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MAKING SENSE of the Technology Used to Meet Future DOE Energy Regulations


Whether you’re an OEM, wholesaler, contractor, design consultant or end user, you’ve probably become increasingly aware of the of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) new minimum energy efficiency regulations in the commercial refrigeration industry. Although the effective dates for the DOE’s rulings are not until 2017 and 2018, many OEMs have proactively been preparing to improve the efficiency of their refrigeration equipment.

If you’re new to this discussion, here’s a primer. The DOE is calling for energy efficiency improvements in three types of commercial refrigeration equipment:

  • Reach-ins or self-contained display cases, measured in kWh/day
  • Walk-in coolers and freezers, measured in annual walk-in efficiency factor
  • Ice makers, measured in kWh/100 pounds of ice

Within each equipment type, the DOE has targeted numerous equipment classes, each with its own variables and equations to determine minimum energy efficiencies — all of which are available on the DOE’s website.

In our twelfth MAKING SENSE webinar entitled, “Meeting Future Refrigeration Energy Regulations With Today’s Technology Alternatives,” we took a closer look at some design options that OEMs can use to reduce energy consumption and improve refrigeration system performance. The live webinar was presented by Emerson’s own subject matter experts, Kurt Knapke, vice president of engineering and electronics, and Brian Buynacek, a refrigeration engineer.

Kurt and Brian discussed how Emerson has been engaged with multiple equipment manufacturers for quite some time to evaluate what equipment exists in their space and which options they have to meet the DOE regulations. We’ve been recommending options that provide the best return on investment, considering limited design time, upfront cost and the total operating costs.

Meeting the DOE’s minimum efficiency levels will create a ripple effect throughout the entire commercial refrigeration channel. But, the largest impacts will be increased equipment cost due to inclusion of more efficient component technologies, and physical space from equipment size expansion required to achieve these efficiencies (e.g., larger heat exchangers).

The MAKING SENSE webinar explored many of the design options that OEMs have at their disposal to meet the DOE’s minimum energy efficiencies. Kurt segmented these options into two main groups: devices/components that consume energy; and design options that have large impacts on system performance.

On the component side, our recommended options to reduce energy consumption include:

  • Improved system compressor
    • Adding a run capacitor
    • Choosing an alternate compressor technology (hermetic, semi-hermetic or scroll)
    • Considering enhanced vapor injection or a variable speed BPM motor
  • Electronically commutated motor for fans
  • More efficient auger motor (ice machine only)

To improve overall system performance, we’re recommending these options:

  • Float head pressures with the low ambient temperature (low condensing)
  • Improve the condenser coil
  • Deploy more efficient defrost technologies
  • Consider alternative refrigerants
  • Shift to LED lighting
  • Improve doors, insulation and fan blades

As compliance deadlines approach, this topic will continue to evolve. We’ll be working closely with OEMs and providing additional insights as they become available. If you weren’t able to attend the webinar and would like to hear it in its entirety, please visit the webinar archives on our MAKING SENSE website.

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