What is a Cooling Tower and How Does It Work?

What is a Cooling Tower and How Does It Work?

Many air conditioning systems use air to dissipate heat from their compressor coils. By contrast, in an HVAC Cooling Tower, a stream of cold water runs through a heat exchanger to cool the hot condenser coils.

Cooling towers were first invented to work in conjunction with steam engines at the turn of the last century. They were great tall structures to ensure water had as much time as possible to be in contact with the air. While the technology has advanced and reduced the size needed, the concept is the same. Water goes in warm and leaves cooler as air enters cool and leaves warmer.

What is the Function of Cooling Towers in HVAC Systems?

HVAC Cooling Towers are typically used for large office buildings, schools, and hospitals. According to the CDC, cooling towers provide a cost-effective and energy-efficient operation for systems in need of cooling.

What is the Difference Between a Chiller and a Cooling Tower?

Both chillers and cooling towers remove heat from liquids used for coolants in large devices. A cooling tower removes heat from the water discharged by a condenser and is then recycled back into the unit to cool the system again or to be discharged into the environment.

Chillers absorb the heat from a coolant that is fully contained in a cooling system. It then transfers the heat to the air around the unit. Chillers are like radiators and can either be water-cooled or air-cooled.

How Often Should You Service a Cooling Tower?

While more in-depth service should be done every six to twelve months, there are several simple maintenance checks that can be made weekly and monthly:

Weekly Inspection:

  • General system cleanliness.
  • Drift eliminator condition.
  • Fill material condition.
  • Water distribution system operation.

Monthly Inspection:

  • Cleanliness of basins and low flow zones.
  • Cleaning as required.
  • Keep documentation for monthly inspections.

What Types of Cooling Towers are There?

There are two major kinds of cooling towers: Mechanical Draft and Natural Draft.

  1. Mechanical draft towers use fans to pull cool air into the system to remove heat from water. Natural Draft towers use exhaust air funneled into a large chimney.
  2. Natural draft cooling towers are most commonly seen within nuclear power plants. Mechanical draft towers are the most common in the HVAC industry, and within that, the two major types are induced and forced draft.
  • Induced draft towers have a large fan on top of the tower to draw air up through the tower while the warm condenser water spills down. It requires smaller fan motors for the same capacity than forced draft towers.
  • Force draft towers use a fan at the bottom or side of the tower. Air goes through the water spill area and is discharged out the top.

Contact Henick-Lane for All Your Commercial HVAC Needs

Having served a wide range of commercial HVAC needs and requirements for more than five decades, our team can provide affordable, practical solutions for all types of commercial buildings and high rises. If your building requires maintenance, service, or an upgrade, contact Henick-Lane. We can custom design an HVAC solution that will ensure comfort within your building. Get started by calling (718) 925-4995 today.