Pump manufacturers have gone above and beyond to improve the efficiency of their circulators. As the technology has seen a shift towards ECM motors, this has allowed for circulator pumps to run significantly more efficiently. Variable speed motors allow for the pump to ramp up when the extra power is needed; and when it doesn’t, it can remain running at a lower capacity.
To celebrate the strives made in the world of energy-efficient circulator pumps, the Hydraulic Institute (HI) has created its new Circulator Pump Energy Rating label and database.
A bit of history
The development of the program first began back in 2016 with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) when they created a regulated clean water pump program, which includes five types of water pumps related to the industrial and commercial sectors and excludes circulator pumps. The reason behind this exclusion was because they serve a very specific application-based niche. The idea then was that should be looked at separately. And this was exactly what HI did.
“In 2016, we essentially got to what we call a term sheet, so all the parties involved agreed on the premise of a regulation,” explains Pete Gaydon, technical director at HI. “However, at that time, the political environment changed in the United States and regulations were put on hold. At that time, what the industry did was developed the circulator pump energy rating program and aligned it with the work we did in the negotiations with the Department of Energy.” This was how the program guideline was created and determined how the equipment would be tested and how to calculate the circulator energy index, which is used to calculate the energy rating. The testing is conducted in a lab that has been audited and certified by HI. Once a product has gone through the testing process, it will be published on the public database to be available for industry stakeholders.
The DOE has since picked back up the aforementioned regulation and has put out a request for information. The next steps will likely be a notice of proposed rule, and then potentially a final rule. This could take some time for the DOE to put something out. The association is pushing for the department to use the testing procedure and methodologies that were built into the energy rating label because it was all done in the spirit of what was previously negotiated in 2016.
They expect that Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) will align themselves with the DOE, as they did with the commercial and industrial clean water pumps program. The circulator energy rating program was officially launched in June 2021 and already has started populating circulator pumps into the database. Fall 2021 should be when the industry should start seeing circulator pumps with labels attached to them. “The label value provides a way to calculate power savings, and then energy savings if we can estimate the operating hours,” reports Gaydon.
Currently, four manufacturers have registered to be part of the database. “Within circulator pumps, we’ve got those four organizations—Grundfos, Armstrong, Taco, and Xylem—that are participating and for North America, we think it’s well over 90 per cent of the market of efficient circulators,” explains Gaydon. They expect to add a few more manufacturers as time goes on, but it isn’t expected that the market share will increase significantly.
Benefiting the contractor
The program was created with utility companies in mind; however, there are plenty of benefits for the contractor to consider. “It’s a trusted source that the contractor or the installer can use to communicate to the homeowner. “You know what, this pump may be a better choice for you even if it costs a few dollars more and this is a rating system that you can use and calculate your payback.” It’s kind of that bridge that we hope can help kind of transform that market,” explains Gaydon.
Pumps are an important part of the mechanical room and help drive high levels of comfort for the end-user. Their performance can make or break the functions of water lines and heating and cooling systems, explains Michael Michaud, executive director at HI. “Informative energy rating levels make it easy to identify a pump’s energy performance and opportunity for energy savings. As the industry strives for more energy-efficient solutions and to make a substantial impact toward sustainability targets, implementing the right pump technology is critical.”
For the contractor, it also allows for them to stay on top of the most up-to-date information. “I think it’s really important because there are literally a million or more circulator pumps sold each year,” said Gaydon. “We can save a lot of energy on a grand scale. It may be 30 or 40 watts for each circulator, but times that a million times for the life of each circulator and that number actually becomes quite large.”
Reading the label
According to Gaydon, the program is a bit complicated to describe. Pumps that are included in the program are limited to clean water circulator pump types, including CP1 (wet rotor), CP2 (dry rotor two-piece), and CP3 (dry rotor three-piece). When reading the label, it is important to understand that the lower the value for the circulator energy index, or referred to as the CEI rating on the label, the better.
The rating label allows the comparison between different circulator pumps in the market based on average power consumption. It can be used to estimate the amount of power that is saved or estimate the power savings of multiple circulator pumps.
Circulator energy index
The label can be broken down into five categories—basic information, circulator energy index (CEI), energy rating, available controls, and lastly, estimated savings. Although each part of the label is important and will illustrate important characteristics for each circulator, the most important part is the energy rating, according to Gaydon. “The interesting thing that you’re going to see on our labels is a lot of times, there’s not a single number. It shows a range. What that tells them is the lowest number, the lowest energy rating, is the energy rating for essentially the least efficient control option. The higher number is then for the highest efficient control.”
There are some applications where it is important to know the least efficiency rating and for the highest efficiency rating.
For example, with domestic hot water recirculation, a pump generally doesn’t vary in speed. Therefore, this would be a case where knowing the least efficient rating would be appropriate. “I think the most important thing is the energy rating and that we’re representing the range which communicated that energy savings might vary by how it’s installed and how the controls are set up.”
There is a slew of calculations that go into putting together the completed label for a product. All of which can be found on the program guideline. To read the 57-page document, visit www.estore.pumps.org.