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Update on Recent Department of Energy Rulemaking Activities

The Department of Energy recently announced the following regulatory actions of potential interest to Hong Kong and mainland Chinese exporters of compressors and residential central air conditioners and heat pumps.

Compressors
The DOE has issued a final rule establishing definitions, materials incorporated by reference, sampling plans, representation requirements, enforcement provisions and test procedures for certain varieties of compressors. Specifically, the rule establishes full-load package isentropic efficiency as the applicable energy metric for certain fixed-speed compressors as well as part-load package isentropic efficiency as the applicable energy metric for certain variable-speed compressors. It also incorporates by reference certain sections of ISO Standard 1217:2009(E) – “Displacement compressors-Acceptance tests,” as amended through Amendment 1:2016, as the basis for a test method for determining compressor efficiency. ISO 1217:2009(E) includes a test method for measuring compressor inlet and discharge pressures, actual volume flow rate, electrical input power, package isentropic efficiency and other compressor performance metrics. Moreover, the rule adopts certain modifications and additions to ISO 1217:2009(E) to increase the specificity of certain testing methods and improve the repeatability of tested and measured values. The final rule changes will be mandatory for representations starting on 3 July.

ACs and Heat Pumps
The DOE has imposed tougher energy conservation standards for residential central air conditioners and heat pumps after concluding that the amended standards would result in significant energy savings and are technologically feasible and economically justified. The effective date of this action will be 8 May unless adverse comments are received by 28 April. However, compliance will only be required for covered products manufactured in or imported into the United States on and after 1 January 2023.

The Energy Policy and Conservation Act defines a central air conditioner as a product other than a packaged terminal air conditioner that is powered by single phase electric current, air cooled, rated below 65,000 Btu per hour, not contained within the same cabinet as a furnace, the rated capacity of which is about 225,000 Btu per hours, and that is a heat pump or a cooling only unit. The EPCA defines a heat pump as a product other than a packaged terminal heat pump that consists of one or more assemblies, powered by single phase electric current, rated below 65,000 Btu per hour, utilising an indoor conditioning coil, compressor and refrigerant-to-outdoor air heat exchanger to provide air heating, and that may also provide air cooling, dehumidifying, humidifying circulating and air cleaning.

The DOE has also amended the energy test procedures and specific certification, compliance and enforcement provisions for these products. Amendments to appendix M will be required as the basis for making efficiency representations starting on 5 July and a new appendix M1 will be the basis for making efficiency representations as of the compliance date for any amended energy conservation standards (i.e., 1 January 2023). The new appendix M1 establishes new efficiency metrics SEER2, EER2 and HSPF2 that are based on the current efficiency metrics for cooling and heating performance but generally have different numerical values than the current metrics. Broadly speaking, the amendments address off-mode test procedures, test set-up and fan delays, external static pressure conditions for testing, represented values for CAC/HP that are distributed in commerce with multiple refrigerants, the methodology for testing and calculating heating performance, and testing of variable-speed systems.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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