The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) is a trade association that represents global manufacturers of air conditioning, heating, commercial refrigeration, and water heating equipment. The association is founded on the principle of advocating for the industry and creating a level playing field for manufacturers while elevating the integrity of industry performance ratings through the creation of standards and certification programs. AHRI has been writing performance standards and administering certification programs for over 60 years – long before there were regulatory mandates in place to do so. Manufacturers that participate in our certification programs make a significant investment in this process by voluntarily submitting samples within the scope of our programs for verification of performance at third-party testing laboratories.
AHRI’s certification programs began with the publication of the AHRI Directory of Certified Unitary Air Conditioners in January of 1959. The Directory listed 30 manufacturers offering approximately 500 models of central air conditioners. Today, there are 40 globally recognized AHRI HVACR and water heating certification programs encompassing over 600 licensees in more than 20 countries. The AHRI Directory of Certified Product Performance is now a real time, web-based directory containing nearly two million product ratings. A lot has changed since those early days, but the foundation for the success of AHRI’s certification programs remains the same.
AHRI’s certification program are open to all manufacturers around the world regardless of membership in AHRI. The programs use recognized industry standards and verify manufacturers’ performance ratings through extensive and continuous third-party testing. The programs are all accredited to ISO Guide 65/17065. Many of the fundamental HVACR efficiency metrics in use today, such as SEER, IPLV, and IEER, were conceived by AHRI members. Similarly, many of the concepts and terms used in certification such as Certify-All, Basic Model Groups (BMGs), and Challenge Tests were also conceived decades ago by AHRI certification program participants. In recognition of the growing importance of global, voluntary performance certification, AHRI members, helped launch Eurovent Certification to promote the same in Europe.
Currently, discussions on global climate change have driven demand by regulatory agencies for tested and certified product efficiency data in support of minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) in many countries and regions around the world. The rising cost of energy is also driving building energy analyses and demands from consulting engineers for data that will support those activities. Members of AHRI have been busy working on the next generation of standards and certification programs that will meet those needs.
Beginning January 1, 2015, AHRI will have two certification programs for air-handling units (AHUs)– one will cover AHU casings, and the other covers the supply fan. Together these two certification programs will help ensure that the AHUs selected by engineers and specifiers will perform as expected, in the systems they design.
The certification program for AHRI Standards 430 (I-P) and 431 (SI), Performance Rating of Central Station Air-handling Units’ Supply Fans, verifies the fan speed (in rpm or rev/s) and the fan shaft power (in bhp or w) for an AHU’s supply fan. This certification program has been active since 1972 and currently has 17 participants. Basic model groups for the 430/431 program are mandatorily grouped by fan type, unit configuration, and drive type. Participants have further options for subdividing their models, if they choose.
AHRI Standards 430 and 431 require that the coil, fan sheave, and internally mounted fan motor are mounted in their most restrictive cataloged location relative to the fan during testing to determine the fan’s performance. The method of test used is AMCA 210-2007, Laboratory Methods of Testing Fans for Certified Aerodynamic Performance Rating. The fan types verified by this test include DWDI housed fans, axial fans, and plenum fans. Direct drive plenum fans (DDP) will be new to the certification for the 2015 testing year.
The Engineering Committee that oversees the revisions of AHRI Standards 430(I-P) and 431 (SI) is researching and working on adding fan arrays, additional appurtenances, exhaust fans, and return fans to the standard in the next 1-3 years. They are also discussing adding an energy metric, such as kw/cfm, for the 2016 versions of the standards.
The certification program for AHRI Standard 1350P (I-P), Performance Rating of Central Station Air-handling Units’ Casings, will verify casing deflection, casing air leakage, thermal transmittance with leakage, thermal transmittance without leakage, and thermal bridging. This new certification program will begin accepting applications on January 1, 2015. We anticipate that AHRI Standard 1350P, which also contains the method of test, will be approved in October 2014. This standard, as with all AHRI standards, will be available free of charge on www.ahrinet.org.
All of the rating classes verifiable by test are defined in AHRI Standard 1350P. The casing deflection rating class (Table 1) shows the maximum normalized deflection at specified differential pressures. The casing air leakage rating class (Table 2) determines the maximum allowable leakage per casing surface area at the reference pressure. The casing thermal transmittance rating class is subdivided into thermal transmittance with leakage and thermal transmittance without leakage (Table 3). Both thermal transmittance classes determine the energy transfer through the AHU’s casing with or without air leakage taken into account. Thermal bridging measures the ratio of temperature differences between the interior and exterior of the unit (Table 4). As done in the AHRI 430 certification testing, all AHRI 1350 testing is performed on actual AHUs that contain, at a minimum, a coil and a fan section.
With the introduction of a certification program for AHU casing, AHRI certification can help to ensure the performance for all of an air-handling unit’s components. In conjunction with the new certification program, AHRI certifies AHU supply fan performance (Standard 430), air-to-air energy recovery ventilators (Standard 1060), and forced circulation air heating and cooling coils (Standard 410), among many, many others.
For further information on how to specify AHRI certified equipment or how to become an AHRI certified manufacturer, please visit our website at www.ahrinet.org.
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