Gas, oil-fired and electric furnaces

December 2018

Technical bulletin – Proposed prescriptive path to meet fan energy rating (FER) standards in Amendment 15

Background

On October 31, 2018 Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan) Amendment 14 to the Energy Efficiency Regulations (the Regulations), 2016 was published in Canada Gazette Part II. This Amendment introduces FER requirements for both gas and oil-fired furnaces manufactured on or after July 3, 2019. These requirements harmonize with the United States Department of Energy’s (U.S. DOE) FER requirement issued as a final rule on July 3, 2014 for residential furnace fans.

On November 14, 2018, the U.S. DOE issued a Notice of Petition for Rulemaking and Request for Comment pertaining to Test Procedures for Consumer Warm Air Furnaces. According to this notice, the American Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) issued a petition on October 12, 2018 asking DOE to initiate a notice-and-comment rulemaking to develop a new, unified test procedure for residential furnaces. This procedure would replace the three currently required performance metrics of annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE), FER, and standby mode/off mode energy consumption with a new metric called AFUE2. The petition stated that the unified metric would reduce regulatory burden on manufacturers by streamlining test requirements and aligning regulatory review schedules, thereby promoting design flexibility and product innovation.

AHRI also requested that the DOE not enforce the reporting, certification and compliance obligations related to the furnace fan energy conservation standards during the consideration of the petition. In response, the DOE has asserted that, although it has taken no position regarding the merits of the suggestions in the petition, it has agreed to grant a non-enforcement period in its enforcement policy statement during the consideration period. DOE also stated that the non-enforcement period would be extended should the petition be granted during the pendency of the rulemaking.

Additionally, Amendment 15 was pre-published in the Canada Gazette Part I on October 20, 2018 and proposed FER standards for electric furnaces and gas furnaces for relocatable buildings.

The FER requirements for gas and oil-fired furnaces published as part of Amendment 14 to the Regulations will apply to those furnaces manufactured on or after July 3, 2019, the same date as the law in the U.S. comes into force.

Subject to publication in Canada Gazette Part II, the proposed FER requirement for electric furnaces and gas furnaces for relocatable buildings, pre-published as part of Amendment 15 to the Regulations, would also apply to those furnaces manufactured on or after July 3, 2019, the same date as the law in the U.S. comes into force.

Proposal

As a result of the non-enforcement guidance on FER in the U.S., NRCan has been asked to withdraw the FER energy efficiency standards for gas and oil-fired furnaces manufactured on or after July 3, 2019 and to not move ahead with the proposed standards for electric furnaces and gas furnaces for relocatable buildings in Amendment 15. NRCan does not intend to repeal the FER standards for gas and oil-fired furnaces published in Canada Gazette, Part II, on October 31, 2018 or remove the Amendment 15 proposal for FER standards for electric furnaces and gas furnaces for relocatable buildings.

However, NRCan is proposing to provide a prescriptive alternative to meeting the FER standard, which would require blower fans to use a brushless permanent magnet (BPM) motor. In this proposal, a furnace would need to meet the FER energy efficiency standard when tested to the 10 CFR Appendix AA, or would need to use BPM motor technology. The intent would be to allow dealers to comply with the FER standard prescriptively by having a BPM motor or by testing to the FER test procedure. This prescriptive alternative is being considered for gas (including those for relocatable buildings), oil-fired and electric furnaces manufactured on or after July 3, 2019.

Product description

Gas and oil-fired furnace fans (Amendment 14) and furnace fans used in electric furnaces and in gas furnaces for relocatable buildings (Amendment 15) are the indoor air moving components of furnaces designed to supply heating and/or cooling through a system of ducts with air as the heat transfer medium. The assembly typically consists of a fan motor with its controls, an impeller, and housing.

Energy performance testing standard

NRCan will reference the following energy performance testing standard for those furnace fans that will require testing:

Proposed prescriptive alternative to meeting the energy performance standard
Minimum energy performance standards being considered for gas, oil-fired and electric furnaces
Product type Fan energy rating (FER)
(W/1000 cfm)
Gas furnaces that have an input rate of ≤ 65.92 kW (225,000 Btu/h), use single-phase electric current and do not have an integrated cooling component (Amendment 14)
  1. Table note * FER ≤ FER for product class "Non-weatherized, condensing gas furnace fan (NWG-C)", set out in 10 C.F.R. §430.32(y); or
  2. Blower fan must use a brushless permanent magnet motor.
Gas furnaces that are through-the-wall, have an input rate of ≤ 65.92 kW (225,000 Btu/h), use single-phase electric current and have an integrated cooling component
(Amendment 14)
  1. Table note * FER ≤ FER for product class "Non-weatherized, condensing gas furnace fan (NWG-C)", set out in 10 C.F.R. §430.32(y); or
  2. Blower fan must use a brushless permanent magnet motor.
Gas furnaces that are outdoor furnaces, have an input rate of ≤ 65.92 kW (225,000 Btu/h), use single-phase electric current and have an integrated cooling component
(Amendment 14)
  1. Table note * FER ≤ FER for product class "Weatherized non-condensing gas furnace fan (WG-NC)", set out in 10 C.F.R. §430.32(y); or
  2. Blower fan must use a brushless permanent magnet motor.
Gas furnaces for relocatable buildings (Amendment 15)
  1. FER ≤ FER for product class “Non-weatherized, non-condensing gas furnace fan (NWG-NC)”, set out in 10 C.F.R. §430.32(y); or
  2. Blower fan must use a brushless permanent magnet motor.
Oil-fired furnace
≤ 66 kW (225,000 Btu/h)
(Amendment 14)
  1. Table note * FER ≤ FER for product class "Non-weatherized, non-condensing oil furnace fan (NWO-NC)", set out in 10 C.F.R. §430.32(y); or
  2. Blower fan must use a brushless permanent magnet motor.
Electric furnaces that have an input rate of ≤ 65.92 kW (225,000  Btu/h), and use single-phase electric current
(Amendment 15)
  1. FER ≤ FER for product class “Non-weatherized, electric furnace/modular blower fan (NWEF/NWMB)”, set out in 10 C.F.R. §430.32(y); or
  2. Blower fan must use a brushless permanent magnet motor.

Important dates

The prescriptive alternative to meeting the FER standard for gas and oil-fired furnaces would come into force immediately upon publication of Amendment 15 in the Canada Gazette, Part II.

The FER standard and prescriptive alternative for electric furnaces and gas furnaces for relocatable buildings would come into force six months after the date of publication of Amendment 15 in Canada Gazette, Part II

Reporting requirements

Energy efficiency report

NRCan would have an additional reporting requirement to the existing energy efficiency report for furnaces asking the dealer to indicate whether the furnace fan has a BPM motor.

Comments invited

The purpose of this bulletin is to provide stakeholders with the technical detail required to comment on the proposed prescriptive alternative to meeting the FER standards under consideration for gas (including those for relocatable buildings), oil-fired and electric furnaces.

We welcome your comments by December 29, 2018. All correspondence should be forwarded to:

Natural Resources Canada
Office of Energy Efficiency
580 Booth Street
Ottawa, ON, K1A 0E4
E-mail: nrcan.equipment.rncan@canada.ca