Start Efficient, Stay Efficient

Start Efficient, Stay Efficient

High-efficiency, operational efficiency, efficiency expert. The bottom line of the business world looks to this “efficiency” term as the quintessential answer of: D – All of the above. Maximize efficiency in all areas and you maximize profits. The same holds true for mechanical systems and motors.

Theoretically, if every component is selected for its individual maximum efficiency, it can be assumed the system will run at peak performance.

Bobby Yoho disagrees.

Yoho, head of JAX Refrigeration’s Restaurant HVAC Specialty department (RHVACS), emphasized it is more important to take a systems approach to performance. That is, shift the focus from individual components and instead analyze how the components interact and function as a whole. He highlights four key factors in improving system performance.

Start efficient, stay efficient

Most HVAC systems require an exact replacement when motors and drives break down. If your system operated inefficiently in the beginning, replacing a motor with an identical and equally-mediocre version will not improve performance. Yoho’s advice is to start with the most efficient options available. If a significant improvement in performance or operating cost is imperative, he suggests replacing the system as a whole with newer, higher-efficiency equipment. He said it is also important to ensure those new HVAC equipment and units are ARI/UL rated and certified to protect the performance of manufacturer claims, which is why RHVACS only installs HVAC equipment and units that are ARI/UL rated and certified.

Manage and maintain

While it seems fairly straightforward, one of the biggest roadblocks to maintaining system efficiency is improper management and maintenance of the system. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Being proactive in your system planning will help prevent costly breakdowns and potential loss of revenue or operating hours. Establish repair vs. replacement policies, track motor life and establish a schedule for required maintenance. Not only will basic maintenance extend the life of the system, but also increase reliability, lower average costs and make better use of the energy it is drawing. Yoho says that while some owners may have difficulty justifying HVAC maintenance costs, he warns that waiting for a system failure can cause crippling operational or production downtime, making your whole business inefficient.

Select variable frequency drives (VFDs)

“The new systems we install are using high-efficiency variable speed motors and compressors to comply with all the new, stricter energy efficiency requirements,” Yoho says. “They operate at a substantial cost savings and are more reliable.”

In fluid systems, like HVAC systems, the benefits of motor speed control include lower energy costs, improved reliability, less maintenance and more effective process control.  Historically, DC motors have been used when speed control is required. However, with technological improvements, VFDs have become the new standard of operating efficiency. Similar in their performance and reliability, VFDs have added benefit in the maintenance realm. Users can bypass them for repairs without having to take the motor out of service. Plus, they often require less maintenance altogether because they have fewer components than their predecessor.

Evaluate the environment

“When a system goes down, the first thing many assume is that it’s a problem with the system itself, when many times the breakdown is a result of the outside environment,” says Yoho.

So what does that mean? According to a publication from the U.S. Department of Energy, power quality is a growing concern in the industry as more processes are being automated and more computers are being used to control and monitor equipment. Because digital equipment often must be reset or resynchronized after a power disturbance, the issue of power quality merits close attention. Additionally, other external factors like unsealed, leaking door openings or blocked air intake areas could cause the system to be overworked and more susceptible to breakdowns.

Treating every system like a custom system, JAX Refrigeration offers more information, tips and case studies like these on its website at