Validation of a Load-Based Testing Method for Characterizing Residential Air-Conditioner Performance
Load-based Testing, Dynamic Performance, Field Testing, Air Conditioning, Heat Pump
Seasonal performance assessments of air-conditioning and heat-pump systems are typically carried out based on performance measurement of equipment in a test laboratory. The performance ratings that arise from these assessments are important in providing information to consumers, and in influencing policymakers to determine appropriate incentives for high-efficiency equipment in the marketplace. The current testing and rating approach for performance evaluation of residential air-conditioning and heat-pump systems is based on steady-state performance measurements, with a degradation coefficient to account for the cycling losses that occur during part-load operating conditions. However, this current methodology fails to appropriately characterize the true performance characteristics of these systems in the field, and as a consequence, SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) improvements have not resulted in proportional savings in energy. As an alternative, a load-based testing methodology has been developed with the motivation of capturing realistic equipment performance in a laboratory setting while operating similar to field application conditions. In this approach, the equipment responds to a simulated virtual building load, and the system dynamic performance is measured with its integrated controls and thermostat. However, there is a lack of field-testing data to characterize how well the load-based testing approach captures equipment performance and dynamic behavior compared to a typical field application. To fill this gap, a 3-ton heat pump system was tested within the Residential Home Ecosystem at the Helix Innovation Center where a 2-story house is located within an environmental chamber that can vary external ambient temperature and humidity conditions. During tests, the house was subjected to cooling loads resulting from different outdoor temperature conditions, and its air conditioning system responded accordingly. Similar cooling equipment was also tested within psychrometric chambers at the Ray W. Herrick Laboratories using the load-based testing methodology. A comparison of the test equipment performance and its dynamic behavior in cooling mode between testing performed at the Helix Center and at the Herrick Laboratories is presented in this paper.