Energy efficiency and selection of a Commercial Reach-In Refrigerator and Freezer
High-efficiency evaporator fan motors – These small fans are typically less than one-tenth of a horsepower. A grocery store can have hundreds of them, so their energy consumption can be significant. Specifying high-efficiency motors for evaporator fans is almost always a good investment, and they can also be implemented on a retrofit basis. Energy savings are estimated to be about 2 percent of refrigeration system electricity use for reach-in freezers, 7 percent for reach-in refrigerators, 8 percent for grocery store display cases, 5 percent for ice machines, 14 percent for vending machines, and 29 percent for beverage merchandisers.
High-efficiency condenser fan motors – Specifying high-efficiency motors on condenser fans is also a good idea. System energy savings estimates are in the 3 to 5 percent range.
High-efficiency compressor systems – Energy savings potential for high-efficiency compressors are estimated to be 6 percent for ice machines, 9 percent for vending machines and beverage merchandisers, 12 percent for reach-in refrigerators, and 16 percent for reach-in freezers.
Floating head pressure controls – Floating head pressure controls allow compressor head pressures to vary with outdoor conditions. This saves energy dollars and helps refrigeration equipment to last longer. Floating head pressure controls are often standard features on new systems; however, they can be retrofitted as well. Estimated savings range from three to 10 percent for grocery store systems.
Liquid pressure amplifiers –Liquid pressure amplifiers are small refrigerant pumps that raise liquid line pressure to increase system efficiency. For systems with air-cooled condensers, the lower the outdoor air temperature, the greater the efficiency gain. Energy savings can be up to 20 percent.
Anti-sweat heater controls – Anti-sweat heaters are electric heaters installed in virtually all low temperature and many medium temperature display cases to keep their external surfaces free of condensation during high humidity conditions. Typically they are on all the time. Anti-sweat heater controls sense store humidity conditions and turn the heaters off when they are not needed. Energy savings estimates range from about six percent for grocery store display cases to 14 percent for reach-in freezers and 20 percent for reach-in refrigerators.
Defrost controls – Energy-efficient defrost systems improve the operation of the defrost cycle. The most effective controls are called demand controls which initiate defrosting in a variety of ways such as measuring the temperature or pressure drop across the evaporator, measuring frost accumulation and sensing humidity. All of these methods, if used properly, are more effective than using a simple timer clock to initiate defrosting. Energy savings estimates range from about one percent to six percent of refrigeration system energy use.
Evaporative condensers – Most refrigeration systems use air-cooled condensers to expel heat. Evaporative condensers use a wetted filter to cool ambient air as it enters the condenser increasing its ability to reject heat. Energy savings estimates range from about three percent to nine percent for grocery store refrigeration systems.
Ambient subcooling – Ambient subcooling involves the use of an oversized condenser or an additional heat exchanger to subcool liquid refrigerant. Savings estimates range from about one percent for grocery store systems to about nine percent for walk-in coolers.
Mechanical subcooling – Mechanical subcooling is an effective method of cooling liquid refrigerant below its saturation pressure in order to increase system capacity and improve efficiency. Energy savings are estimated to be as much as 25 percent for grocery store refrigeration systems.
Heat recovery – Heat recovery systems use heat removed from display cases to heat water. The amount of water that can be heated will depend on the situation. However, a 7.5 hp compressor can supply close to 100 percent of the hot water requirements in a medium-sized grocery store all year long.
Energy efficient case lighting – T-8 fluorescent lamps and electronic ballasts are often used in new energy-efficient cases and can be retrofitted in existing cases as well. These high efficiency fixtures reduce lighting energy use and reduce the cooling load on the compressor. Energy savings potential is estimated to be about 10 percent for beverage merchandisers.
Add doors to display cases – Glass doors on open multi-deck display cases can reduce compressor energy costs, reduce cold air spillage and increase store comfort conditions. Doors can often be added to existing cases as a retrofit. Savings are estimated to be as high as 50 percent, and paybacks will typically be in the range of one to two years for retrofits. However, installing doors can cause the compressor system to be oversized so be sure to get assistance from a refrigeration professional when conducting a retrofit.
Energy efficient reach-in refrigerators – When purchasing a new residential-grade refrigerator look for equipment with the EPA’s Energy Star® logo. Units that have earned the Energy Star logo use at least 30 percent less energy than required by federal government standards. Side-by-side refrigerator/freezers use significantly more energy than those with the freezer above the refrigerator. Use the EnergyGuide label on new refrigerators to select the most efficient model.
Operating and maintenance efficiency measures – Operating and maintenance practices can also significantly improve the efficiency of refrigeration systems. Clean cooling coils several times a year and make sure outdoor coils are shaded from the sun and have good air circulation around them. Make sure the doors on your freezers, refrigerators and display cases seal tightly, and repair any damaged door seals.
Consider the following when shopping for a commercial solid door refrigerator or freezer:
- Door Swing: Plot out where the kitchen location for the refrigerator or freezer before shopping. Consider how the door will swing open and choose a configuration that will not interrupt the workflow. A number of models have a convenient filed-reversible door feature.
- Door Length: Reduce energy costs by purchasing a solid door unit with a split door. The inside of the unit is not separated, and the cook or chef can access desired items with the minimal amount of energy usage.
- Mounted Casters: Models with casters are ideal because they can easily be moved and repositioned for cleaning and servicing. Be sure to purchase a model with wheel locks to prevent accidents.
- Compressor Location: Top mounted compressors generate heat above the freezer and away from the cold zone, creating a more efficient process of cooling. Bottom mounted compressors provide a boost to the lower interior shelf, making the unit easier to load. Bottom mounted compressors are also easier to access for cleaning and service.
- Swinging and Sliding Doors: Sliding doors can eliminate congestion issues in tight spaces and swinging doors provide a larger reach-in area.
- Compressor Location: Front of the house display units may find a greater benefit in a bottom mounted compressor as it boosts the bottom shelf into a better line of sight. Top mounted compressors will blow heat out above the shopping or service area and are the most energy efficient option.
Remember to use the same considerations for a full solid or full glass door:
- Compressor Location
- Door Swing
- Mounted Casters
Energy Saving Tip:
Most commercial kitchens account for every square inch of space. Keep your kitchen fully efficient and make sure that there is at least two to three inches of clearance on each side and on the back of the refrigerator or freezer. This will allow for proper air flow, keeping refrigeration coils properly cooled without working the compressor too hard.
Take the pressure off of your shopping experience and choose a reach-in commercial refrigerator or freezer that will benefit your kitchen's size, layout and inventory needs.