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How the 2020 DOE Regulations Impact Condensing Units 

article Published on 2019-07-10

The Department of Energy’s new 2020 regulations are quickly approaching, and they affect a wide variety of end-users of indoor and outdoor condensing units. Those in the commercial refrigeration industry who will be required to adhere to the new regulations include suppliers, contractors, wholesalers, OEMs, and end-users in the foodservice, food retail and food manufacturing industries. While the DOE has been providing updates regarding the new regulations, many are still questioning the specifics of how they will be impacted. As your partner in the commercial refrigeration industry, and as an industry leader, we want to provide as much clarity as possible to make the transition seamless for those impacted.

January 1, 2020 – The Deadline

What is the significance of January 1, 2020? This is the first compliance date for the new regulations and affects medium temperature indoor and outdoor air-cooled condensing units and package systems. Between now and this date, you will hear the term AWEF, or Annual Walk-in Energy Factor, often. AWEF is an annualized refrigeration efficiency metric that represents the ratio of the heat load that a system can reject to the energy required to reject that load. In accordance with the EPCA, the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, any amendment or new energy conservation standard has to achieve the maximum energy efficiency that is determined technologically feasible and economically justified, according to the DOE. It also must result in significant energy conservation. Installations of medium temperature indoor and outdoor air-cooled condensing units and package systems manufactured prior to January 1, 2020, will not be required to meet the new DOE standards.

What indoor and outdoor condensing units and unit coolers are impacted by the new regulations?

  • Medium temperature condensing units and package systems used in Walk-In Coolers and Freezers up to 3000 square feet (effective January 1, 2020)
  • Low temperature condensing units, package systems, and unit coolers used in Walk-In Coolers and Freezers up to 3000 square feet (effective July 10, 2020)

DOE has adopted energy conservation standards that apply to all applicable walk-in coolers and freezers (WICF) that include this affected equipment manufactured in, or imported into, the United States starting on the compliance dates stated above. See Table 1.

Table 1 - Energy Conservation Standards for WICF Refrigeration Systems

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

SOURCE: https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2016/12/f34/WICF_ECS_Final_Rule_0.pdf

What condensing units are excluded from these requirements?

  • Condensing units solely designed and marketed to serve multiple WICFs or multiple other pieces of refrigeration equipment
  • Water-cooled condensing units
  • Condensing units serving WICF dedicated to medical, scientific or research applications

How will the new standards affect ME?

Wholesalers – Wholesalers may want to consider stocking affected equipment manufactured after January 1, 2020, to ensure business continuity for their customers. Medium temperature air-cooled indoor and outdoor condensing units and packaged systems that are selected and installed after January 1, 2020, should be compliant with the new DOE regulations.

Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM’s) - OEM’s may install and sell entire WICF refrigeration systems. The DOE has an updated rule, which allows for OEM’s to rate and certify their basic models by using a projected energy efficiency level, derived from simulation models, instead of actual testing. OEM’s are also able to test and rate the condensing unit individually instead of having to rate and test as part of matched pairs. In this scenario, fixed values can be used for items like suction (inlet) conditions, defrost energy, and unit cooler fan when calculating AWEF. However, matched pair ratings of these systems are still allowed, and apply to dedicated condensing systems with multiple capacity stages and/or variable-capacity.

Contractors - Wholesalers and OEM’s must ensure that they are providing equipment that is compliant with the new DOE 2020 standards, with the exception of installations of equipment manufactured prior to January 1, 2020. As a Contractor, you should be prepared to advise your customers of the new commercial refrigeration standards.

End-Users – You will feel safe and secure knowing that, if all rules and regulations are abided by, your equipment will not only be more energy efficient and cost you less in energy use over time, but will be compliant with all new DOE 2020 regulations