In Commercial Refrigeration and HVAC
It has been stated that 30% of the energy used to heat or cool a building or a commercial refrigeration unit is wasted. This is caused by old commercial refrigeration equipment, inefficient HVAC equipment, leaks in the system, over-sized compressors, out of date refrigerants, and commercial refrigeration units that were not designed correctly from the start. All of these issues can have drastic impact on a company’s bottom line due to the ever increasing cost of energy.
How Does Energy Optimization Work?
There are many ways to improve the efficiency of a commercial refrigeration or HVAC system. Some of them are expensive and some of them are not. The first step in improving the efficiency of your system and thereby reducing your energy costs would be an Energy Optimization Audit.
A technician certified in energy optimization can provide you with an audit that will clearly specify how to improve your heating and cooling efficiency. Ways to improve your energy optimization could include the following:
- Refrigerant Retrofits
- Eliminating Leaks In Your HVAC, Ventilation & Commercial Refrigeration Systems
- Installing Energy Efficient Lighting In Your Commercial Refrigeration Equipment
- Installing Modern Control Units
- Installing Variable Speed Motors On Heating and Cooling Equipment
- Upgrading To More Efficient Compressors For Your Commercial Refrigeration & HVAC Equipment
- Scheduling Regular Maintenance On Existing Refrigeration & HVAC Equipment
The recommendations from your Energy Optimization Audit can be simple and inexpensive ways to lower your energy costs or they could be more expensive. Simple, inexpensive ways to improve the efficiency of your commercial refrigeration or HVAC system could include regularly scheduled maintenance and eliminating leaks. More expensive recommendations to improve your energy efficiency could include replacing the compressors in your refrigeration equipment or HVAC system or possibly complete system upgrades.
The Results Of An Energy Optimization Audit
The bottom line is that energy savings means better business. If you’re wasting energy, and therefore money, needlessly it will continue to be a drag on your company’s profitability. An efficient business is a successful business. An Energy Optimization Audit will give you the tools, resources, and possibly even rebates necessary to improve the energy efficiency of your business.
Finding a qualified technician to provide you an Energy Optimization Audit on your commercial refrigeration and HVAC system could be as easy as calling your energy supplier or contacting the company that provides your maintenance and service.
In Commercial Refrigeration Equipment
Natural refrigerants are non-synthetic substances which can be used as cooling agents in commercial refrigeration equipment and air conditioners. These include naturally occurring substances like water, air, CO2, ammonia, and hydrocarbons like propane, butane, and cyclopentane. While they have been used for years as refrigerants they are only just now beginning to replace synthetic refrigerants in commercial refrigeration equipment.
Why Natural Refrigerants For Commercial Refrigeration Equipment?
While the Montreal Protocol addressed ozone depleting refrigerants like HCFCs and CFCs, it failed to address global warming potential of the proposed substitutes like HFCs. Increased scientific evidence has also shown that HFCs had huge potential to contribute to the greenhouse gas problem. So replacing HCFCs and CFCs with HFCs only displaced the problem. The only real solution to address both the ozone damaging and greenhouse gas problem created by refrigerants is to use natural refrigerants, including in commercial refrigeration equipment which is one of the largest consumers of refrigerant chemicals in the world.
The Economics Of Natural Refrigerants
Natural refrigerants are inexpensive to produce, in most cases even less expensive than HFCs; natural refrigerants are extremely energy efficient when used in large scale systems; and the disposal cost of natural refrigerants is negligible when compared to HFCs as well as older refrigerants like HCFCs. The major issue for commercial refrigeration equipment is the increase in capital expenditure required for small and medium businesses to convert to a natural refrigerant system. This is the major issue preventing wide spread adoption for natural refrigerants in commercial refrigeration equipment. Unlike retrofitting commercial refrigeration equipment with non-ozone depleting refrigerants, all natural refrigerant systems require a complete overhaul of the commercial refrigeration equipment.
In spite of the economics of this issue, there is a worldwide push to switch to natural refrigerants in commercial refrigeration equipment. As of 2005, more than half of all synthetic refrigerants ever produced were in the atmosphere (AFEAS Alternative Fluorocarbons Acceptability Study, 2007). To reduce the Global Warming Potential and provide zero ozone depleting potential as required by the Montreal and Kyoto Protocols, commercial refrigeration equipment will eventually have to be cooled by natural refrigerants. It is estimated that if commercial refrigeration equipment in the United States alone was converted to natural refrigerants, the industry would be able to reduce emission of CO2 and other greenhouse gases by 22 million metric tons annually.
When considering replacing your commercial refrigeration equipment, choosing to go with a natural refrigerant system will be environmentally friendly, meet current or future EPA requirements, and in the long term be a the right choice economically.
Commercial Refrigeration Service And GreenChill Compliance
GreenChill is a partnership between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and food retailers who use refrigerated equipment to reduce refrigerant emissions and thereby decrease the damage they can cause to the ozone layer. As part of this process, retailers are also encouraged to update their refrigerants during commercial refrigeration service to non-ozone depleting substitutes in their refrigerated equipment.
Commercial Refrigeration Service And Refrigerant Conversion
Conversion from older refrigerants in refrigerated equipment like HCFC-22 and other HCFCs is a major part of GreenChill Compliance. HCFC-22 is known to cause significant damage to the ozone layer when it is inadvertently released during commercial refrigeration service. To prevent this in the future the GreenChill Partnership as well as the Montreal Protocol, a treaty signed by the United States, has called for the phase out of HCFC-22 and other damaging HCFCs. This will force the transition to newer, non-ozone depleting refrigerants during commercial refrigeration service.
As of 2015, there will be no import or production of ozone damaging HCFCs except for refrigerated equipment manufactured before 2010. While retailers who own older equipment will still be able to get their refrigerant recharged during commercial refrigeration service, by 2020 two of the most widely used HCFCs (142b and 22) will no longer be imported or produced. By 2030 it is expected that all damaging refrigerants are eliminated in refrigerated equipment in the United States because there will be no import or production of any HCFCs by 2030. At that time, almost all commercial refrigeration service will be done on equipment using non-ozone depleting refrigerants.
Two Main Approaches For Retrofitting Refrigerated Equipment During Commercial Refrigeration Service
The first approach to retrofitting retail refrigerated equipment during commercial refrigeration service involves replacing the refrigerant only. This approach is more cost effective and results in minimal changes to the refrigerated equipment. The second approach involves installing new mechanical systems during commercial refrigeration service which is obviously more costly. In addition to migrating to a non-ozone depleting refrigerant, the commercial refrigeration service could include installing new compressors, condensers, and cases.
Regardless of which approach is undertaken any retrofit should include improving the leak tightness of the refrigerated equipment during the commercial refrigeration service. Emissions of the refrigerant whether old or new is still a large issue because even if they are non-ozone damaging refrigerants newer refrigerants like HFCs are still considered greenhouse gases. So to prevent exchanging one environmental problem for another refrigerated equipment owners need to use the retrofit conversion process during commercial refrigeration service as a way to reduce refrigerant leaks and prevent refrigerant emissions.
Proper commercial refrigeration service of your refrigerated equipment has never been more important. Not only are there reliability issues that need to be considered, but preventing damage to the environment during commercial refrigeration service needs to be addressed as well.
Refrigeration Equipment: The Walk In Cooler
As food service equipment goes, the walk in cooler is probably one of the most important pieces of refrigeration equipment a restaurant owner will invest in. As previously discussed, the right walk in cooler can drastically impact a restaurant’s bottom line. If the walk in cooler is too big, then the restaurant is keeping too much air cold. If this vital piece of refrigeration equipment is too small, then profits will be eroded by spoiled perishable items, and the restaurant owner’s food service equipment could be putting them out of business. So the walk in cooler is a very important piece of food service equipment.
Walk In Cooler Features
There are several features which can lend themselves to a walk in cooler operating efficiently. Quality door designs are very important for this piece of refrigeration equipment to operate effectively and have lasting durability. Rigid, reinforced door frames and heavy duty hinges provide maximum durability of your walk in cooler. During busy times, there will be plenty of in and out traffic with the door to your refrigeration equipment being opened and closed repeatedly. Poorly constructed doors or low quality hinges will drastically reduce the long term durability of your walk in cooler and require you to service this piece of food service equipment far too often.
Inside door releases are also a must for any walk in cooler. This is a safety feature that prevents food service employees from getting stuck inside the refrigerator or freezer. It is almost always part of any refrigeration equipment manufacturer’s standard features, but it’s a good idea to make sure it’s included with your walk in cooler when you have it installed.
Other important features for this piece of refrigeration equipment include an alarm system if the temperature in the walk in cooler is fluctuating widely. Oftentimes this can be the result of the door to your refrigeration equipment being left open accidentally, but there could also be a mechanical problem with the compressor or another part of your refrigerator or freezer could be malfunctioning. An alarm system will notify you of any issues before your valuable food service inventory items spoil.
Walk In Cooler Maintenance Requirements
Keeping the air flowing smoothly and keeping condenser coils cleaned is vital to proper operation of any piece of refrigeration equipment. This means proper ventilation, regularly cleaning filters, and regular check-ups with a certified technician. From time to time the refrigerant will need to be replaced, and per state regulations this can only be done by a refrigeration equipment technician who is certified. When regular maintenance of your walk in cooler is not performed your are increasing the odds of it breaking down prematurely. Almost always, your walk in cooler will break down on the hottest day of the year when your establishment is busy and you need your food service equipment the most. To add insult to injury it will probably happen on a Saturday night when all of the refrigeration equipment technicians are unavailable.
What Type Of Walk In Cooler Is Best For You?
A variety of walk in cooler options are available in addition to the size. For instance, they may be prefabricated by a refrigeration equipment company or they may be free standing. Almost always restaurants that have large perishable goods needs will have their walk in cooler prefabricated, but there is also the chance that they put this piece of food service equipment outside if their size requirements are too big to fit inside. A very large walk in cooler may have different floors, but for smaller versions shelving units are almost always a necessity for ease of access. Also the condenser for your refrigeration equipment can be in-place or remote depending on your needs.
Whatever type of walk in cooler you decide upon for your refrigeration equipment, it will be important to remember to service this vital piece of food service equipment to protect your investment in the equipment and the valuable inventory it holds.