GAMA anticipates that its Commercial Furnace Certification Program will be up and running by the end of this year.
The Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association (GAMA) is expanding its highly successful certification programs to incorporate commercial furnaces.

GAMA anticipates that its Commercial Furnace Certification Program will be up and running by the end of this year. The next few months will see the finalization of the program's procedural guide. GAMA staff will be contacting potential participants throughout the process to introduce them to the program. For several months after its inception, GAMA Certification Services staff will embark on a recruiting effort to grow the program and thus increase its validity in the industry.

"It is expected that 15 to 20 participants will join at or shortly after its inception," said Dave Delaquila, director of Technical Services and Information Systems for GAMA.

All manufacturers and private branders of commercial furnace products falling within the scope of GAMA's Commercial Furnace Certification Program are eligible to join. Like all of GAMA's other programs, a participant does not have to be a GAMA member.

What It Covers

The program will cover all gas- and oil-fired furnaces that use single- or three-phase electric current with inputs of 225,000 Btuh or greater, designed to provide heated air through ducts. Unit heaters and duct furnaces are not included in this program. The scope of the program is designed to match the Department of Energy's (DOE) commercial warm-air furnace definition.

The energy descriptor that DOE has chosen for these product types is thermal efficiency (equivalent to what is commonly known as combustion efficiency, or 100 percent minus percent of flue loss). Participants will be able to certify their claimed ratings through this program and all testing will be performed at a designated testing laboratory.

The program will see three types of product testing:

  • First, initial random tests will be performed on models submitted by participants. This will establish and ensure a certain level of comparability between the manufacturer's product rating procedures and the program's testing.

  • Next, annual verification testing will sample and verify the ratings on a minimum of 20 percent of a participant's basic models each year. Thus, the program as a whole will be performing annual verification tests on at least 20 percent of all reported basic models. The idea behind this format is to test the entire lot of models on a five-year cycle. The exact models to be tested are chosen at random, but those that have recently been re-rated by the participant, represent a majority of production volume, or seem to have exceedingly high or low ratings typically take precedence.

  • Finally, the program will also allow challenge testing. Each participant is entitled to initiate the challenge process should the company disagree with a competitor's ratings and provide test data as proof of a possible issue.

    Benefits Of The Program

    The DOE issued its final test procedures for commercial warm-air furnaces on Oct. 21 last year, with an effective date of Nov. 22 this year. Manufacturers will be given a period of time in which to comply with the new requirements and procedures.

    "Joining GAMA's Commercial Furnace Certification Program will ease this transition and provide a clearly defined process for participants to meet the new requirements," said Lawrence Longo, manager of Certification Services for GAMA.

    Longo explained that GAMA's certification programs are ISO 9001:2000 registered. This internationally recognized reference for quality management systems ultimately helps all parties involved with GAMA's certification programs. Not only does it add credibility, but it also acknowledges a certain level of competence, impartiality, and integrity in the association's ability to oversee the programs. The Commercial Furnace Certification Program will be included within the ISO registration and pass on the associated benefits to its participants. Benefits include reduced trade barriers when entering international markets and further demonstrating the manufacturer's commitment to quality and performance standards because it cares enough to join such a recognized program.

    According to Longo, the biggest benefit of the certification program is the fact it "levels the playing field." It ensures participants that everybody is being tested to the exact same standards under the same controlled conditions.

    Ultimately, the end user needs a resource with which to consult when the time comes to evaluate and make a purchasing decision for their commercial furnace application.

    "GAMA wants to be there and provide the necessary information on behalf of its members and program participants for the good and advancement of the entire industry," said Delaquila.

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    Publication date: 07/25/2005