Sponsored by Hussmann Corporation
Just as parents encourage their children to consider all options – look at all the angles in order to make the best decisions in life -- the same is true when considering refrigerated merchandisers for supermarket, convenience, drug, and dollar stores.
The key elements naturally include design, size, performance, and cost. But there are more variables to consider before making a purchasing decision. Essential factors to focus on include the best refrigerant to use, amount of energy consumed, speed and ease in installation, and long-term maintenance.
Checking all of the variables and options is what many refer to as “the big picture” or getting the full scope of facts before making a buying decision.
For example, in terms of refrigerants, European and other markets have been using environmentally friendly propane R290, a non-toxic hydrocarbon, in self-contained display cases and storage cabinets for many years now. It is estimated there are at least 2.5 million hydrocarbon (HC) refrigerated display cases in grocery stores worldwide, according to industry analysts.
R290-charged systems have recently been launched in the United States, where Hussmann Corporation successfully introduced its microDS merchandisers, which are beginning to gain a toehold across the American food retail industry. Why?
Because R290 is non-toxic and environmentally safe, unlike hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that are used in most U.S. store merchandisers today and negatively impact climate change and global warming.
The microDS merchandisers are charged with a tiny amount of R290 – up to just 150 grams (5.3 oz) per circuit – which adheres to UL and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) safety standards for commercial refrigerators and freezers. The amount of R290 needed is about 95 percent less that HFC refrigerants used in full store applications. A huge savings.
Incidentally, the IEC voted May 8, 2019, to increase the R290 charge limit to 500 grams, which eventually may allow for a wider adoption in the U.S. across more types of commercial refrigeration equipment. However, U.S. safety certification agencies are still in the process of reviewing the need for an increase in the charge limit and, therefore, any increase may take years.
As for refrigerant leaks, HFC-charged systems leak about 25 percent of their refrigerant a year from the merchandisers and the long run of cooling lines required. That’s a direct emission of about 875 liquid pounds of HFCs evaporating into the atmosphere annually per store, according to the EPA.
Conversely, R290 systems are self-contained and hermetically sealed to minimize any risk of leaks. And, in the unlikely event a leak does occur, R290 is environmentally safe and has a miniscule Global Warming Potential rating of 3 versus HFCs, which have a GWP rating of 3,922.
In addition to leaks, the other side of the environmental equation is the amount of electricity used by refrigeration equipment. It is considered an indirect emission because the estimated 236,000 grocery, dollar, drug and convenience stores throughout the U.S. use electricity generated, at least in part, by burning fossil fuels.
The compressors for the R290 systems are smaller than full-sized compressors used in HFC merchandisers, and while they don’t require as much electrical current, there typically would be more of them inside a full-sized grocery store using R290. So, the total amount of electricity consumed in a full store application could be about the same or slightly more used by a typical store’s HFC system.
That’s where the direct and indirect emissions come into play for decision-makers: The indirect emissions from fossil-fueled electricity are offset by the miniscule direct emission, if R290 ever leaks.
One more variable to consider as part of the big picture: microDS R290 systems use an easy-to-install closed water loop for cooling, making installation faster and far easier. They can be hardwired for electricity, although most R290 units are pre-wired, wheeled into place, and easily plugged into a floor or wall electrical outlet. It’s that simple: A plug-and-play unit ready to go with little or no downtime.
The new, high-performance R290 merchandisers are also less complex, which enables maintenance to be done easier and more efficiently. Considering the existing shortage of refrigeration service technicians, the R290 merchandisers could relieve the pressure for store owners to provide routine maintenance.
Easier. Faster. Less refrigerant used. Environmentally safe. Lower cost. Excellent performance. Less complex.
So, when considering the purchase of new merchandisers in remodeled and new store construction, decision-makers must get the “big picture” to make the best decision for their stores, their customers, and consumers for generations to come.