Refrigerator Monitoring, A Sequel

September/October 2000
A version of this article appears in the September/October 2000 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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September 01, 2000
How briefly can you monitor refrigerator energy use and still get valid results? Home Energy takes another look at this timely topic.
        Utility or public housing programs that replace inefficient refrigerators with more efficient models clearly save energy (see “Monitoring Refrigerator Energy Usage,” HE, May/June ’00, p. 32). But, how best to identify poor performers that need replacing is not as simple a question as it may first appear to be. The results of short-term monitoring of any given refrigerator can be affected by such factors as ambient temperature, control settings, the refrigerator’s condition, food-loading patterns, and door openings. Even for simple replace/don’t replace decisions, I believe that testing of automatic-defrost refrigerators should be conducted for well over two hours. This recommendation is based on extensive testing both in the field and in a laboratory test chamber, using a dedicated 11-channel data logger that was specially designed for testing refrigerators.         To obtain a refrigerator’s annual energy use rating, DOE regulations require manufacturers to monitor automatic- defrost refrigerators from the beginning of one defrost cycle to the beginning of the next. Testing is conducted on empty refrigerators with closed doors at an ambient temperature of 90°F for this “natural” ...

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