Heating and cooling product manufacturer Trane has built a rooftop air conditioner that is 40 percent more energy-efficient than conventional units, and is the second manufacturer to achieve Western Cooling Challenge certification, according to University of California, Davis.
The challenge, established in 2008 by the UC Davis Western Cooling Efficiency Center, aims to help manufacturers develop more efficient cooling technologies, particularly for hot, arid climates, such as in California. The program also helps building owners install and use those products.
Trane achieved UC Davis certification for the Voyager DC (pictured), a hybrid rooftop air conditioner that uses indirect, evaporative cooling to increase cooling capacity and reduce peak electrical demand.
Water evaporation cools outside air for the condenser on an otherwise conventional air conditioner. The air conditioner then uses the water chilled by evaporation to cool the hot outside air used for building ventilation. This increase the number of hours a system can use “free cooling” to cool a space, and reduces the amount of time a system has to operate at full speed, the company says.
The Trane Voyager DC also incorporates variable speed fans, staged compressors and other measures to maintain high efficiency rates.
Following laboratory testing, the equipment was verified by the UC Davis Western Cooling Efficiency Center.
Air conditioning is the largest portion of electricity used during hot weather, and new electric utility rates will mean large additional charges for commercial buildings that use power during peak periods, says Jonathan Woolley, UC Davis Western Cooling Efficiency Center associate engineer.
Woolley says Trane’s Voyager DC is a cost-effective, climate-appropriate cooling technology for commercial buildings.
For a product to be Western Cooling Challenge certified, it must be at least 40 percent more efficient than Department of Energy 2010 standards.
Entries must also be market-ready. Trane is the first major manufacturer to enter the challenge, UC Davis says. The other winner, in 2009, was Coolerado Corp. of Denver, Colo.
The California Public Utility Commission’s Statewide Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan calls for the rapid commercialization of cooling technologies that are adapted for dry, hot climates. The plan specifies that 70 percent of air conditioners installed in 2020 should be “climate appropriate.”
Last year, Trane launched an intelligent building automation platform that uses GE software to help data centers reduce energy consumption, Environmental Leader reported.