Top 3 Reasons Why R-290 Self-contained Cases Are a Good Choice for Grocery Stores

By Published On: July 6, 2022

Refrigeration has long been a resource for the food retail industry for preserving products and keeping them fresh during transport and in stores.  However, with current and upcoming federal and state laws and/or regulations in place to limit or phase out the use of HFCs in commercial refrigeration systems. Retailers are looking to substitute those refrigerants with natural refrigerant alternatives.

R-290, also known as refrigeration-grade propane and one of the few natural refrigerants readily available, is understood to be a top, viable alternative to HFC refrigerants for freezer and cooler applications, especially in some merchandisers, such as self-contained cases. Though R-290 has been widely used in Europe for over 20 years, in the US, its adoption in food retail stores is still in its infancy.

R-290 self-contained display cases have benefitted food retail establishments across the globe. Here are the top 3 reasons why they are an advantage in grocery stores.

Self-contained R-290 cases optimize store performance

Self-contained display cases charged with R-290 support energy efficiency and provide eco-friendly benefits. Due to its inherent, excellent thermodynamic properties, R-290 permits a smaller refrigerant charge per system, which results in lower operating costs and higher store savings without sacrificing performance. Likewise, when it comes to installation and usage, most R-290 systems have zero to minimal downtime since these systems are not complex to use and are practically plug and play. R-290 display cases can be easily moved around the store and quickly plugged into an available electrical outlet. When it comes to its environmentally friendly benefits, R-290 is known to be a sustainable refrigerant that has an Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) of zero and Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 3.

Is R-290 flammable? Yes … Is it safe? YES!

Yes, R-290 is flammable; however, it has been safely used for commercial applications for years by campers, in consumer refrigerators, air conditioners, and household freezers. Though flammable, R-290 merchandisers are safe to use since these systems contain very low charges, are self-contained, and are hermetically sealed, meaning the risk of refrigerant leaks is low and the refrigerant does not come near ignition sources. And, in the unfortunate event, a leak does occur, it is environmentally safe since it has such low GWP and ODP ratings. It is important to note that only certified and trained refrigeration technicians should handle R-290 units for proper installation, maintenance, and service of these systems in the store.

R-290 is a future-focused refrigerant

R-290 is a refrigerant of the future, alongside other natural refrigerants, such as CO2 and ammonia. Since R-290 is non-toxic and environmentally friendly, it is exempted from upcoming refrigerant regulations intended to limit or phase out the use of harmful refrigerants. This means that grocery stores that adopt R-290 self-contained display cases today likely will not need to replace their systems in the coming years since they are already compliant with current regulations. Some US states are already fully adopting the use of R-290 systems in the food retail industry and the rest of the US states most likely will follow suit. That is why it is advisable to consider using R-290 systems sooner to achieve regulatory compliance and avoid potential regulatory penalties.

The call for the widespread adoption and transition to environmentally friendly refrigerants in the commercial refrigeration industry is a significant step in putting the damper on global warming and climate change. The use of R-290 is a viable weapon to help mitigate climate change, and unless we do something to eliminate harmful refrigerants in the atmosphere, there will be no end in sight to this enormous threat to our planet and the people that make it their home.