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12 Best Water Cooler Dispensers of 2021 – Reviews & Buying Guide

Having access to fresh, cold water when you’re thirsty and quick hot water when you need it for cooking or warm drinks shouldn’t be a luxury!

With the newest generation of water cooler dispensers, everyone should be able to find one that suits both their wallet and lifestyle.

Whether you want a water cooler dispenser for home or the office, there are quite a few things to consider when buying one in 2021. Your options range from classic, top-loading dispensers with very little in the way of additional technology to brand spanking new types of cooler like plumbed-in, self cleaning countertop models. Of course, the machines also range in price, ease of use and ease of installation.

Water Cooler Dispenser

What Sort of Water Cooler Do You Need?

Water coolers come in a huge variety of styles, sizes and prices. In order to choose one that suits your lifestyle, home and budget I’m going to give you a rundown of the most usual options. 

The way the cooler loads, size, and if you need the option to double up to boil water are the three biggest features to consider when you are choosing what sort of water cooler will suit you and your home.

Some water coolers are built with the home (or small workplaces) in mind, and fit on a table or sideboard. These can be appealing, but do remember that a smaller cooler means less water per bottle and therefore more changes. If it’s just you, and your space or budget is limited, then they can be a great option. Do take into account, though, that the footprint of most water coolers is pretty small - they may well be tall, but they really don’t take up a lot of floor space.

Modern water coolers are also increasingly aesthetically pleasing, so don’t let images of the 1990s doctor’s office cooler with cups like tiny birthday hats put you off!

The three main options for water cooler design are as follows:

1. Top-Loading Water Cooler Dispensers

This is probably what you see when you imagine a water cooler dispenser. They are common in offices, and also used worldwide to provide drinking water in cities where the tap water is not potable. They tend to be the cheapest option (though others are also often affordable), and are most people’s first port of call when looking for a water cooler - perhaps because they are essentially the Platonic ideal of a water cooler!

Top-loading water cooler dispensers work exactly as you would imagine. The bottle has to be loaded on top of the machine, and the water pours downwards. They aren’t hard to refill, but if you have any mobility issues or injuries then doing so yourself could be a problem if the dispenser is large. Don’t worry, though, the other two options might suit you better.

2. Bottom-Loading Water Cooler Dispensers

Can you work it out from the name?

Slightly more modern but not much more expensive than their top-loading counterparts, bottom-loading water cooler dispensers contain a tank in their top half, and a bottle in their bottom half. A series of pumps pulls the water up from the cooling tank, and you fill your glass as you would with any water cooler. 

These are generally far sleeker than top-loading dispensers, due to the obvious lack of the big water bottle on top of them. Very few come with an in-built filter, though, so do keep that in mind when choosing your perfect water cooler dispenser. 

3. Plumbed-In Water Cooler Dispensers

Also called in-line, bottle-free or bottless, these dispensers plumb right into your home’s water system. They make a lot of sense if you want to avoid water bottles for environmental (or annoyance) reasons, plus they save time and space because they don’t need to accommodate all that water within or above them.

Plumbed-in water cooler dispensers are more expensive than the other two options as an initial outlay, both for the unit and because they need plumbing in. In the longer term, though, you save time, money and labor because you don’t need to purchase bottles or canisters and you don’t need to spend time and energy refilling them. Plus, there’s never that ‘oh no, the water’s run out’ moment just after you come in from a big run!

In this guide I’ve covered twelve of the very best water cooler dispensers on the market, including most price-points and design features, from the space-age to the stone-cold classic!

1. HOmeLabs - Best Bottom Loading Water Dispenser

This bottom loading dispenser is exceptionally easy to load, reducing maintenance time and physical strain from lifting bottles. 

HOmeLabs Water Dispenser

Pros

  • Neat and well-designed
  • Hot, cold and room temp options for water
  • Child lock
  • Easy upkeep

Cons

  • More expensive than some competitors
  • It can be pretty loud!

It takes both three and five litre bottles, which means you can choose which works best for you in terms of volume, price and ease of changing the bottle too. 

The design may be nothing to write home about, but its footprint is a tiny 0.9 x 14.2 x 12.2 inches so it should fit almost anywhere! And it is by no means ugly, with a black and chrome design that suits most kitchens and color pallets. Plus, with three water temperature options: cold, hot and room temp, there’s something for everyone with the hOmeLabs Bottom loading Water Dispenser!

This instant cooler is easy to use, with a modern and intuitive control panel and even a night-light so it can be used without snapping the lights on and totally waking yourself up. There’s also a child lock, which parents will know is an important feature to avoid a totally drenched room and totally empty water cooler dispenser as soon as your kid works out how to make the water flow! 

Bottom Line

This is the perfect water cooler for a busy family with limited space - it offers everything you could possibly want from a full sized cooler dispenser, including an innovative child lock, yet it has a small footprint.


2. Avalon A8CTBOTTLELESSWHT - Best Bottleless Countertop

One of the main issues with countertop water cooler dispensers is that they need refilling very frequently. That problem is solved with the Avalon Countertop, as it’s plumbed in. 

Pros

  • Easy to install for a plumbed-in option
  • Small and innocuous
  • Once it’s set up, the Avalon looks after itself!
  • Excellent filtration
  • Hot and cold spouts

Cons

  • Plumbed-in machines are always more expensive
  • You have to factor in installation

Of course, that means the Avalon is a little more expensive than some competitors, but it also means minimal upkeep is necessary. In fact, as this cooler is self-cleaning it hardly needs to be thought about after installation! And it comes with a full installation kit, so if you’re handy you can do it yourself, or simply pay a handy-person to plumb it in for you in just a few minutes.

This is truly a next-gen water cooler dispenser, built with modern needs in mind. There are two levels of filtration, multi-layer sediment and active carbon. Filters last an amazing six months or 1500 gallons of water, so you rarely have to worry about changing them. Your first are included in the purchase price.

The Avalon has spouts for hot and cold water, with a nightlight for ease of use at all times!

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for an environmentally friendly, bottle-free option for a small space, or if you are most interested in a low-maintenance water cooler dispenser then this is the one for you.


3. Brio Limited Edition - Best Top Loading

The Brio is kind of the classic water cooler dispenser. You will have seen some version of this in doctors’ offices, workplaces, and a few lucky wealthy people’s houses over the years!

Brio Limited Edition

Pros

  • An absolute classic!
  • Three and five litre bottle options
  • Hot and cold options
  • A stylish body
  • Great value

Cons

  • Of course, changing the bottle is a regular job
  • Takes up more space than some options

But now they’re really accessible for everyone. 

The Brio’s base is pretty stylish, in black and chrome, but obviously the top-loaded water bottle is obvious and means it takes up a little more space than bottom-loading competitors. Three and five litre bottles fit. You have to be in reasonable physical shape to replace the bottle, but you don’t need to be a weightlifter so don’t let that hold you back! 

The Brio is really great value, especially for a water cooler dispenser that offers both hot and cold water. The hot-water spout also has a lock, and the whole unit is energy certified.

Bottom Line

This is the best-choice cooler dispenser for anyone budget-conscious looking for a trusted company who have kept up to date with modern trends.


4. Primo - Best Pre-filled Water

This three-spout, top-loading water dispenser offers hot, cold and room temp water in seconds.

Primo Hot and Cold Water Dispenser

Pros

  • A stylish, modern top-loading option
  • Very quiet
  • Mid-price, and a good balanced option
  • Water bottles from Primo come filtered

Cons

  • There are the usual upkeep issues as with all top-loaders
  • Buying brand-name Primo filtered water is more expensive than average, but other bottles also fit

The three or five liter water bottles from Primo are full of wonderful filtered water, and they’re also no-drip and anti-leak. They don’t take an army to change, but you do have to heft the bottles on top of the machine so do think about that when weighing up the Primo’s great price vs the labor it will take to maintain.

The drip tray and water reservoir are stainless steel, meaning they can be really easily cleaned in the dishwasher. The Primo is also really quiet, which is a big plus in an at-home water cooler dispenser.

Bottom Line

This is a great mid-price option if you want a balance between modern features and value.


5. Brio Countertop - Best POU (Point-of-Use) Countertop

This neat little countertop water cooler dispenser from Brio looks sort of like it belongs in a spaceship. And I mean that in a good way.

Brio Countertop Self Cleaning Bottleless Water Cooler Water Dispenser

Pros

  • Very modern and stylish
  • Self-cleaning UV system
  • Double-filtered water

Cons

  • Has to be plumbed in
  • More expensive than larger options with bottles

It’s small, neat and stylish with a smooth black and stainless steel finish. The Brio Countertop is as modern as it looks, too, with UV self-cleaning, a night-light, three water temperatures and a double-filtration system.

All water is dispensed through a single wide spout, so all sizes of vessel fit under it. Controls are discrete and single-touch, continuing the modern theme.

As with most bottless models, the Brio is on the more expensive side but upkeep costs are very low. Really, you just need to install new filters (easy to do) every six months or so. Initial installation of the machine is also a breeze - a standard ice-maker style hose is included in the package along with instructions.

Bottom Line

This is a real lifestyle product. If you want a stylish, modern water cooler dispenser and you don’t mind paying a premium for it initially, then definitely get yourself a Brio Countertop.


6. Avalon A1WATERCOOLER A1 - Best Hot & Cold Water

This neat little countertop water cooler dispenser from Brio looks sort of like it belongs in a spaceship. And I mean that in a good way.

Avalon A1WATERCOOLER A1 Top Loading Cooler Dispenser, Hot and Cold Water

Pros

  • Classic design, neat and suitable for most spaces
  • Hot and cold water
  • Great value

Cons

  • Water flow can be a little slow
  • The white color won’t be to everyone’s taste

The Avalon is classic yet clean looking, with a slim white base and blue and red taps for cold and hot water respectively. The hot spout is fitted with a child lock, so you needn’t worry about kids scalding themselves. They might make a mess with the cold water, but the spouts are too high to be accessed by a toddler.

This water cooler dispenser is UL and Energy Star approved. Like all top-loading machines, there is some upkeep to think about and the ongoing cost and delivery of the water. You can choose between 3 and 5 litre bottles, and it works with spill-proof bottles and as the bottle is always clearly on view you’re unlikely to be surprised by the need to refill it (or forget to do so).

Bottom Line

This is, ultimately, a functional and classic water cooler dispenser. If you want the practicality of a water cooler at an affordable price, definitely consider the Avalon A1.


7. Avalon A1CTWTRCLRWHT Top-Loading Countertop

Top loading countertop water cooler dispensers can be a little bit of a hard sell. Because of the size of the bottles they need a fair amount of space above them (it’s hard to fit them under counters, for example). But given the excellent price-point of this countertop Avalon, and its relative neatness, it’s a definite contender for at-home water dispensing.

Avalon Premium Hot/Cold Top Loading Countertop Water Cooler Dispenser

Pros

  • Compact and neat
  • Hot and cold water
  • Great value

Cons

  • Not as attractive as some other options

The base has a modern, clean design in white with curved edges. Classic red and blue spouts indicate hot and cold water, and hot comes with a child-lock to avoid scalding incidents. 

Suitable for home or office, the real pro of a top-loading dispenser (apart from value) is that you can tell when water is running low. Some people also find that countertop coolers solve some of the issues of top-loaders generally because you can rest the full bottles on the counter or table as you’re gearing up to load machines like the Avalon Countertop. 

Bottom Line

If you want a great value water cooler dispenser for a smaller space, then take a look at the Avalon A1CTWTRCLRWHT.


8. Giantex Top Loading Water Cooler Dispenser

The Giantex doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but does a water cooler always need them? It’s sturdy, easy to use and provides hot and cold water. 

Giantex Top Loading Water Cooler Dispenser

Pros

  • Excellent value
  • Switches to turn off heating/cooling to maintain water quality
  • Easy cleaning
  • Hot and cold water

Cons

  • No additional features
  • Has the usual upkeep concerns for top-loading water coolers

This top-loading water cooler dispenser from Giantex is nothing if not great value.

There are switches to stop heating and cooling when you’re not using the machine a ton, intended to avoid lowering the quality of the water with repeated cooling or heating.

Water comes out of the spouts nice and quickly, and the whole unit (particularly the all important water barrel seat) is easy to clean and maintain.

Looks-wise, there’s not a lot to write home about. The Giantex looks exactly as you would expect a water cooler-dispenser to look! The real hook, of course, is its value and its functionality.

Bottom Line

If you want to make your money go as far as possible, and want a practical water cooler dispenser for home or work, then give the Giantex Top Loading Water Cooler Dispenser a try!


9. Avalon Limited Edition

Avalon Limited Edition comes with three heat settings - a room temperature option is a welcome addition to the usual hot and cold - and the spouts and buttons are very modern and user friendly. There’s no flimsy blue and red plastic in sight!

Avalon Limited Edition Self Cleaning Water Cooler Dispenser

Pros

  • Modern, sleek design
  • Three temperatures
  • Refill needed light
  • Self cleaning
  • Great value

Cons

  • Somewhat noisy
  • You do need to regularly buy water bottles and refill

The Avalon Limited Edition is a modern bottom-loading water cooler dispenser.

That attention to detail and design is applied to the rest of the machine too. Brushed steel and black accents mean it would not be out of place in most kitchens, or in most modern homes generally. Plus, as it’s bottom-loading the Avalon Limited Edition is unobtrusive. It’s also easier to load than it’s top-loading equivalents, though the pump system can be a little noisy.

The Avalon doesn’t skimp on modern features, either. It has a built-in night-light to avoid nocturnal splashes and spillages, and it is largely self-cleaning. There is also a refill warning light that comes on when the bottle is closed to being empty, which avoids one of the main pitfalls of bottom-loaders whose bottles you can’t see.

Bottom Line

If your priorities are modernity and ease of use, but you still have to balance your checkbook, then the Avalon Limited Edition could be the perfect water cooler dispenser for you and your family.


10. Farberware FW29919

This is a free-standing, top-loading water cooler at a great price, with excellent energy-saving credentials.

Farberware FW29919

Pros

  • Energy efficient
  • Quiet
  • Compact footprint
  • Top value for money

Cons

  • Top-loading models take some upkeep
  • Slower water flow than some coolers

Because it’s top-loading, the cooler is very quiet and efficient. It’s available in black and white freestanding options, and there is also a table-top model. 

It takes 5-gallon jugs, which can of course be quite heavy when it comes time to change them. Of course, no cooler, especially in this price range, can be perfect, and the Faberware isn’t much to look at. It doesn’t take up too much space, but it appears a little bulky and not particularly modern.

In terms of practicality combined with value, though, the Faberware can’t be beat! It even has a built-in storage cabinet below its spouts.

Bottom Line

If you want a reliable cooler at a great price, then try the Faberware FW29919!


11. Ready Hot Water Dispenser

This is a hot water dispenser first and foremost, but it’s a good at-home alternative to a water cooler dispenser if you don’t like how they look or perhaps do not have room for them.

Ready Hot Water Dispenser

Pros

  • Very hot water available 24/7
  • Small and discrete
  • Energy efficient
  • Hot and cold faucets

Cons

  • Not strictly a water cooler dispenser
  • Does not produce ice cold water

This dispenser can produce 60 cups of almost boiling water per hour, with a variable temperature control and a cold spout too. The dispenser is very energy efficient, using less power than a lightbulb on average.

The heat level of the water means you can use the dispenser for all sorts of things - from cleaning baby bottles to making tea to getting water to boil on the stovetop quickly. It’s a one-stop shop in the kitchen!

This dispenser does need to be carefully (usually professionally) plugged in, so do factor that in if you’re thinking of opting for a Ready Hot Water Dispenser over a hot and cold cooler dispenser.

Bottom Line

If hot water is your priority, the Ready Hot Water Dispenser may be just what you’re looking for.


12. Whirlpool Self Cleaning Bottom Loading Cooler Dispenser

This is an extremely robust, commercial grade option that nonetheless fits into a home setting.

Whirlpool Self Cleaning Water Cooler Dispenser

Pros

  • A robust, commercial-grade cooler
  • Two water temperatures
  • Self cleaning
  • Quieter than many bottom-loading machines

Cons

  • Not very dainty
  • Industrial feel isn’t to everyone’s taste

The faucets are unbreakable, and the whole machine is steel-framed with a brushed chrome and black finish.

There are hot and cold water options (with the hot at a temperature suitable for making warm drinks), as well as a self-cleaning mode. All of these are indicated by LED lights in the body of the cooler. Generally, the Whirlpool runs quietly but the pumps are audible as they tend to be with bottom-loading machines.

Overall, this is a high quality machine with all the modcons - but it’s not as elegant as some of the competition. The trade off? It will probably last longer, and stand up to more constant use than most other coolers.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for something sturdy, long-lasting, practical and modern, take a closer look at the Whirlpool Self Cleaning Bottom Loading Cooler Dispenser.


Why You Need a Water Cooler Dispenser

You will probably be familiar with water coolers from office environments, waiting rooms and other semi-public spaces. But there’s nothing stopping you investing in a water cooler for the home, and it could actually make a lot of sense if staying hydrated, having access to water of guaranteed quality, and always having cold water on hand are important to you. If you have a larger family, or if you just drink a lot of water yourself, a water cooler can be a really practical investment.

For Better Quality Water

When you use a water cooler, you often also use bottled water that is filtered and distilled. If that isn’t the case (and you can fill them from the tap) then some water coolers have built-in filters so that all the water you drink is filtered before it hits your glass. In both of these scenarios, you have easy access to water that tastes and smells better than the water from your tap, and might even be better for you!

To Save Energy

Your fridge uses a lot of energy. In fact, a fridge is one of the most high-energy-use appliances in most homes. They even use more energy than dryers on average! Generally, a water cooler will use far less energy (though of course this varies from brand to brand and model to model). Plus, you’ll likely cut down on your use of disposable plastic bottles, so if the environment is a concern as well as your wallet then a water cooler may well be the way to go. 

Fridge Space

Even if you aren’t overly worried about your power bills, there’s no denying that water takes up a lot of space in the refrigerator. If you drink a lot of water, and especially if you have a family who drinks a lot too, you need to keep an awful lot in the fridge to make sure cold water is available at all times. And don’t get me started on trying to convince everyone to remember to refill the jugs after they’ve had a drink!

Cold Water When You Want It

That brings me neatly on to the absolute top reason to invest in a water cooler. A cooler is pretty much the best way to make sure that you have cold, fresh water whenever you want it, no matter how often that is or how much you like to drink. 

Access to cold water is really important, both when it’s hot out and when you have been working hard or working out. Do you really want to go to the fridge, find that your kids (or partner) didn’t refill the water jug, and either have to wait and risk getting dehydrated and fatigued or else chug lukewarm tap water? No! Me neither! That’s why I have a water cooler at home!

Final Thoughts

The water cooler-dispenser you ultimately go for will depend on your personal circumstances and preferences. 

For pure value for money, top-loading models are usually best. They’re also quiet and there’s very little in them that can malfunction. The best of the top-loading options, to my mind, is the Brio Limited Edition, which manages to bring a little bit of style along with the classic top-loading water cooler substance!

The best bottom-loader is the hOmeLabs offering, with it’s sturdy and stylish build and mid-range price. It’s easy to load and has a small footprint, so works well in the home. If you don’t like the look of bottles and have a little bit of cash to splash, go for the hOmeLabs dispenser. 

Finally, coming in top for plumbed-in dispensers is the dinky little Avalon Countertop. It has a double-filter system, is easy to plumb in (and comes with everything you need to do so) and is very practically designed to be easy to use and to fit on most countertops. There’s no need to buy jugs of water for this dispenser, which is a money-saver in the long run, so do weigh that up if you can when you’re deciding which water cooler dispenser will work for you.

Of course, those are just my top three. Any one of these twelve water cooler dispensers could be your perfect purchase, it just depends on your priorities.


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