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Trane wins air-con unit university challenge

Rooftop design 40% more energy efficient than conventional units

The Univsersity of California, Davis, challenge saw Trane design a rooftop air-conditioning system (Image for illustrative purposes)
The Univsersity of California, Davis, challenge saw Trane design a rooftop air-conditioning system (Image for illustrative purposes)

Trane, a global manufacturer of heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems, has won a University of California, Davis, challenge to build more energy-efficient air-conditioning, according to a statement from the educational institution.

The manufacturer built a rooftop air conditioner – the Voyager DC – that is 40% more energy-efficient than conventional units, becoming the second manufacturer to achieve Western Cooling Challenge certification.

“Since air-conditioning is the largest portion of electricity used during hot weather, the potential for 40% savings is enormous,” said UC Davis Western Cooling Efficiency Center associate engineer Jonathan Woolley.

“Many are not yet aware that new electric utility rates will saddle commercial building owners with large additional charges for power used during peak periods. Trane’s Voyager DC met our performance goals on the mark, and promises to be one of the most cost effective, climate-appropriate cooling technologies available for commercial buildings.”

The Western Cooling challenge was established in 2008 by the UC Davis Western Cooling Efficiency Centre and is the most demanding certification of its kind, according to the university.

It 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.

The Voyager DC winning design is a hybrid rooftop air conditioner that uses indirect, evaporative cooling to increase cooling capacity and reduce peak electrical demand.

Following laboratory testing, the equipment was verified by the UC Davis Western Cooling Efficiency Centre.

Much as sweat cools the human body, the Voyager DC is said to use water evaporation to cool 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.

Such techniques are said to increase the number of hours a system can use “free cooling” to cool a space, and dramatically reduces the amount of time a system has to operate at full speed. In addition, the Trane Voyager DC incorporates variable speed fans, staged compressors, and other measures to maintain high efficiency rates.

For a product to be Western Cooling Challenge certified, it must be at least 40% more efficient than Department of Energy 2010 standards.

Entries must also be market-ready. Trane is the first major manufacturer to enter the challenge, reflecting an industry interest in marketing air-conditioning systems that are designed for specific climates, according to the university.

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