Today’s supermarkets and small grocers face many decisions when it comes to managing their refrigeration equipment. Do they have to keep their existing equipment year after year until something goes wrong? Or do they need to retrofit their equipment to extend its useful life by years? Perhaps the best solution is a complete overhaul, replacing aging equipment with a new system capable of providing decades of service.
Each of these options involves trade-offs, which may vary from store to store. When grocers consider the low margins they face today, they must weigh these trade-offs carefully. It is important that decision makers carefully weigh security, simplicity and durability:
- Is the refrigeration equipment safe for the technicians who service it?
- Is it safe for customers?
- Is the equipment simple? Can it be installed and maintained easily
- with minimal headaches and at a manageable cost?
- Does the equipment help the store be more sustainable?
- Is the system energy efficient?
Fortunately, there are gear options that answer these questions with a resounding “yes” across the board. Systems powered by hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs) and HFC/HFO blends, also known as advanced climate technologies (ACTs), often meet all of these goals. ACTs consistently offer advantageous flammability and toxicity characteristics at an affordable installation cost.
As a base case, consider an established grocer currently using R-404A (HFC) but considering a future refrigerant choice. Some stores may be able to retrofit a system using common components such as thermostatic expansion valves, while other stores may require an entirely new system with the latest electronic components such as electronic expansion valves. As part of the verification process, the owner should perform a cost-benefit analysis of each approach.
Benefits of ACTs
While many options may exist for the grocer, including installing an entirely new system, equipment running on ACTs is reliable, safe, simple and durable. These next-generation solutions pose minimal safety risks, receiving low flammability and toxicity ratings from the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).
In addition, ACTs provide operators with ease of use. They are simple to maintain by a wide range of technicians and can be retrofitted into existing systems, saving both expense and effort. This facility is particularly advantageous given the current challenges of recruiting qualified technicians.
Durability is also key. Energy efficiency is key to reducing the climate impact of a refrigeration system. Indirect emissions — including energy efficiency — account for 60% to 90% of a system’s total emissions. In other words, the “green” impact of a refrigeration system largely depends on its cooling efficiency. Total Equivalent Warming Impact (TEWI) and Life Cycle Climate Performance (LCCP) are well-established metrics that help operators assess the total environmental impact of a system, including indirect emissions due to energy consumption. ACTs allow operators to optimize the energy efficiency of their stores and test favorably against comprehensive climate impact measures such as TEWI and LCCP.
Through numerous measures, ACTs help grocers achieve safe, simple and sustainable refrigeration in their stores.
As regulators push original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to develop equipment that is both more efficient and more environmentally friendly, store owners remain determined to make the smartest long-term investment. for their businesses. So, as grocers consider system improvements, why shouldn’t they select “proven” ACTs?