The phrase “water cooler chat” is not a new one, and in this era of texting and interoffice instant messaging, we might be at risk for losing the subtle art of office cooler chat. That’s a shame because studies have revealed that office cooler conversations can be beneficial. Fortunately, investing in some of the best water coolers can nudge employees to restore this tradition. And the benefits of having a water cooler don’t stop at the office — having access to instant hot and cold water can be nice at home too.
We combed through all the best-rated water coolers on the market and put together a list of our 10 favorites. Our number one pick is the Whirlpool Self-Cleaning Stainless Steel Bottom Load Cooler. Although this cooler doesn’t offer room temperature water like some of the other options on our list, it does allow you to set the exact temperature for both your hot and cold water. Besides offering more temperature control than most of the other water coolers on the market, it also gives you the ability to turn off the features that you’re not using to save on energy. Plus, it’s a bottom loading cooler. That means when it comes time to replace the bottle, you won’t have to worry about hefting a heavy jug up onto the top of the cooler.
Our Top Picks: The Best Water Coolers in 2021
Whether you want the best home water cooler or something better suited for the office, our list should have you covered. Here’s a quick look at our top 10 list.
|Best Overall: Whirlpool Self-Cleaning Stainless Steel Bottom Load Cooler.|
Not only does this unit look nice, but it also offers lots of extra features including the ability to adjust the hot and cold water to the exact temperature you desire.
|Best Eco-Friendly: Brio CL520 Commercial Grade Top-load Water Dispenser.|
This top-load water cooler is Energy Star approved, fed by gravity, and allows you to turn off the hot water option to save even more energy when you don’t need it.
|Best Budget: Avalon Bottom Loading Water Cooler Dispenser.|
We think this is a fantastic water cooler whether or not you’re on a budget. However, the affordable price tag doesn’t hurt.
|Best Bottleless: Avalon A5 Bottleless Water Cooler.|
This self-cleaning cooler eliminates the hassle of dealing with bottles by hooking up directly to your water line. And it comes with a dual-stage filtration system.
|Best with Ice Maker: Costway 2-in-1 Water Cooler Dispenser.|
This is the best water cooler for home or office use if you’d like access to fresh ice along with your tri-temperature water options.
|Best for Families with Pets: Primo Water Cooler Dispenser + Pet Station.|
If you have animals in your household, why not make your life a little easier and opt for a water cooler that comes with a built-in water dispenser for your pets?
|Best Countertop: Avalon Premium Countertop Water Cooler. |
Not only is this the best cheap water dispenser on our list, but it’s also our favorite countertop model if you’re looking to stick with bottled water.
|Best Bottleless Countertop: Avalon Touchless Countertop Water Cooler. |
If you want a model that takes up the least amount of space, going with this bottleless countertop unit is probably the smallest you can get — and it still comes with plenty of features.
|Best Touchless: Avalon Self-Cleaning Touchless Bottom Loading Water Cooler. |
With a simple black design and color-coded paddle dispensers, this water cooler gives you one less thing to worry about by offering you germ-free access to hot or cold water.
|Best Self-Cleaning: Brio Self-Cleaning Bottom Loading Water Cooler. |
Wouldn’t it be nice if everything the house would clean up after itself? Until that happens, at least your water cooler can set a good example by making your life a little easier.
1. Whirlpool Self-Cleaning Stainless Steel Bottom Load Cooler
The best water cooler overall
Brand: Whirlpool | Type: Bottom Loading | Temperature Settings: Adjustable Hot and Cold | Child Safety Lock: Yes | Self-Cleaning: Yes | Price: 💰💰
This is one of the best water coolers for a busy office or home when maintenance on a water cooler can be easily overlooked or neglected. This is a commercial-grade unit that loads at the bottom and uses easy-to-read LEDs to indicate hot or cold dispensing.
The unit enters a self-cleaning mode on its own so you don’t ever have to worry about it. It relies on oxygenation to destroy viruses or bacteria and cleanse the system.
The easy-to-use water cooler stands only 40.5 inches high and can work in a modern style home design or almost any office setting, dispensing near boiling and icy cold water around the clock.
- The cold water gets much colder than most water coolers
- You can turn off both the heating and cooling features to save energy when you’re not using them
- You easily adjust the temperature for both hot and cold water to get exactly the temperature you prefer
- The digital control panel isn’t very user-friendly
- There’s no room temperature water — it only has cold and hot water options
2. Brio CL520 Commercial Grade Top-load Water Dispenser
The best eco-friendly water cooler
Brand: Brio | Type: Top Loading | Temperature Settings: Hot and Cold | Child Safety Lock: Yes | Self-Cleaning: No | Price: 💰
Innovative design makes this modern system the best water cooler dispenser for a contemporary space. It is sturdy, sleek, and packed with features for a simple water cooling solution.
It provides child safety locks to eliminate any risk of scalds, and the hot water function can be disabled entirely when not in use. The included drip tray also eliminates any spills, stains, or problems on the floors around the water cooler.
An enhanced mount ensures that there is always a secure fit, which only makes the classic, top-loading design more appealing than ever.
- The water dispenses at a decent speed
- You can adjust the cold water temperature on this cooler
- This cooler has enough room to fit a full-sized water bottle underneath
- The child lock on the hot water dispenser makes it a bit awkward to use
- Many reviewers mentioned having problems getting the drip tray to stay attached to the unit
3. Avalon Bottom Loading Water Cooler Dispenser
The best budget water cooler
Brand: Avalon | Type: Bottom Loading | Temperature Settings: Hot, Cold, and Room | Child Safety Lock: Yes | Self-Cleaning: No | Price: 💰
This is one of the best water coolers for any setting, thanks to the modern, stainless steel design that gives it a kitchen and office-friendly look. It offers hot, cold, and room temperature water.
It has a handy LED nightlight, and many appreciate the ease of use when loading the five-gallon bottles into the ground-level housing rather than wrestling with a bulkier bottle flipped upside-down. We think this is the best 5-gallon water cooler for anyone shopping on a budget.
- It has a nice nightlight feature that you can turn on or off
- The buttons are located out of arm’s reach for small children
- The cold water is decently cold — not slightly chilled like some water coolers
- The water dispenses somewhat slowly
- Several users found the buttons hard to push
4. Avalon A5 Bottleless Water Cooler
The best bottleless water cooler
Brand: Avalon | Type: Bottleless | Temperature Settings: Hot, Cold, and Room | Child Safety Lock: Yes | Self-Cleaning: Yes | Price: 💰💰
With three temperature settings (cold, room temp, near-boiling), this rates as one of the best water cooler dispensers for BOTH office and home settings.
Without bottles, it will require a water line connection but uses separate tanks for hot and cold to keep supplies at optimal levels.
Installation is simple, and the included dual-action filtration system purifies water supplies for months at a time. The notification light signals whenever it’s time for a change.
- It has a sleek, clean design
- No longer having to deal with water jugs or plastic bottles is a nice feature
- All the buttons are on the top of the unit, which is out of reach for small children
- Some reviewers thought that the water came out a little slowly
- Depending on the quality of the water where you live, the water might not taste as good as bottled water
5. Costway 2-in-1 Water Cooler Dispenser
The best water cooler with an ice maker
Brand: Costway | Type: Top Loading | Temperature Settings: Hot, Cold, and Room | Child Safety Lock: Yes | Self-Cleaning: No | Price: 💰💰💰
This all-purpose system uses the classic top-loading design but enhances it with multiple features and functions beyond the norm.
A built-in ice maker makes up to four pounds of ice at a time (up to 27 pounds daily). It features user-friendly LED and tri-temp functions for hot, cold, and room temperature dispensing.
Child safety locks make it impossible for children to scald themselves with the near-boiling tap. Attractively designed, it fits nicely at home or the office.
- It makes ice pretty quickly
- This model is easy to operate
- The ice feature is handy and helps free up freezer space
- The ice bin isn’t refrigerated, so the ice will start to melt after a while
- Some reviewers received units that had faulty compressors where the cooling function wouldn’t work
6. Primo Water Cooler Dispenser + Pet Station
The best water cooler for families with pets
Brand: Primo | Type: Top Loading | Temperature Settings: Hot and Cold | Child Safety Lock: Yes | Self-Cleaning: No | Price: 💰
We love this concept of a combination water cooler and pet station and think this makes it one of the best water coolers for offices with pet-friendly policies as well as for homes. The design is also quite contemporary and compact to enable it to fit into smaller spaces.
The pet dispenser is built into the base and will only refill the dish once it is seated correctly and in need of additional water. The bowl also turns to the orientation needed, further enhancing the design’s function.
This cooler features a black exterior and chrome accents, an easy-to-use top mount bottle fitting, and an LED nightlight. This model is a unique and highly recommended find and is one of the best home water coolers for anyone with pets.
- The nightlight can be turned on or off
- The pet station bowl is easy to detach for cleaning, and it’s dishwasher safe
- You can change the position of the bowl depending on what’s most convenient for you and your pets
- The hot water capacity isn’t as large as some users would prefer
- This unit needs to be on a hard, flat surface for the pet bowl to lock into place — it doesn’t work on carpet
7. Avalon Premium Countertop Water Cooler
The best countertop water cooler
Brand: Avalon | Type: Top Loading | Temperature Settings: Hot and Cold | Child Safety Lock: Yes | Self-Cleaning: No | Price: 💰
If a countertop model is important, this nicely sized unit features a long list of benefits. It’s an Energy Star approved option that comes in a stylish, sleek black and white design. Color-coded taps identify hot and cold dispensers, and a child safety lock eliminates any risk for scalding. If you want a compact countertop model, this classic top-loading unit is the best water cooler for home or office use. It is only 12x12x19 inches in size.
The easy-to-use paddle spouts and simple design make this one of the best water coolers for any setting.
- The size of this unit is excellent for saving space, and it’s perfect for a dorm room
- Even though this unit is small, it still works with standard three to five-gallon jugs
- It’s a bit difficult to access, but you can adjust the temperature of the cold water from the back panel
- Some reviewers received defective units that leaked
- The hot water temperature wasn’t quite hot enough for some users
8. Avalon Touchless Countertop Bottleless Water Cooler
The best bottleless countertop water cooler
Brand: Brio | Type: Bottleless | Temperature Settings: Hot and Cold | Child Safety Lock: Yes | Self-Cleaning: No | Price: 💰
If you want the best countertop hot water dispenser with the smallest footprint, this is the model for you if you’re willing to go bottleless. One of the great things about going with a bottleless unit is that you don’t have to worry about replacing bottles because the unit hooks up directly to a water line. And, these units often take up less room because there’s no gigantic bottle attached.
In addition to having a small footprint, this model offers you the choice of hot or cold water from touch-free, color-coded paddle dispensers. This unit comes with the necessary installation kit for hooking this up to your water line and two filters: a multi-layer sediment filter and a carbon block filter. This unit is a perfect fit for kitchen counters and smaller spaces like dorm rooms.
- The touchless dispensing feature is convenient
- It comes with an installation kit and good instructions
- This unit takes up hardly any space, and it’s nice not having to deal with bottles anymore
- Because this unit uses a water line instead of bottles, you are somewhat limited in where you can put it
- The product specs don’t indicate the correct overall size of this unit because they don’t include the filtration system in the measurements
9. Avalon Self-Cleaning Touchless Bottom Loading Water Cooler
The best touchless water cooler
Brand: Avalon | Type: Bottom Loading | Temperature Settings: Hot and Cold | Child Safety Lock: Yes | Self-Cleaning: Yes | Price: 💰💰
The touchless paddle dispensers on this cooler make it one of the best water dispensers you can place into an office setting for germ-free dispensing. This unit is Energy Star approved, UL listed for safety standards, and comes with a child safety lock for burn prevention. It offers you the ability to choose from hot or cold water and the flexibility of use with three to five-gallon bottles.
This cooler comes in an all-black design that will blend in with most kitchen and office decors, and the paddle dispensers are color coded to make operation even simpler. Because this is a bottom-loading cooler, the water bottles are easy to replace and remain tucked away from view. The indicator light will remind you when you’re out of water.
- The touchless push paddles are large and work well
- Being able to turn off the hot water is a nice feature for saving on energy costs
- It doesn’t leave water in the bottom of the bottle the way some bottom loading units do
- The way the dispenser is designed makes it a bit harder to fill water bottles with small openings
- Some reviewers found the bright flashing light that indicates that you’re out of water to be annoying
10. Brio Self-Cleaning Bottom Loading Water Cooler
The best self-cleaning water coolers
Brand: Brio | Type: Bottom Loading | Temperature Settings: Hot, Cold, and Room | Child Safety Lock: Yes | Self-Cleaning: Yes | Price: 💰💰💰
This cooler is easy to keep clean and sanitary with its self-cleaning ozone feature, stainless-steel exterior, and removable drip tray. It lets you choose between hot, cold, or room temperature water and keeps all the controls located safely out of reach from little ones. It’s also Energy Star approved and UL listed for meeting safety standards.
The hot water, cold water, nightlight, and self-cleaning features can all be turned on or off easily from the back of the unit.
This water cooler is best for a home or office kitchen, and it has a long life and low upkeep, making it suitable for most settings.
- Replacing bottles is relatively easy
- There’s a bright night light feature that you can turn on or off
- You can turn off the hot water and save on energy if you don’t want to use it
- The cold water is cold, but not ice cold
- Some reviewers found this model to be a bit loud
What to Look for in the Best Water Coolers
There are a few things you’ll want to consider before buying if you want to get the best water cooler for your needs.
Dispensers are NOT Necessarily Coolers
Although the word dispenser is often used when describing a water cooler, technically, a water dispenser and a water cooler aren’t the same. There’s a significant difference between the two. Even the best water dispensers don’t offer heating, cooling, or cleaning. Also, dispensers don’t have many options in terms of how they’re loaded. Most water coolers and dispensers use the classic five-gallon bottles, but water dispensers are a very basic option. So, even though it might sound counterintuitive, if you’ve been looking for the best instant hot water dispenser, what you probably want is actually still called a water cooler.
Types of Water Coolers
Keep in mind that different types of water coolers offer the same essential functions but have different operation methods and some variations in features.
These water coolers rely on gravity to feed the water into the system before heating or cooling it. These units can save on energy because they don’t have to pump the water into the unit. However, lugging the bottles onto the top of these coolers can be tedious and might be difficult because of the weight. Some people also find the exposed water bottles to be an eyesore.
Bottom-loading water coolers use an electric pump to get the water into the unit. These units typically hide the bottle in a lower cabinet and take up less vertical room. Although the best bottom load water coolers can take up less space than top-loading units, neither can compete with bottleless units in terms of space.
These units hook up directly to a water line and eliminate bottles altogether. They often take up much less space since you won’t need to attach a bottle. However, you will need to replace the water filters and place the cooler near a water supply.
Take the Costs of Filters and Other Components Into Consideration
As always, it’s important to consider any additional costs along with the other factors you use in your decision-making process.
Although we recommend bottleless and filter-using systems because they are some of the best water coolers, their use of filters means that you may end up paying more for operating those units than those without.
However, with water coolers that use bottled water, you’ll need to consider the added cost of regularly purchasing bottled water and the extra time and effort that goes into replacing the empty containers.
The Best Water Coolers Always Use Electricity
This is important for several reasons. The first is that you’ll need to have access to an outlet that is installed to code if you want to enjoy heating, cooling, filtration, and other features. You may also need to be close to water lines if you are going bottleless.
If you’re concerned at all about energy costs, you may want to consider the best water coolers with on/off functions for heating or cooling the water. It’s also a good idea to look for coolers that are Energy Star approved.
Other factors we suggest you consider include capacity (not all take a variety of bottle sizes), overall size, whether the unit has any anti-tipping or child safety features, and how easy the unit will be to use and clean. Many of the best options will use stainless steel components to help cut down on maintenance and cleaning issues, and some units have self-cleaning settings.
The best coolers will have safety features, easy maintenance features, and good looks. Some water coolers even include additional features like ice makers, pet drinking stations, and more. The goal is to choose the style that works best for your home or office setting and ensure it provides the quantity and quality of drinking water (or cooking water) you need.
For this guide on the best water coolers, our team spent 9 hours researching the most popular options from over 11 brands and manufacturers, big and small. We then read about one hundred user reviews (both positive and negative) to discover what shoppers thought about each unit. After comparing this data, we narrowed our list down to the top 10 water coolers on the market. You can count on this research to guide you to a mindful purchasing decision.
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