Industrial chiller insulated pipes and vessel

The following article will discuss a topic that often confuses people new to the HVAC industry – the difference between a heat exchanger and a chiller. Understanding these two terms is necessary for efficiently managing your HVAC system and guaranteeing optimal performance. Here, we will break down heat exchanger vs. chiller: examining key differences between them and exploring their functions, applications, and benefits. This explanation, brought to you by Torq N’ Seal, will help expand your knowledge of these all-important components.

Heat Exchanger

A heat exchanger is a device used to transfer heat from one fluid to another. It consists of a series of tubes or plates through which the hot or cold fluid flows, allowing heat to transfer between the fluids without mixing them. Heat exchangers can be found in any number of applications, including HVAC systems, refrigeration units, power plants, and industrial processes.

In HVAC systems, heat exchangers play a big part in both heating and cooling processes. During the heating season, a heat exchanger transfers heat from a hot fluid (think water or steam) to the air circulating through the HVAC system. This process warms up the air, providing comfortable indoor temperatures. On the other hand, during the cooling season, a heat exchanger extracts heat from the indoor air and transfers it to a cold fluid (think chilled water or refrigerant), effectively cooling the air.

Heat exchangers come in different types, including shell and tube, finned tube, and plate heat exchangers. Each type is suitable for specific applications and has its own advantages. For example, tube and shell heat exchangers are commonly used in power plants and industrial processes because of their ability to handle high-pressure and high-temperature fluids. Plate heat exchangers are more compact and efficient, making them suitable for HVAC and refrigeration systems.


A chiller is a refrigeration system that uses a vapor-compression or absorption refrigeration cycle to remove heat from a liquid. It is often used to cool down water or other fluids for various applications, including air conditioning, industrial processes, and medical equipment.

A chiller works by refrigerant gas compression which, in turn, makes it release heat and change to a liquid through condensation. The liquid refrigerant then flows through an expansion valve, where its pressure and temperature decrease. The result? The refrigerant evaporates and absorbs heat from the surrounding fluid, which is then circulated to the desired area or process.

Chillers are classified into two main types: air-cooled and water-cooled chillers. Air-cooled chillers use fans to dissipate heat from the refrigerant, while water-cooled chillers transfer heat to a separate water system, which can be used for other purposes, such as heating. Each type has its own advantages and is suitable for different applications depending on factors like space availability, noise restrictions, and cooling requirements.

Other Key Differences

Now that you have a clearer understanding of what heat exchangers and chillers are, let’s look further at the key differences between these two HVAC components.


A heat exchanger typically consists of a series of tubes or plates, often made of copper or aluminum, through which the fluids flow. These tubes or plates maximize the transfer of heat between the fluids while maintaining their separation. A chiller, on the other hand, is a more complex system that includes components such as a compressor, condenser, evaporator, and expansion valve.


Heat exchangers are widely used in numerous industries, including HVAC, refrigeration, power plants, and industrial processes. They play an important part in maintaining desired temperatures and improving energy efficiency. But chillers are primarily used for cooling purposes in applications like air conditioning, process cooling, and data centers.

Temperature Range

Heat exchangers can handle a wide temperature range, from very low temperatures to extremely high temperatures. Their versatility makes them suitable for a variety of applications. Chillers, on the other hand, typically operate at lower temperatures, ranging from around 5°C to -15°C (41°F to 5°F) for comfortable cooling applications.


When it comes to efficiency, heat exchangers are known for their energy-saving capabilities. By transferring heat between fluids, they help reduce energy consumption and improve system performance.

Chillers consume energy to compress the refrigerant and remove heat, making them less energy-efficient compared to heat exchangers.

Are You Looking for Heat Exchanger Tube Plugs and More? Count On Torq N’ Seal!

We hope the above has provided valuable insights into the differences between heat exchangers and chillers. If you have any further questions or require assistance with your HVAC system, feel free to reach out to Torq N’ Seal. We are here to help. Torq N’ Seal offers heat exchanger tube plugs and related maintenance equipment. Rely on Torq N’ Seal’s patented innovations to meet your needs. Contact us at SALES@TORQ-N-SEAL.COM or (877) 323-3584 to learn more.

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