| DOE 2020

2020 DOE Standards for Walk-in Coolers and Freezers

New 2020 DOE Regulations Product Focus, Walk-in Coolers & Freezers

July, 5th, 2019


As January 2020 looms nearer and the date for compliance with Department of Energy (DOE) regulatory standards regarding walk-in coolers and freezers closes in, manufacturers, OEMs, wholesalers and contractors in the commercial refrigeration industry may still have questions or remain unclear on certain points.


What is a "walk-in cooler" or "walk-in freezer" as defined by the DOE? The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) defines WICFs as a unit that comprises a total chilled storage area of less than 3,000 square feet, that can be walked into, and with temperatures above 32 degrees Fahrenheit (walk-in coolers) and at or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (walk-in freezers). Refrigeration products designed and marketed specifically for scientific, medical, or research purposes are not included in this definition.


The updated standards shown in the table below impact medium- and low-temperature condensing units and unit coolers. The figures in the table reflect WICF energy efficiency metrics in terms of annual walk-in energy factor (AWEF) for the respective unit’s refrigeration capacity.

Equipment Class

Minimum AWEF (Btu/W-h)*

Dedicated Condensing System - Low, Indoor with a Net Capacity (qnet) of:


< 6,500 Btuh

0.091 x 10-5 x qnet + 1.81

 ≥ 6,500 Btuh


Dedicated Condensing System - Low, Outdoor with a Net Capacity (qnet) of:

< 6,500 Btuh

6.522 x 10-5 x qnet + 2.73

 ≥ 6,500 Btuh


Unit Cooler - Medium


Unit Cooler - Low with a Net Capacity (qnet) of:

< 6,500 Btuh

1.575 x 10-5 x qnet + 3.91

 ≥ 6,500 Btuh


*Where qnet is net capacity as determined in accordance with 10 CFR 431.304 and certified in accordance with 10 CFR part 429.

AWEF, or annual walk-in energy factor, is an annualized refrigeration efficiency metric that demonstrates the proportion of the heat load a system can discard (in Btu) to the energy necessary to reject the heat load (in watt-hours).


Walk-in cooler and freezer products included within the scope of the new DOE regulatory standards:

  • Walk-in coolers and freezers with 3,000 or less square feet
  • Condensing units & unit coolers used in walk-in coolers/freezers up to 3000 ft2
  • Unit coolers used in supermarket refrigeration systems in dedicated walk-in coolers and freezers under 3000 ft2
  • Doors and panels used to construct walk-in coolers & freezers


Applications excluded from DOE 2020 WICF regulations include:

  • Coolers and freezers greater than 3,000 square feet
  • Water cooled condensing units, air-cooled condensers, or remote condensers
  • Coolers/freezers used in medical, scientific, and research installations
  • Multi-compressor condensing units or supermarket racks


The Department of Energy projects that WICFs will see on average about 24% in energy savings over the 30-year period from 2020-2049 relative to the energy that would be used by walk-in coolers and refrigerators without the new regulatory standards. The DOE estimates the new regulations will result in a reduction of CO2 equal to the amount of electricity 780,000 homes would consume annually.

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This information is provided for informational purposes only and is based on information, legislation and litigation activities that are subject to change on short notice. The information provided should not merely be relied upon without consideration of your particular situation or any additional unique facts and circumstances.   Moreover, the laws are subject to change.   We recommend that you review the applicable laws and regulations and consult legal counsel, if necessary, to ensure you are in compliance with the regulations.

Heatcraft Refrigeration Products provides climate-control solutions for commercial refrigeration and industrial applications. We manufacture unit coolers, condensers, compressorized racks, condensing units, refrigeration systems and supermarket display cases through six market-leading brands, including Bohn, Larkin, Climate Control, Chandler, and InterLink. Heatcraft Refrigeration Products is a business segment of Lennox International Inc., a leading global provider of climate-control solutions.

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