Embraco, a global brand of Nidec Global Appliance, introduced its first controller for commercial display-cases at the AHR Expo trade show, held in Chicago January 22–24.

The company also unveiled its first EC fan motor for display-case evaporators and condensers.

The controller and fan motor represent “a new market for us,” said John Prall, U.S.-based Applications Engineering Expert for Nidec Global Appliance.

Embraco, which offers a wide range of hydrocarbon compressors, has introduced the slogan “sync it all” to describe the link between the new controller and the compressor, inverter and fans inside a display case. “Since we now have the ‘heart’ and ‘brains’ of the system, we are trying to integrate it all,” said Prall. “So you can optimize the efficiency of the system easily.”

OEMS are able to easily program and adjust the controller settings using Embraco’s You Control software, which also has an “auto-tune” feature, explained Prall.

Embraco/Nidec case controller

Embraco compressors can still be connected to third-party controllers, but the company’s new controller “allows us to unleash information” that might not be available in other controllers, said Michel Moreira, Sales & Application Engineering Director for Nidec Global Appliance in North America.

For example, the controller can detect increased levels of stress in the compressor that would trigger an alarm indicating that the end user should check whether this is being caused by the buildup of dirt in the condenser.

The new controller will also provide live information helping engineers to meet the requirements of specific cabinet applications, said Moreira.

Largest variable-speed R290 compressor

Embraco also unveiled a new variable-speed propane (R290) hermetic reciprocating compressor at AHR Expo, the VNEX model. Prall said it offers the largest displacement (21cc) and capacity (up to 4,600BTUH/0.38TR/1.3kW) of any variable-speed R290 unit on the market. It is available for low- and medium-temperature applications.

Hitachi, which has a joint-venture with Johnson Controls for the design, development and production of scroll compressors, noted that its ZS series variable-speed R290 scroll compressors offer displacement up to 1.2in(19.7cc) and capacity up to 10,836BTUH (0.90TR/3.17kW) for medium-temperature applications and up to 5,035BTUH (0.42TR/1.48kW) for low-temperature applications.

The new compressor is designed to accommodate the higher charge limits for R290 approved by UL for use in the U.S. – up to 300g for closed cabinets and 500g for open cabinets – as well as the legacy limit of 150g. In May 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed adopting those higher charge limits under Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) 26; the agency is expected to issue a final rule for SNAP 26 this year.

“Since we now have the ‘heart’ and ‘brains’ of the system, we are trying to integrate it all.”

John Prall, Applications Engineering Expert for Nidec Global Appliance

This article was updated to include information provided by Hitachi.