller. It is small in size, energy-efficient, and costs way less than the other water chillers available in the market.

If the price is not an issue then you must look to buy a chiller that is being manufactured by JBJ. It has almost all the necessary features which are present in other chillers. It is powerful and has a 2 years warranty. Like other chillers, it is also environment-friendly and safe to use.

It very important for a refrigerating water chiller to have a pump and tubing which fits it. Otherwise, the water chiller would not be able to run effectively. Among the products discussed herein, only one chiller – Active Aqua – comes with a pump and tubing along with the package.

Moreover, it is powerful. It comes in different sizes and you can use it to cool different hydroponic reservoirs. It is energy-efficient and environment-friendly as well. Therefore, it is the best water chiller for the hydroponic system. Every lover of indoor gardening must try it at least once.

All in all, it necessary to check the specifications of a water chiller before buying it. You must validate whether a chiller that you are buying possesses the capability to cool the reservoir of your hydroponic system. Also, you must buy water chillers from reputable suppliers or manufacturers only.