In the past, multiplex systems have struggled to gain momentum in the refrigeration industry, due to their higher initial cost. But with the Department of Energy tightening their regulations on minimum efficiency levels and concerns over refrigerant leakages increasing, the business case for these systems is quickly turning.
Posts tagged ‘Energy Efficiency’
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.
Fresh off the heels of the success of our first E360 Forum, we’re excited to announce that our next one will be held on February 18 at the Embassy Suites Anaheim — South in Anaheim, California. The free daylong event will take place one day prior to the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers (NAFEM) show starting on February 19, and will give many NAFEM attendees an opportunity to contribute to these important E360 conversations.
Did you know 20-40 percent of current 6-60 ton commercial package and split systems don’t meet new 2016 efficiency minimums? Your boss may not be aware of the changes coming, but it’s a fair guess that he or she expects their team of HVAC professionals to be current on upcoming industry changes.
At our Technology in Action Conference last month, we brought together industry leaders to talk about the effect of new air conditioning efficiency standards on contractors, manufacturers and our customers.
During the course of our lively discussion, five key points emerged:
- To understand new efficiency regulations on commercial air conditioning systems, you need to know how they are being measured. The ASHRAE 90.1-2013 standards include a 13-15 percent increase in Integrated Energy Efficiency Ratio (IEER) for air cooled package/split systems. IEER is a measure of part load efficiency using a weighted average of efficiencies at various system capacities and conditions.Rather than looking at EER, which had been the industry standard for decades, the regulations, which are expected to go into effect in 2016 are focusing on performance across a range of conditions, since typical systems spend most of their time running at 50-70 percent load capacity.
- The emphasis on part-load efficiency has a great side effect: improved comfort. When it comes to evaluating the performance of an HVAC system, regulatory agencies are focused on energy use, bosses usually care about costs, but let’s not forget that visitors to your store or building care mostly about comfort. Fortunately, the new efficiency standards can serve all three needs. A minimum standard measurement that more accurately reflects how systems run leads to more efficient equipment that will both save on energy use and cost, but also include capacity modulation that can lower humidity and maintain more consistent temperatures.
- Manufacturers and OEMs have your back and are developing the technology to support the new efficiency minimum standards. While you (and your boss) may be just now coming up to speed on the standards for 2016, many OEMs and manufacturers have been preparing for the new standards for years. Introducing capacity modulation with tandems and variable speed compressors will be the trend to improve part-load performance.
- Don’t forget to review rebates and voluntary standards. Voluntary standards like Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) and the U.S. Green Building Council are pushing the upper end of the spectrum, creating guides and benchmarks beyond minimum standards.Be sure to impress the boss with your knowledge of energy rebates available on a national and state-by-state basis by visiting the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.
- Training is key. Staying current on the latest developments in technology will be key to helping ensure equipment is running efficiently. Connect with OEMs and manufacturers for training on the equipment your team will be servicing and installing.
Director of Commercial Marketing, Air Conditioning Business
Emerson Climate Technologies
The topic of refrigerants is one of the most dynamic, evolving subjects in the refrigeration and air condition industries today. Worldwide, the desire to limit the global warming potential (GWP) of refrigerants is a growing concern. And, in some regions, such as the European Union, the pressure to phase out F-gases is resulting in the wider adoption of new and alternative refrigerant types in many common applications. While we witnessed the transition from CFCs to HCFCs and HFCs in the 1980s and 1990s, increasing growth of developing nations such as China and India is prompting regulators and refrigerant equipment manufacturers to explore the next generation of refrigerants. Already, there has been significant progress in this effort.
At our recent Making Sense webinar, A Conversation on Refrigerants, presented live from the AHR show floor, I was fortunate enough to invite some of the industry’s thought leaders on this subject to discuss the current refrigerant trends and take a look at what’s on the horizon. Our distinguished guests weighed in on the plethora of refrigerants that are being developed as current, low-GWP alternatives and future, lower GWP transitional options come into view.
Brett Van Horn, market manager, HVAC, Fluorochemicals, Arkema, Inc., stressed the importance of balancing GWP potential with safety, availability and cost (not just the refrigerant, but the system itself) when selecting refrigerants. Brett cautioned against adopting a less energy efficient, low GWP refrigerant option, lest one negate those environmental gains by increasing their overall carbon footprint.
Mark W. Spatz, global refrigerant technology leader, Honeywell’s Fluorine Products, added that each application should be carefully evaluated individually in order to decide what makes the best sense for each particular situation. Mark asserted that energy efficiency and safety, while important, must also be considered alongside the bottom line cost to own or operate the equipment (i.e., first cost, repair, and replacement costs of the refrigerant itself).
Barbara Minor, senior technical fellow, DuPont Fluoroproducts, talked about cascaded systems that are being deployed in E.U. supermarkets that utilize 134a for medium temperatures, and CO2 for its optimal performance in low temperatures. Barbara explained how the most commonly used refrigerant in supermarkets, R404A, is coming under increasing pressure to be eliminated and that many alternatives to R404A are readily available.
At Emerson Climate, we’ve seen a lot of interest in CO2, ammonia and propane refrigerants, and we’re developing products with these emerging refrigerants in mind. Because many of the new refrigerants proposed as replacements for today’s common refrigerants are mildly flammable, it may take quite some time for codes/standards to be established and thus drive market adoption. But, as our conversation on refrigerants revealed, the trend toward lower GWP gases will continue to shape our industry in the decades to come. You can trust that Emerson will be on the forefront of these developments.
If you missed A Conversation on Refrigerants or any of Making Sense webinar series, you can download the “on demand” version at your convenience by visiting our website at: www.emersonclimate.com/makingsensewebinars.
Rajan Rajendran, Ph.D
Vice President, Engineering Services and Sustainability
Emerson Climate Technologies