A lot of water coolers look like this:

water cooler picture

You usually have to bend down in order to place your glass under the spigot and fill it, which is annoying it if you're doing it more than a few times a day, and looks like it could be avoided just by making it a bit taller.

Is there a specific reason why water coolers are so low?

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    So that guy can lean his elbow on it, of course! – Matt Rockwell Nov 21 '13 at 19:19

It might be that it reduces the height that the water container has to be lifted to to be replaced.

The design of water container shown in the photo is both very heavy and difficult to hold on to.

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    Probably correct, but I'm a bit suspicious: Long before electric pumps, places like Ancient Rome or Versailles had fountains. They basically worked by applying a pressure large enough that water flowed out of the fountain with enough velocity. – Denis de Bernardy Nov 21 '13 at 11:41
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    Also, 5 gallons of water weighs approximately 41 pounds. A taller cooler requires a more substantial structure beneath it to keep the top-heavy cooler stable. In the United States, there are ADA requirements for water cooler height. – user1757436 Nov 21 '13 at 13:15
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    @user1757436 that link is very useful and is some actual evidence as to the height of these items. You should cite that link and create a separate answer of your own (before someone else does!) – JonW Nov 21 '13 at 19:36
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    @user1757436 figures. Any time you see a design that's user-hostile for tall people ADA + wheel chair access is the most likely reason. (While that article indicates that the ADA allows installing an adjacent unit at a comfortable height for people who have difficulty bending over, I've never seen it actually done anywhere.) – Dan Is Fiddling By Firelight Nov 21 '13 at 20:43
  • Well, coolers have been that height for longer than the ADA has existed, so it's not just ADA. As a shorter person who has sometimes replaced the 5-gallon jugs on these things, I would certainly balk at having to lift it a foot or so higher. – Monica Cellio Nov 21 '13 at 21:51

Maybe it is "one size fits all" so kids and disabled will be able to use it as well.

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    in office environments? – ratchet freak Nov 21 '13 at 13:41
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    Maybe not kids, but possibly wheelchair users. – KitP Nov 21 '13 at 13:46
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    The wheelchair thing could actually be the reason. – Gabriele Cirulli Nov 21 '13 at 14:49
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    Agree with the wheelchair, yet hold my opinion it should also fit for kids as we can find these not only in office environments. I'll edit my answer. – Assimiz Nov 21 '13 at 14:55
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    @KitP Also, dwarfs and midgets – Izkata Nov 21 '13 at 19:48

Others have mentioned that a lower bottle is easier to replace. Two other reasons:

Stability. The faucets must be lower than the bottle, so rasing the faucets would mean raising the bottle. This would raise the centre of gravity of the cooler and make it more likely to tip over.

So people can lean on it, as in the picture. :)


All of the answers state the reason why such a water cooler is designed that way: the water container is too heavy to be placed higher. But all of these answers miss the real problem.

My answer to why water cooler facets are so low is: They shouldn't be.

The water container doesn't need to be on the top of the cooler. If the container is placed at the bottom then it will not be top heavy and difficult to replace. All that is needed is a simple pump.


Off the top of my head, I believe it has more to do with replacing the water container; if it were be taller, then it would also be much more difficult to replace.

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    You have just copied the same suggestion as was given by PhillipW. Unless you have some explicit extra details then please don't just reiterate existing answers. – JonW Nov 21 '13 at 19:20

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