The Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) was officially organized in 1953, primarily to give this new industry a united voice. Secondarily, but perhaps more importantly, the Institute collected its technical forces to create standards against which A/C and refrigeration equipment could be tested, and to create industry-wide certification programs to verify the products’ performance.
Herb Phillips, a former ARI vice president of Engineering living in Rayslake, IL, noted, “Every time a poll is taken among its members, the development of standards and certification has been the number-one function of ARI.” It has other important functions, but the area of prime importance to the industry, said Phillips, is the development and maintenance of product standards and certification.
For example, when air conditioning came into the mainstream, Phillips explained, there had to be a way to rate it. “Consumers needed a basis for comparison, and manufacturers were using a variety of measurements, from square feet to tonnage.” ARI developed the Btu per hour (Btu/hr) measurement and developed a standard for determining how many Btu/hr an air conditioner could cool.
Mark Menzer, current ARI vice president of Engineering, called the certification and verification of system performance “an industry-wide effort.” ARI’s Certification Programs & Policy Committee and staff “make sure the rules are stringent and not a sham.”
These programs were initially organized because air conditioning was a new product — and the public needed assurance. “Some people were building air conditioners out in their garages,” Menzer said. The Institute also wanted to keep the government from intruding by developing self-policing guidelines.
“Standards are developed by individual ARI product sections and other interested parties who wish to participate, then approved by ARI’s General Standards Committee,” according to the Institute. More than 80 standards and guidelines are now published and offered free via the Internet at www.ari.org. They are mainly performance-rating standards, although some are application or terminology standards. Many are accepted as American National Standards.
“A standard determines how to test and rate a piece of equipment,” explained Menzer. In order to achieve certification, the manufacturer runs its equipment according to the standard; then the manufacturer states that its equipment does such and such. “Then we test it,” said Menzer, and the equipment’s performance is either certified or not.
The performance is tested by a third party, ITS ETL (Intertek Testing Services Ltd. Electrical Testing Laboratories) Semko. When the certification program was first founded for unitary air conditioning in 1956, ARI mandated that a randomly selected “significant portion” (about one-third) of a manufacturer’s product line be tested by the third party in order to be certified. That mandate has not changed.
If a product line doesn’t meet the testing requirements, certification is not granted. “A test failure requires rerating or ceasing production of the failed product,” states the Institute.
Sometimes a product line that was already certified is later found not to meet the standards claimed by its manufacturer and the ratings are corrected. This is called derating. “If you are found to have over-rated your equipment, there’s a financial penalty for each unit produced,” said Menzer. The risk of derating helps keep the manufacturers conservative in their claims, he noted.
Manufacturers also help keep each other honest by challenging each other’s claims. “Many manufacturers will buy each other’s equipment, tear it down, and test it themselves,” Menzer said. If their findings do not meet the product’s certified claims, that’s they can choose to challenge certification claims. “It’s done occasionally,” Menzer said.
This is fundamentally the same program that has been in place for close to 50 years — nearly as old as the Institute itself. “It works,” Menzer said. “There have been some changes where loopholes have been closed up, but it has worked well for a long time.”
Besides working in its own right, ARI’s standard and certification programs have been studied and copied by other associations around the world. “They model in some degree after us.”
“In the simplest terms,” wrote former Engineering vice president Herb Phillips, “the industry developed a common yardstick, a standard by which air conditioner product performance can be measured by anyone capable of using this yardstick.
“The industry developed certification to be certain that, in making these measurements and expressing the results, the yardstick was not bent, stretched, or otherwise distorted.”
Together, standards and certification helped the public trust the claims manufacturers made about their air conditioning and refrigeration equipment. The advancement of this new technology helped the growth of the U.S. economy. It even helped us land men on the moon.
“A new application engineering standard for air conditioning multi-zone buildings, such as factories, office buildings, and similar structures in which varying degrees of cooling and humidity must be maintained, has been issued by the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute. It is limited to the setting of minimum conditions and factors that form the basis of design load estimating and specifications of performance for such installations.”
The standard required, among other things, “design load factors for inside and outside conditions; sensible heat gain through glass; transmission; heat gain from occupants; heat gain from appliances; ventilation and infiltration; air motion in conditioned spaces; capacity specifications; cooling load calculations; multi-zone building refrigeration loads; heating load calculations; and safety provisions.”
“The proposed ARI compliance program, now under consideration by several Product Sections and already put into effect by the Room Air Conditioner Section, is a large contributing factor to the increased interest since standards are necessary to any compliance program,” stated Bergheim, “and implementation of such a program certainly depends, to a large extent, on the quality and availability of adequate standards.”
Eleven standards were published in 1956, from room air conditioners and sealed hermetic-type compressors, to application engineering for air conditioners and liquid chilling package units, Bergheim wrote. Standards in the works included remote-type air-handling units, solenoid valves, aluminum refrigeration tubing, and remote-type air-cooled condensers.
The certification program for unitary air conditioners was officially launched in 1958.
“The new standard, numbered 240-57, was issued to ‘establish minimum industry standards of performance of unitary heat pumps and to provide means for establishing reliable ratings.’
“It provides that standard ratings relating to cooling capacity shall be stated as total cooling capacity and expressed only in terms of Btu per hour in multiples of 1,000 Btu per hour,” the Institute stated. If auxiliary heating capacity is included in the rating, “it must also be separately designated in Btu per hour.”
The new publication also “… specifies minimum sanitation requirements and acceptable cleaning methods for the guidance of federal, state, county, district, and municipal health authorities and other food regulatory agencies.”
“Since the new standard for products of the section (ARI 210-57) is called ‘Unitary Air Conditioners,’ it was determined to rename the section by this title.”
Standards now existing and in process of development included the 100 Series for Room Air Conditioners; the 200 Series for Unitary Air Conditioners; the 300 Series for Small Compressors; the 400 Series for Heat Transfer Equipment; the 700 Series for Valves, Driers, Fittings, and Accessories; and the 800 Series for Self-contained Ice Makers.
“Standard 516 was designed to replace Standard 5-21 (‘Freon Compressor Units, 25 Horsepower and Larger’).
“Its purpose, as stated in the first section of the publication, ‘is to establish, for Refrigerant 12 and Refrigerant 22 compressors and condensing units … recommended specifications of what constitutes standard equipment, recommended methods of testing and rating, including standard rating conditions, and provisions for safety.’”
“The revised standard, ‘ARI Standard 230-62,’ includes the heat gain calculation procedure jointly developed by an industry joint study group representing ARI, the Institute of Boiler and Radiator Manufacturers, and the National Warm Air Heating and Air Conditioning Association.
“Published as part of the standard is a new Residential Air Conditioning Load Calculation Form, which supersedes the previously published form for this purpose, and which is based on the new heat-gain calculation procedure.
“This new form, available in pads of 25 each, provides for room-by-room heat gain and heat loss calculation, plus determination of required air quantities for each space.”
“Recently revised in accordance with an industry-wide agreement, the documents provide for both cooling and heating load determination on a room-by-room basis, and have been approved by the FHA.”
The Institute responded with ARI Standard 260 for the “Application, Installation, and Servicing of Unitary Systems.” Initially published in 1964, in 1967 it was revised and republished as ARI Standard 260-67.
“The revised standard is a general updating of the earlier publication, the major change being included under a new section on ‘Airborne Sound.’“ At the same time, outdoor sound levels were being recognized as an area of concern for HVAC equipment installed outdoors, such as condensing units. They would be a matter of concern to the public and politicians.
“Because of the fact that no national standard had previously existed for this type of equipment, some electric utilities in various parts of the country had developed local or regional specifications. The new standard was developed in a move to provide one uniform standard for the manufacture of equipment rather than a number of widely differing requirements in different parts of the country.”
“The two new standards are ARI Standard 275-69, Application Standard for Sound-Rated Outdoor Unitary Equipment, and ARI Standard 760-69, for Solenoid Valves for Liquid Flow.
“The revised standard, ARI Standard 420-69 covering Forced-Circulation Free-Delivery Air Coolers for Refrigeration, originally published in 1957, follows the recent issuance of ASHRAE Standard 25-68, Method of Rating Forced-Convection and Natural Convection Air Coolers for Refrigeration.
“According Fred Reed, ARI’s Director of Engineering, publication of the four standards involved is in accord with ARI’s continuing program of establishing and maintaining substantial standards for equipment performance and safety for the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration industry.”
“The new publication covers thermostatic expansion valves for use with Refrigerants 12, 22, and 502, for use with evaporator temperatures between 50 and -40 degrees F, and in sizes up to a capacity of 135,000 Btuh with 40 degrees evaporator temperature.
“As stated in the standard, its purpose is ‘to provide for thermostatic refrigerant expansion valves: Definitions, testing and rating requirements, a specification for minimum published data, recommended standard operating pressures for pressure-limiting-type valves …, recommended refrigerant designation and color coding, recommended standard permanent bleed rates, and recommended standard permanent bleed rates, and recommended standard connection sizes.”
“‘We have our work cut out for us. I can sum up what’s at stake in one word: Integrity. Consumer groups are going to keep us honest. The government and members of the press are going to be our severest critics,’ he said.”
“Revised Standard 270-75 also contains updated references and a revised section on ‘Reduced Ambient Operation.’ Heating ratings for heat pumps have been dropped and the rating at Reduced Ambient Operation was added for units designed to automatically reduce fan speeds under reduced ambient conditions to help meet night-time ordinances where requirements during evening conditions require lower levels.”
“The Section also approved a recommendation that ART Standard 240-75, Unitary Heat Pump Equipment, be used until a new one covering water-source heat pumps can be written by the Engineering Committee.”
“The standard, which applies to factory-made, commercial and industrial air conditioners of 135,000-Btuh and above cooling capacity, bears the number 360-75 and deals with electrically driven, compression-type systems.
“It is similar to ARI 210 but provides that sensible cooling capacity is required in addition to total cooling capacity. It also requires a part-load rating in addition to the standard rating.”
“Whenever the FTC determined that a consumer product test method — called a ‘test protocol’ in the bill — would assist consumers in making an informed purchasing decision, it would publish a notice describing the product, identifying the product’s characteristics which could reliably and uniformly be tested, and inviting any person to submit an existing protocol or to offer to develop a test protocol. Once such a protocol has been issued, all products covered by it would be required to comply.
“The bill gives the FTC the authority to conduct or contract for compliance testing of consumer products subject to test protocols.”
The battle between the industry (as represented by ARI) and the Department of Energy (DOE) over raising air conditioner and heat pump levels was particularly heated, because it occurred at a time when the system manufacturers also faced the nearby phaseout of CFC refrigerants and eventual phaseout of HCFCs. The manufacturers recognized that changing refrigerants could mean a reduction in system efficiency.
ARI’s role here was more as representing the industry in government discussions. In 1987, President Reagan signed the national Appliance Energy Conservation Act of 1987. ARI says the document was “originated and supported by a unique coalition co-spearheaded by ARI.” The Institute’s board also initiated the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Technology Institute (ARTI) to help manufacturers plan for the change in refrigerants while increasing product efficiency.
It was no small task. “As soon as you change the refrigerant, the efficiency of a product changes,” commented Phillips.
Mark Menzer pointed out NAECA required third-party certification. ARI’s testing program already used third-party certification, so it made sense to use it for NAECA verification.
“An interested program participant signs a License Agreement with ARI and submits the certified ratings of his production models. All models of his products within the scope of each program must be certified.
“A unit is then randomly selected from an inventory or from a production line by a representative of the independent laboratory. It is sealed and shipped to the laboratory for testing. If the test results are within 95% of that potential participant’s claimed ratings, all of its certified ratings are accepted. Each and every year thereafter, approximately one-third of that participant’s product basic models are similarly randomly tested. Failure to meet claims result in serious penalties,” including potentially heavy fines and notification to the trade at large.
“Three others had provided the ratings of their products to ARI, for publication as the Institute sees fit, and were planning to incorporate these ratings in the first re-issue of their specification sheets and consumer literature. Six more had told ARI that they will provide such ratings to ARI, and subsequently publish them, when they have made the tests prescribed in Standard 110-56, upon which the ratings are based.”
“The program, which follows the room air conditioner testing and rating program to a degree, will be conducted and administered by means of certification of unitary equipment in accordance with ARI Standard 210-57, which sets up a Standard Test Method for Rating by referring to ASRE Standard 16-56. Capacity ratings are expressed in Btu per hour [Btu/hr] or in tons but not in horsepower.”
“Under contracts with ARI, each participating manufacturer agrees to produce, test, and rate these units in accordance with the ARI standard, and to supply the test data to ARI. On acceptance by ARI of this test data, the producer is given the right to use the certificate and seal. The Institute will then include this information in a ‘Directory,’ which will be made available to the trade, to competitors, to the government, and to the public.
“In addition, the contracting manufacturers agree to ‘random’ testing of their certified products by a laboratory under contract to the Institute. This means that ARI may at any time go to a distributor’s warehouse, ask for a unit by model number, take it to the laboratory for testing, and advise its manufacturer of the test results. If they are not up to the advertised claims, the manufacturer will be told that he must bring the unit into conformance or forfeit the right to use the seal.
“Under another phase of the program, participating manufacturers are urged to test the certified products of their competitors and report results of these tests to ARI.”
“Based on testing and rating of unitary equipment in accordance with ARI Standards 210-58 (or 250-58, in the case of heat-anticipated air conditioners), the program counts 33 participants as of early February, representing more than 80% of the total output of the industry.
“The first ‘Directory of Certified Unitary Air Conditioners’ was published in January, and the first Supplement to this directory has been published early in February.”
“‘P.T. Barnum … is alleged to have said, ‘There’s a sucker born every minute,’ RSES stated. ‘Somewhat the same spectacular type of advertising by some manufacturers of air conditioning equipment has occurred in the past, to sell systems which, when placed in operation, did not perform according to claims made by the manufacturer of the units.
“‘ARI has been a leader in transforming a chaotic, questionable industry condition by inducing manufacturers to establish a standard whereby all unitary air conditioners will be tested and rated in the same manner.’”
“About 90% of the manufacturers of unitary air conditioners are participating in the program, which will be made known even more widely during the coming year as the Institute seeks to give assurance to purchasers and prospective purchasers on what these units will do.
“… Aside from central residential air conditioning, in which perhaps the most spectacular gains for 1959 will be shown when the final figures are in, the installation of big ‘systems’ for the cooling of office buildings, apartments, and hotels, industrial plants, and similar large structures has continued its upward trend in 1959, although perhaps not so sharply as in the smaller units.
“Early estimates are that installed value of such systems in 1959 will be more than $600 million, a gain of about 10% from the figure of $550 million in 1958.”
“The Directory is being distributed, as were its predecessors in 1959, to dealers and contractors throughout the country, to architects and consulting engineers, to government personnel concerned with air conditioning at national, state, and local levels. …”
“While the pamphlet working merely ‘recommends’ and ‘requests’ that ARI certification be required, it actually constitutes an order, according to the Air Force.”
“In the June 29  edition of the Congressional Record, Congressman Joel T. Broyhill, Virginia Republican who was in the home building business before his election to Congress eight years ago, extended his remarks on the floor by inserting the following comment of the ARI program.”
“Since the ARI clipsheet was issued early in April and distributed to daily newspapers throughout the country, more than 100 papers have issued special ‘air conditioning’ sections using editorial material and illustrations provided in the clipsheet.
“Material in the clipsheet promotes air conditioning generally and the Unitary Air Conditioning Certification Program specifically. Most papers which have issued special sections have used the … article in its entirety, and many have reproduced the seal of certification, which was supplied to them in mat form.
“Another piece of copy in the clipsheet which has found wide use in special editions is a short story offering copies of the Unitary Air Conditioner booklet, ‘A New Assurance,’ and cooling load estimate form for 10 cents to all who write in to ARI headquarters. Several thousand individual letters have been received at ARI in response to this offer, and booklets and cooling load forms have been mailed out.”
“Summing up his remarks on the Certification Program, the ARI president said:
‘Now, what does this program mean to you?
‘It means, I believe, that you have a selling tool, if you are selling air conditioning equipment, and I’m sure that most of you are. With this background of testing and promotional effort, both in behalf of air conditioning itself and certified equipment in particular, you have some very conclusive sales presentations ready-made for you. In the field of servicing, you and your men will know what you’re getting into when work on a certified unit is called for. You will know many of its characteristics, and how it is expected to perform. No more ambiguities about horsepower — you’ll know its ratings in terms of Btuh.
‘… But it means even more than this, and I can’t emphasize this point too strongly: Our industry can build the best equipment in the world, but unless the installers — the service engineers — you people, and your people — install it right, we might as well produce junk.’”
“… Availability of the film has been made known to executives of the NAHB-affiliates, and many of them have scheduled showings for the spring and summer months. Distribution of the film is being handled by ARI’s Public Relations Department.”
“…. The testing of heat pumps will required a longer time and a considerably increased set-up of equipment. They must be made top operate under a wide range of conditions, with possible extremes of 0 degrees F in winter to 100 degrees in summer in areas most suitable for heat pump application.”
“Each manufacturer, each year, will have at least one complete test performed at Electrical Testing Laboratories in New York, plus additional witnessed tests in his own laboratory, under the supervision of ETL, or at ETL, to equal 30% of his basic models.”
As originally set up, the program did not provide for witnessed tests.
“These revised ratings may be credited to a number of factors, including the fact that participating manufacturers have become more rating-conscious during the six years that ARI certification has been effective, and that they are becoming more aware of the need for accuracy in ratings, according to Managing Director L.N. Hunter.”
“Cooling coils to be certified under the program include those through which either chilled water or a volatile refrigerant is circulated, and heating coils including those using either hot water or steam.”
“The designation packaged terminal air conditioners was developed at an organization meeting of the subsection earlier in the year. It was determined that the maximum capacity of units within the subsections scope would be 5 tons (60,000 Btuh), that they would be of a type generally intended for use in individual rooms, provide forced ventilation, and must have components and characteristics agreed upon by the subsection.”
“Although details remain to be agreed upon, the evaluation of engineering data and actual testing of equipment will be carried out by ARI, as is currently done under existing domestic programs, and administration of the program. …”
“The Unitary Certification Promotion Committee of ARI said the radio feature series is an effort to impress American housewives the year-round benefits of air conditioning and of equipment certification. The first series of one-minute features also will emphasize the value of having air conditioning installed and serviced during the off-season winter months.”
Humidifiers models of 10 companies were listed. They were Airtemp Division, Chrysler Corp.; Bryant A/C Co.; Carrier A/C Co.; Day & Night Co.; General Electric Co.; Lau Industries; Lennox Industries Inc.; Payne Co.; Sears Roebuck & Co.; and Skuttle Manufacturing.
“Heeringa, who is president and general manager of Hart and Cooley Manufacturing Co., Holland, Mich., cited pending government controls and regulations and the current energy crisis as the main obstacles which the industry is facing and will continue to encounter in the future.
“‘ We have some of the finest people in this industry that I’ve ever been associated with. That’s why I’m looking to the future with confidence that the dedication and quality workmanship of the individuals who serve our great industry will see us through these testing times.’”
“Fred Reed, ARI’s director of Engineering, has been a participant on the Coordinating Committee which is working on the proposed ASHRAE Standard Design and Evaluation Criteria for Energy Conservation in Buildings.”
“The EER listings by manufacturer and model number are contained in the Institute’s new Directory of Certified Unitary Air Conditioners. The directory contains more than 95% of all the central cooling units produced in the United States.
“ARI managing director Monk Munger said that they publication of the EERs is the latest step in the industry’s energy conservation campaign. ‘Publication of the EER figures will enable consumers to purchase central cooling units on the basis of energy efficiency as well as overall performance and safety,’ he said.
“Window [units] and through-the-wall air conditioners are considered by the industry as appliances rather than home equipment and are not listed in the ARI Directory.”
Heat pump EERs and COPs were included in the 53rd ARI Directory of Certified Unitary Air Conditioners, which includes a new Section with EERs and COP figures for heat pumps, distributed Aug. 1, 1975.
“The section also approved the recommendation to include the section about construction requirements in the next revision of ARI Standard 610-74 (Central System Humidifiers), and rejected a recommendation from the Engineering Committee that low-capacity, plate-type humidifiers be excluded from certification tests.
“The program consists of a seven-minute sound and slide presentation that describes the benefits of humidifiers certification for the wholesaler, dealer, and public. It is available for company use as is, and firms can also add their own company logo or sales message.”
“Independent coil manufacturers held out on certification because they did not want to certify as part of a system; they wanted to certify as separate components,” Phillips said. “They wanted coils rated as individual products. However, their performance can only be truly certified as part of a matched system.
“Once the coils became certified as part of a system, it gave contractors confidence that the coils would be matched.”
“The certification program, based on ARI Standard 910, Indoor Pool Dehumidifiers, was initiated in 1999 by the Indoor Pool Dehumidifier Product Section, covers factory-made residential, commercial, and industrial pool dehumidifiers.
“‘ARI-certified products are sought worldwide because of the integrity of the certification program,” said Reinhold Kittler, chairman of the Indoor Pool Dehumidifiers product section. “Our section’s current activities are aimed at enhancing that position and image for our members and those depending on our ARI-certified equipment.’”
Publication date: 11/11/2002