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Is CO2 Right for your Small Format Store?

What is a Small Format Store?

Small-format stores are usually less than 25,000 ft2 and require less than 30 tons of refrigeration capacity. Typically, these stores are convenience stores, small grocery stores, and pharmacies. Due to their size, Small-format stores do not have the space or lease agreement to install the large rack units that are favored by Large-format retailers. Another complication is how the small-format store needs to be organized for the display cases to fit.

Why CO2?

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) as refrigerant:
    • Significantly reduces the environmental impact and plays a crucial role in combating climate change
    • Is the gold standard for ozone depletion potential (ODP) at 0
    • Has a global warming potential (GWP) at 1.

Many countries including the US are phasing out the use of high-GWP synthetic refrigerants, and stricter environmental regulations are being enforced. Embracing CO2 makes this a future-proof solution as it ensures compliance with these evolving regulations, avoiding penalties and legal complications.

CO2 is nonflammable and nontoxic, and it is a low-cost refrigerant. The recent advent of high-pressure, iron-impregnated copper has allowed the traditionally stainless-steel piping to transition to familiar brazed copper piping, further improving value and simplifying repairs.

Is CO2 Right for your Small Format Store?

CO2 is also a low-cost refrigerant. Most synthetic refrigerants can cost upwards of $20 per lb, whereas the current price of CO2 is around $3 per lb. CO2 systems require smaller copper pipes than other refrigeration systems, which decreases the installation costs. CO2 systems also have excellent energy efficiency, minimizing the operation cost. It’s high density and low viscosity increase coil efficiency, allow for smaller line sizes, and take advantage of smaller compressors.

Although everyone with a CO2 system can enjoy its benefits, small-format stores can go a step further. Since small-format refrigeration systems require less refrigerant, they do not require heat removal through air conditioning. This means the heat reclaim can be used for space heating, dehumidification, commercial kitchens, and restrooms.

Zero Zone knows that one size does not fit all. Our Genesys™ Natural Refrigeration Systems can be tailored for small format stores with the following products.

Indoor Parallel Systems

Outdoor Parallel Systems

Distributed Refrigeration Systems





Here are some case studies of using Zero Zone’s CO2 Genesys™ Natural Refrigeration Systems in small format stores:

  • Small grocery store in Stapleton, CO
    • Zero Zone completed this project using an indoor parallel system that can operate on a mezzanine in a mechanical room in a  5B climate zone. It has a remote adiabatic gas cooler, negating the need for air conditioning. The design pressure is 120 bar on the high side and 45 bar on the low side.

  • Small format store in Islandia, NY
    • This store is located in a  4A climate zone and home to one of Zero Zone’s outdoor parallel roof-mounted rack systems. This system has a remote air-cooled gas cooler and a design pressure of 120 bar high side and 90 bar low side.

  • Convenience Store in Dayton, MN
    • Zero Zone also has an outdoor parallel system mounted on the roof in a  6A climate zone. This system measures 120 bar on its high side and 45 bar on its low side. This location also uses the heat reclaim for heating the backroom air coil and water.

A common myth surrounding CO2 as a refrigerant is that it can only be used in certain climates. This is true only for certain types of CO2 systems. Transcritical CO2 systems can only be used in cooler climate zones. Subcritical CO2 systems can be used in any climate zone. At Zero Zone, we have a solution for natural refrigerants in any climate.

Are You Ready for Zero Zone’s Genesys™ CO­2 System?

To start a project or learn more about how Zero Zone can help, contact one of our sales representatives.