HVACR equipment seems to be upgrading at an unprecedented pace. New regulations are reaching the industry quicker than ever, with more to come. New refrigerants are flooding the market, just in time to fill the gap left by the more familiar refrigerants that are on the brink of being phased out. And everybody seems to be talking green.
The purpose of an ice machine may be to create ice, but when it comes to the food service industry, ice has to be pure, clean, produced by energy-efficient units of all sizes, and needs to come in all shapes.
Two manufacturers recently released literature guiding food service decision makers to helpful data regarding the purchase of commercial-grade refrigerators and self-contained condenser coil cleaning units.
The road to wider use of HC refrigerants remains a rocky one — although it is still being navigated. The latest developments involve more revisions to the regulatory landscape, the tweaking of a refrigerant mix to make it more energy efficient in certain applications, and, as always, warnings about flammability.
Regarding food service, refrigeration contractors are most concerned and familiar with ice machines, freezers, and coolers. Outside of the restaurant industry, HVACR contractors can be found spending a great deal of attention on the preservation of wine, which requires refrigeration, spot-cooling air conditioning, frozen food treat dispensers, and alternative ways of using CO2.
As the industry continues to introduce more equipment using CO2 as a refrigerant, the need for training to work with that gas is growing. In a recent announcement, Scotland-based Star Refrigeration is offering training in that regard through its Star Learning Solutions program.
At last. Some props to refrigeration in supermarkets. In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I saw the kudos recently at midday on a weekday (when many, including myself, should have been working), on a cable TV show (“Modern Marvels”) on the History Channel.
Contractors and service technicians who work in restaurant refrigeration need to understand something: As valuable as their services are, they are — in the mindset of restaurant decision makers — only one part of a complex and often confusing equation.
Those small-diameter coils — with names like MicroGroove, microchannel, and micro-multichannel — have gained a beachhead in residential heating and air conditioning, and are advancing in commercial HVAC, with refrigeration on the horizon.