Commercial refrigeration systems typically require a fair amount of electricity. In fact, refrigeration is one of the top five consumers of energy in all foodservice operations, as refrigeration is needed to cool walk-ins, undercounter refrigerators, reach-ins, cold cabinets, beverage storage, and more.
Regardless of the types of refrigeration required or the type of foodservice operation, it's important for operators to understand the changing landscape of energy regulations and how they can impact equipment selections.
Let's take a quick look at the current situation:
Impact of the DOE changes
Regulations created several years ago have proved successful in reducing energy consumption. The Department of Energy (DOE) developed new standards in terms of refrigeration, and in 2014 they devised the Average Walk-In Energy Factor, which is the yearly average refrigeration output against the energy output. This rule focused more on the refrigeration and installation elements.
As a result, many manufacturers were removed from the Energy Star website and were urged to make changes to production, regulatory compliance, retooling, engineering, and design in order to meet new standards. Ideally, the goal is to use the least amount of energy possible to move more heat out of a refrigerated space.
Refrigeration systems have to meet specific standards. These standards include safety of the refrigerant used in terms of toxicity, flammability, and other safety hazards to safeguard the system from any accidental damage.
Refrigerant charge of the system should also be regulated. Sustainable designs used in refrigeration reduce environmental risks. Their Global Warming Potential (GWP) measures these systems where the lower the GWP, the more efficient the system. Customer support from the system manufacturer and the stability of the system are vital features in refrigeration systems. Cost of maintenance and operation should also be considered.
The two major ECO systems
RDT is one of the leading manufacturers of refrigerators in the world. Two of their central systems are Eco-Cool and Eco-Smart, with Eco-Cool using digital scroll compressors that are more efficient than traditional options. This system enables operators to use lower volumes of refrigerant, occupy smaller spaces, and achieve 100 percent redundancy in case of a breakdown.
The Eco-Smart system reduces the amount of energy required from a defrost perspective, as defrost cycles run on demand instead of timed cycles that might operate when not needed. In addition, Eco-Smart prevents ice from forming on the floor and ceiling by minimizing excessive temperature swings.
Smart VAP+ systems from Bally are modified, they are easy to install, and they save energy by also reducing defrost cycles. Smart VAP+ eliminates ice that always builds up on products and surfaces by melting ice and pulling air across a modulating fan.