Performance Assessment of High-Efficiency Refrigerated Display Cases With Low Global Warming Potential Refrigerants

Research output: NRELPoster


As California policy makers enforce new regulations such as SB 1383 to achieve state greenhouse gas reduction goals, it will be critical to understand the energy efficiency implications of low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants in commercial refrigeration applications. The goal of this research project, funded by Commonwealth Edison, was to assess the energy performance of two high-efficiency medium-temperature, self-contained, reach-in display cases that utilized natural refrigerant propane (R-290, GWP = 3), and hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) drop-in hydrofluoroolefin R-513A (GWP = 573). Performance of these display cases was compared to a baseline fixture using HFC (R-134A, GWP = 1301) under equal conditions in a controlled environment chamber. These display cases were selected due to their widespread use in convenience stores and small supermarkets. The high-efficiency cases were equipped with energy-efficient lighting, improved panel insulation, high-efficiency evaporator and condenser fan motors, and high-effectiveness heat exchangers. The test method used in this project was foundationally inspired by the ANSI/ASHRAE 72-2018 standard method to evaluate each case under equivalent conditions (ASHRAE 2018). However, minor modifications to this methodology were implemented to better represent more realistic operation of the units. While maintaining equivalent target product temperature, the energy-efficient fixtures A (containing R-290, improved insulation, heat exchangers with a higher overall heat transfer coefficient (higher UA), and more efficient lighting and fan motors) and B (containing R-513A, improved fans, and higher UA-heat exchangers, and more efficient lighting and fan motors) consumed 61.8% to 32.6% less energy, respectively, than a baseline case using R-134A refrigerant. The daily energy consumption of the R-290, R-513A, and baseline display cases at the upper limit of environmental conditions was 4.30, 7.59, and 11.26 kWh/day, respectively.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2022

Publication series

NamePresented at the 2022 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings, 21-26 August 2022, Pacific Grove, California

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PO-5500-83638


  • alternative refrigerants
  • environmental chamber
  • hydrocarbon refrigerant
  • hydrofluorocarbon
  • hydrofluoroolefin
  • reach-in refrigeration
  • refrigerants
  • refrigeration
  • self-contained
  • self-contained refrigeration


Dive into the research topics of 'Performance Assessment of High-Efficiency Refrigerated Display Cases With Low Global Warming Potential Refrigerants'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this