As the most important substance for life, we always need to have water close at hand.
Boiling water taps and water coolers are becoming increasingly popular thanks to their convenience and versatility, offering a cost-effective option to provide water as needed in a wide variety of settings.
We review some of the most popular water dispensers on the market today to assess which is the best suited to home or office use and we look at some of the features included in these models to see how they help the user gain the best experience from their water dispenser.
Table of Contents
Best Water Dispensers Comparison Chart
#1 InSinkErator H-WaveSN-SS Involve Wave
#2 Farberware FW29919
#3 Avalon Top Loading Water Cooler
#4 Avalon A4BLWTRCLR
#5 Primo Stainless Steel 1 Spout Bottom Load
Best Water Dispenser Reviewed
We’ve reviewed our top water dispenser picks in detail below so that you can decide which product will best solve your filtration problem.
1. InSinkErator H-WaveSN-SS Involve Wave
A countertop mounted hot water dispenser which strikes a perfect balance between economical running and convenience, the InsinkErator H-WaveSN-SS is a great option to provide hot water on demand in the home.
The ⅔ gallon capacity of the integral stainless steel tank provides ample hot water on demand for making hot drinks and food preparation while the unit remains small enough that you won’t miss the room it takes up on the counter.
This hot water dispenser has an easy to access dial mounted on the front allowing the user to control water temperature between 160°F and 210°F. The H-WaveSN-SS also includes a dedicated faucet, stylishly designed to blend in with your kitchen.
The unit is installed on the countertop, requiring only a small hole for connection to the water supply. This direct piped design eliminates the need to refill the unit, allowing you to have hot water on demand without the worry of forgetting to top up or replace the water reserve.
The H-WaveSN-SS includes an AC power adaptor for connection to mains power and comes complete with a 3 year manufacturer’s warranty.
- Minimal waste
- Cheap to run
- Adjustable temperature
- Hot water on demand
- Limited capacity
- Hot water only
2. Farberware FW29919
The Farberware FW29919 is an attractive, functional looking machine that is lightweight for its size and would fit into both home or office environments. With a footprint of just 13 x 13 inches, the unit is compact and can be easily sited in any space.
This water cooler and heater is able to dispense both hot and cold water – providing hot water at up to 185°F and cold water down to 59°F. Colour coded taps make identification and use simple.
The FW29919 is compatible with either 3 or 5 gallon water bottles and although it contains no active filtration technology, the 185°F allows some treatment of waterborne bacteria, even acting above the anti-bacterial capabilities of many dedicated filtration systems.
As a water cooler, chilled water is available on demand giving the unit the versatility to provide both refreshing cold water and hot water for tea and coffee making. The very quiet operation of the cooler means that it does not cause disturbance whilst in operation, which makes it very well suited to use within workspaces and smaller homes where the kitchen may be close to sleeping areas.
The in built storage cabinet is a nice touch, providing a neat storage solution for tins can and other food stuffs which don’t require refrigeration. The removable shelf makes cleaning this area quick and easy.
We have seen several reports of ergonomic issues with the FW29919, with the outlets mounted at an awkward height making accessibility uncomfortable for people with back issues and the elderly. Given that this model is top-loaded, users with back problems or mobility issues would be better suited to a bottom loading water cooler. This would allow them to avoid needing to hoist heavy water bottles onto the top of the water cooler dispenser.
While this model is very energy efficient, this comes at a cost. The water bottle is kept at room temperature instead of being actively cooled/heated – the water cooler and heater treats the water between the tank and the outlet, meaning that in periods of heavy use the FW29919 is only able to dispense 2 cups at a time before a pause is needed to heat or cool further water. While this feature saves on running costs, it does not favour use in busy environments where continued usage would be experienced.
- Quiet operation
- Dispenses both hot and cold water
- Actively heats/cools water
- In built storage unit
- Awkward filling angle
- Slow flow rate
3. Avalon Top Loading Water Cooler
This UL/Energy Star approved water cooler features a modern design and also shares a small footprint, taking up just 14.5 x 14.3 inches of floor space. This allows it to be positioned in small spaces, and gives a degree of versatility which is often required when matching a water cooler to the available space in a home or office.
This water cooler also delivers both hot and cold water, allowing it to be used for both cold water hydration as well as tea, coffee and soup making. Given this machine’s ability to generate hot water at a temperature of 185°F, Avalon have intelligently included a child safety lock to prevent scalding accidents from hot water.
The paddles on this Avalon water cooler are accessible and easy to use, and the child safety lock is simple to toggle on and off.
One downside to this water cooler’s Energy star rated efficiency is that hot and cold water is heated/cooled as it is required, with the tank water maintained at room temperature. This means that rather than flowing straight from the tap into your glass or cup, there is a short delay while the machine heats or cools the water served. Although the inconvenience is minimal, in a busy setting this could become frustrating.
Overall, this is a well-made water cooler and the unit feels sturdy. It can be installed anywhere needing only a power outlet to operate, and it accepts 3 or 5 gallon water bottles.
- Delivers hot and cold water
- UL/Energy star efficiency reduces running cost
- Child safety lock to prevent accidents
- Compact footprint
- Simply, modern design
- Energy Star efficiency means a slightly longer wait for hot water
- Missed opportunity by omitting storage space within base
4. Avalon A4BLWTRCLR
The Avalon A4BLWTRCLR water cooler is hands down the most stylish in our review, with a unique black and stainless steel design concealing the bottom loaded tank.
As with all bottom loaded models, the strain of hoisting a 5 gallon bottle onto the unit is removed, and the chances of leaks are greatly reduced thanks to the pumped water feed to the outlets.
An empty bottle light helpfully warns you when the water level is depleted, and an integral night light makes midnight trips to the kitchen less wakeful in the home.
The A4BLWTRCLR water cooler has 3 preset temperature settings which correspond to their own buttons on the machine. This allows you to programme hot and cold water levels, while receiving the energy savings associated with maintaining the water bottle at room temperature.
As with most of the best hot water cooler models, a child safety lock helps to prevent accidents.
Although not the cheapest unit in our test, the clever features built into the A4BLWTRCLR water cooler make it the best dispenser for water for use in the home in our review.
- Unique black and stainless steel design
- Bottom loading design gives neater appearance and removes the effort from changing bottles
- Less chance of leaks vs top loading design
- Child safety lock to prevent accidents
- User friendly Night light for ease of access
- Empty bottle warning light
- Stainless steel frontage prone to fingerprints and marks
- Subtle push buttons take some getting used to – not suitable for public spaces
5. Primo Stainless Steel 1 Spout Bottom Load
Primo offers a versatile range of water coolers and the Stainless Steel 1 spout bottom load is a water dispenser worth noting.
This water dispenser can deliver hot and cold water from ice-cold to near boiling hot. Its 14 x 12 inch footprint means that the cooler dispenser can be sited almost anywhere.
Being bottle fed, no plumbing is required which makes it easy to install this water cooler. Being a bottom loading water cooler dispenser, this model allows the water bottle to be hidden within the stainless steel cabinet below the stainless steel drip tray and keeps the top of the unit clean and tidy looking.
Unlike any other water dispenser in our review, the Stainless Steel 1 spout bottom load can actually deliver filtered water. Ozone is used in the integral cold water filter which can eliminate bacteria and other contaminants within the water to improve taste and quality.
A child safety lock feature is included, as well as a handy spout light for ease of use and the self cleaning technology built into the water cooler dispenser reduces the amount of time needed to clean the system.
Although we have seen some negative comments about the quality of the buttons, this water cooler dispenser includes a 1 year manufacturer’s warranty.
Between the stylish design, ease of use and self cleaning technology, this is the best water cooler we have come across lately.
- Dispenses hot and cold water
- Self cleaning functionality reduces maintenance
- Built in light for ease of access
- Modern stainless steel and black design
- Ozone based integral filter allows delivery of filtered water
- User buttons feel cheap
- Stainless steel frontage tends to require more regular cleaning to maintain appearance
Water Cooler Dispenser FAQs
How Do Bottom Load Dispensers Work?
This is a common question, especially given that it is quite easy to see how a top loading water dispenser works.
A top loading water dispenser uses gravity to “push” water from the reservoir onto the tap, releasing the flow once the tap is opened. As a bottom loading dispenser has the cold water store below the outlet, a pump is needed to pull the water from the bottle below to the outlet, when the outlet is opened.
A probe is placed into the water bottle when it is installed within the dispenser, reaching down to the bottom of the reservoir. The bottom loading dispenser senses when the tap is activated and automatically fires the pump, drawing water through the probe tube to the tap outlet. When the tap is closed, the pump stops.
While this system is very effective, it does mean that the water dispenser requires a power supply to operate.
How Do You Clean a Water Dispenser?
Water dispensers should be regularly cleaned to maintain hygiene levels and keep the dispenser water tasting fresh. This is laid out in various manufacturer’s guidelines for maintaining the dispenser.
To clean the dispenser, follow the steps below:
- If your dispenser also cools the water, unplug it 5 minutes before cleaning.
- Take the dispenser outside.
- Drain all of the water from the reservoir through the spigot.
- Using a clean cloth, wipe the neck of the bottle and the inside and the top of the dispenser along with the connection spigot. Also wipe down the grille and the inside surfaces of the drip tray below the tap. It is recommended that a weak solution of water and household bleach is used for this.
- Use the bleach solution to fill the reservoir and drain a few cups through the tap to sanitize internally.
- Refill the reservoir with bleach and water solution.
- Allow the solution to stand in the bottle for 10 to 15 minutes and then drain again.
- Rinse the bottle thoroughly with clean, cold water.
- Empty the drip tray and wash in soapy water.
- If the dispenser is also a coller, check the grille behind for any dust build up and wipe clean if necessary.
- Take the cooler back inside.
- Place a fresh water tank onto the dispenser, and draw off 4-5 cups of water to flush the internal pipes and tap.
Following these simple steps will keep your cooler clean and the water tasting great!
Does a Water Dispenser Filter the Water?
Both hot and cold water dispensers are designed to deliver water as it is required, rather than treat the water.
Depending on the type and model of the dispenser, filtering options are available.
For bottle fed units, filtered or spring water for dispensers is available as a refill option, meaning that the water is already filtered when delivered.
For other water dispensing units it is possible to connect to a whole-house filter feed, or install an in line filter to the water supply. This allows water to be treated before reaching the dispenser. This is preferable in area properties without a central filtration system and that are served by municipal water supplies.
What is The Best Water Dispenser for Home Purposes?
The best water cooler dispenser for use in the home in our review is undoubtedly the Primo Stainless Steel 1 spout bottom load.
Offering both hot and cold water, this bottom loading water cooler is packed with helpful features to make using it and living with it simple and enjoyable.
We particularly liked the built in spout light which makes midnight hydration trips easy to fulfil, without waking the household whilst the stylish design wouldn’t look out of place in any modern kitchen.
The bottom loading water cooler’s design makes it stable on its base and the child safety lock prevents scalds and removes the risk of accidental flooding.
Is a Water Dispenser or Cooler Better?
There is no easy answer to this question – it depends on the needs of the user and which features are important.
A top loading water dispenser is a cheap and simple way of providing hydration on tap, and can be installed almost anywhere in under 5 minutes.
A water cooler is more involved and consideration must be given to the power supply and running cost, but having chilled water on tap is a great incentive to get people drinking more. It allows for quicker hydration than making hot drinks from the kettle, as in most workplaces which will benefit any employer.
Compelling Benefits of Investing in a Water Dispenser
Better Tasting Water
Water is hands-down the most effective way to hydrate, but often we turn to juice or soda as a tastier option.
The truth is, when water is pure and free of contaminants that change its taste (and are often present in municipal and private water supplies) it is very refreshing.
By filtering tap water for drinking, these contaminants are removed and many people are surprised at how great water tastes when it is properly treated.
Homes which do not have a whole house filtration system installed see the biggest difference in water quality, making a water dispenser an economical solution to improve the taste and quality of tap water.
Dehydration can cause a wide range of side effects, and it is often the result of our being too busy or not thinking to stop for a drink.
Even regular drinks such as tea and coffee are diuretic, meaning they stimulate the body’s need to pass water. This means that although you are taking in fluids, they pass through very quickly.
By having a water dispenser present, either in the home or office, water is easy to obtain and the stylish design of most modern water dispensers draw the eye, serving as a reminder to drink.
Water dispensers can also encourage children to drink more. Their novelty factor, as well as the fact that the spout is often easier to reach than a faucet means that children want to interact with the machine and are able to operate it themselves. This saves parents the trouble of serving them and turns water from something they must drink into something they want to drink.
For homes with smaller children, water cooler dispensers are available with a child safety lock.
Convenient to Use
With a water dispenser, the hassle is taken out of drinking water.
Easy to operate with one hand and always there when you need a cold drink, these units remove the need to go to your filter faucet (if you have one) to fill your glass.
As water dispensers are usually fitted instead of under sink or countertop water filters, they can also save space in your kitchen where you need it most – no more preparing meals around a countertop water filter, or having to rearrange cupboards to make space for your under sink cold water filter!
What to Look for When Buying a Water Dispenser?
Bottom load water dispensers are so-called because the water bottle is installed underneath the dispenser outlet.
This allows for the cold water bottle to be hidden within the design of the dispenser, making the appearance of the unit much neater. For this reason, many professional businesses install bottom loading dispensers in public facing areas such as lobbies and waiting rooms, to give a better impression of the space.
By having the weight of the water bottle at the bottom of the unit, it makes the dispenser much more stable and less prone to toppling when knocked. This makes bottom loading dispensers a preferred option for parents of young children who are more likely to knock into the dispenser.
Lastly, because the outlet of the water bottle faces up when fitted to the dispenser there is less chance of flooding accidents due poor connection when fitting or replacing the cold water bottle.
Top load water dispensers are very popular in busy offices, schools and hospitals because they allow the users to clearly see the level of remaining water in the bottle.
As these types of dispenser are “driven” by gravity allowing the water to flow into the dispenser their design can be very simple and as such there are fewer elements to the dispenser which could go wrong – usually only a rubber seal, a drip tray, a basic tap and a stand to support the water tank. This also means that these dispensers can be produced more cheaply as there are fewer parts required than bottom loading models.
The downside of top loading is that they can be unstable due having most of the weight high over the base – this can make them a liability in busy spaces or areas with children present where the chances of getting knocked are high.
Bottom loading water dispensers also require the water bottle to be lifted onto the top of the unit, which can be difficult for elderly people, or those with upper body problems such as back or shoulder pain.
The design of tabletop water dispensers is given away by the name. These compact units are designed to be fitted on the countertop and provide water on demand.
Due to their small size and fitting on the worktop, a tabletop water dispenser is ideal for busy staff rooms and office settings where floor space may be at a premium.
Their small size means that these units are usually mains fed and because they do not require a bulky water bottle, they are available in stylish designs.
Tabletop water dispensers can provide hot and cold water depending on the model chosen and the requirement of the area.
Hot water options are often preferred in office spaces to remove the need for a kettle or water boiler, whereas cold water only dispensers can be chosen by homeowners for their stylish appearance and their convenience. In the home, cold water dispensers can also remove the need for filter jugs or standalone faucet filters.
The name gives away the nature of these water dispensers.
Very popular as a hot water option in office environments, wall mounted hot water dispensers are often installed above an existing kitchen sink drainer to provide instant boiling water for tea and coffee making.
Wall mounted hot and cold water dispensers are an easy way to free up space in a small kitchen, and are very simple to install above an existing sink. They require only a cold water supply and a drain which is present at the existing sink.
A range of styles is available, from stainless steel to coloured finishes and optional accessories such as drip trays and LCD displays mean that there is always a model available to suit your existing space.
Another model type given anyway by the name, direct piping water dispensers are piper directly to the water supply. This means that no water storage is required, which reduces the space required for the dispenser to be installed and also reduces the running costs vs bottle fed dispensers.
Direct piping models are popular because they are small and very easy to install, although depending on the plumbing around the new dispenser’s position, a professional plumber may be required to complete the water connection.
Freestanding water dispensers are floor mounted models.
This type of dispenser is the most versatile, being available as top loading, bottom loading and direct piped units. It is possible to buy water coolers and water dispensers in freestanding versions, making these models ideally suited to a wide range of settings.
Freestanding, top loading water coolers are often favoured for use in office spaces, waiting rooms and lobbies because they can be easily installed and relocated as required, in addition to the fact that they are very easy to maintain.
This is the amount of water that the dispenser can provide before it needs to be refilled.
The capacity is usually chosen based on the usage of the dispenser, which will change depending on where it is installed. A home of two people will need much less cold water delivered than an office of twenty people, or a waiting room which sees a high number of people passing through.
Dispenser bottles are recommended to be consumed within two days after opening in an office water cooler. This means that if the water dispenser’s capacity is oversized, a significant amount of water will be wasted. This is not only inconvenient, but also increases the costs associated with operating the dispenser.
Water Flow Rate & Noise
The flow rate of a water cooler indicates how quickly it can fill a glass. This is important where water coolers are likely to experience heavy use, and a low flow rate could be inconvenient and result in queues.
Noise is rarely a desirable feature in a water dispenser, but this is especially important for a water cooler in an office or the home where increased noise levels could cause disturbance.
Self Cleaning Technology
Self cleaning features do not eliminate the need for regular cleaning of the water cooler to be undertaken, but this technology can extend the periods between the cleans. This feature is particularly helpful in the home where cleaning routines might be forgotten, and in offices where the responsibility for cleaning may not be clear.
Depending on the model chosen, a water dispenser can deliver hot water, cold water or both.
It is common for a water dispenser to offer both chilled water or hot water, allowing the dispenser to cater for both refreshing drinking water and hot drinks.
As with many appliances, it is important to ensure that user safety is factored into the design of a water dispenser. Child safety and the prevention of burns is especially important for hot water delivery.
Features such as a child safety lock on a water dispenser in the home can prevent flooding from a cold water unit and scalding with hot water delivery systems, whilst a drip tray on a wall mounted model can prevent hot water splashing from the surface below onto the user.
In an age where litigation arises often from accidents in the workplace, safety features are of critical importance to employers considering installing a hot water dispenser in an office. By placing emphasis on selecting a model with appropriate safety features and providing clear guidance on how to operate the machine, an employer can demonstrate the steps they have taken to keep staff safe.
As with all appliances, the quality of construction has a strong bearing on how long the appliance will last. This is very important for top loading water coolers and dispensers, where the base of the unit is required to support the weight of a 10 or 5 gallon water tank whilst remaining stable and secure.
It is also important that a water dispenser is manufactured in such a way that it can be easily taken apart and reassembled for maintenance and cleaning. In particular, direct piped units that are connected to the water supply must be easy to isolate from the mains and clean, to reduce the risk of accidents during cleaning.
Hot vs Cool Water Dispenser
The type of water required from a dispenser will largely depend on the setting in which it is to be installed.
In an office or workplace and even smaller light commercial premises such as church kitchens or retail shops, it is more likely that instantaneous hot water will be required for making hot drinks and occasionally for cleaning purposes. Having a hot water dispenser installed saves space in often small kitchenette areas and allows the user to generate small amounts of hot water as it is needed.
Conversely, in the home cold or filtered water is more likely to be required for drinking, where there is ample space for appliances such as a kettle but additional space is preferred in the refrigerator (to replace jug filters) or to replace a faucet or countertop water filter.
Cleaning & Maintenance
Cleaning and maintenance is important to maintain hygiene and keep the unit operating to its maximum efficiency. This should always be carried out as the manufacturer’s instructions, but as a general rule most models should be cleaned thoroughly every 3-6 months.
We were blown away by the overall quality of the dispensers we reviewed.
We found it difficult to pick an overall “best water cooler”, but after comparing the models, the Primo Stainless Steel 1 spout bottom, Avalon Top Load, and In Sink Erator are our recommended choices.
While these units showed to be well suited to use in the home, we really believe that you won’t go wrong with any of the water coolers and dispensers we have reviewed today.
We will be running a wider test in the future to see if the great quality and clever features we have found here are available across the industry, or whether we just got lucky with 5 fantastic models!