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Optimize Supermarket Energy Efficiency and Performance With VFD Retrofits

Joe Summers | Senior Product Manager – Scrolls & Drives
Emerson’s Commercial & Residential Solutions Business

The use of fixed-speed (or fixed-capacity) refrigeration systems and HVAC rooftop units (RTUs) is a common strategy in the U.S. food retail sector. If you went into the machine rooms of most grocery stores, you likely would find centralized, direct expansion (DX) refrigeration systems with parallel racks of fixed-speed compressors. On the rooftops, you would find RTUs with air-handler blowers running continuously at full speeds. Varying the capacity of these critical units relies on mechanical throttling techniques that consume energy, cause excess equipment wear, but never quite achieve the desired load matching. In a new white paper, Emerson explore how operators can retrofit these systems with variable frequency drives (VFDs) to deliver significant energy efficiency and performance improvements.

For the most part, the potential uses for VFDs in the food retail sector have been largely unexplored. Simply put, VFD retrofits allow operators to convert existing fixed-speed equipment — such as compressors, fans or pumps — to enable variable-capacity modulation. Benefits include:

  • Reduced energy consumption and electricity costs
  • Improved load matching, temperature precision and performance
  • Extended equipment reliability lifespan

VFDs in refrigeration systems

The inability to match the refrigeration capacity to fluctuating evaporator load demands is a known limitation of parallel rack systems with fixed-speed compressors. Systems are designed and specified to accommodate peak-load conditions and provide reliable cooling during the hottest days of a year — i.e., they’re essentially over-sized for lower load conditions and cooler periods.

Widely varying load requirements, ever-changing ambient conditions and variations in defrost cycles can create undesirable fluctuations in case temperatures. Compressors are constantly switching off and on to try and adapt to these changing demands, which can accelerate wear on system components, increase the potential for food quality issues, and consume excess electricity.

VFDs give operators and service technicians an effective method for alleviating fixed-speed compressor motor challenges and achieving the benefits of variable-capacity modulation. By retrofitting a VFD to the lead compressor in every parallel compressor rack, each lead compressor can then modulate the capacity of the entire rack. This enables fixed-speed compressors to handle the base load, while leveraging the VFD-equipped lead compressor to manage fluctuations in demand. Compared to a traditional fixed-speed approach, this results in:

  • Reduced cycling on/off strain and an extended life of the lead compressor
  • Smoother and almost constant system suction pressure
  • More consistent evaporator (case) temperatures and humidity conditions

Validating VFD ROI in HVAC case study

In HVAC RTUs, air-handler blower capacity is also designed to handle the peak cooling conditions of the installation’s summer season. But as building loads fluctuate widely throughout the year, HVAC systems often operate at only a fraction of their design capacity. Thus, air-handler blower fans run continuously at full, fixed speeds, regardless of load requirements. Technicians often use a mechanical throttling technique to help reduce airflow, but this results in increased energy consumption and a reduction in the equipment’s lifespan.

Retrofitting a VFD onto an existing fan motor allows it to modulate capacity based on varying load requirements — full speed during peak-load periods and slower speeds when less load is required. In this HVAC RTU application, variable-capacity modulation delivers a fast return on investment (ROI) via a non-linear, speed-to-power ratio. By slowing down a blower motor fan speed by 25 percent of its normal operating rate, it’s estimated that facility operators can reduce energy consumption by 50–60 percent.

Emerson validated this principle recently by installing Copeland™ VFDs on a food retailer’s existing rooftop HVAC air-handler blower motors in 78 of their stores. Results included:

  • Reduced energy consumption by 52 percent
  • Saved more than $800,000 in electricity costs
  • Equivalent to adding $10M in sales at an 8 percent margin

Retrofit with Copeland VFDs

Emerson is committed to helping food retailers and technicians to simplify the retrofit process in HVACR applications and improve equipment reliability, performance and efficiency. Copeland VFDs, EVM/EVH Series are designed to reduce the costs and complexities of VFD implementation:

  • The Copeland EVM Series is ideal for chillers, medical refrigeration, display cases, walk-ins and reach-ins.
  • The Copeland EVH Series is designed for large, centralized racks (including CO2), HVAC applications, advanced chillers and industrial refrigeration applications.

Learn more about applying our VFD solutions to your HVACR operations by visiting our webpage.

Copeland™ Horizontal Variable Speed Scroll Compressor Recognized as AHR Award Finalist

Joe Summers | Senior Product Manager – Scrolls & Drives
Emerson’s Commercial & Residential Solutions Business

The Copeland horizontal variable speed scroll compressor (1 to 4 HP) has been recognized as a finalist in the annual AHR Expo (International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition) Innovation Awards. This competition honors the most inventive heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) products, systems and technologies. For original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and end-users of self-contained, reach-in coolers and freezers, display cases and walk-in coolers, the Copeland horizontal variable speed scroll compressor delivers an ideal combination of sustainability, reliability and design flexibility.

Balancing the sustainability equation

Today, smaller-format food retail market trends and environmental and energy regulations are driving the transition toward more distributed refrigeration architectures. As more operators deploy flexible self-contained display cases, they also seek lower-global warming potential (GWP) refrigerant options and energy-efficient equipment that supports their corporate sustainability objectives.

Meeting these evolving requirements can present significant design challenges for OEMs of self-contained systems. One of the leading strategies for achieving high energy efficiencies or ENERGY STAR® certification relies on the use of large-capacity condenser coils, which can reduce available merchandising space in a display case. As a result, OEMs often place compressors on the top of a case — thereby increasing its overall size, limiting its aesthetic appeal, and creating higher noise levels.

The low-profile Copeland horizontal variable speed scroll compressor solves these known design challenges while delivering significant sustainability, energy efficiency and performance improvements. Available in capacity ranges from 1 to 4 HP, this innovative variable-speed compression solution is ideal for use in a wide variety of self-contained commercial refrigeration applications.

To help end-users comply with refrigerant regulations and/or meet sustainability objectives, the Copeland horizontal variable speed scroll compressor is approved for use with the next generation of lower-GWP refrigerants, including A1 (R-448/49A) and A3 (R-290) which have already been approved, as well as A2Ls in the near future. The recent R-290 charge limit increases approved by Underwriters Laboratories’ (UL) UL 60335-2-89 standard should also set the stage for the use of larger-capacity, R-290 based, self-contained display cases.

In addition, the Copeland horizontal variable speed scroll compressor combines brushless permanent magnet (BPM) motors with our advanced Copeland variable frequency drives (VFDs), EVM series to help OEMs meet the energy efficiency standards set by the Department of Energy (DOE) — even achieving its ENERGY STAR certification.

Benefiting end-users and OEMs

The Copeland horizontal variable speed scroll compressor enables larger capacities in a smaller footprint while delivering proven scroll benefits and the many advantages of variable capacity modulation, including:

  • Increased energy efficiency
  • Improved compressor reliability
  • Precise load matching for higher refrigeration performance
  • Lower noise levels

BPM motors and advanced Copeland VFDs combine to achieve the following performance enhancements:

  • 15% energy reduction compared to an equivalent fixed-speed scroll, per Emerson lab simulations
  • Increased equipment reliability through proactive motor failure prevention
  • Decreased susceptibility to power issues
  • Reduced start/stop events
  • Seamless integration with supervisory control platforms, such as Emerson’s Lumity™ E3 supervisory control

This recent recognition by the AHR Innovation Awards is a validation of our commitment to helping OEMs and end-users address modern refrigeration challenges. The Copeland variable speed horizontal scroll compressor helps OEMs to meet low-profile equipment design challenges while allowing end users to adopt sustainable refrigeration strategies.

As refrigerant regulations evolve, refrigeration architectures will continue to leverage self-contained, distributed systems and utilize lower-GWP refrigerant alternatives. By integrating a Copeland horizontal variable speed scroll compressor in their self-contained, reach-in coolers and freezers, display cases and walk-ins, OEMs can significantly improve system energy efficiency and performance

Emerson Launches Copeland™ Variable Frequency Drives

Joe Summers | Product Manager,                                                                               Variable Speed & Integrated Solutions
Emerson’s Commercial & Residential Solutions Business

Improving energy efficiencies in heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) systems is a goal shared by operators in many food retail, commercial building and industrial applications. Variable frequency drives (VFDs) can be applied to various fixed-speed system motors to control their speed and capacity, and in doing so, significantly reduce energy consumption and associated operating costs. Emerson is pleased to announce the launch of its Copeland VFD product lines, which are designed for maximum compatibility with Copeland compression products to reduce the costs and complexities of VFD implementation. You can read our latest E360 Product Spotlight to take a closer look at the improved system efficiencies that can be achieved in certain HVACR applications.

According to research from the Department of Energy (DOE), the commercial building sector accounts for 40 percent of the total energy consumption within the U.S. Among the greatest electricity consumers and energy cost contributors are the motor loads from mission-critical HVACR equipment.

From refrigeration compressors to the evaporator and condenser fans used in parallel rack and/or chiller applications, Copeland VFDs can be added to existing fixed-speed HVACR motors to help operators to quickly retrofit their facilities and achieve:

  • Significant improvements in system performance and reliability
  • Substantial reductions in energy consumption
  • Fast return on investment (ROI)

Available in two platforms and multiple connection options

The Copeland EVM VFD series is intended for chillers, medical refrigeration, display cases, walk-ins, reach-ins and other applications where less control functionality is needed.

  • Covers ½ to 30 HP range
  • Available in single- and three-phase input options
  • Equipped with onboard Bluetooth® capabilities for ease of use

The Copeland EVH VFD series is designed for large centralized racks, including CO2, advanced chillers, and industrial refrigeration applications that require more demanding motor control functionality.

  • Covers 1 to 250 HP
  • Available in three-phase, including 575-volt options
  • Delivers advanced motor control

These product lines offer a variety of connection options, including an onboard web server (available on EVM series only) and a multitude of available onboard communication options:

  • Modbus RTU or TCP
  • BACnet™ MS/TP or IP
  • Ethernet IP/TCP
  • Optional cards such as: CANopen, Dual Ethernet Port and Profibus

Benefits of variable-capacity modulation

Copeland VFDs allow facility operators to reap the benefits of variable-capacity modulation without swapping out their current HVACR equipment. Adding a VFD to a fixed-speed fan or pump motor can result in a 30 to 50 percent reduction in energy costs while allowing capacity to fluctuate from 10 to 100 percent. When added to a semi-hermetic compressor, a Copeland VFD provides a 15 to 30 percent reduction in energy costs while enabling capacity modulation from 40 to 100 percent.

These efficiencies are achieved via improved load matching, less on and off cycling, softer start-ups and faster temperature pull-downs — which also deliver the following system performance improvements:

  • Precise temperature and humidity control
  • Adaptable capacity for changing loads and weather conditions
  • Controllable noise levels

In addition, Copeland VFDs enhance equipment reliability through proactive motor failure prevention, advanced diagnostics, decreased susceptibility to power issues, and by greatly reducing the number of start/stop events.

Maximum compatibility with Copeland compressors and ease of use

Native software that supports the Copeland VFD platforms is designed to deliver optimal performance when paired with Copeland compressors, including: scroll, semi-hermetic and screw compression technologies. This software also provides the same optimization of the control algorithms found in VFDs designed for competitive compression technologies and general, multi-purpose motors, such as fans and pumps.

The Copeland VFD series provides maximum ease of use for contractors and end-users during installation, servicing and operation. An intuitive startup wizard, quick-start menus and simple connections make set-up fast and uncomplicated, while offering seamless integration with Emerson’s Lumity™ supervisory control platform including the E3 and site supervisor controllers.

Selecting the right model for your applications

To simplify the selection process, each Copeland VFD model is designed to accommodate dozens of general motors and compressor SKUs. In addition, Emerson’s online product information (OPI) tool can help you to determine which VFD is appropriate for your application. Simply locate the motor’s nameplate and then begin selecting and sourcing the best-fit Copeland VFD model for your application. Product catalogs and manuals are also available on our website for easy reference.

It’s also important to remember that sustainability initiatives are driving many U.S. states to offer energy-efficiency incentives to operators who implement variable frequency drives. Where available, we encourage you to leverage these incentives to reduce and/or offset your upfront costs.

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