Is it Better to Use a Heater/Chiller Combo or Separate Units?

Is it Better to Use a Heater/Chiller Combo or Separate Units?

Is it better to use separate heaters and chillers, or buy a combo unit that does both? In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of both setups. Also, we will cover a lesser known method of making your own combo unit. We will go over things like budget restriction, power capabilities for each setup, and what is best based on its application.


Combination Heater Chillers

A combo heater chiller unit is exactly what it sounds like, a single piece of equipment with both a heater and a chiller in one. Users can set a certain temperature and the unit will decide if it needs to start heating or chilling. Here are some pros and cons for using a single combo unit.



-Only have one unit to worry about, so only need to wire up or plug in one piece of equipment to power. 

-Easy to switch from heating to chilling by just adjusting the temperature.

-Don’t have to worry about mixing thermal heat and chilling fluids in a vessel from using a separate heater and chiller.



-If the unit goes down, that’s it, both your heater and chiller are out of commission until it is repaired. 

-Combo units have very strict limits on the strength of its heater or chiller. For example, a unit that has a very powerful chiller will likely have a weak heater, and vice versa. 

-Thermal transfer fluids that can handle extremely low and high temperatures are usually more expensive.


(Combo Unit Example)

Huber Ministat 230 ($9,690.00)

Heating capacity 1.5kW
Cooling capacity
100 20 0 -10 -20 -40 C
0.42 0.42 0.38 0.33 0.25 0.05 kW


Using Separate Heaters and Chillers

Having dedicated, stand alone units means you have one piece of equipment just for heating, and another for chilling. These are connected to your vessel through a manifold that allows only one unit to pump through the vessel at a time, with valves that close or open connections to either piece of equipment. Using separate heaters and chillers does have some distinct advantages, here are some pros and cons.



-If one unit goes down, still at least have the other for either heating or chilling. Obviously this situation is not ideal, but is better than being completely out of options. 

-By using two separate units, users are not limited to the capacities of a combo unit, so users are able to choose their own parameters and have both a strong heater and a powerful chiller.

-There are only so many combo units, so choosing a heater and chiller separately means a much wider variety of options.



-Using two separate units on one vessel means a manifold will need to be constructed with valves and connect to each unit. 

-Each unit requires a power source, and since heaters and chillers usually eat up a lot of electricity, they may need to be wired to different breakers to avoid overloading a circuit. 

-When using both units on the same vessel, users need to use the same fluid in each piece of equipment or be extremely careful about not mixing them. 


(Standalone Heater Example)

Huber Kiss 205B Open Bath Heated Circulator ($3,850.00)

Heater Wattage

1.5 Kw


(Standalone Chiller Example)

Polyscience LS Benchtop Circulating Chiller ($5,124.25)

Cooling Capacity, -20°C (W) 260
Cooling Capacity, -10°C (W) 475
Cooling Capacity, -5°C (W) 600


(Although they are slightly less expensive together than one combo unit, they are also similar in power. There are budget options available that are less expensive and less powerful that are available based on your needs. Call for details)


Making Your Own Combo Unit

Most people do not know they can make their own combo unit by linking together a heater and chiller, utilizing the heater's internal coil. Open bath heaters come with an internal coil that is used to regulate temperature. This coil can also be used to cool when connected to a recirculating chiller. By using a separate, stand alone chiller and connecting it to the coil on an open bath heater, a user has just created a heater that can also chill. Turn the heater as low as possible, lower than the chiller is set at, power on the chiller to start chilling the coil, and use the recirculating pump on heater to move the fluid through your vessel. Here are some pros and cons for this lesser known technique.



-Buying two separate units is usually cheaper than buying a combo

-Each unit can be as powerful as you want them to be, you are not limited by a combo units specs

-Do not need to setup a manifold or worry about mixing fluids 



-Can be a little technical to set up, most people have no experience making this type of heater chiller. (Call us for help)

-Requires unorthodox use of the equipment

-Might be hard to teach techs how to use this setup 


(The separate units listed above could be combined in this way, thus creating your own combo unit. As previously stated, these combinations are fully customizable. For more powerful or budget friendly options, give us a call



Shopping for heaters and chillers can be confusing as it is a very technical process. At Goldleaf, we aim to make this as easy as possible by giving you the tools and knowledge needed to select the right unit for you. Check out our other blogs for help selecting the right equipment for you based on your application, pump strength, and heating/cooling capacity. Knowing how strong you need your heater or chiller to be is key in selecting the right unit or combination of them. Combo units are quick and convenient, while separate heaters and chillers allow for a wide selection not limited by their specifications. Using our method of combing two separate units, users can find their own equipment and combine them to save on things like valves and manifolds. 


As always, call or email us at (510)487-1390 or [email protected] for more help on selecting the right equipment for you.


Check out our blog on the different types of heaters and chillers for more info on selecting the right unit for you:

Full Guide - Laboratory Heaters and Chillers - Styles and Power Capacities


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