Inverter compressors show 1 year payback in vending machines, in new Embraco case study

The expanding vending machines market in China and Southeastern Asia, due to the 2021 recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic requiring unmanned retail, increases the need for these kinds of appliances to become ever more energy efficient, in order to reduce their life cycle cost, as well as have a lower environmental impact. To meet these new demands new compressors technologies are needed, such as variable speed, also known as inverter technology, and natural refrigerants. In a recent case study, Embraco, global provider of refrigeration technology for the complete residential and commercial cold chain and a Nidec Global Appliance’s brand, reached 27% energy savings in a vending machine using a variable speed compressor to replace a traditional fixed speed one.

Embraco presented the case study at the ATMOsphere APAC Summit 2022, held in Tokyo on June 28th. The research converted a 510 liters vending machine, replacing a fixed speed compressor, that applied the refrigerant HFC R134a, with the variable speed model Embraco VES, that applies natural refrigerant R290, an important feature to minimize environmental impact. The R290 refrigerant has no ozone depletion potential and global warming potential (GWP) close to zero, making it a solution to comply with local and international regulations that limit the GWP of appliances. The variable speed technology, in its turn, saves energy by adjusting the device’s running speed to the demand required by the refrigeration equipment.

It is an outstanding outcome not only from an environmental protection perspective but also from a financial one: the change in the compressor pays for itself in less than one year, considering the energy reduction,” says Xu Bo, Sales Manager for South East Asia at Nidec Global Appliance.

The VES compressor also reached the cabinet internal temperature of -6ºC in a timeframe 15% faster than the fixed speed compressor. “It is a benefit that guarantees an improved sales experience, since the product reaches merchandising temperature quicker, and can reduce product loss by allowing a more stable temperature inside the refrigerator, complying with the best practices of food safety regulations,” adds Xu Bo. Another feature of the VES is using Embraco Smart Drop-in technology, an advanced inverter control logic that allows customization of the control routine according to end-users specific parameters, optimizing the system performance, and energy saving.

The case study pointed out that the energy savings can increase even more with other improvements. In one of the evaluations, the AC (alternate current) condenser and evaporator fans were replaced by DC (direct current) fans, and the vending machine’s beverage outlet was blocked to reduce heat leakage, all associated with the use of a variable speed compressor. With the whole set of changes, the energy savings could reach a total of 47%. “The compressor still accounts for the main opportunity for energy consumption reduction, covering several changes in different subsystems but, with combined actions, there is an extraordinary potential,” the executive explains.

The refrigeration market is looking for new efficient technology that Embraco is happy to demonstrate that already exists”, he celebrates. “As an important influencer for sustainable refrigeration solutions, Embraco is driving the market to a more energy-efficient direction, and the variable speed compressor is an outstanding technology to reach it”, Xu Bo concludes.

The case study presentation can be downloaded HERE