We’ve introduced this water cooler jargon buster to help you work out what some of the terms in our industry actually mean. If you think we’ve missed something, please send us an email and we’ll add it in.


This is normally used to explain the temperature of the water which is dispensed from one of the taps of an “ambient and cold” water cooler. You may be told by some suppliers that “ambient” water is dispensed at room temperature but in reality it rarely is. The ambient water in most water coolers is actually stored in the same reservoir as the chilled water but it’s drawn from the top where the slightly warmer water lies. Therefore, an “ambient and cold” water cooler is probably better described as dispensing “cold” and “much colder” water.

Aqua Dosa

This is a brand name for the scientific formula of H2O2 or Hydrogen Peroxide. It is made by Aqua Cure based in Southport UK www.aquacure.co.uk It is a widely accepted chemical to clean and sanitise the inside of water cooler reservoir and tanks. Users must be very careful with its use as it’s a bleaching agent which is tasteless, odourless and colourless.

Bottled Water Cooler

Essentially, there are two types of water coolers. One fed by a mains water feed and one fed by a bottle. This type of water cooler is obviously the one fed by the latter.


Stands for the British Water Cooler Association. It’s a Trade association for those involved in the bottled water cooler business. It’s actually defunct nowadays and it’s new name is the WHA. See “WHA” further down this list.

Counter Top Water Cooler

This type of water cooler needs to sit on a worktop or a table. They are often seen in works kitchens installed next to the sink. They can also be known as. Table Top or Worktop water coolers or chillers.

Direct Chill

This is a type of chilling system inside a water cooler. Instead of the traditional reservoir the water actually passes and is stored within a pipe. This pipe is fed by pressure so the reduction of air inside the system also reduces the bacteria which can grow. The pipe is surrounded by a chiller and as there’s less water to chill, they can re-chill quicker resulting in the production of more cold water than a traditional system. Direct Chill Water Coolers can be a little more expensive than standard systems but in certain circumstances are worth the extra investment. All direct chill water coolers are dependent upon a certain amount of water pressure so you should check this before installation.

Drip Tray

These are fitted underneath the dispensing area. They are designed to catch drips to protect the floor from small spillages. Don’t forget to clean them daily. Most fit into dishwashers but remember to ask your supplier first.


For many years,The European Drinking Water Cooler Association were the most recognised body in our industry. In 2020 both the BWCA (see above) and EPDWA joined forces to create one recognised organisation. This new organisation, who now oversee all bottled water cooler and mains fed water cooler members is called the WHA (See below).


This is the old name for the EDWCA. (see EDWCA).

Floor Standing Water Cooler

The most popular type of water cooler. As opposed to a table top which fits onto a worktop, a floor standing water cooler simply stands on the floor in the corner of your office.

Food Grade Tubing

This is the flexible pipe work you see behind your plumbed in water cooler. Different than other piping that carries water because this type of tubing is specifically made for carrying potable water.

Fused Spur

This is an electrical spur, widely used in the fitting of water boilers into kitchens. It’s fitted directly from the ring main and usually supplied with an integral switch.

Ice Bank

An Ice Bank chilling system is installed inside “Direct Chill Water Coolers” see above. The Ice Bank system helps re chill the water inside the coil by surrounding it in ice. Ice bank coolers are ideal for locations which are required for high use such as gyms & hospitals etc.

In-cup drinks

These are mostly used inside vending machines. They are thermal cupped drinks with dried content inside. Simply add hot water for tea, soup, chocolate and a whole variety of other drinks.

Install Rail

These are used when installing mains fed water coolers. Although there are cheaper alternatives the use of an install rail is definitely best practice when fitting a mains fed water cooler. They are fitted upstream of the water cooler, often under the sink. They consist of a pressure reducer, a non-return valve, a shut off valve, a water block and a water block reset switch.

Leak Detector

This is an electrical device designed to stop leaks inside water coolers. It works by cutting off the water supply when the leaking water completes the circuit and activates a switch.

Micro-bore Tubing

A flexible plastic tubing generally made by John Guest in lengths of 500ft or more, it’s used to carry water to the water cooler location. This tubing is used as it’s flexibility allows it to be routed around corners, over joists and through walls without the need to make a joint.


These are used to rate water filters. As a general rule, the smaller the micron rating the better, but as with most thing’s, there is a trade-off. Flow capability usually drops off as the micron rating gets smaller. 1 micron = one thousandth of a millimetre.




“Point of Use”. A water cooler which is fed by mains water instead of a bottle.

Pressure Reducing Valve

Exactly what it says on the tin! A valve fitted onto the water cooler inlet in the case of high mains pressure. Particularly useful with Direct Chill water coolers to prevent the water blasting out of the taps.

Pressure Vessel Cooler

Operates in a similar way to Direct Chill but instead of the water passing through a coiled pipe, it fills a sealed “Football” within the water cooler. This gives water which has not been exposed to atmosphere, at mains pressure, but allows a larger amount to be dispensed in one go than the Standard Direct Chill System.

Reservoir Cooler

A water cooling system where the water is held in a reservoir or tank within the machine fed from a bottle or from the mains. The refrigeration system is wrapped around the mains. When the taps are opened the water is dispensed by gravity. They usually provide a higher amount of water in one go, but take longer to chill through. This system is used in almost all bottled water coolers. It requires a hygienic tank, with an air filter and usually some float mechanism to prevent over-filling.


The process of cleaning a water cooler to reduce the bacteriological build up. Often called a “Sani” or Maintenance visit. Each part of the water cooler that’s comes into contact with the water should be thoroughly cleaned. The EDWCA recommend this as a six monthly occurrence. If your water cooler is mains fed, this is also when your filter should be changed. A typical sanitisation on a water cooler should take between 20-45 minutes.

Table Top

Also known as Counter Top. A smaller water cooler or water boiler that is essentially the top third of a floor standing machine with all the workings crammed in. More convenient where worktops & counters are the best place for the machine. Popular in kitchens.


A plastic conduit used to hide micro-bore tubing. Helps to make a neat finish when installing the feed for mains fed water chillers. It’s frequently used to hide pipe when running water feeds down walls and along the top of skirting boards.

Under Sink Chiller

A chiller unit installed underneath the kitchen worktop. Usually a space saving option which is equipped with a tap fixed to the worktop near the sink. This is an alternative to a water cooler which still produces fresh chiller water. They are often fitted with water filters that you may find attached to the underside of your worktop.


Ultra Violet – Some water cooler use U.V as part of the final filtration process. Exposing the water to U.V filtration kills more bacteria.

Water Block

A device which is installed downstream of the water connection. It’s designed to help prevent water leaks. They can be set to allow a specific amount of water though before they cut off the water supply.

Water Boiler

A high use alternative to the office kettle. Most water boilers can be plumbed in directly to the kitchen water supply and provide almost endless amounts of red hot water for tea and coffee for staff. Standard practice is to fit a de scale filter to help soften the water and protect the internal parts from scale build up.


Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive. This is a European Community Directive and, since 2007, UK Law. It requires manufacturers to establish and infrastructure for disposing of electrical equipment at the end of its useful life. It compels the manufacturer to collect and re-cycle in an ecologically friendly manner. Obviously this carries a cost, so frequently “WEEE” charges are built into the cost of items to cover the eventual disposal.


The WHA were formed in 2020 when both the EPDWA and the BWCA joined forces. It’s full name is The Water Cooler & Hydration Association. It’s looks after both bottled water & mains fed water cooler suppliers. It’s main aim is to create a single source of coherence and professionalism in our industry.


Water Regulations Advisory Scheme.