When it comes to cooling systems, two options that often come up are air conditioners (AC) and chillers. While both serve the purpose of cooling space, they vary in terms of design, application, and efficiency.

Air Conditioners

Air conditioners are commonly found in homes, offices, and commercial spaces. They remove heat and humidity from the air, providing a comfortable indoor environment. ACs are typically split into two parts: the indoor unit and the outdoor unit.

The indoor unit contains the evaporator coil, which absorbs heat from the air, and the blower, which circulates the cool air within the room. The outdoor unit includes the compressor, which pumps the refrigerant between the condenser coils and the evaporator. The condenser coil releases the absorbed heat into the outside air.

Moreover, air conditioners are designed for small to medium-sized spaces and are suitable for residential and light commercial use. They can be operated using a thermostat, as well as easy to install and maintain.


Chillers are designed for larger commercial and industrial spaces requiring higher cooling capacity. They work by circulating chilled water or other coolant through a network of pipes and heat exchangers, absorbing heat from the air or process equipment.

There are various types of chillers that are used to dissipate heat, including air-cooled, water-cooled, and evaporative chillers. The type of chiller used depends on the method chosen to dissipate the absorbed heat. Additionally, chillers have various configurations, such as scroll, screw, and centrifugal compressors, which are determined based on the required cooling capacity.

Chillers are often used in data centres, hospitals, manufacturing plants, and other facilities requiring constant and reliable cooling. They are typically more complex than air conditioners and need skilled technicians to install and maintain them.

Factors to Consider

1. Efficiency

When it comes to efficiency, chillers generally have an advantage over air conditioners.

Chillers can achieve a higher cooling capacity with less energy consumption, making them more cost-effective in the long run. They also have a longer lifespan and can operate for up to 20 years with proper maintenance.

Air conditioners are less efficient than chillers and may require more energy to cool a space. They are also more prone to breakdowns and may need frequent repairs and replacements.

2. Cost

The cost of an AC or chiller depends on several factors, including the cooling capacity required, the type and configuration, and the installation and maintenance costs.

For one, air conditioners are generally less expensive than chillers and are ideal for small to medium-sized spaces. Depending on the brand and features, they can cost anywhere from £500 to £5,000.

Chillers are more expensive than air conditioners and can cost anywhere from £10,000 to £100,000 or more, depending on the cooling capacity and configuration. They also require a more extensive installation process, which can add to the cost.

3. Application

Air conditioners, such as offices, shops, and restaurants, are suitable for domestic and light commercial purposes. They are also used in cars, trains, and planes to provide a comfortable indoor environment.

Chillers are designed to cater to the cooling needs of huge commercial and industrial areas like hospitals, data centres and manufacturing plants. They are also used in district cooling, where a central chiller plant connects to multiple buildings.

Final Thoughts

Air conditioning units and chillers serve different cooling needs and have different designs, applications, and efficiencies. AC units are suitable for small to medium-sized spaces and are relatively easy to install and maintain. On the other hand, chillers are designed for larger commercial and industrial spaces and require skilled technicians to install and maintain them. Choosing between the two will heavily rely on the space’s cooling requirements and the available budget.

Turn to London Climate Hire if you plan to rent a portable air conditioner, chiller, or boiler. We offer a wide range of cooling and heating equipment for hire, along with installation and maintenance services for energy efficiency and optimal performance.

Our expert advisers can help you determine the right solution for your space and provide ongoing support to keep your equipment running smoothly. Call us today at 0800 270 7006 for an instant quote for our chiller rentals.