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Understanding AWEF: the Annual Walk-In Energy Factor

Due to the heavy competition and high market demand in the HVAC industry, HVAC systems, equipment and replacement parts undergo change at dizzying speed, and distributors and dealers. This year is no exception. 

The year 2020 has come and many refrigeration contractors are starting to see new equipment, part numbers, and ratings on their Condensing Units for walk-in coolers. No, it’s not that everyone in the industry decided to make a random change. Instead, there is a new set of standards that equipment manufacturers must meet, and it concerns walk-in coolers and freezers.

What are AWEF standards?

In June of 2014, the Department of Energy (DOE) set performance-based standards for walk-in coolers and freezers. These standards came to be known as the Annual Walk-In Energy Factor, or AWEF. The DOE worked with AHRI to come up with this calculation. For specifics on how the AWEF number is calculated, please reference the AHRI 1250-2009 Standard.

What is the reason behind new AWEF standards?

The new AWEF requirements impose significant reductions in energy use for evaporators and condensing units that are part of commercial freezers and walk-ins under 3,000 square feet. The reason behind such a decision is because the new AWEF regulations establish improved efficiency minimums for better operating capacity.

What products are affected by AWEF requirements?

So what is affected? This is only for walk-in coolers and freezers that are less than 3000 square feet and provide one refrigeration load, so a 1-1 Ratio. Coolers and Freezers have different requirements, or AWEF minimums that must be met. Coolers ( >32 degrees) have an enforcement date of January 1st 2020 and Freezers (<32 degrees) have an Enforcement date of July 10th 2020. 

What products are excluded from the requirement?

If the equipment was manufactured before the above dates, it’s perfectly acceptable to install without any AWEF ratings. So, your local HVAC wholesalers may have stocked up on condensing units prior to January 1st and may be stocking up on Evaporator coils before July 10th.

Equipment not impacted by this ruling includes medical or research purposes, when floor space exceeds 300 square feet, rack systems with multiple refrigerant loads, and remote air–cooled condensers and fluid coolers.

How do different refrigerants affect the AWEF rating?

It’s also important to note that different refrigerants affect the AWEF rating as well, no matter if the condensing unit is inside or outside. It is imperative to make sure that equipment/refrigerant combination meets the AWEF criteria.

It may be confusing, but as a HVAC contractor, you need to understand that if you replace a condensing unit or evaporator coil that is manufactured after the DOE dates they must be AWEF-compliant.

Always give as much information as possible to your local HVAC wholesaler when installing or retrofitting equipment. Is the condensing unit inside or outside? What refrigerant is required or requested? The more questions you ask, the more your wholesalers and manufacturers will be able to help you choose the best equipment for the application.

The Larson Company is here to answer all your questions about AWEF standards.

And we are also here to help you choose modern AWEF-compliant HVAC products online.

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What are the requirements regarding installation contractors?

In order for all your equipment installations to be completely AWEF compliant, you have to pay attention to two important requirements: 

  • Manufacturer of the equipment you plan to install has to certify their product to meet the minimum efficiency regulations stated by the AWEF. 

  • The contractor in charge of installing the equipment is only allowed to use AWEF-compliant equipment during the installation. 

Who is responsible for monitoring AWEF compliance?

When it comes to monitoring whether or not a component abides by AWEF regulations or not, several parties are responsible:

  • Manufacturers who design, build, mark, and certify equipment.

  • Individuals who are in charge of selecting equipment for installation.

  • All parties who choose and use non AWEF-compliant equipment for applications that require complete compliance. 

Who is in charge of enforcing AWEF regulations?

The following parties are in charge of enforcing proscribed AWEF requirements: 

  • Industry personnel who are able to identify non-compliant equipment and installations

  • DOE is in charge of conducting random checks for ensuring the equipment complies to required standards and efficiencies.

Explore our comprehensive approach to HVAC distribution 

As a wholesale HVAC distributor with decades of experience and a large scope of services and products in our offer, we know the ins and outs of the HVAC industry. We will guide you and help you understand the various applicable standards, requirements and the most recent development in the domain of refrigerants.

We help you become better equipped to keep up with innovations in the area of refrigeration and move with the times. We will also provide you with our help and support and offer you convenient warranty solutions for your peace of mind. Contact us now!