|Julie Havenar | Product Manager – Condensing Units
Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions
For decades, fixed-capacity outdoor condensing units (OCUs) have been a popular architecture choice for foodservice and food retail applications — providing refrigeration for walk-in coolers, display cases and food preparation tables. With recent advances in digital compression technology to enable variable-capacity modulation, modern condensing units offer an even more compelling alternative to traditional centralized architectures. In our recent webinar, I discussed the many benefits of taking a decentralized approach to refrigeration, specifically by using Emerson’s Copeland™ Digital Outdoor Refrigeration Unit, X-Line series.
First, it’s important to review the many reasons why fixed-capacity condensing units have experienced wide industry adoption. Their simple architecture — with one dedicated condensing unit per evaporator (or refrigeration fixture) — makes them extremely easy to implement and a flexible option for load expansion or facility retrofits. By locating the condensing units outside the store, this approach also removes heat and mechanical sound from the shopping environment. In addition, their air-cooled design removes the need for water loops while eliminating excess cost and unit cooling.
But there is always room for improvement. So, we reached out to our customer base to gather feedback about their pain points when using these fixed-capacity OCUs. Common challenges included: the use of mechanical controls; lack of remote communications, onboard diagnostics and system protections; limited mounting/installation options; single speed (on/off) fan cycling; single unit required for every load with each unit individually wired.
Overcoming these challenges became the basis of our Copeland™ Outdoor Refrigeration Unit, X-Line series launched a few years ago. X-Line offered the following improvements:
- Slim, lightweight profile — can be wall-mounted or mounted on rails
- Quiet — can be located near entrances, patios or residential areas
- Energy efficient — Copeland scroll compression, variable-speed fan motor control, large condenser coils and enhanced vapor injection (on low-temp, fixed-speed only)
- Connectivity — communicates with facility management systems, such as Emerson’s XWEB, Site Supervisor and E2 platforms
- Protection — electronic controls enhance reliability; on-board diagnostics enable fast setup, troubleshooting and alert codes
- AWEF-compliant — meeting DOE (Department of Energy) regulations
Digital modulation addresses additional customer challenges
With the introduction of the digital X-Line, Emerson was able to address another key customer challenge — requiring a separate condensing unit for each refrigeration load — while enabling variable-capacity modulation from 100% to 20%. The digital X-Line utilizes multiplexing technology to connect multiple fixtures to one condensing unit and detects the required refrigeration demand from each fixture. So, if the digital X-Line were servicing multiple evaporators and only one was calling for cooling, the digital X-Line can run at less than 100% capacity and match the exact load capacity requirement at that moment. This means that operators will need fewer condensing units to meet their refrigeration demands — potentially reducing the equipment footprint.
Other installation benefits include:
- Simple and quick commissioning — requires only three setpoints: refrigerant, time clock and suction pressure
- Reduced refrigerant charge and line sets — up to 50% reduction with the option to utilize lower-GWP alternatives
- Reduced costly call-backs — advanced diagnostics help contractors set it up right the first time
From an operational standpoint, the digital X-Line is designed to deliver continuous performance improvements that impact food quality/safety, energy efficiency and servicing, such as:
- Tight temperature precision — digital, variable-capacity modulation enables precise control over case temperatures to maximize food quality and safety
- Energy efficiency gains — larger condenser coils, electronic controls and digital compression (which reduce large amp draws from excessive starts/stop) deliver substantial energy efficiency savings
- Advanced diagnostics and protection — onboard controls alert end users of faults and KPIs, simplify troubleshooting and provide compressor protection
It’s also important to point out that the digital X-Line maintains the platform’s ultra-quiet operation, which allows the units to be installed nearly anywhere without disrupting customers or neighbors.
Whether you operate a convenience store, restaurant, supermarket or cold storage facility, the digital X-Line provides operators with a state-of-the-art OCU solution that’s ideal for meeting today’s challenging refrigeration requirements. To learn more about the benefits of the digital X-Line in these applications, view this webinar in its entirety.