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New Regulation in China for Room Air Conditioners

Air Conditioning

Since 2005, China has been promoting energy efficiency with its GB (“Guo Biao”) national standards, setting the scope, parameters, and prescriptive test limits for products ranging from household appliances and flat-panel televisions to luminaires/ballasts and automotive parts. On December 31, 2019, China officially published a new GB national standard pertaining to room air conditioners. GB 21455-2019 sets the minimum allowable values of energy efficiency and defines the energy efficiency grades for room air conditioners. Effective from July 1, 2020, the new mandatory regulation will replace the old GB 12021.3-2010 and GB 21455-2013 standards and require that air conditioning products be sold with new GB labels.

China National Standard
(Guo Biao)

Release Date

Effective Date

GB 12021.3-2010 February 26, 2010 June 1, 2010 Fixed-frequency A/C
GB 21455-2013 June 9, 2013 October 1, 2013 Variable-frequency A/C (Inverter)
GB 21455-2019 December 31, 2019 July 1, 2020 Both

Combining two GB standard into one, the more stringent requirements for energy efficiency will result in a significant migration from fixed-frequency air conditioning units to variable-frequency, inverter-based air conditioning units. Features that help room air conditioners to achieve the required efficiency include variable-speed compressors, variable-speed fan motors, improved heat transfer surfaces, energy-saving modes, and filter change reminders. Heat pump air conditioners, in various ranges of cooling capacities, are binned into five energy efficiency grades depending on their annual performance factor (APF), which describes the cooling capacity per kWh over one year of use under prescribed conditions. Grade 1 has the highest APF requirement, corresponding to the greatest energy efficiency. Fixed-frequency air conditioners can typically only meet Grade 4 or Grade 5 requirements.

With heat pump air conditioners as the main type adopted, manufacturers plan to start production of inverter-based versions in the second quarter of 2020. Major manufacturers, moreover, have no plans for new fixed-frequency designs. As such, the penetration rate for variable-frequency room air conditioners may approach 100% at leading manufacturers. Similarly, the volume of DC fans, especially for outdoor units, is expected to increase significantly.

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