Frequently Asked Questions about Refrigeration

What kind of equipment is included under the heading of commercial refrigeration?

Commercial refrigeration is a term that refers to equipment designed to preserve perishable food and medicine in businesses that include supermarkets, restaurants, hotels, schools and hospitals. The equipment comes in all shapes and sizes, from a small display case for ice cream in the local convenience store to a walk-in refrigerated storage room at a large supermarket.

 

How much energy does commercial refrigeration equipment use?

It uses a lot. In fact, the cost of energy needed to run some commercial refrigeration equipment over its life span can be six times the cost of the equipment itself. Businesses that rely heavily on refrigeration and freezing – like supermarkets – can spend up to half of their total energy bill on keeping food cold and fresh. That’s why it’s so important to have energy efficient refrigeration equipment and maintain it properly.

 

How can I be sure the refrigeration equipment I buy is energy efficient?

The best way to be sure about energy efficiency is to look for ENERGY STAR certification. On average, equipment carrying the ENERGY STAR label is 20% more efficient than standard equipment. ENERGY STAR equipment may also be eligible for rebates from utility or government-sponsored incentive programs. While most types of commercial refrigeration equipment are eligible for ENERGY STAR certification, ice cream freezers and certain kinds of other machinery are not.

 

If I can’t afford a complete change-out, are there low-cost add-ons that can save me money?

Absolutely! Adding de-humidification filters can control moisture inside the equipment, allowing compressors to run less often. Energy savings can also be achieved inexpensively by adding plastic curtain strips to open-front display cases in grocery stores, and placing solid “night curtains” over those cases when the store is closed, limiting the loss of cool air. Another low-cost energy saving measure is the replacement of fluorescent lighting with LEDs in refrigerated display cases. LEDs produce less heat than fluorescents, so they’re not working at cross-purposes with the cooling elements.

 

Does energy efficient equipment provide benefits other than energy cost savings?

The features that make equipment energy efficient can have some side benefits for business owners. For example, high-efficiency motors that operate refrigeration systems only when needed for cooling can help keep fruits and vegetables from drying out by reducing airflow. By the same token, de-humidification filters can help eliminate odors and bacteria growth while also cutting energy costs.

 

How does proper maintenance help improve energy efficiency?

Cleaning a system’s cooling coils a few times a year can prevent the build-up of dirt, dust and grime that can make the coils work harder, using more electricity. Coils should also be kept clear of obstructions that can restrict the air flow around them. Condensers and evaporators should be cleaned and serviced regularly to keep them running efficiently.

 

What are door gaskets?

Door gaskets are the rubber linings that help maintain the temperature in a commercial refrigeration or freezer unit by creating a seal that keeps the cold air in and the warm air out. When gaskets get worn or brittle they lose their effectiveness and should be replaced. Operating a refrigeration unit with worn-out gaskets wastes energy, because air leaking in or out of the unit causes the compressor to work longer and more often.

 

What are refrigeration controls?

Refrigeration controls make sure that all the major components of a refrigeration system work in coordination with each other. These components include the thermostat, condenser, compressor and evaporator, which have to function together in exactly the right way to guarantee the best possible result and most efficient operation.

 

What is a fan motor?

A fan motor does what its name implies – it powers fans that serve important functions in a refrigeration system. In a grocery store’s produce and dairy sections, fan motors help keep food fresh and safe by circulating cool air and evaporating moisture in open display cases. Motors also power the fans in a refrigeration system that circulates cold air through all the components. This keeps the components from overheating, which can affect their efficiency or – even worse – cause them to break down.