A dispenser (from Latin dispense – distribute) is a mechanism or device of distribution and dosing. The water dispenser is a device for a separate supply of chilled and heated drinking water through one or different taps in the required volume. In Russia, these devices were given another name: water coolers (cool – cool), which is understandable. The first samples of dispensers had no heating function at all and only cooled water.
A special class of water dispensers appeared on the market not so long ago – purifiers ( purifier – purifier), or otherwise – filtration coolers. In fact, they have become direct competitors to coolers with water supply from interchangeable bottles. Let’s try to identify the main pros and cons of different water dispensers.
The pros and cons of different types of dispensers
Significant points are connected with drinking water technology because they are large to determine the primary choice between coolers with installed bottles and flowing filtration dispensers. Here immediately I want to note the key drawbacks of the consumption of bottled drinking water, fed through the dispenser:
- We do not have a clear idea of the quality of the water supplied: does it meet all the requirements of SanPin for microbiological and chemical safety, has the necessary standards of its mineralization been met, has it not lost its organoleptic properties?
- All interchangeable bottles for coolers are reusable, and it is unknown how strictly the rules of their disinfection are followed before the next filling.
- When drinking water is removed from the dispenser as the bottle is emptied, it is filled with air from the environment and bacteria. Inside the container for microorganisms creates a favorable environment for reproduction: high humidity, heat, and a closed biological system with constant “climate” conditions. The next day, water bottles are hundreds of times more microbes than when it is installed in the cooler.
- Key nodes of water dispensers, let’s face it, are never treated with antiseptic solutions. However, when installing the bottle, its neck comes into contact with the non-sterile environment. When pouring, we often involuntarily touch the tap and microorganisms from the air and hands spread through the internal water supply system.
- Water has an expiration date, but it is almost impossible to check it. In addition, most often, it is not known in what conditions the water was stored, how much it stood and where, in the sun or the cold, and after all, plastic at temperature changes emits a health-threatening bisphenol! This is especially true in the summer when 19-liter containers stand for hours in hot trucks in traffic jams to be delivered to consumers.
The disadvantages of dispensers are not limited to the inability to control the water supply system’s quality of drinking water and poor microbiological protection. There are also operational shortcomings of coolers:
- The need to store imported filled and empty plastic containers require additional space in an office space, country house, or apartment.
- The need to install 20-kilogram bottles in the cooler, which is extremely inconvenient, even if you consume not very much water per day;
- Buying and delivering water for coolers annually costs about 40,000 rubles – this is the reverse side of the low price of units. The main funds go for a delivery because the water itself is inexpensive.
- Dispensers with bottled water are overwhelmingly low-function. If they cannot go into “sleep” mode independently, the machines consume electricity around the clock, producing continuous heating and cooling of water. The number of unnecessary energy costs can only be guessed at.
In addition to dispensers for the supply of bottled drinking water, there is a modern version – flowing filtration dispensers or purifiers.
They use cold water, self-cleaning, and disinfecting it before serving for pouring.
Purifiers use one of the two most common water filtration systems: reverse osmosis and ultrafiltration. It should be noted that reverse-osmosis filters purify water, which is called, ideally, i.e., “too good”: because water, passing through the back-osmotic semi-permeable membrane, separate it at the molecular level from any impurities and ions, completely loses its natural mineralization, actually making it distilled. This means that on the way out, it is devoid of all ions of calcium, magnesium, and other vital micro and macronutrients, while more than half of the minerals a person receives from water.
Conscious producers of dispensers based on reverse osmosis provide in the system artificial mineralization of water after its treatment, installing in special reservoir briquettes with key minerals. This is especially important in hot weather when a person’s loss of necessary salts is especially great.
The other question is, how effectively and correctly artificially added minerals are absorbed? No such studies have been conducted, but by analogy, we can assume that a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice will be much preferable to the body than the tablet of ascorutin (a mixture of ascorbic acid – vitamin C and routine – vitamin P).
Reverse-absorbing (hyperfiltration) is advisable to use in water pipes with water extremely contaminated with harmful contaminants, as other filters will quickly become clogged. In addition, it should be added that with reverse-osmotic filtration, up to 2/3 of all water does not pass through the membrane and merges into the water drainage system. This can be important because it will require additional connections to the sewerage system and increase water costs.
Ultrafiltration systems tend to be complex and include a filter made of blocks of fine-porous carbon (not to be confused with granular activated charcoal in jug filters), baked in an airtight case, and a UV lamp for full water disinfection. The fine-porous activated carbon has a large useful area of contact with water, so its effectiveness is many times higher than the granular, leaving the opportunity for water to find “bypass” paths inside the filter itself.
Ultraviolet water disinfection is not used in all dispensers. However, this is a fundamental point because the design of coolers is such that it has on the way between the filter and the faucet storage tank (bak), where the water enters after cleaning. The clean outside is not always clean inside. Thus, enclosed space and humidity – an ideal places for bacterial reproduction. If we disassemble the water dispenser, which has served more than six months, in which disinfection is not provided, we will be able to detect a thin characteristic biofilm on the inner surface of the reservoirs, which appears there from the stagnation of water and consists of bacteria.
In different flowing filter dispensers, the filters themselves can be located in two ways: next to a water pipe (for example, under a sink) or directly in a purifier. It would seem that there is no difference, but the closer the filters are to the water supply faucet, the less chance of water to stagnate, and if inside the storage tank is installed ultraviolet lamp. The inner part of the unit’s pipeline is made of food stainless steel, the chances of pathogens “to dislike” a new home – almost no. Moreover, the convenience of service is greatly improved, as to change filters with wrench keys, bent into three deaths, not everyone on the shoulder. At the same time, replacing the filters installed inside the purifier case is so simple that even a child can do it.
Finally, since flowing filtration dispensers do not involve installing water bottles, they are much more compact, which means that they can be installed not only in any convenient place of the office or apartment, for example, on the countertop.
Saving space is a significant plus of flowing coolers.
The only conditional disadvantage of flowing filtration dispensers can be considered mandatory availability of water pipes up to 50 meters and a higher cost of the device than coolers for bottled water. But the table dispenser for water will eventually be cheaper and more practical if you calculate how much money and effort is spent per year to buy purified water and constantly care about providing the house or office with the right amount of drinking water.
What to look for when buying a water dispenser?
- Dimensions – all dispensers in the installation are divided into floor and desktop: it is obvious that floor coolers take up a lot of space, limiting their size to the choice of place of possible installation. At the same time, table dispensers are very suitable for the location in the apartment (in the kitchen or on the bar), can also be mounted in office furniture, or installed on the reception desk;
- Design and design solution – water dispensers with interchangeable bottles are rarely found in the desktop version because of the size of the plastic container with water, and those that can be found on the market, look simply frightening, so for this purpose, it is better to choose among the coolers with flowing filtering, which are compact and functional at the same time. Design matters – because it is an element of the image and an indicator of taste on the one hand, and part of the interior of the room – on the other, the dispenser should not violate the design of the kitchen, office, or hall;
- The quality of filtration implies: in the case of bottled water – the manufacturer’s strict compliance with all requirements of SanPina and responsibility to customers, in the case of flowing filter coolers – the authority of the filter manufacturer, guaranteeing compliance with the stated resource of the filter operation and all indicators of water purification according to technical documentation;
- Treatment of water by ultraviolet radiation, in which the UV lamp embedded in the storage tank not only decontaminates water but also prevents bacteria from multiplying in the internal nodes of the filtration system, which is essential for compliance with microbiological safety standards;
- The convenience of dispenser maintenance means that you do not need to call a specialist to replace a filter, UV lamp, or water tank (weighing 20 kg);
- The function of heating and cooling drinking water should be such that it is not necessary to use an additional refrigerator or electric kettle; that is, the coldest water should be served with a temperature of 4-9 o C, and the maximum heated – 95-98 o C;
- Temperature adjustment and programming can be handy when a person needs a strictly defined temperature of drinking water, for example, for sports cocktails, baby food, or medicines;
- The “child protection” feature protects children from accidental scalding with boiling water when using a water dispenser and is obviously useful for families with children, or, for example, when installing the device in kindergartens, schools, clinics, and other institutions, and public places;
- An adjustable drinking water dispenser, in the presence of which you can get the required amount of water at the exit at the same press, depending on the capacity of the glass or cup, which adds convenience in the operation of the dispenser;
- The programmable “sleep” function with a timer to save electricity allows the dispenser, for example, at night to disconnect from the power supply, so as not to keep the necessary temperatures, and a few minutes before waking or starting the working day automatically come on alert, or disconnect from power after a given number of minutes of downtime;
- Automatic control of the filter resource and UV lamp with the display allows you to update the filtration system’s main components promptly.