For U.S. food retailer Lowe’s Markets, R290 systems have “exceeded expectations,” according to Gary Cooper, the company’s director of refrigeration, who spoke during the food retail panel at ATMOsphere America 2019, being held June 17-18 in Atlanta, Ga.
“[Energy efficiancy gains] were substantial over a conventional, single unit, multiple fixture, electrical defrost, normal-type system,” said Cooper.
“It has been a good performing store — exceeded expectations.”
Lowe’s is a Texas-based food retailer which operates 153 stores throughout Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Kansas.
While Lowe’s is seeing exceptional energy performance, Charles Wernette, principal engineer for H. E. Butt Grocery (H-E-B), another large Texas-based grocery chain, noted that measuring energy performance can be complex, involving many factors such as “size of the store, BTUs of the store, shopping patterns within in the store, etc.”
“All I can really say,” said Wernette, regarding R290 system energy performance, “is that [compared to] a store of similar size, i’m at par with other designs that we have done.”
It has been a good performing store — exceeded expectations.” – Gary Cooper, director of refrigeration for Lowe’s Markets on R290
Industry ‘More Accepting’ of Hydrocarbons
In addition to energy performance, panelists discussed the impact of the rise to 500 g from 150 g in the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) charge limit for hydrocarbons in commercial display cases.
“It just makes the whole conversation about hydrocarbons that much easier,” said H-E-B’s Wernette. “I’m all for higher charge limits.
“I think that what it says to our industry is that they are trying to be more accepting of hydrocarbons.”
On the other hand, Cooper from Lowe’s commented that “it will be interesting to see how fast the U.S. picks it up and goes with it.
“I see it as a definite plus but i’m also curious as to how long it is going to take to work its way through the government as well as mechanical and safety codes.”
Looking forward, panelists commented on how the rest of the industry should look at retrofitting of existing stores with natural refrigerant solutions.
“I believe we [now] have a lot of tools in the toolbox,” said Wernette regarding the increasing variety of natural refrigerant solutions.
“[H-E-B] has a lot of different stores currently with different solutions, so as you look at the future and you start thinking about how you’re going to replace equipment, there may be a lot of different solutions. I think R290 plug- and-play solutions can definitely play in there. I also feel like CO2 can play in there.”
“I don’t think it is ‘one size fits all.’ You have to look at several different things while also considering how you’re going to phase in all of this while keeping the store moving at the same time.”