Commercial Refrigeration Equipment


Commercial refrigeration equipment refers to refrigerators and freezers used in supermarkets, convenience stores, restaurants, and commercial kitchens. Commercial refrigeration equipment can either be “self-contained,” where the refrigerated case and the complete refrigeration system are combined into a single physical unit, or “remote condensing,” where the compressor and condenser are located remotely from the refrigerated case. “Reach-ins” are self-contained equipment that have either solid or glass doors and are typically used in food-service establishments. Refrigerated display cases, which are commonly used in supermarkets, are remote condensing and can either have doors or be open cases.


The Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 2005 set standards for “reach-in” refrigerators and freezers, which took effect in 2010. In 2009, DOE issued new standards  for additional types of equipment including ice-cream freezers, self-contained equipment without doors, and remote-condensing equipment. These standards took effect in 2012.

In 2014, DOE published a final rule updating the standard levels for all types of commercial refrigeration equipment, and they took effect in March 2017. The new standards cut energy consumption by more than 40% for solid-door “reach-in” refrigerators and freezers, and by 28% and 12% for glass-door supermarket refrigerator and freezer display cases. 


Refrigeration accounts for about 15% of total commercial building electricity consumption. Compared to older units, commercial refrigeration equipment meeting the latest standards employ technologies such as LED lighting and occupancy sensors, high-performance glass doors, and high-efficiency motors. Some equipment is now also using new refrigerants such as propane (R290), which provides significantly better efficiency performance than traditional refrigerants in addition to having zero ozone depletion potential (ODP) and near-zero global warming potential (GWP).

Savings through what year?: 2046
Energy saved (quads): 2.89
CO2 savings (million metric tons): 142
Net present value savings ($billion) 3% discount rate: 11.74
Net present value savings ($billion) 7% discount rate: 4.93


Federal Date States
Potential Effective Date of Updated Standard 2023
Updated DOE Standard Due 2020
3rd Federal Standard Effective 2017
Test Procedure - Last Revised - Active Mode 2014
3rd Federal Standard Adopted (DOE) 2014
Initial Federal Legislation Enacted 2012
2nd Federal Standard Effective 2012
2010 NJ Standard Effective *
2010 AZ Standard Effective *
2010 RI Standard Effective *
2010 NY Standard Effective *
1st Federal Standard Effective 2010
2nd Federal Standard Adopted (DOE) 2009
2008 CT Standard Effective
2008 OR Standard Effective
2007 WA Standard Effective
2005 MD Standard Effective
1st Federal Standard Adopted (Congress) 2005
EPACT Initial Federal Legislation Enacted 2005
2005 NJ Standard Adopted
2005 WA Standard Adopted
2005 AZ Standard Adopted
2005 RI Standard Adopted
2005 OR Standard Adopted
2005 NY Standard Adopted
2004 CT Standard Adopted
2004 MD Standard Adopted
2003 CA Standard Effective
2002 CA Standard Adopted

* State standard never went into effect due to preemption by federal standard.

Timeline reflects state standards from 2001 to present; federal standards from inception to present.