Once upon a time, small places to buy packaged food and drinks were called neighborhood grocery stores. Nearby, the local gas station may have had just a candy dispenser and a cooler with soft drinks.

Eventually chains came along to reinvent neighborhood establishments as convenience stores. Then the oil companies got into the act and put gasoline pumps in front of many convenience stores.

After that, it became a matter of making convenience stores — whether freestanding, in strip malls, or part of a gas station operation — more and more attractive.

Over the years, one constant has been the need for refrigeration. And because such places need plenty of customers 24 hours a day opening and closing freezers and coolers to buy products, sophisticated technology is constantly needed.

Some 50 years ago, Vasilios and Aphrodite Haseotes opened the first convenience stores in New England under the Cumberland Farm name. Even then, the Haseotes said that they could obtain customers by combining high-quality, low-priced merchandise with clean stores and courteous, efficient employees.

Now the chain (headquartered in Canton, MA) has more than 1,000 retail stores and gas stations and a support system that includes petroleum and grocery distribution operations in communities throughout New England, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Florida.

General managers and maintenance managers have responsibilities for a number of stores, so reliable, efficient equipment is critical.

When it came time to upgrade a few years ago, the managers turned to Tom Allen, a sales engineer for Climate Control for the region that covers New England. He suggested a Beacon system designed to save energy and reduce service calls.

The initial installation took place at a store in Danvers, MA. That store was converted from a water-cooled unit to a 3-HP Beacon system.

Managers use a formula to determine how to maximize refrigeration equipment based on cubic feet per minute and the force of the air that is blowing. Coolers run at 34 degrees F and are packed with merchandise, but there are temperature variations. Evaporators are set up to blow on the doors.

Years of experience has allowed managers and technicians to determine the number of doors one evaporator can handle. One evaporator coil with two fans can cover four or five doors, they said.

According to the technical folks, the Beacon system maintains constant control and uses flashing lights and alarms as a warning system.

Cumberland Farms ended up committing to installing Climate Control 3 HP condensing units with matching low-profile evaporator coils. The condensing unit uses a hermetic compressor outdoor unit. The matching coil is a low-silhouette, two-fan coil with permanent-split capacitor motors configured specifically for the stores.

The upgrade is ongoing. In most locations, evaporators are located inside the cooler on a back wall. There are 15 to 20 doors in each new store. Each store gets two 3-HP systems with four evaporator coils at 10,000 Btuh each. Condensing units are located on the roof, or sometimes on the ground.

For more information, contact Heatcraft Refrigeration Products at 770-465-5600 or www.heatcraftrpd.com (website).

Publication date: 10/07/2002