True Manufacturing debuted its first propane (R290) vertical beverage case using an air curtain rather than a glass door at the NAFEM Show in Orlando, Fla. last week.

Starting four years ago, True was one the first OEMs to market R290 cases for the foodservice and food retail segment in North America, paving a road that numerous other manufacturers have since traveled or are planning to travel. All of its glass-door cases have transitioned to R290, and air-curtain cases are next, beginning with the 30-in-wide TOAM30 unit on display at NAFEM.

“We left air-curtain [models] for last,” said Todd Washburn, director of sales and marketing, Retail and Display Division, True Manufacturing, based in St. Louis, Mo.

The TOAM30 case uses one condensing unit, though larger air-curtain equipment might use multiple condensing units at the 150-g charge limit for hydrocarbons, Washburn said; however, if the charge limit goes up in North America, single units would be possible in larger equipment. Currently, “we can do everything with 150g.” Other potential changes True would consider: variable-speed compressors and glycol-loop cooling.

The new air-cooled unit features Above-shelf LED lighting and a reduced height to match glass-door units. The display case is aimed at the “grab-and-go” retail market, including airports and convenience stores, as well as other retail stores, said Washburn.

“In our eyes, it’s done. Everything we do is R290.”

Todd Washburn, True Manufacturing

Also at the NAFEM Show – the biggest trade show of the year for True – the OEM displayed a year-old line of glass-door R290 merchandisers previously shown at the NACS (National Association of Convenience Stores) Show last October. He noted that glass door cases are seven times more efficient than air-curtain units. “When you take a door off, some of your efficiency goes out the window,” he said, though the air curtain “keeps some of the ambient air out.”

An advantage for R290 systems is they can be used for both low and medium temperatures; HFC units required different refrigerants (R134a for medium temperature and R404A for low-temperature).

He also lauded the R290 units’ “great reliability numbers” and efficiency, and pointed out that the “service network has been built up.” For better maintenance, True includes in all R290 models a “reverse condensing fan motor” that blows dust and dirt out of the unit over short intervals, improving energy efficiency.

“In our eyes, it’s done,” summed up Washburn. “Everything we do is R290.”

In turn, more of its customers – like Target – are asking for R290, he said. “They’re saying, ‘This is what I buy now.’”

Since introducing R290 cases globally in 2006, True has installed more than one million units, with a climate impact that has preserved 2,480,000 acres of U.S. forests, removed 450,000 cars from the road and provided electricity for 320,000 U.Shomes, the company said.

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