Best Water Dispenser Reviews – Cooler Buying Guide 2020

Water dispensers are a great tool for staying hydrated; they’re convenient, keep your water cool (or even cold!), and make it freely available to everyone around without the sanitation issues with a water fountain or similar device.

While a ubiquitous fixture in offices and other public spaces where a small number of people might be waiting around a lot (like on doctor’s visits), people are slowly starting to realize the benefits of owning one for your home as well, particularly with how many issues with tap water are coming to light these days.

Take a look at our water dispenser reviews along with the ones from the various types available on the market- bottom loading, instant hot, water cooler, and countertop water dispenser. Pick our top choice or you may want to read our in-depth analysis of the best water cooler dispenser reviews. 

In a Rush?

These are our top choices:

Overall: Avalon A5

Features:

  • Self Cleaning Feature
  • Built-In Nightlight
  • UL/Energy Star Approved
  • Safety Features: Child Safety Lock On The Hot Water Spout
  • Included Is One 6 Month/1500 Gallon Sediment Filter And One 6 Month/1500 Gallon Carbon Block Filter.

Top Choices on the Market

Product

Description

Price

Avalon A5
  • Bottom Loading
  • Ozone Technology
  • Child Safety Lock on Hot Spout
Avalon A4
  • Bottomless; Available Countertop Variant
  • Hot and Cold Functions
  • Built-in Nightlight
Brio Self Cleaning
  • Bottom Loading
  • Ozone Technology
  • Self Cleaning Feature
Primo
  • Top Loading
  • Hot and Cold Function for Pet Bowl
  • BPA-Free
Clover D1
  • Countertop/Bottomless
  • Filter Life of 1 Year Usage
  • Emergency Shut Off System to Prevent Leakage
Narita
  • Countertop
  • Automatic Reboil/Hot Function Only
  • 3 in 1 Dispensing System
VISATOR
  • Water Bottle Dispenser
  • Portable Drinking Water Pump
  • USB Charging
Primo Bottom Loading
  • Bottom Loading
  • Compact Design from Durable Stainless Steel Materials
  • 1-Year Warranty
G3 Reverse Osmosis
  • Tankless
  • 4-Stage Reverse Osmosis
  • Excellent Tech Support
Primo Stainless Steel
  • Bottom Loading
  • Ozone Technology
  • Push Button Controls

Best Water Dispenser Reviews – Cooler Buying Guide 2020

1. Avalon A5 Self Cleaning Bottleless Water Cooler Dispenser, UL/NSF/Energy star, Stainless Steel, full size

Avalon A5 Self Cleaning Bottleless UL/NSF/Energy star, Stainless Steel, full size

Features:

  • Self Cleaning feature
  • Included is one 6 month/1500 gallon sediment filter and one 6 month/1500 gallon carbon block filter
  • Safety features: child safety lock on the hot spout
  • Built-in nightlight
  • UL/Energy Star Approved

TYPE:

Bottom Loading

NOTABLE FEATURES: 

Ozone technology sanitizes unit and has both hot and cold functions

Pros

Bottleless: Bottleless design means less hassle for this best water dispenser, and less money over the long term. Design includes two filters, a 6 month (1500 gallon) sediment filter and a matching 6 month (1500 gallon) carbon filter to ensure your water is clean.

  • Three Temperature: Hot, cold, or piping hot water are all available at the touch of a button, from three separate, widely spaced nozzles. Protection feature includes a safety lock for when not in use, located on top of the machine out of reach of children).
  • Self Cleaning: In addition to the filter, the Avalon has an ozone sanitizer to kill off anything the filter misses.
  • Handy Lights: Includes both a night light and indicators for when the filters need replacing. Entire unit is Energy Star certified, so you don’t have to worry about the energy draw.
  • Options: Also comes in a countertop model that is otherwise identical in function, but more compact (for an increase in price).

Cons

  • Bulk: Base product is quite wide, so may not fit well in places where space is at a premium.

Recommended for you: Home Water Distillers

2. Avalon A4BLWTRCLR Water Dispenser, 3 or 5 gallon bottle, Stainless Steel & Black

Avalon A4BLWTRCLR 3 or 5 gallon bottle, Stainless Steel & Black

Features: 

  • Stylish stainless steel cabinet
  • Built-in nightlight
  • Suitable for 3-5 gallon water bottles
  • Removable drip tray
  • Convenient push button spouts
  • UL/Energy Star Approved
  • Safety features: child safety lock on the spout

TYPE:

Bottleless; has available counter top variant

NOTABLE FEATURES: 

Consistent Temperature; Piping hot water: 185°F, room temperature, or crisp cold water: 47°F and has both hot and cold functions

Pros

  • Bottom Loading: Bottom loaded design reduces footprint, increases stability, and reduces personal strain.
  • Three Temperature: Hot, cold, or piping hot water are all available at the touch of a button, from three separate, widely spaced nozzles. Hot water feature includes a safety lock for when not in use, located on top of the machine. 
  • Handy Lights: Includes both a night light and indicators for when the filters need replacing. Entire unit is Energy Star certified, so you don’t have to worry about the energy draw.
  • Variety: Our water cooler is suitable for 3-5 gallon water bottles.
  • Safety: This model features a child safety lock that prevents burning accidents from happening.
  • Quality: Water UL listed, and made of highest grade 304 stainless steel tanks.

Cons

  • No Self Cleaning: This Avalon model does not have a self-cleaning option. This is pretty much justified because of its relatively low cost. But having an ozone sanitizer as a backup plan like other Avalon models to clean the unit does have its perks.

Learn the benefits of Reverse Osmosis for Home here.

3. Brio Self Cleaning Bottom Loading Water Cooler Water Dispenser – Limited Edition - 3 Temperature Settings - Hot, Cold & Cool Water - UL/Energy Star Approved

Brio Self Cleaning Limited Edition - 3 Temperature Settings - Hot, Cold & Cool Water - UL/Energy Star Approved

Features: 

  • Self Cleaning feature
  • 100 percent stainless steel cold and hot reservoirs
  • Empty bottle indicator
  • UL/Energy Star Approved
  • Safety features: child safety lock on the spout
  • Compatible with 3- and 5-gallon water bottles

TYPE:

Bottom Loading

NOTABLE FEATURES: 

Ozone technology sanitizes unit and has both hot and cold functions

Pros

  • Child Friendly: Safety locks on the hot button make it safe for children to use. Additionally it is quite short (40 inches, or 3 feet 4 inches tall), making it possible for somewhat older children (around 8 and up) to use on their own without compromising safety for the toddlers.
  • Bottom Loading: Bottom loader design reduces strain, enhance the looks of your unit, and makes the entire device more stable and secure.
  • Overall Design: While not flashy, a number of smaller elements come together to make this a cut above the rest. It is Energy Star certified, for starters, making it highly energy efficient. The entry points for bottles are larger than most units, making filling large or tall bottles easy. It is compact but made of durable stainless steel. Overall a good package.
  • Self-Cleaning: This comes equipped with an ozone cleaner, activated via a switch at the back (switch must be held for five seconds to activate, so no worry about accidentally mashing it).
  • Handy Switches: Everything is controlled via switch; both hot and cold water, the night light, and ozone cleaner. Everything is clearly labeled and easily accessible, making this unit very easy to use and with nothing to memorize or worry about paint fading as the unit gets older.

4. Primo Water Cooler Dispenser Stainless Steel - Pet Station

Primo Stainless Steel - Pet Station

Features: 

  • Made of Stainless Steel
  • Pet friendly; has a water bowl for pets
  • Includes: spill-proof bottle holder with leak guard that makes loading bottles easier, dishwasher-safe drip tray and pet bowl plus LED nightlight
  • Safety features: child lock
  • BPA free

TYPE:

Top Loading

NOTABLE FEATURES: 

Pet Bowl and has both hot and cold functions

Pros

  • Pet Friendly: This model has something unique, a pet specific button for water dispensing. It does not flow unless the bowl is placed at the bottom, and at the press of a button fills the pet’s water bowl.
  • Child Friendly: The hot button is child locked, and the unit itself contains an LED night light for middle of the night hydration needs. All parts (including the pet bowl) are certified BPA free, making it safer for kids and reducing bacterial build up.
  • Instant Hot and Cold: A press of the button dispenses both hot and cold (40 degrees Fahrenheit) water.
  • Flexible Design: The footprint is incredibly small, making it easy to slot into any corner of your home. As an added bonus the pet bowl can be installed in the front, left, or to the right of the machine, further customizing it to your needs.

Cons

  • Top Loading: The Primo Water Cooler and Pet Station is a great product, hampered by being a top loading model. Bottom loaders are superior in every respect, and not just for ease of loading. Particularly as this model is meant to be used by a pet as well (and a large dog is pictured), the lower center of gravity for a bottom loader makes it harder for boisterous pets or children to knock over the unit, injuring themselves or destroying the machine.

5. Clover D1 Hot and Cold Countertop Bottleless Water Dispenser

Clover D1 Hot and Cold Countertop Bottleless

Features: 

  • Push faucets
  • Fast fill rate; 16 oz in 8 seconds
  • Metal construction
  • Deep fill area for large sport bottles
  • Child Safety feature
  • Emergency Shut Off System to prevent leakage

TYPE:

Counter Top/ Bottleless

NOTABLE FEATURES: 

Connects to normal plumbing; filter life- 750 gal or 12 months and has both hot and cold functions

Pros

Compact: The Clover fits pretty much anywhere without using up too much spac eon your counter. If you have room for a can opener, tin of coffee, or something similar, you have plenty of room for this alongside it.

Bottleless: Works with all standard plumbing and saves money on refilling bottles. Works as both a hot and cold dispenser as well, making it perfect for on demand coffee and the like.

Overall Design: The clover is large where it needs to be to allow large bottles (up to 16 oz) to be filled without issue (in under 8 seconds!) and is extremely durable and ruggedly designed.

Cons

Parts Not Included: The Clover does not include a filter or, more annoyingly, the installation kit in its purchase price. This is a hefty drawback when taken into account the below issue:

Price: The Clover is expensive; as expensive as most similar full sized models. Combined with the extra expense to get a filtering system (standard with most full sized bottleless units) and even to install it, the Clover is extremely pricey for what it offers.

6. Narita Electric Hot Water Dispenser with 3 way dispense (3.8L)

Narita Electric Hot Water with 3 way (3.8L)

Features: 

  • 3 in 1  dispensing system: manual, auto, hands-free
  • Stainless steel housing
  • 360º rotating base
  • Inner lining to prevent the sides from getting hot

TYPE:

Counter Top

NOTABLE FEATURES: 

Automatic re-boil and keep warm and has hot function only

Pros

  • Versatile: Dispenses hot water three ways; with a cup touch (hands free), electric pump (single button press), or air pump (press a large button, works a bit like a bike pump or similar device, so electricity is not always needed).
  • High Capacity: A 3.8 L (or a little over a gallon) capacity ensures you always have water available for the day on just one fill.
  • Rotating Base: The rotation ensures you can place this hot water dispenser wherever you need it and are always assured access. Great for island style kitchens and similar set ups with central access to a table or counter top.
  • Functionality: Automatic reboil and keep warm functions are great for short to medium term social engagements for easy, no fuss access to water for instant coffee, noodles, hot cocoa, and more!

Cons

  • No Off Switch: The Narita 3 in 1 hot unit is always active when plugged in, making it a little more of a hassle. It is also a potential safety issue if you forget to unplug it, so users need to be very careful about leaving the Narita plugged in in an unattended home or office, as water can boil to the point of evaporating and burn out the machine or cause a fire.

7. VISATOR 5 with 600ml quantitative effluent Switch fits for 1 to 5 Gallon Jugs (Mandala)

VISATOR 5 with 600ml quantitative effluent Switch fits for 1 to 5 Gallon Jugs (Mandala)

Features: 

  • USB charging
  • Electric and pumping device
  • Food grade silicone tube
  • Built-in high-capacity rechargeable battery; one charge (3 hours) can last for 30-60 days
  • About 8-10 barrels of water per charge
  • Compact and convenient to carry around

TYPE:

Water Bottle Dispenser

NOTABLE FEATURES: 

Portable Drinking Water Pump

Pros

  • Compact: This is designed to transport anywhere and fit on any size bottle. That makes it perfect for camping trips, tailgating, or just home use when you need to buy bottled water but can’t afford or aren’t allowed to install a filtering system or larger unit. The device itself is the size of a smart phone and can fit in any size purse or pocket.
  • Great Battery Life: Lasts 30 to 60 days on a 3 hour charge, and it you end up using up all the power before then, it easily recharges at any USB port. Is supposed to be able to pump 8 to 10 barrels of water before giving out, though the size of these barrels is not specified; it is unclear whether this is rated for 1 gallon, 5 gallon, or larger jugs or barrels.
  • Price: This unit is as no frills as it gets, and thus costs about a tenth of the price of a normal product. You get what you pay for, and this unit is affordable on almost any budget.

8. Primo Bottom Loading 3 Temperature Settings, Hot, Cold, Cool - Energy Star Rated Water Dispenser w/Child-Resistant Safety Feature Supports 3 or 5 Gallon

Primo Bottom Loading 3 Temperature Settings, Hot, Cold, Cool - Energy Star Rated Water Dispenser w/Child-Resistant Safety Feature Supports 3 or 5 Gallon

Features: 

  • UL Certified
  • Energy Star Rated
  • Stainless steel door panel and water reservoirs
  • Safety feature: Child lock for hot water
  • Drip tray is stainless steel
  • Small footprint
  • One year warranty

TYPE:

Bottom Loading

NOTABLE FEATURES: 

Compact design, durable stainless steel material and has both hot and cold functions

Pros

  • Bottom Loading: Bottom loading design makes things easy, reducing strain on your back and increases the stability of the unit.
  • Hot and Cold: Easy access to hot, cold, and cool water with the press of a button. Hot button has a safety lock to prevent danger to small children.
  • Drip Tray: Drip tray is stainless steel, removable, and machine washable, making it easy to keep it clean and fresh looking for any guests with a minimum of fuss.
  • Warranty: One year warranty ensures any initial issues can be quickly and easily sorted out.
  • Compact: It is small and has almost no footprint, making it easy to place anywhere and usable by people of almost all ages with ease.

Cons

  • Availability: This is good, but is only available from third party sellers. This means availability is spotty, prices vary wildly, and it’s more difficult to ensure quality and time of arrival (shipping times can be extraordinarily long and expensive if it’s coming from overseas). Particularly be aware of the aforementioned shipping costs as they are not guaranteed to be free from these kinds of sellers.

9. G3 Reverse Osmosis

Features: 

  • Directly in to your cold water line
  • With large LED lights
  • Safety features: hot water lock to prevent children from having accidents, electric shut off valve, and stainless steel reservoirs
  • 10 year warranty for brine and mineral tanks
  • Excellent Tech Support

TYPE:

Tankless

NOTABLE FEATURES: 

4 stage Reverse Osmosis and has both hot and cold functions

Pros

  • Compact: The entire package is sleek, light, and fits easily anywhere. A little over a foot wide and a couple inches deeper, its footprint is so small that it takes up about as much space as a hat rack or similar fixture. Its mere 42 inch height and 58 lb weight also means it is light and small enough to pick up and relocate as needed with some effort by one person, or easily with two.
  • Tankless: As a tankless model there is no tedious fiddling with reloading the tanks every time it runs out of water.
  • Purified: The G3 comes equipped with 4 stage Reverse osmosis filtering, removing over 90% of harmful minerals and chemicals from the tap water that runs through it.
  • Hot and Cold: The G3 comes equipped with both a hot water heater and cool or cold water tank. The hot water tank holds half a gallon, while the cold water one holds a full gallon.
  • Safe: The hot water button has a child lock feature on it that prevents accidental use and harm to small children.

Cons

  • Price: While you definitely get what you pay for, the G3 is one of the most expensive models on the market, so be prepared for sticker shock.

10. Primo Stainless Steel 1 Spout Self-Sanitizing Bottom Load Hot, Cold and Cool Water Cooler Dispenser

Primo Stainless Steel 1 Spout Self-Sanitizing

Features: 

  • Safety features: Child lock on hot button
  • Push button controls
  • Self cleaning
  • Indicator lights let you know when hot and cold water is ready
  • Tells you when bottle needs to be replaced

TYPE:

Bottom Loading

NOTABLE FEATURES: 

Ozone technology sanitizes unit and has both hot and cold functions

Pros

  • Clean: This product's claim to fame is a built in ozone sanitizer. At the touch of a button it floods your water with ozone, killing all bacteria, viruses, and similar living microscopic threats. Afterward the ozone harmlessly dissolves into the water, affecting neither the taste nor your health!
  • Bottom Loading: The bottom loaded bottle reduces strain on yourself and makes this Primo much nicer to look at.
  • Hot and Cold: Three settings make dispensing water of any temperature you prefer as easy as touching the right button.
  • Handy indicators: Lights let you know when hot water and cold water are ready for use, and even when the bottle needs to be changed, eliminating the only downside of a bottom loaded bottle (no clear indicator of when the bottle is empty without looking underneath).
  • Safe: Child safety locks protect delicate skin for accidental exposure to hot water.

Cons

Potential Quality Control Issues: While the reviews are positive all around, some buyers have reported issues with the unit Primarily there are claims that the hot water function wears out faster than the other parts, leaving this as a cool or cold unit only after a few months.


Final Verdict

Avalon A5 Bottleless

Most of these water dispensers are good, but with the small price variance it’s easy to point to clear winners. The Avalon A5 Bottleless and Primo Pet Station are the clear winners for full sized units, with the Clover D1 and Avalon A5 sharing the top spot for countertop models. If you want to save a few bucks here and there the other units are good deals, especially on sale, but for this kind of appliance the price differences are so small for the amount of time you’ll be using them (at least a year, usually 2-5 before needing replacement) you may as well shell out for the best water dispenser on the market.

Check our latest article on Water Filter System Reviews here.


How Do I Pick The Right One?

Types

First you’ll want to identify what kind you need. That kind of depends on why you need it. Determine the purpose and location first; is it for your office? At home? A private business?

Water dispenser then break down into about three broad categories at that point: plain, water coolers, and a filtered.

The plain model is as simplistic as it gets. You stick a bottle on top, and it dispenses water via a tap. You can find one of these almost anywhere.

Water coolers (what water dispensers are often referred to) add an electrical component, refrigerating the water stored within them. This is great if you need or want chilled water. As a bonus, they sometimes come with water heating as well, so making simple hot drinks (like cocoa and tea) is easy as well!

Filtered units are a subset of either of the other kinds; they’re either dispensers or coolers with an added filtration system. This means you can also use plain tap water in the bottle instead of buying large distilled or spring water bottles, generally saving time and money over the long term.

Capacity

Water dispensers and coolers usually have a standard 2 to 5 gallon capacity to them. Some water coolers these days have done away with the bottles entirely, however, and function a lot like a point of use water filter does. These have effectively unlimited capacity until the filters give out and need to be replaced.

Budget

They tend to be pretty affordable. Keep in mind that this doesn’t include the cost of water bottles and refills for dispensers that use spring water or distilled water, which can add up the cost for the jug and for the refill.

Definitely a justifiable business expense, but for home use you would most likely want to get a filtered variant and simply refill the jug with your own tap water.

Safety

Believe it or not, there are a surprising amount of product-related injuries per year. Several common features have developed to prevent these.

The first is a safety switch for hot water, which should often be flipped until the moment hot water is needed. A lot of people burn themselves each year with hot water from the product. While usually a mild inconvenience to an adult (the water is heated to between 95 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit most times, which is a little cooler than I take my showers at), the main danger comes to children and people with particularly delicate skin, who find such temperature harder to handle.

An excellent prevention for children is keeping them away, but that’s not always possible, so keeping the hot water turned off is the next thing to do.

Likewise a lot of people throw their backs out each year improperly lifting water bottles to refill it. The often 40 lb jugs can easily strain muscles if lifted wrong, especially if someone does it consistently over a long period. As time has gone by, bottom loading and filtered units have become far more common, both of which avoid this issue by either not requiring the bottle to be lifted very far (in the case of bottom loaded models) or dispensing with the bottle entirely.

Ease of Use

They are one of the easiest things in the world to use. With just a flip of a nozzle, you can enjoy cool (or cold) clean water. For filtered units, set up is more difficult (since you need to fiddle with pipes and hosing, and have a bit more thinking to do about exactly where it will go), but use is no less simple: blue nozzles are for cold or cool water, and red nozzles are for hot.

Hot water safety switches are usually easy to find, often clearly labeled, and easy to flip. There aren’t a whole lot of moving parts, and they are so easy to use a child can do it by accident (hence some of the mild safety issues above).

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do They Use A Lot of Electricity?

It depends. Some use none at all. On average the one that do (water coolers) cost relatively less in electricity, while ones with a hot water function can cost more per year.

Purchasing an Energy Star model and implementing other practices (like turning your it off at night) can save a lot of money.

2. How Much Does It Cost?

On average, you will not be breaking the bank for this product for up front costs, with more associated with replacing water bottles or filters over time.

3. How Do Bottom Loading Work?

They work pretty much exactly the same as normal models. The only difference is you put the bottle right side up in a cabinet underneath instead of flipping the water over and sticking it in the top. The water then dispenses upward similarly to how drinking from a straw works.

4. How Do you Clean it?

Simply use a soft brush and soapy water or a mixture of water and vinegar. Rinse until all residue of your cleaning material of choice is gone.

5. Do They Use A Filter?

Some do, some do not. In general bottle-less models always have a filter, and some that use bottles do as well. Others simply use pre-filtered water (distilled or spring water) bottles.

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