The Best Water Coolers of 2022

For cool, refreshing water on demand—or hot water for instant tea and coffee—invest in a plumbed-in or freestanding water cooler.

By Jasmine Harding | Updated May 31, 2022 9:44 PM

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The Best Water Cooler Options

Photo: amazon.com

A water cooler offers easy access to a plentiful supply of cold, refreshing water. This convenient appliance is useful in the workplace, in private homes, in businesses—anywhere there are people who appreciate liquid refreshment on demand.

Water coolers come in a range of styles and designs. There are countertop, wall-mounted, plumbed-in (point-of-use), and freestanding units to fit any space. These coolers don’t just dispense freezing cold water, either. They can dispense cold, cool, room temperature, or hot water in an instant.

Stay refreshed with the best water cooler options featured below, and see our shopping tips to help you choose the right one. Each of the top picks below was selected after an in-depth review of the market and thorough product vetting.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Brio Self Cleaning Bottom Loading Water Cooler
  2. RUNNER UP: Avalon Bottom Loading Water Cooler Water Dispenser
  3. BEST BUDGET: Primo Water Dispenser Top Loading Hot Cold Temp
  4. BEST MID-RANGE: Primo Deluxe Water Dispenser Hot/Cold/Room Temp
  5. UPGRADE PICK: Brio Moderna Bottom Load Water Cooler Dispenser
  6. BEST TOUCHLESS: Avalon A6 Touchless Bottom Loading Water Cooler
  7. BEST COUNTERTOP: Brio Top Loading Countertop Water Cooler Dispenser
  8. BEST PORTABLE: Avalon Countertop Bottleless Electric Water Cooler
The Best Water Cooler Options

Photo: amazon.com

Types of Water Coolers

There are two main types of water coolers: point-of-use and bottled. Point-of-use water cooler dispensers connect directly to a building’s water supply and dispense tap water, which is often filtered by the cooler. Bottled water coolers dispense from a large water jug, which is either top loading or bottom loading.

Point of Use

Point-of-use water coolers connect directly to the municipal water supply. They dispense tap water and thus do not require a water bottle, which is why they are sometimes referred to as “bottleless” water coolers.

Many point-of-use water coolers have a filtration mechanism to remove substances or improve the taste of water. The main advantage of this type of water cooler is that it has access to a continuous supply of water (barring any issues with the main water line, of course). These coolers can be wall-mounted or freestanding, upright units.

A point-of-use water cooler needs access to the building’s main water line. Some also require professional installation, which is an extra cost to consider. Although they may be pricier to buy and install, bottleless water coolers can save money in the long run because they don’t require regular deliveries of bottled water refills. A point-of-use water cooler’s convenience is its major selling point—users get a constant supply of water without lugging and replacing heavy water jugs.

Bottom Loading

Bottom-loading water coolers get their water supply from a water bottle. The water bottle mounts in the bottom half of the cooler, in a covered compartment. The bottom-loading design makes unloading and loading bottles much easier. Rather than having to pick up and flip over a heavy bottle (as is the case with top-loading coolers), simply shimmy the water jug into the compartment and connect it to the pump.

Since bottom-loading coolers use bottled water, they can dispense other types of water—like mineral, distilled, and spring waters—in addition to tap water. The other nice thing about bottom-loading water coolers is they’re more aesthetically pleasing than top-loading coolers, because the plastic refill jug is hidden from view in the lower compartment. For the same reason, consider a bottom-loading cooler that has a water level notifier that will let you know when the water supply is almost depleted.

Top Loading

Top-loading water coolers are a popular option because they’re so affordable. As their name suggests, water bottles are inserted spout-down into the top of the water cooler. Because the cooler’s water comes from a jug, it can also dispense distilled, mineral, and spring water.

A top-loading water cooler’s biggest drawback is unloading and loading the water bottle, which can be a cumbersome process for some. Though some people may not like looking at a top-loading water cooler’s exposed jug, the jug’s water level is at least easy to monitor.

Countertop

A countertop water cooler is a miniature version of a standard water cooler that’s small enough to fit on a countertop. Like standard water coolers, countertop units can be point-of-use models, or source their water from bottles.

Countertop water coolers are portable and ideal for kitchen counters, break rooms, office waiting rooms, and other locations with limited floor space. However, they can take up a good deal of counter space, which may be an issue if your tabletop real estate is limited.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Water Cooler

There are several other features to consider when choosing a water cooler. The best water cooler for your needs should be easy to use, easy to clean, and dispense water at your preferred temperature, whether cold or hot. The best coolers should also look nice and be the right size for your needs. Here are some features to consider when choosing a water cooler.

Capacity

Point-of-use water coolers do not have a capacity limit—as long as water is flowing, these coolers will dispense it. Capacity is a factor to consider with bottled water coolers. Most of these coolers accommodate jugs that hold 2 to 5 gallons of water; 3-gallon and 5-gallon bottles are the most common sizes.

As you think about the right water cooler capacity for your needs, consider how often you’ll use a water cooler. If the cooler will get a lot of use, get one with a larger capacity so it doesn’t run low too quickly. If the cooler will be used less frequently, get one that accommodates smaller bottles. It’s best to avoid letting water sit for long because stagnant water is a breeding ground for bacteria.

Energy Efficiency

The amount of energy a water cooler uses depends on the model. Water coolers with on-demand cooling or heating tend to use less energy than those with hot and cold water storage tanks. Coolers with storage usually use more standby energy to maintain the tank’s water temperature.

Energy Star-certified water tanks are the most energy-efficient options. On average, an Energy Star-certified water cooler uses 30 percent less energy than one without that designation, which will save you energy—and lower your electric bill—over the long term.

Water Filtration

Some water coolers are equipped with filtering systems, which can remove contaminants and improve the taste of the water. These coolers filter water via ion exchange, reverse osmosis, or activated carbon filters. Don’t forget that these systems’ filters will need to be replaced every so often, which is another expense to factor in when choosing a water cooler.

Water filtration is a common feature on point-of-use filters because these coolers dispense municipal tap water. Filtration is less of a concern with bottled water coolers because most water bottles contain filtered water.

Water Temperature Settings

Most coolers, whether bottled or point-of-use coolers, can dispense cold water. Other units can also provide cool, room temperature, and/or piping hot water at the push of a button. Most cooler manufacturers will specify their products’ peak temperatures, and others may have adjustable temperature settings.

A water cooler that dispenses both cold and hot water is a wise purchase. Having hot water on demand is handy for those who regularly consume tea, coffee, hot chocolate, and instant foods, or entertain guests or clients who do. If you’re considering a cooler with a hot water spigot, look for a unit equipped with a safety lock that prevents accidental use of the hot water tap.

Noise Level

The amount of noise a water cooler makes is another factor to consider. They will all generate some level of noise because their electrical elements need to cool or heat the water.

How important noise level is depends on where the cooler will be situated in the home or office. Noise level might be low on the list of concerns if the cooler will be in an office break room or in a home’s garage. In high-traffic living areas or near desks in the workplace, a quieter water cooler is ideal.

Ease of Use

A good water cooler should be easy to use. Some units have buttons or spigots to activate pouring, while others are touchless. A cooler with enough area below the spout to fill water pitchers and reusable water bottles are especially useful in public spaces like restaurants and gyms.

Whether a cooler is easy to install is another important consideration, and one that might involve an extra expense on the owner’s part. Bottled water coolers are usually easier to install than point-of-use units, which usually require professional plumbing. Those shopping for bottled water coolers should bear in mind that bottom-loading units are much easier to load.

Water coolers need occasional cleaning to prevent buildup of mineral deposits and to keep germs from thriving. Proper cleaning maintains the quality and taste of the water. Though it takes just a little time, elbow grease, and some vinegar or bleach to clean most coolers, not everyone will want the bother. In that case, self-cleaning water coolers may be a worthy investment.

Additional Features

Water coolers can be simple and straightforward but more often than not, they boast at least a few bells and whistles. One important feature to look for is safety locks. Child safety locks can prevent little ones from playing with water spouts and wasting water. If you’re in the market for a cooler that dispenses hot water, a hot-water safety lock that prevents accidental burns is essential.

Other useful features found on some water-cooler models are night lights, empty bottle alerts, and leak-detection alarms. For busy homes or offices, water coolers that are self-cleaning may be worth the extra cost. Refrigerated compartments, coffee dispensers, and carbonation options are other convenient features to consider.

Our Top Picks

A water cooler is a convenient appliance to have at home or in the office, perfect for on-demand glasses of ice-cold water or hot mugs of tea. Our top picks are easy to use and provide instant access to cold or hot water:

Best Overall

The Best Water Cooler Options: Brio Self Cleaning Bottom Loading Water Cooler
Photo: amazon.com

With a bottom-loading design and a self-cleaning function, this Brio water cooler is as appropriate for home as it is for the workplace. It dispenses cold, room temperature, and hot water, and has a modern, stainless-steel housing that complements stainless kitchen appliances.

The hot-water dispenser is outfitted with a child safety lock to protect kids from accidental hot-water burns. Another point in this cooler’s favor is its convenient ozone self-cleaning feature, which runs a disinfectant cleaning cycle at the press of a button. Though the bottle is hidden in the cooler’s lower cabinet, a digital display will signal when the water bottle is almost empty and needs to be replaced.

This cooler accommodates 3- or 5-gallon water bottles and is Energy Star approved. For even more energy savings, the back panel has individual switches to control the hot water, cold water, and night light feature. To save energy, just switch off the features that aren’t being used.

Product Specs

  • Type: Bottom-loading
  • Capacity: 3 or 5 gallons
  • Water Temperatures: Cold, hot, and room temperature

Pros

  • Attractive design
  • Self-cleaning ozone feature
  • Energy Star approved
  • Option to switch off night light and cold and hot water to conserve energy

Cons

  • Pricey

Get the Brio Self Cleaning water cooler on Amazon and at Walmart.

Runner Up

The Best Water Cooler Options: Avalon Bottom Loading Water Cooler Water Dispenser
Photo: amazon.com

Avalon’s tri-temperature water cooler features on-off switches on each temperature toggle to conserve energy if the machine is not heating or cooling water. Even at full capacity, though, this unit is Energy Star approved.

The water cooler dispenses cold, room temperature, and hot water and has a child safety lock on the hot water button. Its removable drip tray makes this cooler easy to keep clean. The convenient bottom-loading design makes it easy to load standard 3- or 5-gallon jugs.

When the container is running low, the empty-bottle indicator light will illuminate. It also has a built-in nightlight, which comes in handy when dispensing middle-of-the-night glasses of water.

Product Specs

  • Type: Bottom-loading
  • Capacity: 3 or 5 gallons
  • Water Temperatures: Cold, hot, and room temperature

Pros

  • Energy-saving design
  • Built-in nightlight
  • Empty bottle indicator feature
  • High-contact surfaces are treated with an anti-microbial coating

Cons

  • Buttons can be hard to push

Get the Avalon Bottom Loading water cooler on Amazon and at The Home Depot.

Best Budget

The Best Water Cooler Option: Primo Water Dispenser Top Loading Hot Cold Temp
Photo: walmart.com

If you are looking for a no-frills water cooler that gets the job done, this top-loading water cooler dispenser from Primo is a worthy contender. This budget-friendly pick provides quick access to hot or cold water at the touch of a button. It has a classic top-loading design (as well as a traditional office water cooler look) that fits any compatible 3- or 5-gallon jug. A child safety lock makes this cost-friendly water cooler a safe option to have in the home or the office.

One benefit of a basic water cooler is the easy maintenance process. This water cooler features a spill-proof bottle holder with a leak guard, movable dishwasher-safe drip tray, and a filterless design (which means no filters to clean or swap out). Setup and maintenance is as easy as loading a bottle and making sure the drip tray is clean.

Product Specs

  • Type: Top-loading
  • Capacity: 3 or 5 gallons
  • Water Temperatures: Cold or hot

Pro

  • Easy setup
  • Low-maintenance
  • Dishwasher-safe drip tray

Cons

  • Lacks room temperature water option

Get the Primo water cooler at Walmart.

Best Mid-Range

The Best Water Cooler Option: Primo Deluxe Water Dispenser Hot Cold Room Temp
Photo: walmart.com

This mid-range water cooler from Primo strikes an excellent balance between a reasonable price and premium features. This deluxe cooler is relatively affordable, while also boasting some functions that you won’t find in cheap water coolers.

It has a convenient bottom-loading design and dispenses ice-cold, hot, and room temperature water. An internal stainless-steel reservoir helps prevent bacteria growth and unpleasant tastes.

Quiet operation and a sleek, stainless steel front make this dispenser a good choice for any room, at home or at the office. A child-safety feature, LED nightlight, and dishwasher-safe drip tray enhances safety and convenience.

Product Specs

  • Type: Bottom-loading
  • Capacity: 3 or 5 gallons
  • Water Temperatures: Cold, hot, and room temperature

Pros

  • Attractive stainless steel finish
  • LED nightlight
  • Energy Star certified

Cons

  • Some units may have an unstable low bottle indicator

Get the Primo Deluxe water cooler at Wayfair.

Upgrade Pick

The Best Water Cooler Option: Brio Moderna Bottom Load Water Cooler Dispenser
Photo: amazon.com

Adjustable temperature settings set the Brio Moderna Bottom Load Water Cooler Dispenser apart from other options on this list. With this upgraded bottom-loading water cooler, you can choose your temperature for the cold and hot water spouts. The temperature ranges from a chilly 39 degrees Fahrenheit to a piping hot 174 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can dispense water as cold or as hot as you need.

With water this hot, this dispenser has a child safety lock on the hot water spout. Like most standard water coolers, it fits a 3- or 5-gallon bottle. A low bottle notification feature notifies you when it’s running low, so you won’t be stuck without fresh water.

To ensure the unit stays clean, this water cooler has a self-cleaning ozone feature that sanitizes the water tank and lines. On top of all its convenient features, this Energy-star approved unit is made of stainless steel for extra durability and a sleek look.

Product Specs

  • Type: Bottom-loading
  • Capacity: 3 or 5 gallons
  • Water Temperatures: Adjustable temperature from cold to hot

Pros

  • Adjustable cold and hot water temperatures
  • Wide temperature range
  • Sleek and durable design
  • Self-cleaning feature

Cons

  • Expensive

Get the Brio Moderna water cooler on Amazon and at Walmart.

Best Touchless

The Best Water Cooler Options: Avalon A6 Touchless Bottom Loading Water Cooler
Photo: amazon.com

This bottom-loading water cooler from Avalon is a hygienic, no-touch option for those who will be sharing the cooler with other users. It features paddle-style spouts for easy pouring. With light pressure on the paddles, this cooler will dispense water without turning spigots or pressing buttons. The hot water spout has a child-safety lock, but it does need to be pressed to access hot water.

This cooler has two temperature options—ice cold or piping hot. When they’re not in use, either spout can be switched off on the back panel to conserve energy. The back panel also has a night light switch to turn the night light on or off. With these energy-saving features, it’s no surprise that this cooler is Energy Star-approved.

The bottom-loading design fits 3- or 5-gallon bottles and has an empty bottle indicator to notify when the bottle needs a refill.

Product Specs

  • Type: Bottom-loading
  • Capacity: 3 or 5 gallons
  • Water Temperatures: Cold or hot

Pros

  • Touchless design
  • Energy Star-approved
  • Replace filter indicator

Cons

  • Lacks room temperature water option

Get the Avalon A6 water cooler at Amazon and The Home Depot.

Best Countertop

The Best Water Cooler Option: Brio Top Loading Countertop Water Cooler Dispenser
Photo: amazon.com

For rooms with limited floor space, consider a compact countertop water cooler. The Brio Top Loading Countertop Water Cooler Dispenser is an excellent choice for small break rooms, dorm rooms, and offices. Measuring only 20.5 by 17.5 by 15 inches, it has a small enough footprint to fit most spaces.

Even though it’s small, this water cooler doesn’t lack in features. It dispenses cold, hot, and room temperature water on demand. To fit most cups, mugs, and water bottles this countertop dispenser features a large dispensing area, similar to that of most full-sized coolers. A removable tray makes this unit easier to clean, and a child safety lock prevents kids from playing with the hot water spout.

Product Specs

  • Type: Countertop
  • Capacity: 3 gallons
  • Water Temperatures: Cold, hot, and room temperature

Pros

  • Compact size and small footprint
  • Easy top-loading design
  • Sizable dispensing area

Cons

  • Back of the unit is not very attractive

Get the Brio water cooler at Amazon  and The Home Depot.

Best Portable

The Best Water Cooler Option: Avalon Countertop Bottleless Electric Water Cooler
Photo: amazon.com

To install the Avalon Countertop Bottleless Electric Water Cooler, all you need is a compatible existing sink water line and a wrench to disconnect the water supply line. This design makes this countertop water cooler ideal for events like conferences and festivals, where you may need water on demand but don’t want to set up a permanent or full-sized water cooler. Since it supplies unlimited filtered water, it’s also an excellent choice for the home or office if you want a bottleless water cooler with easy installation steps.

This water cooler dispenses cold, hot, and room temperature water, all filtered through a dual filtration system. The filters include a sediment filter and a carbon block filter to remove contaminants like lead, particulates, chlorine, and unpleasant smells or tastes.

Product Specs

  • Type: Point of use
  • Capacity: Unlimited
  • Water Temperatures: Cold, hot, and room temperature

Pros

  • Easy to install
  • Bottleless
  • Dual filtration system

Cons

  • Once installed, you won’t be able to use the attached cold water tap

Get the Avalon Countertop water cooler at Amazon and The Home Depot.

Our Verdict

The Brio Self Cleaning Bottom Loading Water Cooler is sleek, Energy Star approved, and self-cleaning, making it an excellent choice for high-traffic settings. It’s on the pricier side though, so if you’re in search of a more budget-friendly pick, consider the Primo Water Dispenser Top Loading Hot Cold Temp, which features a no-frills design for a very affordable price.

How We Chose the Best Water Coolers

Whether at home or at the office, a water cooler will likely attract a lot of use, so you’ll want to choose the best one for your needs and budget. We researched product specifications and considered consumer reviews to narrow down our top picks, selecting water coolers with good specifications and great real-world performance.

The best water coolers are pleasant to use and easy to maintain. We chose water coolers with user-friendly buttons or spigots, multiple temperature modes, and hot water safety lock features to ensure both convenience and safety. Extra features like night lights, adjustable temperatures, and an attractive design earned coolers extra points.

A good water cooler should also be easy to maintain, so we searched for features like removable and dishwasher-safe drip trays, or even entire self-cleaning systems. Lastly, to cover most shoppers, we included water coolers at a range of price points, so you can stay hydrated within your budget.

FAQs 

Once installed, a water cooler is easy to use and requires some simple maintenance like refilling and cleaning. Proper maintenance will keep a water cooler dispensing for years to come. Here are some frequently asked questions about choosing and maintaining a water cooler.

Q: How do I choose a water dispenser?

Consider choosing a water dispenser that is the right size and type (point-of-use or bottled), and has the water temperature options that suit your needs.

Q: Do water dispensers use a lot of electricity?

Electricity usage will depend on the model. Water dispensers that are Energy Star certified will help cut back on the electric bill.

Q: How long can water sit in a water cooler?

For fresh and clean water, it’s best to replace the water bottle every month or so.

Q: Do I have to clean my water cooler?

Yes, it is important to clean a water cooler according to the manufacturer’s instructions to prevent bacteria, dirt, and mineral buildup.

Q: How long does a water cooler last?

With proper maintenance and cleaning, a water cooler can last upwards of a decade.