Best 5-Gallon Water Cooler Dispensers (2020) – Reviews & Top Picks

Last Updated on September 16, 2020

blue water gallon on electric water cooler_phaiapirom_shutterstock 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

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Avalon A4BLWTRCLR Water Cooler Dispenser Avalon A4BLWTRCLR Water Cooler Dispenser
  • Energy Star-certified
  • 3-gallon option
  • Three temperature settings
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Giantex Top Loading Water Cooler Dispenser Giantex Top Loading Water Cooler Dispenser
  • Child-safety lock
  • Handy storage cabinet
  • Easy to clean
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    hOmeLabs Bottom Loading Water Cooler Dispenser hOmeLabs Bottom Loading Water Cooler Dispenser
  • Good-looking design
  • Night light
  • Two-year warranty
  • Brio CLBL520SC Self Cleaning Water Cooler Dispenser Brio CLBL520SC Self Cleaning Water Cooler Dispenser
  • Self-cleaning
  • Three temperatures
  • Easy-to-read display
  • Primo 900127 Top Loading Water Cooler Primo 900127 Top Loading Water Cooler
  • 3 or 5-gallon bottles
  • Pleasing design
  • Bottle holder

  • The 10 Best 5-Gallon Water Cooler Dispensers – Reviews 2020

    1. Avalon A4BLWTRCLR Water Cooler Dispenser – Best Overall1Avalon A4BLWTRCLR water dispenser

    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.

    Pros
    • Energy Star-certified
    • 3-gallon option
    • Three temperature settings
    • Great-tasting water
    Cons
    • Expensive

    2. Giantex Top Loading Water Cooler Dispenser – Best Value2Giantex Top Loading Water Cooler Dispenser

    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.

    Pros
    • Child-safety lock
    • Handy storage cabinet
    • Easy to clean
    Cons
    • Unattractive design
    • No cold water

    3. hOmeLabs Bottom Loading Water Cooler Dispenser – Premium Choice3hOmeLabs Bottom Loading Water Dispenser for 3 or 5 Gallon Bottle

    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.

    Pros
    • Good-looking design
    • Night light
    • Two-year warranty
    Cons
    • One dispenser
    • Loud

    4. Brio CLBL520SC Self Cleaning Water Cooler Dispenser4Brio Self Cleaning Bottom Loading Water Cooler Water 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.

    Pros
    • Self-cleaning
    • Three temperatures
    • Easy-to-read display
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Inactive while cleaning

    5. Primo 900127 Top Loading Water Cooler5Primo 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.

    Pros
    • 3 or 5-gallon bottles
    • Pleasing design
    • Bottle holder
    Cons
    • Top-heavy

    6. Farberware FW29919 Freestanding Water Cooler Dispenser6Farberware FW29919 Freestanding Hot and Cold

    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.

    Pros
    • Extra storage
    • Shorter height
    Cons
    • Top-heavy
    • Cold too warm

    7. Nutrichef Countertop Water Cooler Dispenser7Nutrichef 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.

    Pros
    • Quiet operation
    • 3 or 5-gallon bottles
    Cons
    • Hot not warm enough
    • Awkward design
    • Expensive

    8. Honeywell HWB1083S Water Cooler Dispenser8Honeywell HWB1083S Commercial Grade 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.

    Pros
    • Three-position drip tray
    • Funnel for bottles
    Cons
    • Leaks
    • Slow water flow

    9. COSTWAY Top Loading Water Cooler Dispenser9COSTWAY 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.

    Pros
    • Switches for cold and water spigots
    • Temperatures are spot-on
    Cons
    • Dated look
    • Hard to clean exterior
    • Loud

    10. Brio CLTL520 Top Loading Water Cooler Dispenser10Brio Limited Edition 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.

    Pros
    • Sleek design
    • Energy Star-certified
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Hard to load
    • Funky tasting water
    • No night light

    Buyer’s Guide

    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.

    Things to look for include:
    • Type
    • Capacity
    • Design and construction
    • Temperature settings
    • Safety features
    • Ease of use

    Let’s review what you need to know by doing a deep dive into each of these factors.

    Type

    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

    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

    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.

    Bottom-Loading

    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.

    Capacity

    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.

    dispenser
    Image credit: Kskhh, Wikimedia Commons

    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.

    Temperature Settings

    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.

    Safety Features

    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.


    Conclusion

    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