How Does a Water Dispenser Work?

With the levels of pollution on a perpetual rise, sources of safe drinking water are growing scarce. But a water dispenser is the perfect solution to this.

In short, a water dispenser provides us with bacteria and pollution-free water that is safe to drink. There are also numerous options to give various commands, for instance, when we want hot or cold water. The operation is straightforward; all it needs is the push of a button!

There are different types of dispensers. Be it a bottled dispenser, one connected to the municipal line, or mounted ones, all perform the same functions of filtering and heating/cooling water. 

Today, most residences and institutions are fitted with such an appliance; it is hardly an item of luxury. But to fully utilize it, we must know the workings of the device. In this article, that’s precisely what we’ve done.

So, let’s get started, shall we?

How Does a Water Dispenser Work?

Essentially, the functioning of a water dispenser is fairly simple. Water is extracted from a source, pushed through multiple piping systems, and ultimately delivered to us through a spigot or faucet. In doing so, water dispensers eliminate the need for fetching, purifying, and storing water for daily use.

But to get an in-depth idea of its mechanism, we must focus on the three main types of water dispensers used most widely.

Bottled Water Dispenser

Referred to as water coolers in regular use, most bottled dispensers are fitted with a 5-gallon container of water fixed in an upturned fashion on top. Therefore, on pressing the spigot, gravity and air pressure created from the vacuum push the water into the empty space and, in turn, into our cups. When the faucet is pressed, similarly, the air is let inside and water pours out. Easy as A B C, isn’t it?

Similar to point-of-use dispensers (discussed later), they come with the option to heat or cool water before use. This water is highly filtered and free from all impurities. That’s why this specific type of dispenser is especially popular with those who prefer to avoid drinking tap water or don’t have a direct connection to the municipal line.

Also, the other point on which the two types share similarities is the use of a button or knob for the release of water into a funnel. Both utilize the same mechanism for the water to flow unhindered which greatly simplifies the operation.

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The last thing to keep in mind about bottled water dispensers is that they do not come with a filter inside. But this is no cause for concern as filters are not necessary for the appliance; the bottle contains pre-filtered water that is absolutely safe to drink. Further, this model scores more points on account of its affordability as they are among the most inexpensive ones out there!

The only thing to ensure is a periodic inspection along with the delivery of fresh, filtered water. 

Bottled water dispensers require a higher degree of maintenance than the other types. There are a few reasons for this. The primary one is that the bottle is necessary for the dispenser to work and for enough water to be available. In the case of a shortage, service is disrupted as no other device can replace the bottle fixed to the dispenser.

Therefore, the availability of bottles must be ensured at all times for users to enjoy uninterrupted service. And if you think about it, that is not too difficult to do.

Mounted Water Dispensers

This specific type of water dispenser is found abundantly in public spaces such as multiplexes, shopping malls, theme parks, and the like. Whether mounted on to the wall or made to stand freely, the designs can vary and are subject to one’s personal aesthetic preference. However, the fundamental function remains the same.

Mounted dispensers make use of a knob to deliver water. On turning it, water keeps flowing out until the knob is freed. This allows for greater control and ensures minimum spillage. Moreover, the stream of water that is dispensed is usually arched in shape for convenience and mess-free functioning.

Designed to offer a quick, passing drink, mounted models don’t require cups or glasses. Simplistic in functioning, they also comprise fewer parts than the other types and primarily include the following:

  • A storage tank where water drawn from the mainline is reserved
  • A tap through which the water pours out in an arch
  • A button to start the water flow
  • A refrigerator in case a cooling function is available


There are some dangers associated with mounted dispensers but they can be easily avoided by exercising a little caution. As they are directly tapped into the water supply of the city, chances of contamination are often higher, especially in locations that have significant levels of pollution. Pollutants may easily seep into the supply and wreak havoc. Also, given the extreme exposure of public places, extra care must be taken to prevent infection.

Also, there is no option for heating or cooling in most models of this type. However, a lot of workplaces attach a refrigerator or chiller to cool the water before it is dispensed.

Point-of-Use Water Dispensers

The third and final type of water dispenser works by connecting to the municipal water supply, and in this way, it is similar to the previous type. Usually reserved for residential use, these dispensers are also found in business centers where safe and convenient drinking water is required frequently and for a large number of people.

The biggest advantage of point-of-use dispensers is that the water supply is unlimited! In addition to that, they are low on maintenance and do not require any time-consuming effort to function well. Unlike bottled dispensers, there are no bottles to replace and neither are these appliances in need of periodic checks.

Point-of-use dispensers are able to cool or heat water as required. Also, the filtration system is watertight. First, the water is heated to 95 degrees and then passed through two carbon filters. Next comes the UV chamber that is part of the system. No further filtration is needed as the UV light radiation is sufficient for sanitizing the water to make it drinkable. Cold water, however, takes slightly longer to filter.

In some models, it is possible to add carbon dioxide to it, which, in turn, produces sparkling water that is healthy as well as refreshing!

To sum up, the parts of a point-of-use dispenser are as follows:

  • A tank for storing cooled or heated water
  • Refrigerating and heating systems
  • Carbon filters
  • UV chamber
  • A button for the release of water


This type of water dispenser requires electricity to function and that too for prolonged hours to keep the filtration process running. Therefore, it is not the most energy-efficient option out there. However, it does offer a more sophisticated and higher number of functions as compared to its counterparts and is greatly preferred by users across the world.

Optional Parts of a Water Dispenser

Along with the primary machine and its attachments, some users prefer to install additional parts for enhanced performance and ease of use. Such fixtures facilitate a better flow of water and can also elevate the appliance to a luxury item in certain cases! These are:

  • Cups: Usually installed for easy accessibility and disposal, cups are often added to the water dispenser by users.
  • Refrigerators: some also add a mini-fridge to their appliances to hold canned and bottled drinks, snacks, etc.

While your water dispenser will work absolutely fine without these add-ons, you should consider getting these for added functionality and utility.

But Which One is Right For You?

By now, the variety of models and functions of water dispensers have probably left you slightly puzzled. But here is a round-up of all three types for your convenience!

In short, water dispensers are either made for smaller areas such as countertops as in the case of residential use, or for larger ones such as hallways. Others cater to even bigger and more public spaces like shopping complexes and parks. 

Their popularity stems primarily from the convenience they offer in terms of everyday water consumption. In eliminating the need to manually store and purify drinking water, they play an essential role in modern urban life. Therefore, selecting the right model of water dispenser depends solely on your individual needs.

If your primary requirement is simplicity and ease of access, then the standard-mounted water dispenser can be a great choice. In addition to a straightforward operation, this also makes for a cost-efficient option as prices are hardly exorbitant and suit a wide variety of budgets.

For the ones looking for heating and cooling systems in their dispenser along with foolproof filtration, then the bottled or point-of-use types are the way to go. Both employ a highly sophisticated mechanism to tackle contaminants and deliver water that’s not only free of impurities but also very refreshing to drink!

Irrespective of the type of dispenser you choose to buy, the information we have discussed today will help you use it efficiently for a long time. After all, knowing how something works helps keep it in the best possible condition.

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Final Words

For the most part, the water dispenser you select will be influenced by the circumstances you live in, your requirements, and your budget. However, even to shortlist a few options, a thorough understanding of its functioning is necessary and we hope we’ve been able to put it across in a way that’s lucid and accessible.

To reiterate, a point-of-use dispenser is quite ideal in the availability of a main or municipal water line. Where there isn’t one, a bottled or mounted model works just as well.

Also, these devices are fairly inexpensive, although prices vary not only from one model to another but also from brand to brand. However, on the whole, none of these models is likely to make a dent in your budget, and given their function, we’d say, more often than not, they’re worth the price tag.

On that note, we will take your leave. Till next time!

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