Foodservice equipment manufacturer’s conversion to propane for its refrigeration units helped by education and training.
Foodservice equipment manufacturer Welbilt has not seen “any real pushback” from chain restaurants following the conversion of its Delfield upright and under-counter commercial refrigeration units to propane from R404A, according to one of its executives.
“We went through an education process with our customers and put our service techs up to speed,” said Kaye Wisner, vice president and managing director-Delfield. “We have competitors that have also made this change, so it’s natural for our customers.”
Welbilt, based in New Port Richey, Fla., unveiled its R290 units at the NAFEM show in Orlando, Fla, in February, having completed the conversion of those units late last year. Wisner provided an update at the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show in Chicago last month.
She pointed out that Welbilt (formerly Manitowoc Foodservice) has been selling hydrocarbon products in Europe for more than 10 years. In the U.S., Department of Energy (DOE) 2017 efficiency standards and impending Environmental Protection Agency refrigerant delistings drove the conversion, plus“we had some customers pushing us along this path a couple of years ago,” she added. “So it’s a natural transition for us.”
“We went through an education process with our customers and put our service techs up to speed.”
– Kaye Wisner, Welbilt
Welbilt’s propane units are 15% to 17% more efficient than their HFC predecessors and meet the new DOE efficiency requirements, said Sara Sunderman-Kirby, product manager for the Delfield brand, at the NAFEM Show, adding that the cost of both equipment types is comparable.
Wisner said that many of the propane units also meet the new ENERGY STAR 4.0 efficiency standards. Welbilt was named a 2017 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year - Sustained Excellence Award winner.
Welbilt still sells some R404A products, but is working on converting them to R290 “in most cases,” said Wisner.
“It’s a huge game-changer for us, honestly, from our service to development cycle to manufacturing footprint,” she said. “It’s a significant investment for us.”