Trane says chiller makers use 'negative selling'

Trane says chiller makers are exploiting IPLV as an efficiency rating

Trane US experts addressed a Dubai audience at the Grand Hyatt
Trane US experts addressed a Dubai audience at the Grand Hyatt

The highly-competitive chiller industry has seen manufacturers use ‘negative selling’ techniques to gain the upper hand as products become more energy efficient -- and hence largely indistinguishable from each other.

However, savvy salespeople are manipulating chiller rating systems to make their products appear more energy efficient than they actually are, warns Trane. This could confuse customers and harm the industry's reputation.

Trane recently hosted a seminar in Dubai to highlight one of these ‘negative selling’ techniques, namely using single-number evaluation methods such as IPLV (Integrated Part Load Value) to evaluate the performance of central chiller plants.

Two leading figures from Trane in the US attended the Dubai seminar. These were W. Ryan Geister, global and Americas portfolio leader: centrifugal chillers, and Mike Thompson, global leader of refrigerant strategy.

In December 2009, Geister and Thompson co-authored a paper entitled ‘A Closer Look At Chiller Ratings’ in the peer-reviewed ASHRAE Journal of the US, which warned about the potential misuse of IPLV to make certain competitor products appear more efficient against others. The paper sparked a major debate in the chiller industry.

“Using less comprehensive evaluations is enticing and may seem logical, as IPLV was created by the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), and is often promoted by some manufacturers as the paramount method to analyse chiller performance,” Geister said at the seminar.

“However, as acknowledged by AHRI, IPLV or NPLV (Non-Standard Part Load Value) does not accurately represent a chiller plant’s operating characteristics. Decisions based on this incomplete data often result in poor predictions of equipment energy use, so it is important to use accurate energy analysis tools to ensure optimal economic and environmental solutions,” said Geister.

"The bottom line is there is no easy answer. It is our responsibility as an industry to use the tools and technology available to practice due diligence and offer our clients viable, sustainable and proven solutions," the authors concluded in the paper.

Thompson delivered a presentation on the latest developments in the steadily changing landscape of refrigerants. “Existing refrigerants will be available for the life of all existing equipment, but new refrigerants are on the near horizon, and the industry needs to be prepared for change.

“However, these transitions were something that the industry has managed successfully before, and I see no reason why the next evolution will not be achieved just as smoothly and efficiently,” said Thompson.

Read more about the IPLV debate in the October issue of MEP Middle East.

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