Refrigeration Systems: Data is Cool

You can’t control what you don’t measure and this is certainly true for refrigeration systems. One of the biggest problems with these systems is refrigerant leaks, which can result in major energy waste. A system low on refrigerant must work harder to control desired temperatures. With the right leak detection and control systems in place, you can optimize refrigeration system efficiency and take the heat off your operating budget.


Managing leaks

Leak detection systems combine software and hardware to automatically track and detect leaks using special sensors. In addition to calculating leak rates, they analyze the data to detect trends, correlate with fill events, identify leaking equipment and determine corrective action.

Detection systems usually provide local and/or remote notification with automatic alarms, based on programmed leak rate thresholds for different equipment. Operators can receive alerts when equipment repair is needed and notifications for scheduling follow-up inspections. They can also get verification testing alerts with complete and actionable details.

One system enables users to compare multiple types of data points while analyzing refrigerant events. Correlation between refrigeration alarms, maintenance work orders and site demographics allow users to better understand root causes of events. With such a management system, leak rate reductions of 2% to 4% are possible. One supermarket reduced refrigerant usage by 5% for annual savings of $180,000.


It’s the law

Leak repair doesn’t just save energy and reduce operating costs. Beginning in 2019, federal regulations require owners or operators to take corrective action when an appliance with a full charge of 50 or more pounds is discovered to be leaking ozone-depleting refrigerant at a rate that exceeds the applicable trigger rate (20% commercial or 30% industrial over 12 months).


Beyond leaks

Control systems are also available to ensure the most energy-efficient refrigeration operation at both the individual equipment and plant level. By continuously monitoring facility cooling load and control equipment to meet refrigeration demand, energy consumption is minimized. With the right data, these systems can identify component problems so that they can be fixed in a timely manner.

Types of controls include:

  • Compressors_. Continuously adjusts suction pressure to minimize compressor horsepower requirements for changing load conditions.
  • Evaporators. Turns off constant-speed fan motors during light load conditions. Senses frost buildup to minimize total energy consumed by reducing defrost frequency.
  • Condensors. Continuously adjusts floating pressure to the lowest possible setting while preventing unnecessary operation of pumps and fan motors, minimizing compressor horsepower requirements

Collecting the right data at the right time helps you manage your refrigeration operations to maximum efficiency.