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Which water cooler is best?

It can be difficult to remember to drink enough water throughout the day. But having a water cooler in your home can make it much easier to get all the water you should — and without having to open a bunch of individual bottles.

While water coolers are usually seen in office or work settings, you can fit one in most kitchens or garages. It’s important to choose the right type of cooler, though, and ensure that it has all the features you need. This top model from Avalon has earned excellent reviews because it has an attractive, modern design and can offer hot, cold and room-temperature water.

What to know before you buy a water cooler

Water cooler type

Water coolers are available in three different types, which vary in how they’re installed and where they get the water from.

Point-of-use water coolers connect to a home’s plumbing system to access the water supply. They are available as either wall-mounted or upright units. A point-of-use water cooler is usually less expensive to use because users don’t have to spend money on bottled water. In addition, it usually features a built-in filter that removes impurities from a home’s tap water to make it healthier and taste better. You don’t have to worry about refilling the cooler, either.

The drawback to a point-of-use cooler is that it requires professional installation, so it usually has a higher initial cost. Because these require a plumbing connection, they must stay in the spot where installed.

Top-load water coolers are the classic-looking cooler you probably think of when someone mentions a water cooler. These feature a water bottle that sits upside down on top of the cooler. Because they use bottled water, top-load coolers can provide spring or mineral water, and users don’t have to worry about the quality of tap water in their area.

A top-load water cooler usually has the lowest initial price, but you have to pay for replacement water bottles for the life of the cooler. Also, those with less upper-body strength might be challenged to change out water bottles on top of the cooler.

Bottom-load water coolers are similar to top-load models, but their water bottle is stored under the cooler’s tap. In many cases, the bottle is concealed behind a cabinet. These too can offer spring or mineral water, but the advantage is it’s much easier to change out the bottle. It’s also easy to move a bottom-load water cooler if you want to change its position in your home. Unfortunately, bottom-load water coolers are usually the most expensive models on the market. 

Freestanding vs. wall-mounted

Most water coolers are freestanding, upright units that are fairly easy to move around a home. However, some point-of-use water coolers are wall-mounted, resembling water fountains that you might see in a school or other public building.

Choosing between the two types is really a matter of personal preference, so opt for whichever type is most convenient for your home.


Top- and bottom-load water coolers typically use standard plastic water bottles that come in 2- to 5-gallon sizes. You should always consult the product specifications, though, to verify what size water bottles a cooler is compatible with.

With a point-of-use system, capacity isn’t an issue. Because it connects to a home’s water supply, the cooler’s capacity is essentially unlimited.

What to look for in a quality water cooler

Water temperature

Water coolers are generally designed to provide chilled water, but some offer other temperature options. You can find models that offer hot water or even room-temperature water. A cooler with a hot-water setting is extremely convenient for making a cup of tea, instant coffee, hot chocolate or even a bowl of instant oatmeal, instant noodles or cup of soup.


Bacteria can grow pretty easily in stagnant water, so it’s not a good idea for water to sit in a  water cooler’s bottle for too long. If you live alone or have a small family, it may take some time to finish an entire bottle. That’s why it can be convenient to choose a cooler that features self-cleaning technology to kill bacteria and keep the water lines clean.

Filtration system

With top- and bottom-load water coolers that use bottled water, it’s not necessary that your water cooler have a filtration system. However, if you opt for a point-of-use cooler, you’ll be using your home’s tap water, so it can be a crucial feature.

Most tap water is safe to drink but can contain contaminants that affect the taste and overall quality of the water. Choosing a water cooler with a built-in filter allows you to ensure that your water is free of toxins and tastes as pure as possible.

Ease of installation

If you want a water cooler you can install yourself, a freestanding top-load or bottom-load model is your best bet. Unfortunately, many point-of-use water coolers require professional installation, so you’ll need to contact a plumber for the job.

You can find some point-of-use coolers that are meant to be fairly simple to install, so an experienced DIYer may feel comfortable taking on the task.

How much you can expect to spend on a water cooler

Water coolers are usually pretty pricey, so you’ll typically pay between $150-$400 for one. A simple top-load model without many special features generally costs $150-$200, but bottom-load water coolers from respected brands usually range from $250-$300. You’ll generally pay between $350-$400 for a point-of-use water cooler, though. 

Water cooler FAQ

What type of maintenance does a water cooler require? 

A. To prevent bacteria from growing in your water cooler, use antibacterial dish soap to carefully clean the buttons and nozzles regularly. Follow the instructions in your owner’s manual to clean the cold reservoir and water lines at least once per month.

What’s the best water cooler option for a home with limited space? 

A. If you have a small house or apartment, consider a tabletop water cooler. These can fit on nearly any table or counter in your home. A tabletop model can also be an excellent option if only one or two people live in your home.

What’s the best water cooler to buy?

Top water cooler

Avalon Bottom Loading Water Cooler

Avalon Bottom Loading Water Cooler Dispenser

What you need to know: A standout for its attractive design, this water cooler also performs well enough to earn rave reviews from customers.

What you’ll love: Its bottom-loading design allows for easy refills and hides the unsightly water bottle. The stainless-steel cabinet offers a sleek, modern look in any home. This model offers hot, cold and room-temperature water and is equipped with a night light.

What you should consider: Some leaks and issues with the cooling compressor have been reported.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Top water cooler for the money

Royal Sovereign Compact Countertop Water Dispenser

Royal Sovereign Compact Countertop Water Dispenser

What you need to know: This space-saving water dispenser is a perfect option for anyone on a budget or in a small home.

What you’ll love: It can fit on any counter to help save space and dispenses both cold and hot water. This cooler also boasts child safety features to keep kids protected. It’s an excellent value for the money.

What you should consider: Some users report that the water temperature isn’t cold enough.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Elkay EZS8L ADA Compliant Barrier Free Water Cooler

Elkay EZS8L ADA Compliant Barrier Free Water Cooler

What you need to know: It’s a commercial-grade water cooler that’s priced like home models, making it an excellent option for offices and small businesses.

What you’ll love: The cooler is ADA-compliant for use in public buildings, and it features a special bubbler to prevent injury and bacteria. Overall, it’s an excellent option to replace older, non-ADA-compliant coolers.

What you should consider: This one may require professional installation and additional parts to be installed according to ADA regulations.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Jennifer Blair writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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