If 10-20% of commercial and professional refrigerated cabinets disappeared from the market almost overnight would you be shocked? I guess that most people would be surprised, to put it mildly.
However, this is what may happen when energy labelling is applied. Energy labelling of commercial and professional refrigerated cabinets is due to be implemented in the next 12-18 months and this will mean that products that do not meet certain minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) will not legally be able to be sold in Europe. It is unclear exactly how much of the market the MEPS will affect, but the aim of the European Ecodesign directive has always been to remove the worst energy performing cabinets.
At the other end of the scale, energy labelling will also identify the best performing products. Labels will start at A for the most efficient cabinets and move through the alphabet to G for the worst performing models. Therefore for the first time products will be visibly comparable and this is bound to have an impact on increasingly energy- and environmentally-conscious end users.
Products that will be energy labelled include professional service cabinets, blast coolers and commercial cabinets (which include ‘supermarket segment’ display cabinets and beverage coolers).
The first catering products to be energy labelled will be professional service cabinets where labelling is intended to be applied from 1 July 2016. Currently only draft versions of the final requirements are available.
The labelling covers the main types of professional cabinet and includes upright and under counter chillers and freezers plus light and heavy duty cabinets. Combined temperature cabinets are also included and will be tested as chillers, provided they have at least one compartment exclusively intended for chilled operation, or as frozen cabinets in other cases.
Some cabinet types are excluded and will not need to be labelled. These include remotely operated cabinets, cabinets powered by energy sources other than electricity, cabinets for processing, thawing or display of products, built in cabinets, roll-in and pass through cabinets, chest freezers, static air cabinets and one-off custom made cabinets.
A new test standard has been developed to enable energy performance of professional cabinets to be assessed. The standard (prEN 16825:2015 Commercial Service Refrigerated Cabinets and Counters intended for use in commercial kitchens – Definition of performance characteristics and energy consumption) is currently undergoing public consultation. Although some updates may be applied after the consultation, these usually revolve around clarifications and editorial changes.
For energy labelling the test standard requires cabinets to be tested in an environmental test room where temperature, relative humidity and air flow are controlled. All except light duty cabinets will be tested at 30°C and 55% RH in a 48-hour test that involves the cabinets being loaded in a specific manner with Tylose test packages. During the test, the cabinet door or doors will be opened in a specific sequence to mimic usage. Throughout the test the cabinet must maintain the temperature of defined test packages (termed measurement or M-packs) within certain temperature constrains. [[page-break]]
For a chilled cabinet this will mean that all M-packs must be maintained between -1 and 5°C and for a frozen cabinet it will mean that all M-packs must be maintained lower than -15°C. Throughout the test the energy consumed by the cabinet will be measured and converted into an annual energy use. The total energy use will then be compared to a standard annual energy use from which the energy label can then be calculated.
Currently the energy labelling bands and the methodology to calculate standard annual energy use are available in a draft form. However, an updated version of the regulation has been anticipated for several months and may make alterations to how the labelling calculations are made.
Although some of the labelling rules may change this does not prevent manufacturers from testing cabinets and comparing their performance against the current criteria which will provide valuable knowledge on performance and energy efficiency.
Blast coolers were initially intended to be labelled at the same time as professional cabinets.
However, due to the lack of a mechanism to assess energy performance the EC has not been able to define a labelling mechanism. This may soon change as a new test standard began development in March 2015 and is expected to be completed in 2015. Even so, the Ecodesign regulations do still include blast coolers and state that certain information shall be included in manufacturers’ instruction booklets from 1 July 2016.
Without a detailed test standard being available until at the earliest late 2015 it seems challenging for manufacturers to be able to test cabinets and supply the information listed above by the energy labelling implementation date. Currently how the EC will approach this issue is unknown.
Many catering cabinets will fall within the commercial display cabinet heading. This includes ‘supermarket segment’ display cabinets, beverage coolers and ice cream freezers. The labelling regulation for commercial refrigerators is due to be applied from 1 January 2017. ‘Supermarket segment’ display cabinets include the types of cabinet used in coffee shops to display sandwiches, drinks and cake.
The current Ecodesign regulation differentiates between cabinets based on whether they are chilled or frozen, horizontal or vertical cabinets. Currently performance of cabinets is not based on standard temperature classifications or on whether the cabinets have integral or remote refrigeration systems. It appears that this situation is likely to change in the final regulation and that cabinets will be classified according to their temperature performance and whether they are integrally or remotely operated.
Beverage coolers are assessed and tested using different criteria to ‘supermarket segment’ display cabinets. A new beverage cooler test standard has been developed to assess performance of these cabinets and is due to be released for public consultation in the next few months. Apart from requiring the same type of environmental test room as ‘supermarket segment’ display cabinets the standard is quite different from that used for other commercial cabinets. The standard uses cans for the cabinet loading and assesses the ability of the cabinet to reduce the temperature of cans loaded at ambient temperature and also takes into account the efficiency gains from energy management devices.
Ice cream freezers will also be assessed for energy labelling using a new test standard. Energy performance testing is carried out at 30°C but the cabinet also has to be capable of maintaining test packs loaded in the cabinet at the required temperature level at ambient temperatures that vary between 16°C and 30°C, 35°C or 40°C. Like the beverage cooler standard the test standard for ice cream freezers is shortly to be released for public consultation.
The Ecodesign regulations apply some quite stringent requirements on manufacturers. From the date that the label is implemented, suppliers putting cabinets onto the market or into service must provide a printed and electronic energy label and product fiche (a document that provides required information on the product, the manufacturer and the testing of the product). Compliance with the regulations will be policed in the UK by the National Measurement Office (NMO).