• Innovation in Commercial Refrigeration

    Feb. 1, 2010
    Refrigeration systems and components are being developed at a rapid pace, to protect equipment, save on energy and equipment costs, and reduce refrigerant charges.

    Commercial refrigeration product manufacturers aren't sitting around waiting for something good to happen in the U.S. economy. They're continuing to bring new product ideas to the drawing board, and are turning those ideas into refrigeration solutions for contractors and their customers.

    ContractingBusiness.com spoke with some of the leaders in commercial refrigeration manufacturing to learn about the innovative products they're offering contractors in 2010, products that offer increased efficiency, accuracy, and protection for customers seeking the best of what's available.

    Compressor protection controls are key components in commercial refrigeration. “You don't want to lose a compressor due to a low voltage or undervoltage situation. You must protect the compressor as best as you can,” says Ron Kadah, president ICM Controls, Syracuse, NY. “The ICM450 provides front- and back-side protection.” icmcontrols.com

    HVAC and refrigeration engineers have long searched for cost effective sensors capable of monitoring the refrigerant temperature in condenser and evaporator coils. The Sens-A-Coil by Spectrum Sensors & Controls, St. Marys, PA, integrates a fast-response thermistor element into a plastic, overmolded copper clip that snaps onto 3/8-in. return bends. The sensor is housed in a small bulb attached to the copper clips. The Sens-A-Coil maximizes sensing surface area.

    “This enables the sensing element to quickly react to changes in the refrigerant temperature,” says Devin Brock, director of sales and marketing. He adds that the Sens-a-Coil will comply with new California energy standards which require that a saturation temperature sensor be part of the system once it's installed. specsensors.com

    “Commercial refrigeration customers are looking for ways to reduce refrigerant charge, as a way to reduce refrigerant system leaks,” acknowledges Rajan Rajendran, director, engineering services for the refrigeration division of Emerson Climate Technologies.

    “Reducing refrigerant charge invariably goes hand-in-hand with reducing refrigerant leaks,” continues Rajendran. “Refrigerant racks are the incumbent technology, which seem to be giving way to secondary systems and distributed systems, which I think will grow over the next few years. Their lower charge implies lower leak rates and a lower carbon footprint. And, you don't want to sacrifice efficiency. ‘Green’ should mean lower global warming potential (GWP) and efficiency,” Rajendran says.

    Digital technology has been adapted to compressor technology. One example is Emerson's Copeland Scroll Digital™ and Copeland Discus Digital™ compressors, which Emerson sources say provide a new level of capacity modulation.

    “Previously, rack systems were designed evenly, to keep things simple; however, at times, you had to design uneven systems, to provide enough steps in capacity to match variations in supermarket loads,” explains Kurt Knapke, manager of supermarket and electronics programs for Emerson's refrigeration division.

    “With digital compressors, you can design a rack with even compressors, and provide sufficient capacity modulation capabilities, by having continuous digital unloading on one compressor,” explains Knapke. “That simplifies your rack design, allows for easier serviceability, and could potentially reduce the first cost of the rack system, by eliminating a compressor off of the rack. You'll also see performance benefits based on matching that capacity being generated to the actual required load in the store.” emersonclimate.com

    For additional commercial refrigeration innovations, visit http://bit.ly/refinnovate.