ATLANTA — John Murray, corporate sales manager at KeepRite Refrigeration, has a nickname for the new ESP+ Intuitive Evaporator Control Technology that his company rolled out at this year’s expo.
“I like to say it’s the LED lightbulb of the refrigeration industry,” he said. “Because LEDs have come down in price, every lightbulb in my house, over time, has been replaced with LED because they last longer, my utility bill is lower — and that’s what [the ESP+] does.”
The ESP+ saves an average of 15 to 20 percent on a utility bill, Murray said — and in virtually every application, the payback is within one year.
“Finally, for the first time ever, the price of electronics has come down,” he said. “Five years ago, you’d have to pay $200 net or more for that package, and now it’s cost neutral or a little bit less. It saves money, because I’m not spending so much on my electricity. That makes it a no-brainer because for the life of that equipment, they’ll continue to reap the benefit of those savings.”
One way the ESP+ saves energy is through adaptive defrost. In the past, systems with mechanical defrost time clocks would kick into defrost after a designated time, whether it was needed or not. That eats up a lot of energy. Using temperature sensors, the ESP+ electronic package monitors the unit cooler/evaporator and only defrosts when required, typically removing about 80 percent of the defrost cycles.
“When it sees that the evaporator is functioning at or below 90 percent, it says, ‘Whoa, there must be some frost building up on this coil: Things are going south,’” Murray explained. “It knows it’s time for a defrost.”
Commercial refrigeration consumes about 5 percent of this nation’s energy, and over 50 percent of the energy in every supermarket, every convenience store, and every place refrigeration is required. For the average Walmart or Kroger, that can be $20,000 to $25,000 a month.
“If I can save 15 or 20 percent of that — or with really bad systems, it can save 50 percent of what they’ve been paying — that adds up really fast,” Murray said.
At the Expo, the ESP+ was hooked up to a screen to show off its remote capabilities.
“You can fault detect or diagnose remotely: from a phone app, laptop app, or the PC back in your office,” Murray said. “You know what your problem is before you get to the job — and some problems, you can fix from your phone or your office. You can readjust expansion valves, and you can change some set points.”
The next generation of HVACR contractors love this, he said.
And for those who’d rather skip the bells and whistles, the system will still realize the same energy savings and receive alerts. For example, if the fan goes out, the system will send out an email, text, or phone call to a designated list of people.
“That system will tell you when it’s sick, when it needs help,” Murray said. “I expect within only a few short years, it will become the dominant technology for us. I’m that guy who likes the old mechanical things, and even I believe that’s going to be the future. Heatcraft has a package like that, Russell has a package like that, because it’s the smart thing to do for all of us, now that we all have the technology at the right price.”
KeepRite and fellow manufacturers are working on certifications and testing to meet new Department of Energy (DOE) performance requirements that kick in June of 2020.
“It’s painful, sometimes, to have to do what the DOE or EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] says, but they’re trying to do things for the right reasons: to do right by you and me and our kids,” Murray said. “All that legislative effort and all of this, including that technology and energy savings, is making life better for those that follow — and that’s a good thing.”
Publication date: 2/18/2019