FSEC Receives Contract to Improve Efficiency of Central Air Conditioners

The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), under funding from the State Technologies Advancement Collaborative, will participate in a research project to reduce the energy use of residential air-conditioning systems. The project will focus on the development of next-generation central air-conditioning performance ratings, development of a central air conditioner specifically for hot/humid climates, and contractor training. Southern Company Services will also contribute funds toward FSECs portion of the project.

Air conditioning is the largest energy user in most sunbelt region homes. Unfortunately, the system to rate air-conditioning systems for efficiency doesn’t always correspond with energy use in the field, sometimes underestimating energy use by 10 – 30 percent.

FSEC will be working with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Advanced Energy, and the Energy Center of Wisconsin on this two-year, $1.5 million project. They will be assisted by four subcontractors: the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, CDH Energy, Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Researchers will work on developing new approaches recognizing regional needs and new technologies in calculating air-conditioner performance ratings. They will also conduct several field studies comparing ratings with actual field performance, analyzing the effects of incorrectly sized units, and assessing strategies such as control of system cooling capacity and airflow. In addition to other research tasks, an extensive training program will be offered to heating, ventilating and air-conditioning contractors.

Don Shirey, a Principal Research Engineer at FSEC, explained that “FSEC’s efforts will be focused on the tasks related to collecting field performance data on the benefits of proper equipment sizing, developing a new central air conditioner optimized for hot humid climates, information dissemination, and HVAC contractor training. FSEC has considerable experience in each of these areas and looks forward to working with our other collaborative partners in applying our experience on this new project.”

The State Technologies Advancement Collaborative was created by the National Association of State Energy Officials, the Association of State Energy Research and Technology Transfer Institutions, and the U.S. Department of Energy to help states and the federal government work together on innovative energy research, development, demonstration and deployment projects.

For more information on this project, contact Shirey at 321-638-1451.

The Florida Solar Energy Center, a research institute of the University of Central Florida, is the largest and most active state-supported energy research center in the country. Current research activities include solar water and pool heating, solar electric and distributed generation systems, energy-efficient buildings, alternative transportation systems, hydrogen fuel, and other energy areas. For more information, call the FSEC Public Information Office at (321) 638-1015 or go to http://www.fsec.ucf.edu.