Canton company harnesses the power of cold ‘Free Aire’

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If lemons can be made into lemonade, why not apply the same process to the cold temperatures of late fall, winter and early spring? Canton-based FreeAire Refrigeration doesn’t focus on the misery of cold weather but rather uses the power of lower environmental air temperatures to maintain low temperatures inside businesses that need to keep the foods and beverages they sell cold. The company uses a strategy that brings in cold air from outside while cutting energy costs at the same time, warming the hearts of commercial and industrial business owners.

FreeAire refrigeration system

FreeAire refrigeration system

The idea behind FreeAire came about in the 1970s when Richard Travers was living in Vermont in a house that had an old refrigerator from a restaurant. The noise from the compressor made conversation difficult. On one particularly cold evening, Travers realized that using the cold air from outside to keep food cold would be both cost efficient and quieter.

Dave Mac Isaac, Ken Strachan and John DeSimone bought the company last November, setting up their headquarters on Dedham Street in Canton.

“It has really two components,” Strachan said of the technology. “The first is a controller, which controls the use of things like door heaters and door lights. The second is the FreeAire Polar Power Packages, a system that brings in cold outside air while shutting down compressors.”

The FreeAire website explains that the Cooler Controller monitors the temperature of the space that is being cooled and shuts off evaporator fans as needed. They also use smaller Circ fans for air circulation. The next step calls for the use of electronically commutated motors instead of AC motors to reduce electricity consumption. The Cooler Controller also tracks humidity levels, determining how often door heaters need to run. All of that leads to the lowering of pressure on a refrigeration system as well as the amount of time that a compressor needs to be run.

The Polar Power Package then brings in what Mac Isaac described as a “swoosh” of free fresh air. Depending on the climate, the Polar Power Package can draw cooler air in for six months of the year.

Mac Isaac, who serves as the company’s president and CEO, told of the experience of one of FreeAire’s customers in upstate New York. It has a 400,000-cubic-foot beer warehouse and keeps the product at a consistent 38 degrees. “As of March 5, they had used 45 minutes of power for 2015,” he said.

A chain liquor store with two locations on the south shore is expected to cut its energy bill by about half over the course of 12 months using FreeAire technology. Strachan compared the reduction in energy that the two stores will use to taking 14 cars off the road.

FreeAire also conducts energy reviews for clients and looks for subsidies and rebates to save more money for business owners.

“In 90 days we have done 250 energy reviews,” DeSimone said. “We’re very excited about ways to save more energy.”

FreeAire has a program that monitors the Cooler Controller and Polar Power Packages for customers. If the temperature in a beer cooler, deli case, or food warehouse rises above a predetermined number, an alert is sent to the customer, who can log in remotely to see what is happening.

“They’ve got the ability to adjust things,” Mac Isaac said. “It’s peace of mind for our customers.”

Mac Isaac said that Richard Travers, whose old refrigerator with the loud compressor was the inspiration one cold night for new products and services, used to say that FreeAire was Vermont’s best-kept secret. “We want to expand it across as many states as possible,” he said.

To set up a free Energy Savings Review, call 877-305-3733. For more information on FreeAire and its products and services, go to www.freeaire.com.

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