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December 2009

Fryer Spec Improves Efficiency Tests

By Brian Ward

Almost exactly two years after the Energy Star program for solid-door refrigerators was launched, and literally two weeks after the new standard for steamers had been unveiled, it was fryers' turn. The new specs were finalized in mid-August of 2003 and announced the following month at the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers' biennial trade event, The NAFEM Show.

The Environmental Protection Agency had targeted its resources carefully to get the biggest bang for the buck as quickly as possible. Refrigerators were virtually everywhere, an obvious priority, so it made sense they were the first category for Energy Star. Steamers were less universal, but still plenty widespread, and the category was known as a big user of both energy and water.

After those two categories, fryers, too, were high up the list in terms of ubiquity and energy use. And they were known, at least by more current standards, to be relatively inefficient. An awful lot of energy was bypassing the food and shooting straight up the flue.

By '02 the research had begun. Market penetration was figured, and estimates of total numbers of fryers in the market were generated with the help of data from NAFEM. Fisher-Nickel Inc. at Pacific Gas & Electric Co.'s Food Service Technology Center helped with some performance data already in the hopper at that time.

The Energy Star team drew together fryer manufacturers and others, and the group began hammering out a procedure for setting the energy standards. Definitions would be important—nobody wanted procedures that would inherently favor one technology but be irrelevant or disadvantageous to others.

15" Models, More Or Less
Size, too, was an issue. Fryers come in lots of shapes and sizes, and that diversity would complicate things. In early phases of hashing out the process, some of the stakeholders felt idle-energy standards ought to be set for a variety of sizes. Eventually, though, the group decided to set its focus on both cooking-energy efficiency and idle rates, and to narrow the focus to 15" fryers, give or take about an inch. That size range was a big chunk of the market, and a fair amount of test data was already available. Further, the group agreed to address both natural-gas and electric models. Once again, the idea of setting the bar at or near the top 25th percentile for efficiency made sense.

In '02, that worked out to setting Energy Star minimum heavy-load cooking-energy efficiency at 50% or better for gas-fired units and 80% or better for electric models. Idle-energy rates were 9,000 Btu/hr. or less for gas models and 1kW or less for electric units. All data were collected in accordance with ASTM standardized testing procedures.

Note that each Energy Star-qualified gas fryer can save you 50 MBtu annually, or an average of $590/year on utility bills. Each qualified electric unit can save 1,100kWh annually, or an average of $120/year.

Updated Tools, Bigger Models, Newer Tests Coming
In the ensuing years, numerous models have met or exceeded the Energy Star requirements. Today more than 150 models qualify. ASTM Int'l., meanwhile, has updated its fryer test methods. F1361, the standard test for fryers under 60-lb. capacity, was tweaked in '05 and again in '07. And ASTM also ratified a standard test for larger fryers, F2144, in '07.

So newer testing tools exist, and larger fryers have been a growing part of the market. Which means it's time to revisit fryers—and EPA says it'll be reviewing the fryer standard this autumn. Stay tuned.

Visit to find a list of qualified models.

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