Whether in an office, a shop or a public area, free access to pure, clean drinking water is always appreciated. Therefore, water coolers have in recent years become a ubiquitous feature in the professional environment. Among the many models available on the market, countertop water coolers represent a handy, hassle-free yet cost-effective option for small companies.
Features and options
Before choosing a countertop water cooler (also known as tabletop water cooler), it is important to understand its basic functioning and the different features it offers.
Bottled or plumbed-in?
This is obviously a crucial point. While both types have their merits, one must keep in mind that water bottles are often heavy and require storage space. On the other hand, plumbed-in countertop water coolers will of course need to be connected to a water supply pipe, but will be less expensive to use and more eco-friendly (no delivery lorries or empty bottles).
Hot, cold or both?
The first job of a water cooler is obviously to provide refreshed or ambient water. Yet, a hot water faucet is an option offered by most manufacturers. By simply plugging the device into the hot water supply, it is then possible to prepare hot beverages (coffee, tea, instant soup) and get refreshments from the same machine. Other models use an electric compressor to heat cold water. Hot water faucets always come with a built-in safety feature to prevent scalding.
Health and filtration
Bottled or plumbed-in, most countertop water coolers come with built-in filters and purification systems in order to eliminate chlorine, and avoid any lime scale build-up in case the system is connected to a main water supply.
Who are coutertop water coolers suitable for?
Countertop systems are first and foremost a space-saving alternative to the more cumbersome freestanding devices. They represent a convenient solution for small businesses and staff kitchens. And it is only one of the advantages they offer.
Waste not, want not
Although they can supply as much water as a freestanding cooler, countertop water coolers are best suited to smaller quantities. By using smaller bottles or less tap water, small companies and sole traders will reduce their carbon footprint, and their expenses.
Countertop water coolers are versatile
Much easier to move than their freestanding counterparts, on-the-counter or under-the-counter coolers readily adapt to any redesign of the working area. They can also be taken to trade exhibitions to provide drinks on stand.
Any water dispenser must be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized every 4-6 weeks. The mobility and lightness of a countertop water cooler allow for easier maintenance or replacement, if need be.
Economy and costs
Countertop water coolers can be bought, but also rented or leased. Plumbed-in or bottled water coolers begin at around £180 plus VAT, with most models in the £200-£300 range. A set fee (around £100) may be asked for the installation of a plumbed-in system. A standard 19-litre bottle costs £5-8 plus VAT, for 5-10 people daily, so plumbed-in dispensers are cheaper than bottled water units in the long run as mains-fed water is virtually free. Maintenance costs and accessories (cups, tea, coffee, milk, swizzle sticks) must also be taken into consideration.