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It’s no secret that climate change is one of the most pressing concerns facing our planet. We must act collectively on behalf of future generations to enact the change that will help us to avoid a climate catastrophe; and not least the HVAC industry, which has been, and remains, a major contributor to atmospheric greenhouse gases and global warming. In 2015, the UK Government, along with 196 parties entered the legally binding international treaty on climate change, which was adopted at COP 21 in Paris. For the first time in history, all nations committed to undertake the necessary, ambitious steps to combat climate change. Significant environmental milestone Whilst this was clearly a significant environmental milestone, how realistic is the 2030 deadline for zero Global Warming Potential (GWP), from the HVAC industry’s viewpoint? The refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump (RACHP) sector is presently the largest of the F-gas emitting sectors. The RACHP sector is in fact the UK’s main user as well as emitter of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). HFCs are now the main refrigerants used in a broad range of RACHP applications Since the phasing-out of ozone-depleting refrigerants (CFCs and HCFCs), HFCs are now the main refrigerants used in a broad range of RACHP applications, such as commercial refrigeration and air conditioning. It is therefore unsurprising that the spotlight has fallen on the RACHP sector. However, the EU F-Gas Regulation, which was introduced in 2014, is helping to reshape the sector, and lowering carbon emissions. The regulation stipulates: A 79% cut in the GWP weighted quantity of HFCs that can be sold in the EU by 2030. Several bans which restrict the refrigerants that can be used in specific types of new RACHP equipment. Bans on servicing R-404A systems in medium and large sized supermarket and industrial systems as of 2020. New rules on leak prevention and mandatory leak testing. Industrial refrigeration equipment In response to these new rules, many operating in the RACHP sector have introduced lower-GWP equipment. For instance, in the small-medium building air conditioning market, ultra-low GWP (<10) equipment is now an available option. Whilst the sector is committed to lowering its carbon footprint and has made good progress to date, the target of achieving a zero GWP by 2030 seems slightly unrealistic for a number of reasons. Whilst there is continuous improvement to RACHP equipment, an issue is the long life span of many products. For instance, some industrial refrigeration equipment typically has a life span of 30+ years; which means that approximately half of the industrial refrigeration equipment currently in use could remain so until 2030 and beyond. Reducing environmental impact The replacement of existing equipment is constrained by the equipment’s lifecycle The replacement of existing equipment is constrained by the equipment’s lifecycle, therefore, assuming that there is no premature retirement or retrofitting of the existing equipment, then implementing new alternatives could take decades, potentially. In terms of reducing environmental impact, the industry is reliant on the development of new technology, and manufacturers implementing that technology in the design of new equipment, to provide low-GWP alternatives. We are constrained by the rate at which manufacturers can bring these new products to market. The RACHP sector is also complex and contains an array of sub-sectors. The rate of progress in developing products with lower GWP varies considerably by sub-sector. For example, in the refrigeration sector, in commercial and retail applications where condensing units are used, the progress in lowering GWP is proving to be very slow. Variable refrigerant flow However, when it comes to small-sealed units, on the contrary, an impressive range of new low-GWP products have been brought to market. We can see a similar story in the air conditioning sector, where progress on lowering GWP is rather slow when it comes to large variable refrigerant flow (VRF) and large-ducted units; whereas for water chillers, they are making excellent progress. GWP rating may not be the key consideration in choosing a suitable product In the RACHP sector, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all product. Different equipment is required for different applications. For example, where RACHP systems are located in areas with public occupancy (e.g., retailers), public safety becomes a key concern, and would therefore limit our product choice, as well as the refrigerant type which could be used. Therefore, GWP rating may not be the key consideration in choosing a suitable product, it’s about selecting the right equipment for the application. Providing thermodynamic properties When it comes to RACHP equipment, there is a huge variance in temperature levels. In refrigeration, equipment temperature ranges from 0°C to 5°C for chilled food, and -15°C to -40°C for frozen food. In air-conditioning, the temperature typically ranges between 10°C to 20°Cii. These significant variations in temperature levels require a range of refrigerants to be available, to provide the thermodynamic properties to suit the specific application. It is worth noting here that not all have low GWP ratings. Despite stating that some of the targets are unrealistic, I do however believe that as an industry, we can collectively work together to make a difference to our planet. Maximum gas recovery Here are a few practical ways we can help to lower our carbon emissions: Use low GWP alternative refrigerants in new equipment – This is the key to success in the long term. As I explained previously, the long lifecycle of some of the equipment means that it will potentially be many years before the existing repository of HFCs is completely obsolete. However, it is a realistic goal that by 2050, the current generation of high-GWP HFCs could be replaced with low-GWP alternatives. Recover F-Gases from equipment - Old equipment reaching end-of-life contains HFCs. It is illegal to vent these HFCs into the atmosphere. The F-Gas Regulation has a mandatory requirement for the old HFC to be recovered. This refrigerant should be reprocessed, recycled and reused. Although this does not directly reduce F-Gas emissions in the short term, it does encourage maximum gas recovery. Leakage-Detection systems Reduce the usage of HFCs in existing equipment - Interestingly, a large proportion of total HFC consumption is actually to top-up leaks from existing equipment. If we could make advances in the area of leak-prevention, through further development of leakage-detection systems, this would reduce the volumes of HFC inadvertently entering the atmosphere. I’d also advise businesses to regularly undertake leak testing and to keep records. The world needs the entire HVAC industry to lead and drive the change required to reduce our carbon footprint. We must champion the solutions for the climate change crisis. Equally, businesses have a responsibility to ensure they remain F-Gas compliant and that their air conditioning and refrigeration systems continue to work at peak efficiency.
Air conditioning has become a huge part of our lives whether we know it or not. Most offices have them so that members of staff can enjoy a regulated working environment without having to shiver or overheat. This often makes the office a nice place to work in and helps staff to stay productive throughout the day, regardless of what is going on with the weather. Commercial air conditioning is something that we often take for granted because we barely realize that it’s there. The only time that we notice it is when it breaks down or it doesn’t function as efficiently as we want it to. Why is it important to regularly maintain an HVAC unit? When an AC unit isn’t looked after in the right way, there can be a number of things that can either go wrong Air conditioning maintenance is something that so many people overlook. This can be for a whole host of reasons, including whether it’s that they are unaware that it needs regular maintenance or they think it’s too costly to take on. These are often the most common reasons that air conditioning units aren’t looked after properly. When an air conditioner unit isn’t looked after in the right way, there can be a number of things that can either go wrong and disable air conditioning or just hinder its ability to do its job. Temperatures With a well looked after, fully functioning commercial air conditioner, you’ll find that the temperatures are very accurate and work as intended. This means that everything within your unit is in top condition and working well. For example, on a hot day, when you set your thermostat to a low temperature, you’ll get exactly that. Over time you may find that your air conditioning starts to struggle a little. This can be in a few different forms. You may detect that it takes a lot longer for your air conditioning to get up or down to the right temperature. This can be for a whole host of reasons and so keeping it regularly maintained will help to reduce this risk. Cost-effective As mentioned, a poorly maintained air conditioning unit will likely mean that it takes longer to get to the right temperatures or it may not be efficient enough to even reach the temperature you’re after. With that in mind, it can start to cost a lot more to run your HVAC system in this state. Due to the fact that it might take longer to reach your preferred temperature, you could end up paying more as time goes on. If you don’t rectify this problem, you may end up with an air conditioning unit that no longer works enough to be worth running. This will have adverse effects on the working environment and your members of staff. Safety of staff Depending on where you are in the world, heatstroke is also a very dangerous problem One of the biggest concerns for a business owner, the HR department and the individuals themselves, is that the office needs to be suitable to work in. From a health and safety standpoint, employees need to be safe and protected. Often air conditioning maintenance falls under this and is a necessity. Depending on where you are in the world, heatstroke is also a very dangerous problem. Having an inefficient air conditioning unit that can’t keep up with the rising temperatures could potentially put your employees at risk! The same also goes for those in more densely populated cities like London, New York City and even France. The air quality in and around these cities can be awful and so having air conditioning to clean and filter the air before it arrives in your office can make a big difference. Preventative maintenance Preventative maintenance is possibly one of the most important parts of owning any sort of machinery. Whether we’re talking about a car or air conditioning, preventative maintenance is a must. Preventative maintenance is just the act of regular maintenance throughout the lifetime of a product. It often involves changing of parts or fluids, even if they don’t need it in that instant. For example, if you take your car for a service and the engine oil is still sort of okay but will need replacing in 2 months’ time, would you just leave it or get it changed there and then? This type of preventative maintenance is designed to make sure that everything is in top condition and works perfectly all of the time. The biggest problem we face is that people think preventative maintenance isn’t necessary and while, yes your AC system will run without it, it’s likely to cost you so much more in the long run and could end up upsetting your staff too with a drop in temperatures. Employee satisfaction Commercial air conditioning is still a huge part of employee satisfaction Although at the time of writing this, many people are working from home, commercial air conditioning is still a huge part of employee satisfaction. Having an operating office, warehouse, school or indeed home, with air conditioning can help to keep people happy throughout the year. As a business owner, HR or general manager, it’s part of your job to keep employees happy and working in an optimal environment. Without this, employees may start to get fed up with attending an office that’s way too hot to work in. Importance of a regular maintenance plan A regular maintenance plan is going to help you keep your air conditioning system in the best state possible. You‘ll be able to detect faults and malfunctions before they have a direct impact on your commercial air conditioning system and prevent any further damage. Through the utilization of a proper plan, you should find that your system has a longer lifespan than those that don’t and should work more efficiently saving you time, money and the hassle of a broken system. Keeping your staff members happy is also a must and so dedicating some of your budget to air conditioning maintenance might just help you to keep morale and employee satisfaction on the right level.
HVAC systems have never received more widespread attention and media coverage than they have this year. As researchers determined that air transmission was a major factor in the spread of COVID-19, HVAC systems quickly became an area of intense discussion. Much of the news coverage from outlets like the New York Times, NPR, CNBC, or USA Today focused on air filtration. HEPA and MERV have become acronyms that people recognize, and UV Light and Plasma Ionization air purifiers have almost become dinner table topics. The need for discussion and debate about these topics is evident. As we look to resume some resemblance of normal life we need to feel safe sharing spaces with other people. Commercial HVAC Systems At the forefront of all of these discussions regarding air purification, is the massively flawed assumption that we must recirculate a large amount of the air from space to save energy. Most commercial HVAC systems only utilize 20% fresh air. That means that 80% of the air you are breathing in a public space has been on this ride before. The underlying principle here, from a thermodynamic perspective, is sound. I just spent a lot of energy (and $) conditioning this air for human comfort and now you want me to just throw it away?! In the name of all things public health, yes, throw it away! Energy Consumption It takes a large amount of energy to cool, dehumidify, and/or heat air so we humans can enjoy our time indoors in comfort Now before you draft your eloquently worded hate mail, let me take a minute to explain why we think you can just throw away perfectly conditioned air and still maintain a high level of energy consciousness. It’s true that it takes a large amount of energy to cool, dehumidify, and/or heat air so we humans can enjoy our time indoors in comfort. However, it is possible to exhaust ALL of the contaminated air from an occupied space and still conserve a large portion of the energy in that air. This can be done by passing the outside air (fresh air) and the exhaust air through separate heat exchangers where the energy can be transferred without the two air streams physically making contact. From a hygiene perspective, this process is ideal. Hospitals and industrial plants have been using one form or another of this technique for decades. The challenge for wider, commercial, adoption has been packaging restrictions of these systems and in a lot of cases the energy consumption of your supposedly energy-saving equipment. Energy Recovery Technology Cue ACT’s award-winning energy recovery technology, the Pump-Assisted Split Loop Energy Recovery Heat Exchanger. This product recently won the AHR Expo 2021 Innovation Award in the highly competitive Green Building category. The magic of the technology relies on the efficiency of the boiling and condensation process. When harnessed properly, one can exchange huge amounts of energy between two air streams just by circulating a particular fluid from one system to the next. A major benefit of allowing the fluid to boil and condense around the loop is that it allows the system to operate passively, using just the forces of good old fashion gravity. As a fluid boil, a portion of the liquid is converted into vapor which naturally wants to rise. Once that vapor gives off its energy it condenses back into a liquid that naturally wants to fall. If you can provide a source of energy input for boiling and a source of energy removal for condensing you can create a naturally circulating loop that requires absolutely zero electrical energy to operate. Two Separated Air Streams Transferring energy between two separated air streams with the least amount of total energy consumption and no cross-contamination In commercial HVAC systems, the warmer air stream can be the source of energy input and the cooler air stream can be the source of energy removal. As the seasons change, the air that is exhausted from a space flips from being warmer than the outside air (in the winter for instance) to be the colder air stream (in the summer). This means that at some point during the year you lose your gravitational advantage so for the other half of the year when you need to transfer energy in the opposite direction of gravity, ACT’s system uses a fractional horsepower pump (hence the pump-assisted part). The end result is a method of transferring large amounts of energy between two separated air streams with the least amount of total energy consumption, and with no cross-contamination. And because the fluid is circulated between the two air streams (either by gravity or by way of a small pump) this technology is highly geometrically flexible and customizable. With this product, HVAC systems can take in 100% fresh, outside air and throw it all away without having to worry about being wasteful. Improving HVAC Systems Most of the focus and efforts around improving HVAC systems have so far been centered too much on how we make old technology deal with new problems. These kinds of approaches are band-aids, at best, and often result is short-sighted solutions that never really advance the industry as a whole. ACT’s new product helps solve the problems of the new normal while moving the HVAC industry closer to that breath of fresh air we could all use right now.
Portable air conditioners have become a popular summertime cooling solution, valued for their easy, non-intrusive installation, fast set up, and the ability to easily store them away after the summer season ends. There is no end to the possible applications for a portable unit. Bedrooms, sunrooms, workout rooms, garages and other areas where relief is needed from the sweltering summer months are a great place to use a portable AC. Even homeowners with central AC will be glad to have one of these units on hand when the central AC breaks down during a summer heat wave and the first available service call is several days away. Ready to shop for a portable? Here are some factors to keep in mind when choosing a portable unit. As with any other air conditioner, one needs to know the square footage of the space they want to cool. Most portables will list a recommended square footage for the unit’s capacity. Portable air conditioners Single hose or dual hose portable? Getting the right BTU capacity for the space is critical. One will find several models rated for areas up to 500 square feet. Keep in mind that a space that has multiple sun-exposed windows, a heat producing appliance, or routinely has multiple occupants will have added heat load. If any of these conditions are present, one will want added BTUs to stay cool. Portable air conditioners are either single hose or dual hose design. Single hose models are faster to set up and may have built-in hose storage, so they are easily stored away once the season ends. They’re a great choice for spot cooling or in areas that have moderate summers. However, single hose models, by design, must intake and exhaust air through the same hose. Warm outside air is mixed in with indoor air and over time will produce a ‘warming effect’ if outdoor temperatures are extremely high (above 950 F). permanent cooling solution Is there a window to vent air to the outdoors? The kit has either one or two expandable hoses, and a frame that fits into the window with knockouts for the hose On two-hose portable models, one of the two hoses is dedicated to removing heat (exhaust) and expelling it outside. Intake air comes from the room that is being conditioned so the unit will maintain comfort even in extreme heat. Dual hose portable air conditioners will cool more quickly and efficiently. Dual hose portables are a great choice for all climates and are even suitable if one will be using the unit as a permanent cooling solution. Portable air conditioners must be vented to the outdoors. The units come with a window installation kit. The kit has either one or two expandable hoses, and a frame that fits into the window with knockouts for the hose(s). The hose kit will install into most standard windows. The hoses snap or twist and lock into the kit frame and into the back of the unit. Most flexible hoses can extend from 24-60 inches. installation kit hoses Is there a proper electrical outlet near the window? Venting through a drop ceiling may be an option in certain circumstances, however additional hose(s) may be necessary to reach ceiling height. One will also want to make sure the ceiling opening is well sealed to maintain proper cooling and venting of hot air. Portable units will plug into a standard 115v wall outlet, but one will want to make sure the wall outlet is close enough to the window so the power cord of the unit will reach the outlet, and the unit remains close enough to the window to utilize the installation kit hoses. Otherwise, one will have to hire a qualified electrician to install the outlet. Typical power cords are 6-7 feet in length.
Unmatched for quality, ease and control, Friedrich’s new 2019 smart models have integrated Wi-Fi control through Friedrich Connect™, and are voice command compatible. From the commercial-grade, 20-gauge steel cabinet and fully enclosed fan motors to its unrivaled QuietMaster technology, Kühl represents a new standard in room air conditioners. 6,000 - 35,000 Btu/hr. Cooling only, heat pumps and cooling + electric heat models. Friedrichs Kühl's quiet design, superior construction and integrated Wi-Fi with voice command make it the most advanced room air conditioner on the market. Units are available in 6,000 - 35,000 Btu/hr in cooling only, heat pumps, and cooling + electric heat models. ENERGY STAR® qualified models also available. The Friedrich Air Conditioning Difference Quietmaster® Technology. Engineered for quiet performance with superior components. As much as 45% quieter than competitor’s products. Steel inner wall and extra dense insulation blocks outdoor noise. Vibration isolating design and components reduce operating noise. Precision engineering delivers maximum airflow and air dispersion at low sound levels. Commercial Grade Quality & Durability Superior components and construction. Attention to every detail. Every aspect of Kühl is ultra-premium, outside and in, down to the tiniest component. Constructed with only the finest-quality materials, Kühl is extremely durable and designed to withstand tough use in virtually any commercial setting. Dual filtration technology Kühl units are designed with dual filtration technology to fill the home with cleaner indoor air. A washable antimicrobial air filter and check filter reminder will help one maintain that fresh clean air feel. Earth Friendly Kühl units are designed with a slideout chassis for more permanent installation Friedrich’s commitment to environment-friendly cooling is shown in the Kühl. The unit is available in ENERGY STAR® qualified models, uses eco-friendly R-410A refrigerant in all models, and arrives in recyclable packaging. slideout chassis Kühl units are designed with a slideout chassis for more permanent installation and easier access for maintenance. Heavy-duty window installation hardware is included with Kühl units and an optional accessory for Kühl+ units. Smart Wi-Fi Control with Voice Command Home or away, one is in control with the Friedrich Connect™ App. Integrated Wi-Fi control from one’s smartphone and voice command compatible. New intuitive platform. Simplified 7-day programmability. With one’s advanced grouping program, one can control multiple units to work independently or as a single system. One can even invite other users to manage one or more of the units.
Traditionally, portable cooling technology has been seen as a quick fix to immediate cooling needs. If a customer’s air conditioner went out in the busyness of summer, portable cooling could keep the customer comfortable until a technician could arrive at their home. Such needs and uses for portable cooling still exist, but over the past few years, portable cooling has increasingly developed as a solution for unique cooling needs. Manufacturers are saying this trend will continue. Misty Wilburn, Marketing Manager for Portacool, said that the market’s renewed interested in employee safety and productivity is driving further demand for portable cooling solutions. portable evaporative cooling From a safety standpoint, employers are looking for solutions that reduce heat stress and keep their employees cool" “From a safety standpoint, employers are looking for solutions that reduce heat stress and keep their employees cool,” she said. She explained that the industry is seeing a large shift surrounding employee safety. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) has led this charge by putting regulations in place regarding indoor and outdoor working conditions and will likely be followed by other states. “For operations that can’t use conventional a/c because of cost or efficiency, portable evaporative cooling - in setting up cool-down stations - can be key to meeting a lot of those regulations,” she said. In addition to this, she said that companies will be able to attract and keep the best employees if they provide a great work environment. open or closed environment “Offering those portable cooling areas can keep up focus and morale, which overall increases the profitability of your workforce,” she said. Wilburn explained that contractors can offer this solution as one that will do the most for their customers while also being conscious of cost. When choosing portable systems for their customers, Wilburn advised contractors to take note of the size of the space that needs to be cooled, the number of employees, electrical options, presence of a water supply, and whether it is an open or closed environment. multiple large coolers “By strategically positioning multiple large coolers, you can cool an entire area where you have lots of employees working,” she said. “If you want to spot cool an area and take the product wherever the work takes you, using one single smaller cooler might be the better option.” In agriculture, portable cooling has been used to cool individual stalls, especially for show animals All in all, she told contractors that it is important to choose a product that is as versatile as possible for the work environments the customers will find themselves in. Contractors should ensure the cooler is a plug-and-play model that can be set up with little technical skill needed. The degree of maintenance required is also important, as well as the expected lifespan of the equipment. Contractors should widen their view of portable cooling applications, too. Portable as Supplemental Cooling “Evaporative cooling is effective in other applications such as farm agriculture, patios, gyms, outdoor venues, events, sports sidelines, offshore platforms, retail stores, rental car pickup facilities, airports, beer gardens, and fast food lines for outdoor employees,” she said. In agriculture, portable cooling has been used to cool individual stalls, especially for show animals. “Is it dependable?” said Brittany Calderon, Product Manager for Friedrich Air. “Is it quiet? Is it energy-efficient? Those are the three main things that we hear our customers looking for. And of course, cost is always a factor.” Portable cooling can be used to keep areas of a home comfortable when the main air conditioning unit goes out. Applications for Portable Cooling “We recommend that contractors all keep a portable in the back of their truck to allow for supplemental cooling,” she said. “If somebody’s a/c goes out and they need to order a part, it’s going to take a few days. They can leave one of those portables at that customer’s house and everybody’s happy.” She said that portable cooling is often used to supplement other cooling systems Calderon said that a dual-hose portable air conditioner offers a really good solution for customer’s needs; it’s designed to cool areas faster, more efficiently, and without a complicated installation process. She said that portable cooling is often used to supplement other cooling systems. For example, 2019 had a relatively mild summer in the Northeast, and Friedrich saw interest grow in portable cooling - equipment that people could stow away in a closet when not in use. electrical equipment rooms Mike Renier, Vice President of Sales for KwiKool, said that customers are realizing that portable cooling can be used for specific, unique applications, and contractors should keep that in mind. “As the market has evolved, customers have gotten more demanding and not less,” he said. “And what that boils down to is that they’re looking for tailor-made solutions to application problems.” Some examples of this, he said, include server rooms, electrical equipment rooms, and other high-tech areas where heat-generating equipment needs to be kept cool. These rooms generally have permanent systems in place to cool the equipment; however, these mechanical systems run the risk of occasional failure when components break. redundant permanent systems The technology, called Biocool, is designed for use in laboratories and hospitals “Customers don’t want to have to spend a tremendous amount of money having redundant permanent systems in place,” Renier said. “As an alternative, they can look to portables to supply the duplicated air conditioning.” To operate as intended, such portable equipment will need to have high-efficiency, sensible capacity that can match the heat load, which contractors should look for. A portable cooler with a 1-ton heat load, he explained, will not be able to cool a room with a 5-ton heat load. Portable technology should always be used with the end goal in mind. For example, KwiKool has developed a portable cooler with a hospital-grade HEPA filter and UV light system. The technology, called Biocool, is designed for use in laboratories and hospitals. temporary air conditioning In other applications, cooled air must be moved long distances before it can be exhausted. Portable coolers, when properly designed to pump air further distances, can be temporarily installed in attics. On hot summer days, when attic temperatures can exceed safe temperatures, a portable cooler can be used to keep the heat tolerable for any employees working in that space. Renier reminded contractors that there is a big division between residential and commercial portable cooling products. “If all you want is some cheap, temporary air conditioning for a bedroom, those personal air conditioners are great,” he said. “But if you want to bring the serious capacity for a high-profile application, don’t buy the cheap stuff. It won’t work. You’re getting what you pay for.”
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