OPINION: Why energy labelling is a refrigeration game-changer

Williams refrigeration

If you struggle to tell how much more energy efficient one refrigeration cabinet is from the next then things are set to get a whole lot easier over the next few years. The introduction of EU energy labelling regulations will help to separate the refrigeration wheat from the chaff, writes Judith Evans of Refrigeration Developments and Testing (RD&T).

The long awaited energy labelling regulations for refrigerated professional cabinets finally went live on 8 July. Published in the ‘Official Journal of the European Union’, the regulation specifies the mandatory energy labelling procedure for professional cabinets.

Judith Evans

Judith Evans of RD&T says that energy labelling will allow end-users to identify the most efficient cabinets on the market.

Labelling will mean that cabinets can be differentiated on their relative energy consumption. The regulation will remove the worst energy-performing cabinets from the market as these will no longer legally be able to be sold.

The regulation will allow end-users to identify the most energy efficient cabinets on the market. When the best cabinet could consume less than 10% of the energy of the worst, this has huge potential benefits for end-users who want to reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint.

The regulation, which is part of the Ecodesign Directive, prescribes mandatory minimum energy performance levels and labelling levels for professional cabinets. Energy labelling will be applied from 1 July 2016 with possible label levels from A+++ to G.

After 1 July 2016 cabinets that do not comply with the minimum energy prescribed by the G label will not be allowed to be sold within Europe.

Minimum energy performance thresholds will become even tougher from 1 July 2018 (when the G band will be removed) and will be further tightened from 1 July 2019 (when the F band will be removed). This means that the worst-performing cabinet will have to reduce the energy they use by approximately 26% over the next few years or they will no longer be able to be sold in Europe. A full review of the regulation will be carried out no later than five years after it comes into force. It may therefore be expected that minimum energy levels will continue to be reduced in the future.

The worst-performing cabinet will have to reduce the energy they use by approximately 26% over the next few years or they will no longer be able to be sold in the market”

The regulation covers all electric, mains-operated, vapour compression, refrigeration cycle, professional refrigerated storage cabinets, including those sold for the refrigeration of foodstuffs and animal feed.

Certain cabinet types are excluded and these include cabinets primarily powered by energy sources other than electricity; cabinets operated from a remote condensing unit; open cabinets (where their openness is a fundamental requirement for their primary functionality); cabinets designed for food processing (only excluded if at least 20% of the total net volume is used for food processing); cabinets used exclusively for thawing; saladettes; cabinets that are intended for display (these will be covered by the commercial energy labelling regulation); custom-made cabinets; refrigerator-freezers; static-air cabinets; built-in cabinets; roll-in and pass-through cabinets; and chest freezers. Definitions of all these excluded cabinet types are included in the regulation.

At the point of sale, each professional refrigerated storage cabinet shall bear the energy label, while a product fiche will be made available. This will contain information about the manufacturer, the cabinet model, its volume, energy consumption and efficiency index. It also includes information on the climate class in which the cabinet energy efficiency has been determined and should list (if relevant) whether the cabinet is light or heavy duty.

Any advertisement relating to a specific professional refrigerated storage cabinet model and containing energy-related or price information shall include a reference to the energy efficiency class of that model.

Any technical promotional material concerning a specific professional refrigerated storage cabinet model and describing its specific technical parameters shall include a reference to the energy efficiency class of that model.

Energy labelling metrics for refrigerationManufacturers must be able to determine the energy used by their cabinets, with the regulation stating that “the information provided on the label should be obtained through reliable, accurate and reproducible measurement procedures based on recognised state-of-the-art methods, including, where available, harmonised standards adopted by the European standardisation organisations”.

Basically, this means that cabinets should be tested to the latest relevant European standard, which in the case of professional cabinets will most likely be EN 16825 (Commercial Service Refrigerated Cabinets and Counters intended for use in commercial kitchens — Definition of performance characteristics and energy consumption). Currently the standard is not fully published but is at the formal vote stage, which is the final stage before it will be published as a European standard.

Assuming that EN 16825 is used for the testing, a test is then carried out to assess how much energy is used by the cabinet under a test regime that includes door openings. Most cabinets will be tested in ambient conditions of 30°C and 55% relative humidity.

The resulting energy use and net volume are then applied to equations that are used to calculate the annual energy use of the cabinet. The annual energy usage is then compared to a standard annual energy consumption and an energy efficiency index (EEI) calculated. From this the cabinet can then be classified according to a labelling class.

It is not a requirement to test every cabinet model but there is a requirement to provide robust evidence that any extrapolations of test results from one model to another are valid.

The regulation also prescribes methods for market surveillance. This describes how cabinets will be checked for compliance with the regulation and will be applied by each member state.

Judith Evans is a Director of RD&T (Refrigeration Developments and Testing). RD&T is an independent company which develops, optimises and tests all types of refrigerated cabinets. More details on the new energy labelling requirements can be gained by emailing j.a.evans@rdandt.co.uk or visiting www.rdandt.co.uk.

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