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Refrigeration Retrofit: Installing Copeland™ Variable Frequency Drives, EVM Series

Eric Grilliot | Application Engineer

Emerson’s Commercial and Residential Solution’s Business

Many supermarket and facility operators are looking for opportunities to retrofit their existing HVACR equipment to improve energy efficiency, reliability and performance. With the recent launch of Copeland™ variable frequency drives (VFDs), EVM Series, contractors have new opportunities to help their customers achieve these goals. In fact, our EVM Series drives can be installed on existing fixed-speed HVACR motors without having to swap out or replace equipment, resulting in faster and more affordable retrofits.

I recently produced an instructional video to cover EVM Series installation best practices within a refrigeration rack and demonstrated their user-friendly startup wizard.

Unboxing your EVM drive

Before you begin the installation process, it’s important to make sure that you have the correct model and verify that it did not incur any damage during shipping.

  1. Remove the drive from the box and verify that the model number on the nameplate matches what’s on the shipping box label.
  2. Inspect the drive to ensure there are no cracks and/or visible damage.
  3. Review the quick-start guide, and follow the quick-start guide and installation manual during installation.

Installation and mounting considerations

Choosing an installation location is key to protecting the drive and enabling easy access to it and the compressors in the rack.

  1. Identify the fixed-speed lead compressor that will be retrofitted.
  2. Select a location to install the drive where it will not be exposed to moisture (from weather, refrigeration chiller lines or potential leaks) or excess vibration (from placement within the rack).
  3. Choose a location that won’t restrict access to compressors in the rack or make it difficult to interface with the drive itself (e.g., too high). An ideal location for many applications is within an electrical panel mounted on a din rail for ease of access.

Wiring and connections

EVM Series drives are designed with easily accessible input/output (I/O) terminals and provide a quick reference of their locations on the inside cover panel of each drive. Making connections requires only two flathead screwdrivers: one for the controller wire and one for incoming/outgoing compressor wire connections. Before making electrical connections, be sure to follow proper lockout and tagout procedures on high- and low-voltage wires. Double-check with a voltage meter to make sure there’s no chance of receiving an electrical shock.

  1. Remove the drive’s cover panel and review I/O terminal locations (see installation guide for more information).
  2. Connect the incoming power source to L1, L2 and L3 on the underside of the drive.
  3. Connect U, V and W (outgoing power source) to the compressor.
  4. Be sure to connect the incoming power ground as well as the motor to the drive’s ground terminals.
  5. Connect the control wire to the refrigeration control device (e.g., Lumity™ E3 supervisory control) to enable variable frequency control. Note: the control interface also supports Modbus connection. See Application Engineering Bulletin AE8-1456 for more information.

Configure startup parameters

Once your drive is installed and powered up, the built-in startup wizard should make it easy to set the parameters and configure it with your specific compressor. Consult pages 29–30 of your installation manual and review step 4 for full startup wizard instructions. Check the compressor’s motor nameplate for much of the information needed to complete startup parameters. Note: this information is also available on the Emerson Online Product Information (OPI) webpage and the Copeland Mobile app. Recommended steps include:

  1. Power up the drive to bring up the onboard display and access the startup wizard.
  2. Press the down arrow and navigate to “S” for startup wizard. Press OK to initiate.
  3. Accept or change the default password (P13.1.7).
  4. Select the minimum frequency setting (option P1.1). Note: every compressor application will be slightly different. Check with your Emerson sales representative, application engineer or applicable AE bulletin for more information.
  5. Select the maximum frequency (option P1.2).
  6. Select the motor nominal current (option P1.6).
  7. Select the motor nominal speed (option P1.7).
  8. Choose a power factor (option P1.8); the default setting is .85.
  9. Select the motor nominal voltage (option P1.9).
  10. Select the motor nominal frequency (option P1.10); 60 Hz for U.S. installations.
  11. Set the acceleration time (P1.3); the default setting is 20 seconds
  12. Set the deceleration time (P1.4); the default setting is 20 seconds.
  13. Select the remote-control place (P1.13); fieldbus =
  14. Select the remote reference (P1.14); fieldbus = 7.

As I demonstrated in my instructional video, this entire startup configuration can typically be completed in a matter of minutes. To learn more about the Copeland EVM Series drives or the many benefits of VFD retrofits in HVACR equipment, please visit our website.



Industry Steps up CO2 Training Efforts

         Don Gillis | Lead Technical Trainer

          Emerson’s Educational Services

The use of commercial CO2 refrigeration technology is expected to increase significantly over the next few years. But in the U.S., very few service technicians have experience installing, commissioning and maintaining CO2 systems. I recently contributed to an article in Contracting Business that discussed how our industry is addressing the urgent need for CO2-specific education, training and certification programs.

Compared to legacy hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) systems, CO2 (refrigerant name R-744) has many unique performance characteristics and system properties. Because CO2 refrigeration is still relatively new to the U.S. market, most HVACR trade schools and technical colleges simply haven’t integrated CO2 topics into their refrigeration training programs. But today, that’s quickly changing.

Stakeholders collaborate to develop CO2 curriculum

Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and industry organizations are actively trying to bridge this knowledge gap by developing CO2 training curricula and certification programs. As an industry steward of sustainable refrigeration and a provider of fully integrated CO2 solutions, Emerson is helping industry organizations to accelerate these efforts.

We’re collaborating with the North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council (NASRC), the ESCO Group and other industry stakeholders to spearhead the development of the first CO2 curriculum for community college and trade school HVACR programs in the U.S.

According to Morgan Smith, program and communications director at the NASRC, the goal of this collaboration is to integrate a CO2 curriculum into the commercial refrigeration tracks at technical colleges. The new curriculum will cover a wide range of topics to help familiarize technicians with CO2 refrigeration, including:

  • Basic terms and definitions of CO2 characteristics and systems
  • CO2 safety fundamentals, such as: handling, tools and gauges, relief requirements, leak rates and room sensors
  • Core curricula, including: required experience; understanding CO2 as a refrigerant; operating characteristics; types of CO2 systems; working with non-traditional system components, compressor types, control systems and equipment applications
  • Installation procedures: handling CO2 as a refrigerant; installation fundamentals and piping insulation
  • System commissioning procedures
  • Service and maintenance procedures, such as: system charging and discharging; repairing and replacing components; CO2 oil management; CO2 system recovery; defrost methods and custom systems
  • Troubleshooting

“Because CO2 is so new to the U.S. commercial refrigeration market, technicians and end users have varying degrees of hesitation. We hope these training programs will help remove some of the mystery and concerns about using this efficient and environmentally friendly natural refrigerant,” Smith said.

Emerson CO2 training programs

Emerson continues to expand on our CO2-specific training initiatives through our mobile training units and Educational Services programs. In 2019, we introduced our third-generation CO2 mobile training unit to serve Canada and the continental U.S.; to date, it has trained more than 1,000 industry professionals in North America.

This year, we’ll be launching a second CO2 mobile training unit at Emerson Educational Services’ primary location in Sidney, Ohio. Once there, it will become the centerpiece of a two-day training program designed to give contractors, OEMs, wholesalers and end users a hands-on experience of what it’s like to work on a CO2 transcritical booster refrigeration system. As COVID-related health guidelines permit, we hope to send our CO2 mobile training units back on the road to be featured at industry events and provide training where it is needed most.

In addition, Emerson Educational Services currently offers two virtual and in-person training courses related to CO2:

  • Two-day “CO2 Refrigeration” course specifically designed to train technicians
  • One-day course entitled, “Fit for the Future: Working with Natural Refrigerants, A2Ls, and A1 HFO Blends”

The net goal of all these efforts is to give the entire commercial refrigeration supply chain — from wholesalers and distributors to OEMs, end users and service technicians — a greater familiarity and comfort level with CO2 refrigeration. To learn more about the CO2 training programs at Emerson, visit our course schedule, or contact Emerson Educational Services at


Keys to Servicing A2L Refrigerants

         Don Gillis | Lead Technical Trainer

          Emerson’s Educational Services

The refrigerant transition is underway, and HVACR service technicians find themselves at the leading edge. As the commercial refrigeration and AC industries move from high-global warming potential (GWP) hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants to lower-GWP alternatives, mildly flammable A2L refrigerants are viewed as viable alternatives. But the technician community is largely unfamiliar with A2L servicing requirements and has many questions that need to be answered. I recently participated in an article for RSES Journal, in which we discussed the emergence of A2Ls and reviewed key servicing best practices. You can also view the article here.

Regulatory efforts to approve A2L refrigerants took several steps forward in 2021. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Rule 23 approved R-454B and R-32 for use in residential AC applications, subject to use conditions. In addition, the UL approved the second edition of its UL 60335-2-89 standard that included A2L charge limit guidelines for self-contained and remote refrigeration systems. Although the UL 2-89 update was a major development, more regulatory approvals will be required to roll out A2Ls on a broader scale. Industry stakeholders expect EPA guidance and SNAP approvals for the use of A2L refrigerants in commercial refrigeration to happen soon.

But if you’re an HVACR technician, the chances of encountering A2Ls are on the rise. To maximize safety and assist your customers with installation and service calls, now is the time to gain a better understanding of A2Ls.

Back to basics with best practices

Thankfully, the transition from existing refrigerants to A2Ls won’t require a fundamental shift in the way you conduct service calls. But it will require more rigorous attention to basic servicing fundamentals. Existing recommended best practices for A1 refrigerants will apply — with the addition of a few special considerations and A2L-rated tools.

The potential for flammability makes the use of leak sensors and detection equipment a more important system consideration with A2Ls. Otherwise, A2Ls have very similar characteristics and pressures as common A1 HFC refrigerants, such as R-410A. It’s also important to be aware that some blended refrigerants, such as R-454B, will have a degree of glide.

When installing or repairing A2L refrigerant-based equipment, technicians will need to use A2L-rated gauges and tools and wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE). Compared to A1 procedures, there are some required steps when dealing with A2Ls that are considered best practices for A1 systems:

  • Purge the circuit with inert gas (i.e., oxygen-free nitrogen).
  • Evacuate the refrigerant.
  • Leak-test and pressure-test the unit.

A2L cylinders have the same rated pressure as current R-410 cylinders. To make sure an A2L refrigerant is not mistaken for an A1, A2L tanks have several distinguishing characteristics, including:

  • Pressure relief valve is designed to release only enough refrigerant to reduce the cylinder pressure.
  • Red band/stripe (or the entire top painted red) indicates the presence of a mildly flammable refrigerant.
  • Left-hand (LH) thread indicates the presence of an A2L refrigerant.

It’s important to remember that all HVACR equipment must be designed and rated for the use of A2L refrigerants. As such, A2Ls are not to be used as drop-in replacements for A1s in existing HFC systems. When charging refrigeration systems with an A2L, technicians must ensure that they do not exceed the maximum allowable charge rate.

Look for safety labels on A2L-based HVACR equipment to alert you of additional precautions. Some may also include a panel designed to cover service ports. For more information, please visit the Air-Conditioning, Heating, & Refrigeration Institute’s (AHRI) Safe Refrigerant Transition Task Force website (

A2L training is available

As A2L refrigerants make their way into U.S. AC and commercial refrigeration applications, industry organizations, manufacturers and stakeholders are working together to prepare for their wider adoption. At Emerson, we are actively developing A2L-certified compressors, condensing units and components to support the transition to lower-GWP refrigerants in commercial refrigeration and residential AC applications.

In addition, Emerson Educational Services is developing and conducting A2L training seminars as part of our “Fit for the Future” initiative. To prepare your service team to safely install, service and recover A2L refrigerants, please visit our course schedule.





Selecting Condensing Units for Walk-in Coolers and Freezers

         Don Gillis | Lead Technical Trainer

          Emerson’s Educational Services

Outdoor condensing units (OCUs) have become essential for providing remote refrigeration in the walk-in coolers and freezers (WICFs) used by food retailers, foodservice operators, cold storage facilities and processing plants. As OCU technologies and end-user preferences continue to evolve, contractors need to understand many considerations when selecting an optimal OCU for their specific application and operational requirements. In a recent E360 article, we evaluated key selection criteria and explored today’s leading OCU options.

Sustainability goals, refrigerant regulations and efficiency standards

To help operators comply with environmental regulations and meet their sustainability initiatives, OCU equipment manufacturers are integrating lower-global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that contractors and end-users will need to adapt to completely new servicing and operating procedures. Many OCUs are designed to use a newer generation of lower-GWP A1 hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants — such as R-448A and R-449A — which represent minimal changes in terms of safety protocols or servicing.

But since these lower-GWP A1 refrigerants have degrees of glide, contractors need to be aware of how the sizing and selection process may be impacted. Refrigerants with glide may have a diminishing impact upon system capacity, which might require you to select a slightly larger-horsepower OCU — and unit cooler/evaporator — to meet your refrigeration load requirements.

As safety standards and building codes evolve over the next few years, mildly flammable A2Ls will likely be added to the list of refrigerant alternatives used in OCUs. Today, Emerson is actively qualifying our OCUs for use with A2Ls and will be ready to support operators seeking even lower-GWP A2L options when they are approved.

When it comes to OCU use in WICFs, refrigerants are only part of the sustainability equation. Per the Department of Energy’s (DOE) 2020 rule, WICFs must meet 20–40 percent energy reductions on new and retrofit systems below 3,000 square feet. To calculate the energy efficiency of a complete WICF system, the DOE uses a metric created by the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) called the Annual Walk-In Energy Factor (AWEF).

If you are a contractor installing a condensing unit and/or unit cooler, you must ensure this equipment meets or exceeds the minimum AWEF ratings based on capacity and application — such as medium- (MT) or low-temperature (LT); indoor or outdoor; and refrigerant type. To comply with the DOE standard, simply combine a Copeland™ AWEF-rated condensing unit with an AWEF-rated unit cooler.

Copeland outdoor refrigeration units

Copeland outdoor refrigeration units are designed to comply with regulations and provide sustainable refrigeration for a wide variety of modern operator requirements. Combining the reliable efficiency of Copeland scroll compressor technology with variable speed fans, large condenser coils and smart electronic controls, Copeland X-Line Series outdoor refrigeration units provide whisper-quiet performance in compact enclosures, delivering maximum installation flexibility.

Copeland outdoor refrigeration unit, X-Line Series — available in a horsepower range from ¾ to 6 HP, the X-Line is designed for LT and MT applications, such as WICFs and display cases commonly found in convenience stores (c-stores), restaurants, supermarkets and cold storage facilities. It delivers best-in-class energy efficiencies, a slim profile, ultra-low sound levels, superior diagnostics and built-in compressor protection. Offering AWEF-rated efficiencies and lower-GWP (R-448A and R-449A) refrigerant options, the X-Line supports reliable refrigeration while solving many of today’s operational challenges.

Copeland digital outdoor refrigeration unit, X-Line Series — The digital X-Line Series builds upon the field-proven Copeland scroll and X-Line OCU platforms to deliver superior cooling and energy efficiency in MT applications. Providing variable-speed fan motor control, the digital X-Line Series enables variable-capacity modulation to deliver more precise, reliable refrigeration, longer-lasting equipment and lower energy bills. Available in 3, 4, 5 and 6 HP models, the digital X-Line Series also supports multiplex refrigeration architectures — where one OCU provides cooling for multiple fixtures — to meet a variety of modern refrigeration challenges:

  • Reducing the number of refrigeration fixtures and/or refrigeration loads
  • Precisely sizing refrigeration units and loads to an application
  • Eliminating compressor cycling, which negatively affects system performance and equipment longevity
  • Improving food quality and extending shelf life via tighter temperature control
  • Removing constraints that prevent the installation of multiple fixed-capacity OCUs

Calculate the capacity of your OCU

At Emerson, we are committed to helping contractors calculate refrigeration loads and select OCUs to meet a diverse range of LT and MT refrigeration requirements. By selecting the correct OCUs for your customers’ WICF applications, you can ensure reliable, efficient system performance throughout their lifecycles. To simplify this process, Emerson has created a free online Box Load Calculator tool to assist manufacturers and operators to select, purchase and identify the appropriate equipment for their application. Simply navigate to the Equipment Selection tab, enter your application parameters and estimated refrigeration load, and review your optimal equipment options as you evaluate your specific refrigeration requirements.

Refer to Emerson’s Box Load Calculator to help select a condensing unit for your application.










Recruiting the Next Generation of HVACR Professionals

RajanRajendran2 Rajan Rajendran | Global Vice President, Environmental Sustainability

Emerson’s Commercial & Residential Solutions Business

The growing shortage of qualified HVACR service technicians is perhaps the greatest challenge facing the commercial refrigeration industry today. As we transition to lower-global warming potential (GWP) refrigerant technologies and system architectures, the collective role of our technician workforce will be more essential than ever. I recently explored ways to reverse this trend in an article published in HVACR Business.

Industry statistics reveal the urgency of the current situation:

  • 80,000 HVACR technician jobs are currently unfilled — representing 39 percent of the total industry workforce.
  • An estimated 20,000 technician jobs are lost annually due to the retirement of an aging workforce or career attrition rates.

For years, Emerson has been a champion of shoring up the technician workforce by collaborating with vocational schools, helping to shape curriculum and supporting students along their HVACR career journeys. But solving this problem will require the participation of all industry stakeholders — from contracting companies, manufacturers, end-users, wholesalers and trade associations to educators, adjacent industries and government agencies.

Engage locally

Stakeholders agree that one of the most effective strategies for recruiting the next generation of HVACR technicians is by supporting local vocational schools and technical colleges. Combined with incentives from state governance, industry-sponsored scholarship programs and pre-apprenticeship opportunities, this local approach can inspire a lifelong passion for HVACR careers.

We’ve seen examples of this local engagement model firsthand. Emerson’s The Helix Innovation Center often interacts with students enrolled in nearby vocational schools here in Ohio. We recently offered a pre-apprenticeship opportunity to Nicholas Didier, a student attending the Miami Valley Career Technology Center (MVCTC) near Dayton.

As a high school senior enrolled in an HVAC program, Didier was interested in learning more about the basics of refrigeration and getting hands-on field experience. During his time at The Helix, he gained a much more in-depth understanding of the challenges facing our industry, a greater appreciation of the service profession and a passion for system design.

Nicholas’ efforts were recognized by the Ohio Valley chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), who awarded him a new Ford Ranger truck and a $1,000 scholarship via its Today’s Opportunities Offering Lifetime Skills (TOOLS) program. He plans on using these funds to purchase HVACR technician tools and further his education.

Changing perceptions

Industry stakeholders attribute the declining interest in HVACR roles to a variety of misperceptions and an overall devaluing of trade professions. One primary example is the belief that HVACR professionals do not make a competitive wage or have long-term career path opportunities.

Social media streams — which often present unrealistic, idealized views of the four-year college experience and other professions — make it even more difficult to change these perceptions.

But upon closer inspection, these myths easily can be dispelled. HVACR technician jobs check important boxes for many young professionals that four-year college degrees simply cannot.

  • Make an impact with a meaningful career —HVACR professionals are implementing new environmentally-friendly solutions and technologies that will play an integral role in greening our planet.
  • Work with cutting-edge tools and technologies —Modern refrigeration and AC applications utilize advanced controls, software and remote diagnostics capabilities.
  • Achieve job security —With little competition for available jobs, HVACR professionals are virtually guaranteed employment and enter a field with both long-term security and growth potential.
  • Earn while you learn — HVACR technicians can earn a competitive wage with a two-year vocational certification and have the option to augment the certification process with on-the-job training in apprenticeship programs.

It’s important for all industry stakeholders to understand, highlight and promote these differentiating factors to help paint a more realistic — and positive — picture of modern HVACR professions. At Emerson, we will continue to reach out to local vocational schools and technical colleges to hopefully guide more students along this path.


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