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AHRI’s NextGen Directory to help verify product performance

Official says challenge of performance verification greater in chillers, coils and air handlers

| | Oct 1, 2018 | 4:32 pm
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Arlington, Virginia, USA, 1 October 2018: AHRI’s recently launched NextGen Directory is leveraging new technologies to incorporate a sophisticated search engine that will help with product verification, said Henry Hwong, Senior Vice President, Standards and Global Operations, Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI). “One of the greatest challenges in verifying the performance of any product, is to be able to properly identify the product in question,” he explained, adding that most manufacturers have their own unique model nomenclature that often incorporates wild card characters such as an asterisk. The NextGen Directory, Hwong explained, leverages new technologies to help users easily find the exact product they are trying to verify. “Once the product is identified in the directory, it’s the press of a button to download the AHRI Certification Certificate and the unique AHRI Reference Number,” he said. Hwong said the AHRI Certification Certificate and Reference Number are such well-known resources that most contractors will include them as part of their bid package.

Henry Hwong

Hwong added that the challenge of identifying the proper model for performance verification is even greater when it comes to configured applied products such as chillers, coils and air handlers. “These products often have a unique model number that is configured for a specific job and operating condition,” he said. “When you combine all the possible configurations and the entire possible operating map of applied products, you essentially end up with millions of possible combinations. Considering the high stakes of projects with such significant financial investments, often associated with configured applied products, the stakes are high to properly identify and verify a product’s performance at its application condition.”

Hwong said the verification of the performance of a single standard rating point of a “base” model does little to ensure performance at actual application condition and doesn’t even guarantee that the product will operate at the standard rating condition.  “AHRI not only certifies the entire operating map of applied products but also offers a verification process when used in conjunction with the AHRI NextGen Directory,” he said. “AHRI’s certification programmes of applied products, such as water cooled chillers, require that participants submit selection software that can be used to configure and select any chiller at any applied condition.” The software, new and updates, must be first approved by AHRI before use in the market place and are shown on the AHRI NextGen Directory with the proper version number and revision date, he said. This allows all stakeholders to validate the latest version of software used to make any selection and request a verification by AHRI.  “This verification service is provided by AHRI free of charge and will provide verification of performance of the exact configured model and the exact application condition,” Hwong added. “It is fair to say that the use of the AHRI Directory in conjunction with the verification service have made significant contributions to reducing performance misrepresentations.”

Providing a historical background on the factors that led to these modern upgrades, Hwong explained that AHRI launched its first product performance certification program and Directory in 1959 with a listing of around 500 models, and that since then, the number of AHRI programmes has grown to 44 with nearly three million listings.  In 1998, Hwong said, the directories moved to an electronic format, which provided certification status and performance ratings in real time and removed all ambiguities in terms of real performance numbers. It was then, Hwong said, that reliance on the directory grew and in the early 2000s came the introduction of AHRI Certification Certificates in support of utility demand-side rebate programmes. “Utilities offering financial rebates for the purchase of high-efficiency products demanded proof of certification, to ensure that the product will perform as promised,” he said. “AHRI Certification Certificates provide all the manufacturers and performance data on a date-stamped certificate, generated in real time, with a unique Reference Number.”

The recent upgrades, Hwong said, were inevitable, mostly owing to emergence of regulatory compliance. “Over the years, the AHRI Directory became the primary tool for manufacturers to submit data to regulatory agencies in compliance with various federal, state and international regulatory reporting requirements,” he said. “The original AHRI Directory platform was never designed with regulatory reporting in mind and a decision was made to design and build a brand new AHRI Directory from the ground up.” This, he said, was the genesis of AHRI’s NextGen Directory, which took over two years to design and build, following significant investment from AHRI.


Hannah Jo Uy is Assistant Editor at Climate Control Middle East magazine. She may be contacted at hannah@cpi-industry.com

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