Date: 2021-11-01 14:33:34
AMCA wind-driven-rain (left) and water-penetration chambers.
By SCOTT ARNOLD, AMCA International
“What is AMCA?”
Depending on whom you ask, Air Movement and Control Association (AMCA) International is:
- A developer of equipment test standards used the world over.
- An accreditor of laboratories that test air-system components.
- An educator of air-systems and buildings professionals.
- An advocate for its more than 400 manufacturer members on matters related to codes, standards, regulations, and legislation.
AMCA is indeed all of those things, but while those things help to describe AMCA, they do not define AMCA. The essence of AMCA—what makes AMCA what it fundamentally is and, without which, AMCA loses its identity—lies in its Certified Ratings Program (CRP).
The primary means through which AMCA fulfills its mission to “uphold industry integrity on behalf of AMCA members worldwide,” the CRP provides assurance not only that a product line has been tested and rated in accordance with uniform and equitable technical standards and procedures, but that manufacturers’ published performance data are accurate and, thus, reliable, in the process discouraging the marketing of products with invalid ratings.
Think about it: If you were in the market for a used automobile, would you insist on one that is mechanically certified, or would you accept a salesperson’s claim that a vehicle’s previous owner was the proverbial little old lady who only drove the vehicle to church on Sundays? A “certified pre-owned” designation—particularly from a third-party source with no skin in the game—is your assurance a vehicle has undergone rigorous inspection and is in good operating condition; it is peace of mind that your investment is sound. Likewise, a seal from AMCA’s CRP (Figure 1) is affirmation an air-system product will perform as described in the manufacturer’s sales literature.
This article explains the workings of the AMCA CRP and illuminates why products that undergo the rigorous certification process deserve to be specified ahead of products that do not. Additionally, it highlights the capabilities and services of the AMCA International laboratory in Arlington Heights, Ill.
The AMCA CRP
The AMCA CRP is a globally recognized third-party program the objective of which is to ensure air-movement-and-control products perform as stated in manufacturer literature. Participation is voluntary and open to AMCA members and non-AMCA members alike.
AMCA certifies 20 types of air-movement-and-control products through the CRP. The products AMCA certifies are series-produced, meaning designed and fabricated for general-purpose installations. (Custom products cannot be certified, but can be tested in accordance with AMCA-approved standards.)
AMCA offers certification for 18 performance parameters, including air performance, sound, fan energy index (FEI), and leakage. With some product types, more than one certification can be earned, in which case seals usually are combined (Figure 1).
To ensure the CRP has probity and value, AMCA has in place a number of strict protocols, including:
- American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) accreditation (A2LA Certificate No. 3437.01) in accordance with ISO/IEC 17065:2012, Conformity Assessment – Requirements for Bodies Certifying Products, Processes and Services, “which provides confidence that products, processes, or services meet the intended use or need in the marketplace.”
- A2LA accreditation (A2LA Certificate No. 2477.01) in accordance with ISO/IEC 17025:2017, General Requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories, which assesses “factors relevant to a laboratory’s ability to produce precise, accurate test and calibration data, including: technical competence of staff; validity and appropriateness of test methods; traceability of measurements and calibrations to national standards; suitability, calibration, and maintenance of test equipment; testing environment; sampling, handling, and transportation of test items; [and] quality assurance of test and calibration data.”
- The requirement that all testing be performed at an AMCA or an AMCA-accredited independent laboratory (Figure 2).
- The requirement that all testing and certification be performed in accordance with AMCA-approved test/rating standards and AMCA operating manuals.
- The requirement that, once certified, a product line undergo periodic check testing at an AMCA or an AMCA-accredited independent laboratory.
- The allowance of public challenges to certifications.
- The listing of certified products in a highly searchable database on the AMCA website.
- The policing of participants’ websites, catalogs, and advertisements for program violations.
- The reporting of program violations on the AMCA website.
FIGURE 2. The AMCA laboratory network.
The AMCA Laboratory
Encompassing more than 25,000 sq ft (2,323 sq m) of the AMCA International headquarters building in Arlington Heights, the AMCA International laboratory is the standard to which all AMCA-accredited independent laboratories (Figure 2) are held. All instrumentation within the facility is continually calibrated and checked against the instrumentation in dozens of laboratories around the world.
In addition to being A2LA-accredited, the AMCA International laboratory is U.S. Environmental Protection Agency- (EPA-) approved to test and certify products for the EPA’s Energy Star program. It is equipped to test a variety of fan types, as well as louvers, dampers, energy-recovery ventilators, air curtains, evaporative coolers, power roof ventilators, positive-pressure ventilators, single-room air handlers, and airflow-measuring stations for various kinds of efficiency, leakage, and stability beyond air and sound performance.
The AMCA International laboratory includes:
- Four reverberation rooms ranging in size from 6,300 cu ft (178 m3) to 65,500 cu ft (1,855 m3), where inlet, outlet, and total sound power are measured.
- Two water-test chambers in which up to 8-in.- (20 cm) per-hour rainfall and 50-mph (22.4 m/s) wind can be simulated for tests of the water-rejection capabilities of louvers.
- Three multinozzle chambers capable of measuring up to 88,000-cfm (41.53 m3/s) airflow.
- A thrust-measurement rig able to accommodate circulating fan heads up to 72 in. (183 cm) in diameter.
- Adjacent reverberant rooms used for testing acoustical louvers in accordance with ASTM E90, Standard Test Method for Laboratory Measurement of Airborne Sound Transmission Loss of Building Partitions and Elements.
- A rig for testing ceiling fans up to 18 ft (5.5 m) in diameter. Larger fans up to 24 ft (7.3 m) in diameter are tested off site.
- A rig for testing jet fans up to 55 in. (140 cm) in diameter.
Beyond the CRP, AMCA performs contract testing for external parties. By mutual agreement with a client, AMCA can modify and adapt procedures to test many air-movement-and-control devices that are outside the scope of the CRP.
The AMCA International laboratory is operated on a not-for-profit basis, with the fees for testing services offsetting the costs of operation. For more information, contact AMCA Technical Director Nazme Mohsina at +1 847-704-6265 or [email protected].
Because of the rigorous testing requirements and procedures of the AMCA CRP and the technical competence and professionalism of the AMCA laboratory staff, specifiers, purchasers, and other decision makers who choose products certified to bear the AMCA seal can be confident the products will perform to expectations, helping to ensure healthier, safer, more comfortable, and more efficient buildings.
About the Author
FIGURE 1. AMCA CRP seal for louvers combining water-penetration, air-performance, and wind-driven-rain certifications.
Product Types Certified by AMCA
- Acoustic duct silencer
- Agricultural fan
- Air-circulating fan
- Air curtain
- Airflow-measuring station
- Axial fan
- Ceiling ventilator
- Centrifugal fan
- Energy-recovery ventilator
- Evaporative cooler
- Induced flow
- Jet fan
- Large-diameter ceiling fan
- Mixed-flow fan
- Positive-pressure ventilator
- Power roof ventilator
- Propeller fan
- Single-room air handler
CRP by the Numbers
31 countries represented
6 continents represented
4,125 products certified
Note: Numbers current as of Oct. 5, 2021.
Small air chamber.
AMCA 300 sound test.
In the Beginning …
From “AMCA at 100: A Century of Inclusion,” 2017 edition of AMCA inmotion:
AMCA is the association it is today because, in 1917, competing U.S. fan manufacturers decided to … [put] the industry’s long-term well-being ahead of their own short-term victories … setting a precedence for integrity. …
… They called themselves the National Association of Fan Manufacturers, or NAFM. One of NAFM’s earliest efforts to advance the industry was the development of Bulletin 110, Standard Test Code for Disc and Propeller Fans, Centrifugal Fans and Blowers. That document is better known today as ANSI/AMCA Standard 210, Laboratory Methods of Testing Fans for Certified Aerodynamic Performance Rating, and it is one of the association’s key technical standards.
During the 1930s, NAFM began distributing “Certified Ratings” stickers to members who tested in accordance with standard test codes. The NAFM Publicity Committee hoped the stickers would stir conversation, bringing more companies into the fold and encouraging testing and verification in harmony with peer-vetted standards.
Most air-system specifications are written ineffectively with regard to certification, leaving the door open for non-certified products to be installed when certified products were intended. Based on feedback from specifying engineers, AMCA simplified its guideline specifications, reducing paragraph-long statements to single sentences. Engineers are encouraged to incorporate this new and more efficient language into their specifications to ensure AMCA-certified products get installed:
All (product type) shall be certified to bear the AMCA Certified Ratings Program seal for (certification type[s]).