Last Updated on September 16, 2020
Staying hydrated is essential for good health. Many people prefer to reach for bottled water, whether from single-use containers or the office water cooler because of its better taste. The latter explains why Americans bought over 1.4 billion gallons of home and office delivery (HOD) water in 2017.
We looked at the best 5-gallon dispensers and wrote these reviews to compare their design, energy efficiency, and extra features. Above all, we wanted to find the dispensers that deliver great-tasting water, which is top on our list of priorities. If you’re searching for a product for your household, our guide will answer the questions you may have and provide some pointers about choosing the best one for you.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Avalon A4BLWTRCLR Water Cooler Dispenser||
|Best Value||Giantex Top Loading Water Cooler Dispenser||
|Premium Choice||hOmeLabs Bottom Loading Water Cooler Dispenser||
|Brio CLBL520SC Self Cleaning Water Cooler Dispenser||
|Primo 900127 Top Loading Water Cooler||
The 10 Best 5-Gallon Water Cooler Dispensers – Reviews 2020
1. Avalon A4BLWTRCLR Water Cooler Dispenser – Best Overall
The Avalon A4BLWTRCLR Water Dispenser stood out for us because of its sleek and attractive design. For a practical appliance, it looks great. The stainless steel construction will fit in well with your modern-day decor. It is a bottom-loading unit, which eliminates the need to wrestle with heavy bottles. It also can take either 3 or 5-gallon replacements to make it even easier.
The appliance is Energy Star-certified, a feature we appreciate. It has three temperature settings, all of which are at appropriate temperatures. It also has a safety lock on the hot water. For late-night trips to the kitchen, there is a night light, too. It even includes an empty-bottle alert to make sure that the water keeps flowing. The installation is a snap.
2. Giantex Top Loading Water Cooler Dispenser – Best Value
For the price and its features, the Giantex Top Loading Water Cooler Dispenser is one of the best 5-gallon water cooler dispensers for the money. It includes both hot and cold water spouts, with the former having a child-safety lock on it. While it’s not the most attractive appliance, we appreciated the storage cabinet underneath the unit to keep cups and other items handy.
The construction of the product makes it easy to remove and clean the parts that need regular maintenance. It can also take bottles from 2–5 gallons. It’s a decent compromise with the drawbacks of a top-loading appliance. On the downside, it has only a room-temperature and hot setting. If we had a choice, we’d prefer a cold option over a hot one.
3. hOmeLabs Bottom Loading Water Cooler Dispenser – Premium Choice
The hOmeLabs Bottom Loading Water Dispenser makes its presence known with a large footprint in an attractive package. It has three temperature settings with one dispenser. We’re on the fence about that option. However, it features an LED display with a night light and empty-bottle alert to make it easier to use. It will accept both 3 and 5-gallon bottles.
The dispenser provides water at the optimal temperatures for the settings. It is also Energy Star-certified for efficient operation. It is simple to use, too. While it is more expensive, the water coming from the cooler tastes great. The noise from the unit is a bit louder than we’d like. However, it works as advertised and is well-made.
4. Brio CLBL520SC Self Cleaning Water Cooler Dispenser
The Brio Self Cleaning Bottom Loading Water Cooler Dispenser tries to make your life easier for a couple of slick options. We like this type of unit because it isn’t a chore to load. It also has an ozone self-cleaning feature that makes your water tasty and potable. It includes other things we often see with higher-end products like the night light, safety lock, and three temperature choices.
The stainless-steel finish is a keeper with this product. It’s good-looking for an appliance. The temperatures are spot-on with what we’d expect. It has a user-friendly design with a removable drip tray, which we loved. We also like the handy reminder to fill display because we don’t want to be out of water when we’re thirsty.
5. Primo 900127 Top Loading Water Cooler
The Primo Top Loading Water Cooler manages to make this type of dispenser look good. It also is efficient with Energy Star-certification. It has three temperature settings, including a bottle holder, to keep spills to a minimum. We thought it was a welcome touch to make it even more eco-friendly to use. It has a small footprint, which we appreciated.
The one gripe we have is that it seems top-heavy if you load a 5-gallon bottle on top of it. The unit weighs only 30 pounds. That makes it easier to haul into the house and install it. However, it raised some concerns. The available pre-fill or self-fill service is an excellent perk if you’re close to one of their locations.
6. Farberware FW29919 Freestanding Water Cooler Dispenser
The Farberware FW29919 Freestanding Hot and Cold Water Cooler Dispenser has a unique take on this type of product. It includes an extra storage compartment on the bottom of the unit. That’s a good thing and perhaps essential since it is top-heavy with a 5-gallon bottle. However, it is not a fridge, which is a bit deceiving from the description.
The unit is shorter than comparable models, which is a good thing if the height is an issue. It’s a bare-bones product without the extras like a night light that we like to see in these products. It has only two temperature settings. The cold one isn’t cool enough for us. There are also occasional reports of it leaking, which is unacceptable.
7. Nutrichef Countertop Water Cooler Dispenser
The Nutrichef Countertop Water Cooler Dispenser is the only one of its type on our roundup of the best water cooler dispensers. While it can take 3 or 5-gallon bottles, we’d hesitate to use the latter since it only weighs just over 9 pounds. The design is attractive enough, even if the bottle is in your face. It has just a cold and hot water spigot with the latter having a child safety lock.
The construction leaves something to be desired. The materials aren’t of high quality. However, the footprint is small and won’t take up a lot of counter space. It is top-loading with the disadvantages that the style brings. The fact that you’ll need to heft it higher is a definite con. Overall, the product misses the mark and lacks practicality despite the fact that it runs quietly.
8. Honeywell HWB1083S Water Cooler Dispenser
The Honeywell HWB1083S Commercial Grade Dispenser looks more like a refrigerator than anything else. It has three temperature settings, with a decent cooling time, even if it’s not as cold as we’d like. It tries to be user-friendly with a drip tray that has three positions. It also has a funnel to reduce spills. That is an excellent feature that we’d like to see on all water dispensers!
The design of the water cooler is slick and will fit in well with any modern-day decor. We liked the fact that it makes a top-loading dispenser less obtrusive. It comes with a one-year warranty. The water tastes great, which is something we consider a must-have in these products. Unfortunately, the unit leaks sometimes, which puts it squarely in the dealbreaker category.
9. COSTWAY Top Loading Water Cooler Dispenser
The first thing you notice about the COSTWAY Top Loading Water Cooler Dispenser is its dated look. It looks like an appliance straight out of the ‘80s. Unfortunately, it’s also hard to clean and shows dirt readily. On the positive side, the display is easy to read. It also has a child safety lock on the hot water spout. The tray has an antibacterial coating to keep the water safe to drink.
It only has two temperature settings, but the hot and cold temps are where we like to see them. It has a storage cabinet on the bottom of the unit that is roomy but not refrigerated. We thought it ran louder than comparable units, which makes it impractical for use near a bedroom. While it’s affordably priced, you get what you pay for with this product.
10. Brio CLTL520 Top Loading Water Cooler Dispenser
The manufacturer of the Brio Limited Edition Top Loading Water Cooler Dispenser knows how to make its products look great. It has three temperature settings and can accommodate 3 or 5-gallon bottles. That’s a feature we think is also must-have with top loaders. It also has a child safety lock on the hot-water dispenser. We loved the self-cleaning ozone feature.
On the downside, it has a large footprint. It’s taller than some models that makes this one harder to load bottles. It doesn’t have a night light, which is a bummer. Unfortunately, the water is a bit odd-tasting at first. That’s a huge downer since people who buy these products want better-tasting water. It also lacks some of the features we’d expect for the price, like a night light or empty bottle alert.
Going with a 5-gallon water cooler dispenser is a smarter and more eco-friendly option than single-use bottles. Unfortunately, Americans recycle less than 30 percent of these products, according to figures from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, there are several factors to consider when buying a dispenser to get the most out of your purchase.
If you purchase one, you can save on the cost of renting a unit, always a plus. They have a wide range of features that can determine which will work best in your household.
Let’s review what you need to know by doing a deep dive into each of these factors.
Point of Use
The simplest setup is the point of use (POU) water cooler dispenser. Instead of using a delivery service for new bottles, you connect the unit directly to a dedicated water line in your home. Of course, you also need to put it near an electrical outlet. These products include some kind of filtration system for purifying your drinking water. That makes them more expensive than models without this feature.
Countertop dispensers are an excellent choice if you don’t have space for a standalone unit. These products are compact and won’t take up a lot of real estate in your kitchen. They are also more affordable than full-featured models.
Top-loading dispensers are probably what you think of when someone says water cooler. The 5-gallon bottle sites upside down on top of the unit. Gravity is responsible for the water flow to the spigots. While they are an affordable solution, there are two disadvantages that you must consider. First, the bottle is the plain view. Some don’t find it a significant drawback, but it’s a point worth mentioning.
Second, there is the issue of replacing the empty bottles. A 5-gallon one is going to weigh about 50 pounds. The process is awkward at best since you have to lift it and turn it over to put it in place. You can easily strain your back with such a move. It’s essential, therefore, to lift with your knees instead of bending over to pick up the filled bottle.
The bottom-loading dispenser solves both of the issues with the previous type. As the name implies, no heavy lifting is involved. Many include a cabinet that hides the bottle, too. You’ll likely find that they resemble a piece of furniture so that they are decorative and functional. On the downside, they are more expensive since they include a pump for water to flow up to the spouts.
You’ll see products that can handle 3, 5, or 10-gallon bottles. Some can use more than one size. The one you choose depends on the water usage of your household and the delivery service options, depending on the model you choose. Bear in mind that you’ll likely draw water from the dispenser for other things like boiling pasta, making ice, or brewing coffee in addition to drinking water.
You can adjust your delivery service as required. However, it will affect how often you have to switch out the filter if your model includes a filtration system or you have a POU unit.
Design and Construction
Aesthetics aside, you should also pay attention to the construction of your water cooler. Some factors to consider include how loud the unit is when running. That’s an essential point if you want to place it near a bedroom or in an office. Any product you buy will make some sound. Certainly, one that is quieter is the more desirable option.
We suggest looking at features like the spigots and tray. Make sure that you can get replacement parts in case something breaks. They will get a lot of use, so you should opt for a product with quality workmanship. We recommend that you get an Energy Star model. Certified units can use up to 30 percent less electricity.
Some dispensers will provide both cold and hot water. Others may have a midpoint cool setting. If you’re not going to use the hot setting, find out if you can turn it off to save on energy costs. Also, check if the temperature on the two spigots is fixed or whether you can change it. Hot water that is lukewarm is hardly functional. Likewise, cold water should be just that.
Many manufacturers incorporate child locks on the hot-water spouts. If there are young children in your home, we think that it is a must-have feature. Many products have color-coded spigots to make it easier not to mistake one for the other.
Ease of Use
This term encompasses many aspects of owning a water cooler dispenser. Regular maintenance and cleaning of the unit are imperative. Bacteria and other pathogens can exist on some of the surfaces. We prefer products that make it easy to do. Consult your owner’s manual for recommendations on how often you should do. Some models have dishwasher-safe parts to make it even quicker to do.
Benefits of Getting a Water Dispenser
Some may think that having a water dispenser is a luxury. We think it a necessity if the drinking water quality in your area isn’t the best or if you are on a well. It’s also a welcome convenience. Instead of boiling water for a cup of tea, you can get the hot water you need on-demand. That saves energy and makes it an environmentally friendly purchase.
There’s also a practical side. A glass of cold water is refreshing. It also keeps you hydrated. You may find it easier to get the recommended 74.4 ounces per day for women or the 101.4 ounces per day for men if you have a ready source available.
For the money, the Avalon A4BLWTRCLR Water Dispenser is your best buy and takes the top place in our reviews. It scored high marks on the usability and energy efficiency we look for in these products. It goes with the theme of an eco-friendly lifestyle that includes reducing waste. This unit is Energy Star-certified, which fits the bill, too. Drink up because the water tastes great.
Featured Image Credit: PhaiApirom, Shutterstock
David Slone runs the TapIt Water blog. He first learned about water filtration and the impact it has on the world in college. Ever since that day he has worked towards making the world a better place. He writes to inform you about water filtration, the consequences of plastics, bottled water, and how we can do things better.
He loves to spend time with his beloved wife, 3 kids, and dog when he’s not writing.
- 1 A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- 2 The 10 Best 5-Gallon Water Cooler Dispensers – Reviews 2020
- 2.1 1. Avalon A4BLWTRCLR Water Cooler Dispenser – Best Overall
- 2.2 2. Giantex Top Loading Water Cooler Dispenser – Best Value
- 2.3 3. hOmeLabs Bottom Loading Water Cooler Dispenser – Premium Choice
- 2.4 4. Brio CLBL520SC Self Cleaning Water Cooler Dispenser
- 2.5 5. Primo 900127 Top Loading Water Cooler
- 2.6 6. Farberware FW29919 Freestanding Water Cooler Dispenser
- 2.7 7. Nutrichef Countertop Water Cooler Dispenser
- 2.8 8. Honeywell HWB1083S Water Cooler Dispenser
- 2.9 9. COSTWAY Top Loading Water Cooler Dispenser
- 2.10 10. Brio CLTL520 Top Loading Water Cooler Dispenser
- 3 Buyer’s Guide
- 4 Benefits of Getting a Water Dispenser
- 5 Conclusion