Hydroponic Water Chillers: Which Is Right for Your System?

Hydroponic water chillers are the most powerful solution for cooling and regulating water temperatures in reservoirs and tanks used in hydroponic systems.

Keeping the water in your reservoir cool is critical for successful hydroponic operations. If the water becomes too hot, the balance between water, nutrients, and plant growth is thrown out of whack.

Besides crippling or killing your plants, the wrong water temperature in your hydroponic reservoir can also provide the perfect breeding ground for harmful bacteria and plant disease.

In this article, we discuss everything you need to know about water chillers for hydroponic systems. We also share our picks for the seven best units currently on the market.

The Active Aqua AACH10HP is our choice for the overall best hydroponic water chiller. The Hydrofarm ActiveAqua Chiller is a close runner-up. The Active AQUA AACH25HP is another excellent option for medium to large hydroponic systems. For the largest reservoirs, the Active AQUA AACH50HP is also a good choice.

Understanding Hydroponic Water Chillers

Whether you’re a hydroponics veteran or are setting up your very first hydroponic growing system, understanding hydroponic water chillers and their vital importance to successful hydroponics operations is not a choice; it’s a must.

In the following sections, we talk about the subject in great detail, including why you need one, what size is best for you, how they work, and more. We also explain how to build and maintain one as well as listing a few of the best water chillers on the market. 

Do You Need a Water Chiller for Hydroponics?

Technically speaking you don’t need a water chiller for hydroponics. But, if the temperature of your water reservoir raises above the proper range a water chiller is the best component to resolve the issue. Water chillers are also the best solution to prevent high water temperatures.

What Size Water Chiller Do I Need for Hydroponics?

Common water chillers are made for 10-gallon to 100-gallon reservoirs. Depending on the size of your hydroponics operation, the best size water chiller varies. 

Most water chillers come with a recommended reservoir size, so pay attention to this spec while shopping. 

Purchasing a larger chiller than needed won’t be as beneficial as one of the correct size. Rather, it may simply run your electricity bill up and lower your water temperature too much.

How Do Water Chillers Work?

Most hydroponic water chillers cool water via a process including a nutrient-rich solution that’s circulated through the system. As the solution passes through the system’s coils, which are submerged in water, the water temperature is effectively lowered. 

Water chillers may also utilize the evaporative process for cooling water in your hydroponic systems water reservoir.

What does that mean in plain English? 

It’s really simple: your reservoir is connected to the chiller, which is connected to an electricity source. The chiller uses thermoelectric technology to convert electricity into cooling power. The water in your reservoir is drawn into the chiller, cooled down, and recirculated back out at a cooler temperature.

What’s the Best Brand Water Chiller?

There is no one brand that truly stands so far apart from the rest to be considered as the best. That said, a couple of the most popular water chiller brands include Active Aqua Chillers and Hydrofarm Active Aqua Chillers.

Can Aquarium Water Chillers Be Used for Hydroponics?

Aquarium water chillers are among the most commonly used water chillers for hydroponics. Originally created for keeping aquarium habitats ideal for specific breeds of fish, they are now widely used to stabilize temperatures in hydroponic systems.

What’s the Ideal Water Temperature for Hydroponics?

The most ideal temperature for all hydroponic systems is 65F to 80F. It is absolutely vital to maintain a temperature no higher or lower than this suggested range. For commercial operations, temperatures may be higher or lower by 5 or 6-degrees.

7 Best Hydroponic Water Chillers

With so many water chillers on the market, choosing the best one for your hydroponic system can be a challenge. That’s why we’ve taken the time to list and review seven of the best hydroponic water chillers currently available.

Best Overall: Active Aqua AACH10HP


  • Horsepower: 1/10 HP
  • BTU/h: 1,020 BTUs
  • Ideal for systems: 10 gal to 40 gal
  • Energy-efficient? Yes
  • Best feature: Pure titanium evaporator that works with saltwater and freshwater

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This popular water chiller is designed for hydro and aqua reservoirs of all sizes. The chiller features a super sleek design with an easy-to-use control unit that comes with an LCD display. It also has a really quick and simple installation process.

The Active Aqua AACH10HP runs at a maximum of 10 PSI and is built for reservoirs between 10 and 40 gallons. It comes with a 1-year warranty from the manufacturer. For small to medium hydro operations, chillers don’t get much better than this one.

Pros

  • Freon-free design
  • Works well with salt water and fresh water
  • Quiet running machine
  • High rate of flow

Cons

  • Sells out often

Low-Cost Option: LONDAFISH Chiller Fan

  • Horsepower: N/A
  • BTU/h: N/A
  • Ideal for systems: 10 gal to 20 gal
  • Energy-efficient? Yes
  • Best feature: Dual fan chilling action for superior cooling of small tanks

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The Londafish water chiller utilizes simple wind technology to lower water temps in hydroponic reservoirs, unlike the other units on our list. It comes with adjustable clamps and fan width, making it quick and easy to install compared to other units.

The manufacturer provides a 90-day money-back guarantee with the purchase of this chiller. It also comes with lifetime tech support. For fish tanks and small hydroponic operations, this simple chiller could be an excellent solution.

Pros

  • Has two speeds
  • Extremely energy efficient
  • Simple design and easy to use
  • Very affordable compared to other options

Cons

  • Not as powerful as some of the chillers on the market

JBJ Artica Aquarium Chiller

 

  • Horsepower: 1/15 HP
  • BTU/h: N/A
  • Ideal for systems: 10 gal to 40 gal
  • Energy-efficient? Yes
  • Best feature: One of the quietest running chillers on the market

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This water chiller runs super quietly and features highly efficient technology to chill your reservoir water. It is a powerful solution for small to medium size hydroponic and aquaponic operations.

Note that the newer models come with analog controls in the form of a dial. Older models of this cooler featured digital controls. At any rate, it is a simple water chilling solution and an easy one to install and use.

Pros

  • Features titanium coils
  • Runs very quietly
  • Quick and easy installation process
  • Energy-efficient design

Cons

  • Semi-expensive

Hydrofarm ActiveAqua Chiller

  • Horsepower: 1/10 HP
  • BTU/h: 960 BTUs
  • Ideal for systems: 13 gal to 105 gal
  • Energy-efficient? Yes
  • Best feature: Microcomputer and control system with built-in LCD display

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Made for small, medium, and large hydroponic and aquaponic reservoirs, this unit is extremely user-friendly. The chiller features an advanced microcomputer control system with a crisp LCD display that is easy to use. 

The system is made by a very well-known and established manufacturer and produces quick and reliable chilling capabilities. Regardless of your reservoir size, this water chiller will get the job done with ease.

Pros

  • Advanced system and controls
  • Easy to read LCD display
  • Built-in surge protector
  • Highly energy efficient

Cons

  • Sells out often

Iceprobe Thermoelectric Chiller

  • Horsepower: N/A
  • BTU/h: N/A
  • Ideal for systems: 10 gal to 40 gal
  • Energy-efficient? N/A
  • Best feature: Provides non-stop chilling action for small to medium reservoirs

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The Iceprobe chiller uses thermoelectric technology to convert electricity to chilling power used for rapidly cooling and regulating your reservoir water. It’s easy to use. Simply plug it in and it comes on. Likewise, unplug the unit and it turns off.

The system is designed for small to medium reservoirs. But, if you need more cooling power, you can couple it with multiple Iceprobe Thermoelectric Chillers to chill larger or multiple reservoirs. If your reservoir isn’t huge, this option may be right for you.

Pros

  • Easy to install and use
  • Simple but powerful chilling solution
  • 1-year warranty included with purchase
  • Can be combined with multiple units to chill larger reservoirs

Cons

  • Not as well known as other brand name chillers

Active AQUA AACH25HP

  • Horsepower: ¼ HP
  • BTU/h: 3,010 BTUs
  • Ideal for systems: 40 gal to 92 gal
  • Energy-efficient? Yes
  • Best feature: Anti-corrosive evaporator that works in fresh water and/or salt work

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The second Active Aqua AACH water chiller on our list is the 25HP version. As with the other units from the same manufacturer, It’s easy to install and works for all sorts of hydroponics and aquaponics reservoirs.

This robust unit has a high rate of flow, is very reliable, and is made with some of the best quality components on the market. It’s also simple to use, clean, and maintain. If you have a medium to large reservoir this could be the water chilling solution for you.

Pros

  • Large reservoir chilling capacity
  • Works with salt water and fresh water
  • Easy to use
  • LCD display

Cons

  • Uses more power than some units

Active AQUA AACH50HP

  • Horsepower: ½ HP
  • BTU/h: 4,020 BTUs
  • Ideal for systems: 90 gal to 172 gal
  • Energy-efficient? Yes
  • Best feature: Boost function for a speedier cooling process than other units

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Designed for larger hydro and aqua reservoirs, the Active Aqua AACH50HP is ETL tested and rated for 10 PSI operation. It also comes with a convenient boost feature as well that helps cool your water down even more rapidly than other units.

With powerful titanium coils, this unit works for just about any sort of reservoir under 175 gallons. It even works well for saltwater tanks. It is one of the most powerful water chilling solutions on the market, without question.

Pros

  • Most powerful water chilling solution
  • Pushes 4,020 BTUs
  • Made for large reservoirs
  • Features a power boost option
  • ETL tested and rated

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Uses more electric than others

DIY Hydroponic Water Chiller

There are numerous ways to create affordable and effective hydroponic water chillers. 

Below, we list all the steps for making an extremely simple chiller:

Gather Supplies

For this simple build you need a few basic components:

  • A cooler (the size and material is up to you)
  • Rubber or poly tubing for submersible air pump
  • Copper tubing that matches your rubber or poly tubing (or buy some adapters to fit them together)
  • Bags of ice, ice packs, or water bottles

Steps Building This Cheap DIY Water Chiller

  1. Drill two holes in your cooler (or simply punch two holes if you’re using a foam cooler)
  2. Connect rubber or poly tubing from your air pump to the cooler and from inside of the cooler back to the reservoir
  3. Coil up your copper tubing and place it into your cooler
  4. Fill the cooler up about halfway full with water and insert frozen water bottles, ice packs, or bags of ice on top of or around the coil
  5. Connect the ends of the copper coil to the rubber or poly tubing
  6. Plugin your submersible air pump and allow your chiller to work its magic

How To Cool Your Water Without a Chiller

If you don’t want to shell out the cash for a chiller, and don’t feel like building one, there are a few helpful options to consider:

  • Properly ventilate the entire grow area
  • Keep the reservoir filled to the brim
  • Use the largest reservoir possible
  • Install a reflective shield around the reservoir
  • Paint the reservoir (not black!)
  • Position the reservoir underground (or in a shady area)
  • Run the air conditioning (a lot)
  • Use a swamp cooler or misting fans
  • A combination of more than one of the above ideas

10 Tips for Using/Maintaining a Water Chiller 

  1. Clean the entire system regularly including the condenser, air filters, and tubing
  2. Check mechanical parts for malfunctions and/or excessive wear and tear
  3. Keep the wiring protected
  4. Monitor electrical components and amp/voltage draw
  5. Replace fluids as needed regularly
  6. Follow manufacturer instructions to the “T”
  7. Watch for leaks on the inside and outside
  8. Check for broken seals
  9. Reduce temperatures of the system when possible
  10. Keep a maintenance log to track the system’s performance

Closing Thoughts About Hydroponic Water Chillers

Keeping your water reservoir temperature between 65F and 80F is crucial. That’s why you more than likely need a water chiller.

Hopefully, our article answers all of your questions about hydroponic water chillers and helps you choose the right one for your system.

If you’re setting up your first hydroponics and need a water chiller, or are simply looking for the best replacement for your old one, we’ve got you covered with the recommendations and reviews listed above.