U.S. Cooler Flickr Photostream

Visit U.S. Cooler’s Flickr Photostream. Flickr is a photo and video sharing site owned by Yahoo. You can view pictures of our completed walk-ins and promotional photos. These pictures represent the wide range of custom design possibilities available for your walk-in cooler, freezer or combination unit.

We also have a walk-in photo gallery on our main website.

USDA Grant Money for Rural Energy Improvements

Note: This article was posted in 2009 and not all grants may still be available.

Government money is available to help your small business become more energy efficient.

The USDA is now offering a grant and loan program to improve energy efficiency in rural areas. The REAP/RES/EEI (Rural Energy for America Program Grants/ Renewable Energy Systems/ Energy Efficiency Improvement Program) Grants Program will provide funds to architectural producers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficient improvements.

The program is designed to assist farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses that are able to demonstrate financial need. Small businesses that are located in rural areas can also apply. Most rural projects that reduce energy use and result in savings for the agricultural producer or small business are eligible as energy efficient projects. These include projects such as retrofitting lighting or insulation, or purchasing or replacing equipment with more efficient units. One of the main requirements of the grant program is that the new equipment must be more energy efficient than the current equipment. An ‘energy audit’ will be performed comparing the energy usage of the old equipment to the new anticipated energy efficient equipment.

Walk-in coolers and freezers qualify for this grant program. Older walk-ins are not as efficient as new units built today. Some of the recent changes in the industry include the requirement to provide higher insulation r-values and refrigeration units with EC motors, which are much more energy efficient than older units. These upgrades will prove your new equipment to be more energy efficient, which will save you money on energy costs.

Debunking the Myth of Laminated Panels

Myth: “Laminated” or “Slab” panels are inferior to urethane because they are glued to the skins to hold the panel together. Therefore, these types of panels are not considered as durable and are thought to come loose within a short period of time.

Truth: For over 40 years walk-ins have been manufactured by either gluing insulation to metal skins (laminated) or pouring urethane (foamed-in-place) between two metal skins.  Contrary to most beliefs, both systems provide equal performance in adhesion if applied correctly.  This is important because in walk-ins the structural strength of the unit is dependent on this adhesion performance.  When metal skins are glued or foamed to insulation a composite panel is created.  This created panel performs much like a steel I-beam. I-beams by design are very strong for their weight and are used in building structures that need a lot of strength without the weight, such as skyscrapers. A steel I-beam is two flanges of steel connected and separated by a center steel web.  In a walk-in panel, the two flanges are light gauge metal skins and the web is the foam insulation.  All I-beams lose their strength if the flanges separate from the web. If the I-beams separate, skyscrapers would collapse. This is similar to walk-ins that could fail if the skins separate from the foam insulation.

Plan Now for Upcoming Changes in Refrigerants

Be aware that prices of R-22 refrigeration may increase while supplies will likely wane. After January 1, 2010, original equipment manufacturers will no longer be able to sell equipment using R-22. The phase out of R-22 will be a lengthy process and market conditions may not be as greatly affected by the volatility that resulted in refrigerant price hikes characterized by the phase out of R-12.

Existing equipment using R-22 can continue to be serviced with R-22. However, chemical manufactures will no longer be able to produce R-22 after January 1, 2020. After 2020 the servicing of existing equipment will rely exclusively on re-claimed and recycled supplies of R-22.

If your equipment is more than ten years old, you may save significantly on your cooling energy cost by replacing it with a new more efficient model using R-404a or Scroll compressor technology.

Energy efficiency, system performance, hourly run time of equipment, reliability, and actual cost to operate (amp draw, run time, etc.) should be considered when deciding to purchase new equipment.

To help speed the transition away from ozone depleting refrigerants, choose a system that uses ozone friendly refrigerants.

A Matter of Insulation: Acquisition vs. Lifetime Savings

Your cold storage equipment may be one of the most important choices you make. A significant amount of costs are associated with your walk-in. Before you purchase, make sure you consider the entire lifecycle of the walk-in instead of just the acquisition price.

The two main elements that effect energy and cost savings while running a walk-in are the refrigeration and insulation.  To get the optimal results from your refrigeration it must be sized correctly taking in consideration the size of box, if it is a cooler or freezer, and what will be stored inside. (There are many other factors that are considered when sizing refrigeration.) Insulation is the key to energy savings because it is responsible for holding the cool temperature in the box so the refrigeration does not have to work overtime. Insulation quality is measured by R-value; the resistance to heat flow through an object. Since EISA was implemented January 1, 2009, all walk-in manufactures are required to have an R-value of R-25 for coolers and R-32 for freezers. Now that all manufacturers follow the same requirements, the performance of the insulation is what differentiates the walk-in.

The two common types of insulation used are polyurethane and extruded polystyrene.  Each type of insulation brings with it strengths and weaknesses that must be evaluated for each individual application.

Insulation Strength Weakness
Extruded Polystyrene Starts with a high R-value. Smaller cell structure. Resists moisture absorption. Closed cell structure. Out gases some. Over time, R-value decreases minimally.
Polyurethane Starts with a high R-value.  Closed cell structure. Out gases more. Over time, R-value decreases steadily. Is susceptible to moisture infiltration.

U.S. Cooler uses both insulations. Through experience and research, U.S. Cooler believes extruded polystyrene is the best insulation for the walls, ceiling, and floors of coolers and freezers. Polyurethane is better to insulate the doors of their walk-ins. According to a study performed by the U.S. Corps of Engineers, they found that over a five year period extruded polystyrene retains 75% of its R-value while polyurethane retains 25%.¹  This is one reason why U.S. Cooler believes extruded polystyrene provides the most value and the best option for walk-in insulation.

Polyurethane & Extruded Polystyrene walk-in insulation
Polyurethane & Extruded Polystyrene

An energy saving experiment for your grocery store

A research study at Kettering University in Michigan investigated how to make an open refrigerated display case (like those found in grocery stores) operate more efficiently.  The study concluded that raising the temperature setting while lowering the air velocity from the refrigeration would not only provide energy savings, but the food was actually kept cooler.

Lower infiltration [of warm air] means the air is coming out at a lower velocity, said Navaz. “Previously, air came out of the upper vent (or grille) of a specific display case at 90 feet per minute. We calculated the optimal speed as 65 feet per minute as an optimal discharge air velocity to yield lower infiltration rate,” he said.

By reducing the velocity by 30 percent, infiltration was reduced by 12 percent and the power required was reduced by 13 percent.

Increasing the temperature at the discharge air grille by about 1 degree (F) and lowering the velocity of air resulted in lower suction pressure at the compressor inletwhich reduced the compressor usage and therefore less energy consumption.

Infiltration represents 83 percent of the cooling load and is the biggest draw on energy of refrigerated display cases. Less energy use translates into real cost savings to the tune of about $13 million for the state of California alone, according to Navaz.

In addition to energy savings, lowering the pressure on the compressor also extends the life of the compressor and creates more cost savings over the long term.

Click here to read the entire Kettering refrigeration study.

Energy Efficient Copeland Scroll Compressors for Walk-ins

compressor
Copeland Scroll Refrigeration Compressor

Save valuable resources with energy efficient Copeland Scroll compressors, permanent split capacitor motors and electronically commutated evaporator motors on your next refrigeration system purchase. Scroll condensing units are available for medium and low temperature refrigeration applications. The condensing units are optimized to work with HFC refrigerant R-404A, a reliable alternative to HCFC R-22. As the energy efficiency trend increases, the use of scroll compressors is a more important feature than ever before. Scroll compressors are inherently more reliable because they have significantly fewer moving parts and handle liquid slugs and debris more effectively. The scroll technology has only three moving parts, as compared to the standard hermetic compressors that have 150 plus moving parts. Scroll is effective in using less energy or amp draws verses the standard hermetic compressor. Copeland studies indicate that up to a 15% reduction in energy use is experienced for most applications. When adding the benefit of PSC motors on condensers and EC motors for evaporators, energy use will decrease. Sizing refrigeration equipment to operate for 14 to 16 hours instead of the traditional 16 to 18 hour run time will also save energy by using less kilowatts and costing less to operate compressors and motors.

Convenience Store Efficiency

The following article excerpt, Cooler Control, from the Convenience Store Decisions magazine, discusses ways to increase your walk-in cooler’s efficiency and decrease operating costs.

Convenience store chains can slash operating costs by as much as 10% with sound maintenance and general improvements to its refrigeration systems.

Operators looking for greater energy efficiency should cast an eye on their coolers, where centralized controls, lighting adjustments, basic ongoing maintenance and employee training can save them money.

“Coolers are typically an opportunity for improvements in maintenance and operational practices,” said Jerry Lawson, national manager for Energy Star Small Business and Congregations Network, a division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington. “With all the different types of equipment in the c-store, coolers are a key piece of the energy equation, and they are typically the most expensive to run. With the right improvements, there is an energy efficiency dollar saving opportunity.”

Where to begin? Start with the obvious.
“Keeping them clean is the biggest thing,” Lawson said. “Coolers have to breathe. Keeping those coils clean allows them to breathe; they take the air in and expel air out.”

When taking care of monthly cooler cleaning, Lawson liked to pull off the back panel and take a cloth or other type of non-steel brush to it and clean it off, then vacuum or sweep the junk up off the floor. “That’s the biggest thing to keep them running efficiently.”

Matt Lauck, director of marketing for Retail Solutions in Kennesaw, Ga., a subsidiary of Emerson Electric, said that central facility management systems can be a major tool for achieving energy efficiency in coolers. Such systems give the operator the ability to optimize energy reduction by, among other things, tracking temperatures to make sure they stay within operational norms, which obviously also has implications for food safety. “Think of it as a programmable thermostat,” he said.