Why Using Horsepower To Describe air-conditioner

Why Using Horsepower To Describe air-conditioner
Why using horsepower to describe air-conditioner capacity is misleading
Horsepower (HP) is used to measure engine power under the imperial weights
and measures system still used in the USA. It does not measure cooling (or
heating) capacity. Under the metric system, kW is used to measure engine
power (rotational power), cooling (or heating) capacity and electrical
power.
If you are measuring rotational power you can convert HP to kW by
multiplying by 0.75. But, this conversion is meaningless for cooling capacity or
electrical power. It just converts the power of the motor.
It says nothing about how efficient that motor is at turning the electrical
power coming into the motor into rotational power, or how efficient the
cooling circuit is at turning the rotational power into cooling power.
Imperial Units
air-conditioner
horsepower of
rotational energy
kW of electrical
energy in
motor
Metric Units
refrigerant
flow
compressor
BTUs of cooling
energy out
refrigerant unit
air-conditioner
kW of
rotational energy
kW of electrical
energy in
motor
refrigerant
flow
compressor
kW of cooling
energy out
refrigerant unit
When used in relation to air-conditioning, horsepower typically refers to the
rotational power of the electric motor which drives the unit’s compressor. It
says nothing about the efficiency of the compressor or of the other
components in the cooling circuit.
A high efficiency cooling circuit may have twice the cooling capacity of a
low efficiency one, but they may both have the same size motor. It is easy for
manufacturers and retailers to sell consumers a poorly performing airconditioner if they just quote the HP of the engine.
That’s why the Australian standard uses kW of cooling and heating and the
energy star ratings are calculated using the Australian standard. Using
Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Equipment Manufacturers Association of Australia Incorporated
PO Box 3961 Manuka ACT 2603 phone 02 6239 5652 fax 02 639 5653 www.arema.com.au
e-mail: secretariat@arema.com.au
2
anything else doesn’t capture the performance of the whole system. If HP
was used in the standard it would encourage manufacturers to skimp on the
cooling components and Australian consumers would end up paying
appreciably more to run their air-conditioners.
Under the standards it is not illegal to quote HP in air-conditioner advertising so
long as kW cooling and heating capacity as measured under the standard is
also quoted. Manufacturers and retailers can quote any HP figure they like
since it is not covered by the standard. AREMA has set in motion the process
of having the standard changed so that any use of HP in air-conditioner
advertising or reference material is specifically prohibited.
The use of horsepower to describe an air-conditioner’s capacity dates back
to pre-metric times when most domestic air-conditioners had motors,
compressors and refrigeration circuits of similarly low efficiency and HP was a
reasonable proxy for cooling capacity.
That was also in the days before widespread adoption of domestic airconditioners and before energy star ratings, when there was little commercial
advantage to be gained in misrepresenting the capacity of an airconditioner.
Air-conditioners in the USA are measured using their cooling (or heating)
capacity in BTUs versus their electrical power consumption measured in
kilowatts (kW). Use of HP is discouraged but if it is used, it must be measured
assuming standard efficiencies for the motor, compressor and refrigeration
unit.
AREMA Secretariat, September 2004.
For further information contact the Secretariat or go to the AREMA website
Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Equipment Manufacturers Association of Australia Incorporated
PO Box 3961 Manuka ACT 2603 phone 02 6239 5652 fax 02 639 5653 www.arema.com.au
e-mail: secretariat@arema.com.au
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