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Air con research facility tests manufacturer claims

20 November, 2011

How do you know if the star ratings on your air conditioner really perform as they state on the label?

CSIRO engineers have designed and commissioned a new, state-of-the-art air con test facility to evaluate the electrical, cooling and heating performance of conventional and solar-powered systems.

The National Heating Ventilation & Air Conditioning (HVAC) Performance Test Facility, located at the CSIRO Energy Centre in Newcastle, New South Wales, is able to simulate the climate conditions of a winter in Hobart to a tropical summer in Darwin.

CSIRO Energy Transformed Flagship’s solar cooling research leader, Dr Stephen White, says the facility will greatly enhance Australia’s capability to perform ratings and Minimum Energy Performance (MEPS) testing of new and existing products on the Australian market.

"For the large number of HVAC systems available in the Australian market, only a few test facilities exist to validate manufacturer’s claims regarding the thermal and electrical performance of their product," Dr White said.

This facility expands Australia’s capacity to undertake spot-checks on products already on the market, and validate new products, giving accurate information that can eventually be used for product labelling.

"It offers industry new resources to develop innovative products, test new product assembly combinations or undertake specific tests on novel and conventional air conditioning systems"

"Consumers are also winners because they will be able to have accurate information they can rely on to assist in making better purchase choices," Dr White said.

Nearly three-quarters of Australian households have air conditioners and heating, cooling and ventilation accounts for up to 40 per cent of business energy bills.

Air conditioning also contributes significantly to peak load pressure on the electricity network and is driving the demand for upgrades to the existing electricity infrastructure.

As part of its integrated approach to helping Australia transition to a low-emission, prosperous energy future, CSIRO is developing innovative and cost-effective solar cooling technologies using this facility, to cut emissions and reduce seasonal peak load.

This facility adds to CSIRO’s existing suite of research and test facilities, and is also available to industry for research and development.

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