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Understanding the DOE Mandate on Walk-In Coolers and Freezers

Julie Havenar | Product Manager – Condensing Units
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

Enforcement of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) energy efficiency standards on walk-in cooler and freezer refrigeration equipment will take place in 2020. While the rulemaking directly impacts original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), it will also affect stakeholders throughout the commercial refrigeration supply chain. This blog summarizes the contents of a new E360 article focused on the DOE’s WICF mandate. You can read the full article here.

Understanding the DOE Mandate on Walk-In Coolers and Freezers

The commercial refrigeration industry is no stranger to energy efficiency mandates. Since 2017, OEMs of new stand-alone, reach-in equipment have been required to comply with the DOE’s standards in this specific equipment class. As 2020 quickly approaches, the DOE’s mandate will take aim at walk-in coolers and freezers (WICFs) — requiring 20–40 percent energy reductions in WICFs smaller than 3,000 square feet that are manufactured after the following enforcement dates:

  • 1, 2020, for WICFs with medium-temperature dedicated condensing systems
  • July 10, 2020, for WICFs with low-temperature dedicated condensing systems

For those keeping tabs on this dynamic regulatory climate, these deadlines have been in effect since June 5, 2017. But with final enforcement dates quickly approaching, many OEMs are now eying these deadlines with new urgency and making the necessary design changes needed to comply.

Impacts to WICF condensing units and components
The DOE’s WICF ruling directly applies to anyone manufacturing, producing, assembling or importing to certify WICF components. From a refrigeration system standpoint, compliant components refer to dedicated and packaged condensing units (indoor and outdoor) used in both new and retrofit applications, including:

  • Condensing units that are assembled to construct a new WICF
  • Condensing units used to replace an existing, previously installed WICF component (retrofit)
  • Condensing units used within packaged systems.

Other than the condensing units, unit coolers (evaporators), doors, panels and lighting are also within the jurisdiction of the DOE’s WICF ruling.

While impacted parties must meet the applicable standards based on the date of manufacture, contractors and wholesalers can still use and stock condensing units that were manufactured before the DOE enforcement dates. However, condensing units manufactured after the enforcement dates must meet the DOE compliance standards.

Meeting the AWEF standard
The DOE uses a metric established by the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) to evaluate the energy efficiency of a complete WICF system. As defined by AHRI, the Annual Walk-In Energy Factor (AWEF) calculation is based on “a ratio of the total heat, not including the heat generated by the operation of refrigeration systems, removed, in Btu, from a walk-in box during a one-year period of usage for refrigeration to the total energy input of refrigeration systems, in watt-hours, during the same period”.

The DOE has defined several WICF equipment classes below the 3,000 square foot limit that must meet or exceed the minimum AWEF ratings based on capacity and application (e.g., medium- or low-temperature, indoor or outdoor). Condensing unit manufacturers and WICF OEMs must follow approved AWEF testing and certification procedures to comply.

How Emerson is helping OEMs
As a manufacturer of condensing units for a wide range of commercial refrigeration applications, we are working to certify our WICF condensing according to the DOE’s minimum AWEF requirements. For WICF OEMs, these certified condensing units will help you achieve compliance in one of your primary refrigeration system components. Simply combine an Emerson AWEF-rated condensing unit with an AWEF-rated unit cooler in order to achieve compliance in a dedicated system.

Emerson also offers AWEF testing and certification services to OEMs through our Design Services Network (DSN). Not only are we helping OEMs to verify AWEF compliance, we’re also helping them to address refrigerant regulations — combining product development efforts into a single design cycle.

If you’re a WICF OEM that’s not sure how to comply with the DOE mandate, Emerson can help guide you through this transition in multiple ways. We will publish our condensing unit compliance data as the enforcement deadlines approach.

 

Copeland™ Mobile Puts 30 Years of Product Info at Your Fingertips

JulieWalters_Blog_Image Julie Walters | Director, Aftermarket Programs and Support

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

In today’s dynamic commercial refrigeration and AC markets, contractors are faced with an ever-increasing variety and complexity of applications. Whether you’re a seasoned technician or new to the trade, you need every advantage when troubleshooting and diagnosing issues for your customers. Service technicians have access to the latest technologies in their toolkits available to them on their mobile devices.

One such tool is the Copeland Mobile app.

Access the product database

The Copeland Mobile app connects contractors to the Emerson Online Product Information database for on-the-go access to 30 years of Copeland compressor product specifications. This feature-rich app helps contractors perform the following actions in the field:

  • View product specification and application engineering manuals
  • Cross-reference Copeland products with other compressor brands/models
  • Quickly troubleshoot and diagnose Copeland compressors
  • Check the availability of local product replacements

The Copeland Mobile app is designed to give you instant access to the product, installation and service information you need to service your customers. Simply scan the barcode on any Copeland compressor to pull up its specifications or quickly find the Copeland replacement of a competitor’s model.

Connect to the industry’s largest support network

When you launch the Copeland Mobile app, you’ll immediately connect to the industry’s largest support network, comprised of more than 1,000 Copeland-authorized locations and over 600 certified Copeland technical specialists. If you have additional questions about customer service, product support or availability, representatives from our American base of operations can quickly deliver the product and technical assistance you need.

Make your job easier and our products better

While the Copeland Mobile app is designed to make your job easier in the field, it’s also contributing to the research and development of future Copeland compressors. Every time you use the Copeland Mobile app, you’re helping us contribute to a database of product and competitive information that we’re using to build better compressors.

So, if you’re ready to learn more and add valuable tools to your utility belt, view our Copeland Mobile app video, and then click the link to download it.

To download the Copeland Mobile app, use the QR code below.

GreenChill Hosts Emerson-led Webinar on Natural Refrigerant Architectures

AndrePatenaude_Blog_Image Andre Patenaude | Director, Food Retail Marketing & Growth Strategy, Cold Chain

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

My colleague John Wallace, director of innovation, retail solutions, and I recently partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) GreenChill program to present a webinar about making the transition to an effective refrigerant architecture. In it, we discussed leading natural refrigerant systems, centralized and distributed options, and the controls schemes that support them. What follows are the key takeaways from that discussion, which you can view here in its entirety — last bullet under ‘Webinar Archives’.

Over the past decade, the transition toward natural refrigerants has been driven by a combination of dynamic market trends, which include: global refrigerant and food safety regulations, rapidly changing consumer expectations and corporate sustainability goals. This historic transition has helped accelerate the adoption and investigation of “future-proof” natural refrigerant architectures.

Regulatory drivers of transition to naturals

In the U.S., the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has not only fully implemented the now defunct EPA rules designed to limit the use of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants with high global warming potential (GWP), it is also actively working to enact more aggressive measures that would greatly impact future refrigeration system architectures. One current proposal under review would take effect in 2022 and mandate the following:

  • Systems charged with more than 50 pounds of refrigerant must use an option that is less than 150 GWP
  • New refrigerant sales with less than 50 pounds of refrigerant must use an option that is less than 1,500 GWP

But California is not alone in these initiatives; there are currently 25 states in the U.S. Climate Alliance which have vowed to follow its lead.

Since natural refrigerants are among a very small list of viable options capable of meeting the above criteria, the commercial refrigeration industry is likely to see an increase in system architectures designed to utilize natural options. These include centralized architectures for larger-charge systems and distributed (or micro-distributed) options for smaller-charged system types.

Leading natural refrigerants

When we think of natural refrigerants in commercial refrigeration, we are typically referring to R-744 (CO2 aka carbon dioxide), R-290 (refrigerant-grade propane) and R-744 (ammonia). Let’s look at their unique characteristics and how they can be effectively utilized.

CO2 has proved very effective in both low- and medium-temperature applications and is typically found in centralized systems such as secondary, cascade and transcritical booster. Having been successfully deployed in commercial and industrial applications in Europe for nearly two decades, it has made significant inroads in North America in recent years.

CO2 is not a retrofit refrigerant and is intended for use only in new systems. System designers, operators and technicians need to be aware of CO2’s unique characteristics, particularly its low critical point, high operating pressures and standing pressure (power outage) considerations. It has a GWP of 1, which puts it in an elite class of environmentally friendly options.

Propane continues to experience a global resurgence as a viable, efficient and very low-GWP refrigerant choice. Its high flammability has traditionally limited system charges to 150g, which is why today it’s found primarily in stand-alone systems that operate efficiently with a low refrigerant charge — such as integrated display cases often utilized in micro-distributed applications. In Europe and abroad, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) recently raised its charge limit to 500g; the U.S. conservatively remains at 150g. Also, propane is not a retrofit option and is intended for new systems designed specifically for its use.

With its superior thermodynamic properties, ammonia was a logical first choice for early refrigeration systems. However, its toxicity requires careful adherence to safe application procedures to ensure operator safety and customer well-being. Traditionally, it has been used in industrial, process cooling, cold storage and ice rink applications. Most recently, ammonia has been introduced into commercial applications via cascade systems that utilize lower refrigerant charges and isolate the ammonia circuit away from occupied spaces.

System controls to support natural refrigerant architectures

Because of the unique properties in these emerging natural refrigerant architectures, system controls are even more essential to ensuring efficient operation, troubleshooting and servicing. Generally, the controls are loosely coupled to the refrigeration architecture, often following either a centralized or distributed approach.

However, the expanding variety of natural refrigeration systems can also pose new challenges for operators trying to maintain controls consistency or access a unified view across different systems. Here, a supervisory system — with its ability to integrate different devices into a common user interface — ensures that all stakeholders can quickly and easily evaluate each refrigeration system. 

As regulations continue to evolve and natural refrigerant systems gain more acceptance, Emerson is prepared to help equipment manufacturers, system designers and end users utilize these very low-GWP alternatives in the development of efficient, user-friendly and economically viable refrigeration systems.

 

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