Who’s Writing New HVAC Testing Standards?

There’s been a recent flood of home performance efficiency testing standards out for public opinion that include HVAC testing methods. It appears these groups are in need of feedback from the HVAC industry. Public feedback means they are inviting us to comment, so, let’s comment. Let’s take a look at what’s being proposed and how it affects our future.

The concern is that if these groups are left to write standards without input from an industry they have undertaken to inspect and audit, the HVAC industry is going to be on the outside looking in. We may be left with some testing methods that will not agree with existing realistic protocols that accurately evaluate the quality and effectiveness of our work.

These test methods may eventually determine if our systems meet program requirements and qualify for incentives or not. Some may work their way onto code language and state laws. Should their testing oppose existing standards used by our industry and move forward without our input, we could be stuck with government sanctioned testing agents that will not have the ability to accurately audit our work.

Considering the fact that the HVAC system is the largest source of energy consumption in most US homes and that energy savings are the obvious purpose of these standards, should not these testing standards provide a conclusive energy picture of the performance of the system? Have a read and see if these test standards will accurately verify the safety and energy efficiency of the systems you install.

Building Performance Institute

The Building Performance Institute has a standard posted for review called the Home Energy Auditing Standard. This 15 page standard contains several sections that will definitely impact the HVAC industry.

The standard describes specific inspection and testing protocol aimed at establishing the building efficiency and safety status as determined by BPI certified contractors.

Take a look at Section 7. This section requires specific combustion appliance testing. Section 11 describes how heating and cooling efficiency is to be determined.

The standards including one-line directives such as “Evaluation of furnace performance and efficiency,” and “Evaluation of air-conditioning and heat pump performance and efficiency.” It’s not clear what testing or quantification of energy efficiency, if any, is required by these statements.

The duct testing required by this standard includes no temperature or airflow measurement, but includes testing the duct system with blower doors and pressure pans. It also includes statements such as “consider airflow.”

Perhaps your experience, ideas, and opinions can assist this organization in developing more detailed testing that can further quantify if the system is operating efficiently and safely or not.

This standard can be found here. Go here to make a comment or provide feedback.

RESNET

This inspection and testing organization has posted a standard called “Standard for Performance Testing and Work Scope: Chapter Eight: Enclosure and Air Distribution Leakage Testing.”

The standard has finally included air density adjustment factors for blower doors and beefs up the testing procedure for the building envelope. But, it fails to recognize or include ASHRAE testing that’s been the standard for duct system performance measurement for decades.

Section 804.1 refers to attaching a cardboard box to an air balancing hood and then attaching a fan to the box with pressure sensors on it. This is the new prescribed method for measuring airflow through a register. Take a look and provide some feedback on this standard.

ASHRAE Standard 111 has provided specific standards on many types of airflow measurement. Shouldn’t these standards be referred to rather than making new standards based on test instruments that don’t even exist yet and tools that must be field fabricated?

If that doesn’t make you want to help this committee with your feedback, take a look at Section 804.2.2-Bag Inflation. This test method includes slipping a garbage bag over a register and then clocking how long it takes for the bag to fill with air with a stop watch. From that critical data, the delivered airflow is calculated. It even provides directions for how to select the right garbage bag and claims accuracy of + or – 10%.

Shouldn’t these standards recognize the existing accepted standards and test instruments that are practiced thousands of times a day by the air balancing industry that has measured live HVAC system performance for the last 50 years?

Furthermore the standard states it’s needed “to improve the accuracy of the testing procedures…and to provide standardized methods for measuring ventilation airflows which are a requirement under the new version of ENERGY STAR.”

This proposed amendment to their standard can be found here.

The reality is that we’ve stood back and watched as those outside of the HVAC industry are determining our fate. We are to blame for not getting involved before now. This is our chance to address what way others will test and verify the quality of our work.

Rob “Doc” Falke serves the industry as president of National Comfort Institute a training company with technical and business level membership organizations. You can contact Doc at [email protected] or call him at 800-633-7058. Go to NCI’s website at nationalcomfortinstitute.com for free information, articles and downloads.

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