Source Refrigeration & HVAC, a major U.S. contractor based in Anaheim, California, is in the process of installing a subcritical CO2 refrigeration system at its headquarters’ training centre to serve as a technician-training tool.
“It’s a used system from an abandoned store,” said Bryan Beitler, vice-president and chief engineer for Source. The subcritical unit employs CO2 in low-temperature DX and pumped medium-temperature applications, in concert with a synthetic high-side refrigerant to condense the CO2. “It’s a good example of what the techs will see in the field,” he said.
Source’s Anaheim training centre takes the form of a 12,000-square-foot grocery store “with all sorts of training opportunities,” said Beitler. The contractor, which has 44 branches in the western and southeastern U.S. and employs about 1,200 technicians, will soon have another training center at its Jacksonville, Florida office, and is building a third at its Houston office.
Source, which has been working with and servicing natural refrigerant systems over the past six years, has installed more than 30 CO2 systems, including cascade and transcritical units, Beitler said. Source also installed and helped design an ammonia/CO2 cascade system in an Albertsons store in Carpinteria, California, in 2012, the first such system in a U.S. supermarket.
But training technicians to handle natural refrigerant technology continues to be a “pain point,” especially for Source’s far-flung operation, he acknowledged. “We did a transcritical store in Oklahoma, then we did one in Colorado and California, but it’s never the same crew. It would be nice to get two in the same county where you could train people.”
Source holds training classes in Anaheim for upper-level technicians. “We try to have some sort of training event for the techs at least every year,” he said. “Some of it’s done in Anaheim, some locally.”
Beitler noted that Source has also been servicing self-contained hydrocarbon units, though that has mostly consisted of cleaning. “They’re pretty trouble-free.”