The best water cooler
We all know that staying hydrated is important but drinking the recommended eight glasses each day is easier said than done. With fresh, ice cold water on tap, a water cooler might be just what you need to encourage you.
We created this guide to tell you all you need to know to find the best water cooler for you. Our top option is the Brio Self-Cleaning Bottom-Loading Water Cooler, a rugged and reliable water cooler with several excellent features.
Considerations when choosing water coolers
Type of water cooler
The most common types of water coolers are top-load and bottom-load models. These both use standard water cooler jugs, but with top-load models, the jugs sit upside-down on top of the cooler, whereas bottom-load models have a compartment below where the water is dispensed that holds the jug.
Bottom-load models are far easier to load new jugs into, as you don't need to lift and flip them. The only real benefit of top-load water coolers is that they tend to be more affordable than their bottom-loading counterparts. You can also buy point-of-use water coolers, which don't use a jug at all. Instead they're plumbed into your existing water system. These tend to cost more to buy and install, but they save money over time as tap water is cheaper than bottled water.
As the name suggests, water coolers dispense chilled water. However, many water coolers can also give you room temperature or cool (but not chilled) water, as well as hot water to make tea and other hot drinks.
Check what size jug your water cooler can accommodate to find out its water capacity. Water cooler jugs are generally available in sizes between two and five gallons. Point-of-use water coolers effectively have an unlimited capacity since they draw water straight from your main source.
You can find water coolers that are designed to be self-cleaning, which is far more convenient than cleaning your water cooler manually.
Some point-of-use water coolers have built-in filtration systems to take any impurities out of the water.
The drip tray catches any water that misses your glass or container. You'll need to empty this out and clean it regularly, so it should ideally be easy to remove -- bonus points if it's dishwasher safe, too.
Light-up control panel
If you often use your water cooler at night, a light-up control panel or night light will help you see well enough to get yourself a drink without turning on the overhead light.
Water coolers can cost anywhere between $100 and $400, depending on their size and features. For instance, a basic top-load model runs about $150, whereas a name-brand bottom-load model will cost between $250 and $300.
Q. Do I need to clean my water cooler?
A. Yes, you should always clean your water cooler according to the instruction manual, otherwise dirt and bacteria can build up, making your water unsanitary. What's more, mineral deposits can build up over time, clogging the reservoir and nozzles. It's also a good idea to regularly clean the outside of the water cooler, especially the buttons, where bacteria from the hands of anyone who uses it can linger.
Q. Are water coolers suitable for home use?
A. You might think of water coolers mainly residing in offices and dental surgeries, but they're most definitely suitable for home use. Models that use mineral water are a great way of incorporating that type of water into your routine without using too many plastic bottles. Water cooler water also tends to come out colder than water from the tap, which is ideal if you have a strong preference for chilled water.
Water coolers we recommend
Best of the best: Brio Self-Cleaning Bottom-Loading Water Cooler
Our take: Not only does this water dispenser have a handy self-cleaning function, but it also offers cold and room temperature water, as well as hot water for tea or instant coffee.
What we like: The bottom-load design makes it easy to replace water jugs when empty. Attractive stainless steel exterior. Indicator lets you know when it's time to change jugs. Self-cleans with ozone technology.
What we dislike: Some say it's not quiet enough.
Best bang for your buck: PrimoTop Load Hot, Cold and Cool Water Dispenser
Our take: If you're happy with an affordable model without all the bells and whistles, this water cooler might fit the bill.
What we like: Doesn't take up much space. Runs quietly. Gives you hot and hold water options. Adjustable water temperature.
What we dislike: Some buyers complain of slow dispensing.
Choice 3: Avalon Water Dispenser
Our take: It has some quirks, such as a drip tray that's hard to remove, but it works well overall and is affordable for a bottom loading model.
What we like: Sleek design. Dispenses cold, hot, and cool/room temperature water. Easy to load. Built-in night light.
What we dislike: Occasionally leaks. Aforementioned drip tray issue.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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