Water dispenser buying guide: water coolers for the modern office

When choosing a water cooler for your office you’ll want to make sure you choose one that is going to do the job properly. Here is my guide to achieving an effective and bespoke hydration solution for your staff.

Making a decision based on just price, or aesthetics only, could result in buying an appliance that underperforms. You need a water cooler that looks good but can also do the job and is going to last for many years.

When deciding which type of water cooler to install in your office or workplace you need to consider the following:

  • Number of users per dispensing point per hour
  • Glasses, bottles, carafes, or all of them
  • Hot, cold, ambient or sparkling water?
  • Location
  • Cleaning & sanitisation
  • Which type of water cooler

Number of users per dispensing point per hour

Start by working out how many people will be using each water cooler.

For example, a company could have 1000 people on-site, but each floor has 100 people. Each floor may have 3 coffee points, which narrows down your options. This means you don’t need a dispenser with a huge volume because the 3 or 4 appliances per floor only serve 20-25 users per unit.

However, once you get into a canteen, like the one we have here at Borg & Overström, one dispenser could serve 70 people in a 2-hour lunch period. You could install a tap with high capacity under-counter chiller that serves this amount of people. But if it takes roughly 25 to 30 seconds to fill a glass you won’t be able to serve them fast enough. In this situation 3 taps with smaller chillers would be the most effective solution.

Glasses, bottles, and carafes

You need to also consider whether your staff are filling 200ml glasses or 500ml bottles.

In the last 12 to 18 months we’ve seen an increase in the number of people using reusable drinking bottles. Therefore, you need to think about two things: the dispense height of the water cooler and the output volume.

Not all water coolers can comfortably accommodate bottles, which makes refilling them difficult and sometimes messy. The Borg & Overström B3 for instance has a dispense height of 265mm to fit 500ml bottles. The B4 is higher still at 270mm.

Many offices also have meeting or board rooms and serve guests chilled water in large bottles or jugs. In this situation it is one user per dispenser, but the appliance is going to be heavily used in a shorter period of time. You need a water cooler that has a high output and a fast, constant recovery time. A constant recovery time means that the last glass of water or jug poured will be at the same temperature as the first.

Hot, cold, ambient or sparkling water?

Modern water coolers can be tailored to suit a variety of settings and tastes. Before deciding on a water cooler for your office talk to your staff to find out what they would like.

In a kitchen area they may want a combination of hot, chilled, and ambient water. In lunch rooms or meeting areas however your staff may prefer chilled and sparkling water. In the US for instance, sparkling water has experienced a boom as more Americans opt for healthier alternatives to sugary drinks.


There’s little restriction on where you can place a water cooler, provided it is within 1 metre of the mains water supply. The further away it is from the mains, the weaker the water pressure will become and the slower the water may flow. It takes 25 to 30 seconds to fill a 500ml bottle, which doesn’t sound long but when this creeps up to 40 to 45 seconds people start to notice.

It is recommended that floor-standing appliances in main thoroughfares, or places with lots of people, are fixed to the wall. This means that if someone, or something, knocks into it there’s no chance of pushing it over.

Borg & Overström water dispensers have what we call a Rear Cover System. This is a steel cover that fixes the appliance to the wall and covers all the electrics and plumbing making it secure and tamper-proof.

Cleaning & sanitisation

A modern water cooler needs minimal maintenance, but it is essential that you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. You should carry out a full clean and sanitisation every six months, which takes around 15 minutes per dispenser.

We recommend that this is carried out by a trained professional. A water cooler is a food product and by not cleaning it you could create a serious health risk for your staff. In addition, limescale deposits will eventually build up inside the water cooler and stop it from working efficiently.

Which type of water cooler

There are many more options of dispensers for the office than the traditional bottle-fed water cooler that you may be most familiar with. They typically fall into one of the following categories.


A compact water cooler that sits on a countertop. Counter-top water coolers, such as the Borg & Overström B4, pack a massive amount of innovation within a small space.

Under-counter tap system

These systems consist of a dispensing tap mounted on the counter-top. The tap is connected to the water chilling system located underneath the counter or sink e.g. Borg & Overström U1 and U2.


A water cooler that stands on the floor, generally reaching waist height. This is the most popular configuration as they can be installed in most locations. (Borg & Overström B3, B4 and B5).

Point of use (POU) or plumbed in

This describes a unit that is plumbed directly into the mains water eliminating the need for plastic bottles or water reservoirs. Also known as bottle-less. All Borg & Overström water dispensers are POU.

Bottled watercooler

This is the traditional water cooler. Bottles are stored on site and inverted onto a spike which feeds a reservoir with water when needed.

Re-thinking office hydration

Where once you may have had a floor-standing bottle-fed water cooler in the main thoroughfare of your office, you can now create a custom hydration system designed around the specific needs of your workplace.

So rather than being restricted to one or two types of water cooler for your office, you can select a number of different styles for specific jobs. For instance, an integrated tap in a kitchen, counter-top unit for the boardroom and a floor-standing dispenser in reception.

You can choose whether to provide staff and guests with hot, ambient, chilled, or sparkling water. Some also come in different colours and finishes so you can make a statement or blend your water coolers into the overall office design.

Get in touch to find out more about water coolers for offices.

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