Debunking the Myth of Laminated Panels

Myth: “Laminated” or “Slab” panels are inferior to urethane because they are glued to the skins to hold the panel together. Therefore, these types of panels are not considered as durable and are thought to come loose within a short period of time.

Truth: For over 40 years walk-ins have been manufactured by either gluing insulation to metal skins (laminated) or pouring urethane (foamed-in-place) between two metal skins.  Contrary to most beliefs, both systems provide equal performance in adhesion if applied correctly.  This is important because in walk-ins the structural strength of the unit is dependent on this adhesion performance.  When metal skins are glued or foamed to insulation a composite panel is created.  This created panel performs much like a steel I-beam. I-beams by design are very strong for their weight and are used in building structures that need a lot of strength without the weight, such as skyscrapers. A steel I-beam is two flanges of steel connected and separated by a center steel web.  In a walk-in panel, the two flanges are light gauge metal skins and the web is the foam insulation.  All I-beams lose their strength if the flanges separate from the web. If the I-beams separate, skyscrapers would collapse. This is similar to walk-ins that could fail if the skins separate from the foam insulation.

Plan Now for Upcoming Changes in Refrigerants

Be aware that prices of R-22 refrigeration may increase while supplies will likely wane. After January 1, 2010, original equipment manufacturers will no longer be able to sell equipment using R-22. The phase out of R-22 will be a lengthy process and market conditions may not be as greatly affected by the volatility that resulted in refrigerant price hikes characterized by the phase out of R-12.

Existing equipment using R-22 can continue to be serviced with R-22. However, chemical manufactures will no longer be able to produce R-22 after January 1, 2020. After 2020 the servicing of existing equipment will rely exclusively on re-claimed and recycled supplies of R-22.

If your equipment is more than ten years old, you may save significantly on your cooling energy cost by replacing it with a new more efficient model using R-404a or Scroll compressor technology.

Energy efficiency, system performance, hourly run time of equipment, reliability, and actual cost to operate (amp draw, run time, etc.) should be considered when deciding to purchase new equipment.

To help speed the transition away from ozone depleting refrigerants, choose a system that uses ozone friendly refrigerants.

Convenience Store Efficiency

The following article excerpt, Cooler Control, from the Convenience Store Decisions magazine, discusses ways to increase your walk-in cooler’s efficiency and decrease operating costs.

Convenience store chains can slash operating costs by as much as 10% with sound maintenance and general improvements to its refrigeration systems.

Operators looking for greater energy efficiency should cast an eye on their coolers, where centralized controls, lighting adjustments, basic ongoing maintenance and employee training can save them money.

“Coolers are typically an opportunity for improvements in maintenance and operational practices,” said Jerry Lawson, national manager for Energy Star Small Business and Congregations Network, a division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington. “With all the different types of equipment in the c-store, coolers are a key piece of the energy equation, and they are typically the most expensive to run. With the right improvements, there is an energy efficiency dollar saving opportunity.”

Where to begin? Start with the obvious.
“Keeping them clean is the biggest thing,” Lawson said. “Coolers have to breathe. Keeping those coils clean allows them to breathe; they take the air in and expel air out.”

When taking care of monthly cooler cleaning, Lawson liked to pull off the back panel and take a cloth or other type of non-steel brush to it and clean it off, then vacuum or sweep the junk up off the floor. “That’s the biggest thing to keep them running efficiently.”

Matt Lauck, director of marketing for Retail Solutions in Kennesaw, Ga., a subsidiary of Emerson Electric, said that central facility management systems can be a major tool for achieving energy efficiency in coolers. Such systems give the operator the ability to optimize energy reduction by, among other things, tracking temperatures to make sure they stay within operational norms, which obviously also has implications for food safety. “Think of it as a programmable thermostat,” he said.

Walk-in Cooler & Freezer Shopping Tips

shopping walkin coolerBe aware when shopping for walk-ins online that you are comparing the same size box and refrigeration. Some companies are offering smaller sized refrigeration packages, which make it look cheaper upfront but may not provide you the results you are looking for.

Some systems, whether they are coolers or freezers, are designed only to hold the temperature of the product coming in and are not designed to pull-down the temperature of the product to the desired holding temperature. Pull-down happens when there is product entering the cooler or freezer that is warmer than the desired temperature and needs to cool in a short amount of time. For example, when a restaurant owner has a large pot of soup that needs to be cooled quickly to avoid bacteria growth, the refrigeration must be able to cool the soup to the desired temperature in a reasonable and safe time while maintaining the holding temperature in the cooler/freezer. Systems designed for holding only and not to pull down the temperature of the product coming in will only work properly if products entering the box are already at the desired temperature, either cold or already frozen.

The industry standard design temperature for freezers is at -10° F. Some online companies are selling their freezer refrigeration at a holding temperature of 0° F. If you try to run a walk-in designed for 0° F holding temperature and set the thermostat to -10° F, it will run constantly trying to meet the -10° F temperature it was not designed to hold. This will shorten the life of the compressor and may cause the coil to freeze and consequently warm up the box to melting temperature, damaging the food stored inside.

Before purchasing, you must understand the difference and what implications it could have on your business. Most perishable items that are stored in a freezer are not frozen to start with and will need to freeze and stay frozen for a period of time. If the box is designed for holding temperature only and is set at 0° F, the refrigeration will work harder and longer to pull the temperature inside the box back down to 0° F once warm food is stored in the freezer. Frozen products, such as ice cream, hold up better at -10° F rather than 0° F. When a freezer goes into defrost it can raise the box temperature by 10-15°. If your box is set at 0° F, a 10-15° temperature swing can cause some products to be damaged or melted. When dealing with food it is imperative to make sure the holding temperature in the freezer is low enough to keep products frozen, protecting from bacteria or other hazards that spread through food not refrigerated correctly. (Check with your local health codes for the required holding temperature of your walk-in cooler and freezer.) It is also important to note that when refrigeration is working longer and harder, your energy costs will increase as well as the chances of your refrigeration breaking down or having inefficiencies.

Every state has requirements for storing cold food; here is an example of Illinois’s Administrative Code.

U.S. Cooler Saves Customers Money with Energy Efficient Walk-ins

stacked walk-in panels
Extruded polystyrene panels for walk-ins.
Most walk-in coolers and freezers are purchased based upon the initial cost. What many fail to realize is that operational costs can dig deep into consumers’ pockets. U.S. Cooler is giving the Cold Storage Industry an energy efficient option by manufacturing walk-ins with extruded polystyrene insulation.

Extruded polystyrene is the most efficient insulation available on the market. Over time, extruded polystyrene resists moisture while other insulations start absorbing it. One must consider a real life application to understand moisture absorption.

Freezers normally operate at -10° F inside, but may have an exterior temperature of up to 95° F or even more. With the extreme difference in temperatures, the insulation is vulnerable to retaining moisture in the structural voids. When water starts collecting inside walk-in insulation, the R-value drops and moisture inside the insulation starts to freeze.

r-retentions1

When moisture is absorbed and R-values start to decrease, refrigeration systems start working harder and longer to make up for the heat transferring into the walk-in. A refrigeration system working overtime means higher energy bills. By using extruded polystyrene, consumers can save that money.

Extruded polystyrene is unique; the insulation is a closed-cell product, meaning the cells of the material are so tightly packed together that moisture has a difficult time penetrating, which is optimal for moisture resistance and keeps the R-value from decreasing.

Using studies performed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (CREEL), U.S. Cooler demonstrated extruded polystyrene saved consumers over $5,000 in energy costs over the first five years of operation. The savings again are due to extruded polystyrene’s ability to resist moisture and to retain its R-value better than other insulators.

energy-savings2

When buying and selling walk-ins, consider more than the initial cost of the walk-in-consider energy costs. Educate yourself about how to save money; to find out more about extruded polystyrene and energy savings, call 800.521.2665 or visit www.uscooler.com.

U.S. Cooler at the 2009 National Restaurant Association Show

nra

U.S. Cooler exhibited at the NRA Show in Chicago, May 16-19, 2009.

Since last NRA, U.S. Cooler has been busy working on new and innovative processes to reduce waste, inventory, time, and costs while increasing productivity. All of these factors together equal savings for dealers and consumers. Providing customers with quality, affordable walk-ins in a convenient amount of time has always been U.S. Cooler’s highest priority.

U.S. Cooler, through their discount dealer program, passes savings on to consumers via the internet. Quick delivery, quality product, and competitive prices have drawn customers from across the nation to buy walk-in coolers and freezers from U.S. Cooler’s internet dealers online. Recently, prices were discounted even further, saving consumers even more money. Check out www.fastcooler.com, the internet’s best resource for discount walk-in cooler and freezer dealers.

Stop by U.S. Cooler booth 1834 to learn more about our discount internet program and how U.S. Cooler can save you money.

California Accepts EISA Regulations

The use of energy has become a commonly discussed issue with environmental and economic concerns. Everyday a significant amount of energy is used for commercial equipment in restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, and warehouses. Prior to 2006, there had not been any set regulations on energy usage for commercial refrigeration.

California was one of the first states to set energy regulations for walk-in coolers and freezers. They previously required an envelope insulation rating of R-28 for refrigerators and R-36 for freezers. California was also one of the first to require electronically commutated motors or permanent split capacitor-type motors for refrigeration. Before more states could pose their own requirements on energy consumption, the federal EISA (Energy Independence and Security Act) agreement was signed in 2007. California has fully accepted the EISA requirements, amending their previous appliance energy code.

Energy (and money) Saving Tips for Your Walk-in

steel walk-in coolerHere are some ways to help you save energy costs on your walk-in refrigerator or walk-in freezer.

  • Properly seal all penetrations in walk-in.
  • Replace worn or damaged door seals.
  • Periodically, check gaskets between panels to make sure they are not cracked or weathered. If so, check with your local health codes for the correct procedure to follow as far as repair and replacement.
  • Do not prop door open for an extended period of time.
  • Add strip curtains or air curtains to your walk-in for extra protection from air infiltration when door is open.
  • Make sure the lights are off when exiting the walk-in. Lights produce heat, which will cause your unit to run more to hold its optimal temperature.
  • Make sure there is nothing stacked around the coil to restrict airflow.
  • Make sure fan motors are balanced and running at optimum speed. Clean fan blades to reduce drag.
  • Use an evaporator with an EC Motor.
  • Install refrigeration away from doors.
  • Keep condenser coils clean.
  • Utilize Smart Defrost Kits.
  • Set defrost frequency at minimum requirements.