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HQ 962279

DECEMBER 23, 1998

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 962279 JAS


TARIFF NO.: 8418.69.00

Trane Company, Inc.
Commercial Systems Group
3600 Pammel Creek Road
LaCrosse, Wisconsin 54601-7599

RE: HQ 952808 Revoked; THERMACHILL Direct-Fired Absorption Chiller/Heater; Unfinished Apparatus for Producing Chilled Water and Hot Water, GRI 2; Refrigerating Equipment, Parts of Apparatus for Commercial Comfort Cooling; Air Conditioning Machines and Parts, Heading 8415; HQ 952361

Dear Sirs:

In HQ 952808, dated February 16, 1993, we responded to a request by the District (now Port) Director of Customs, Seattle, WA, initiated as Internal Advice 30/92, and advised that the Trane THERMACHILL absorption chiller/heater was classifiable in subheading 8514.90.00, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), as other parts of air conditioning machines.

Pursuant to section 625(c)(1), Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1625(c)(1)), as amended by section 623 of Title VI (Customs Modernization) of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, Pub. L. 103-182, 107 Stat. 2057, 2186 (1993), notice of the proposed revocation of HQ 952808 was published in the Customs Bulletin of November 18, 1998, Volume 32, Number 46. No comments were received in response to that notice.


The absorption chiller/heater in issue is a natural gas-fired apparatus used to produce chilled water and hot water for space cooling and heating applications in commercial buildings. Apparatus of this type operates without a compressor and consists essentially of a burner (instead of the conventional steam or hot
water generator), condenser, evaporator, cooling tower, absorption unit, circulation pump, and heat exchanger. The burner in this case is added after importation. The operation of this apparatus, as described in HQ 952808, is incorporated by reference in this decision. Likewise, for the reasons stated in HQ 952808, we have determined that the principal purpose of a complete absorption chiller/heater is to produce chilled water. Chilled water produced by this apparatus is pumped directly to the cooling/heating circulation system of commercial buildings. Fans or blowers built into the building's master system, or in individual room units distribute the coolness. These fans are also not part of this importation. Humidity is added by condensation as hot air passes over cooler fins in the room units. We are informed that a complete liquid chiller of the type in issue can produce chilled water as low as 43 degrees F.

The apparatus was entered under a provision in HTS heading 8415 for air conditioning machines, comprising a motor-driven fan and elements for changing the temperature and humidity. However, because the importation lacked a fan, the issue arose whether the entered provision was correct, whether the provision for other refrigerating or freezing equipment, in HTS heading 8418, may be the appropriate classification, or whether the apparatus is a part either of heading 8415 or heading 8418.

The provisions under consideration are as follows:

8415 Air conditioning machines...;parts thereof:

8415.81.00 Incorporating a refrigerating unit and a valve for reversal of the cooling/heat cycle

8415.82.00 Other, incorporating a refrigerating unit

8415.90 Parts:

8415.90.80 Other

8418 [o]ther refrigerating or freezing equipment, electric or other; parts thereof:

8418.69.00 Other


8418.99.80 Other


Whether an absorption liquid chiller/heater, as described, is incomplete or unfinished refrigeration equipment, or a part thereof.


Under General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 1, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), goods are to be classified according to the terms of the headings and any relative section or chapter notes, and provided the headings or notes do not require otherwise, according to GRIs 2 through 6. Under GRI 2(a), heading descriptions are to include incomplete or unfinished articles provided they have the essential character of the complete or finished good. Under GRI 3(a), where a good is, prima facie, described in two or more headings, it is to be classified in the heading which provides the most specific description.

The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System. While not legally binding, the ENs provide a commentary on the scope of each heading of the Harmonized System and are thus useful in ascertaining the classification of merchandise under the System. Customs believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (Aug. 23, 1989).

In HQ 952808, heading HTS 8418, other refrigerating or freezing equipment, was essentially eliminated from consideration, based on certain ENs for that heading. Those notes stated that the equipment of heading 8418 in the main produces low temperatures (in the region of 0 degrees C or less) at the active cooling element. Information available to us at the time indicated that absorption liquid chillers using lithium
bromide as the absorbent produce water temperatures as low as 43 degrees F (8 degrees C), a temperature which the industry does not recognize as required for refrigeration.

However, we note the term refrigeration is not defined by any legal note in the HTSUS and the temperature range stated in the heading 8418 ENs i.e., in the region of 0 degrees C or less, applies to the equipment "in the main." We note as well that the 8418 ENs describe Absorption Type Refrigerators on p. 1268, which consist essentially of a burner instead of a generator, a condenser, evaporator, and absorption unit, and on p. 1269 list as apparatus of the foregoing kind refrigerated water or beverage fountains and beer coolers. Neither of these apparatus operates in a continuous cycle of operation in the region of 0 degrees C or less. Similarly, in HQ 952361, dated August 18, 1992, temperature-controlled wine storage units were classified in an appropriate subheading of heading 8418. Thus, the referenced ENs describe the absorption liquid chillers in issue, but are not specific enough as to the requisite temperature ranges to be conclusive in defining refrigerators and refrigerating equipment for purposes of heading 8418. In such cases, tariff terms are to be construed according to their common and commercial meanings, which are presumed to be the same. How a term is used within an industry has been regarded as a particularly authoritative source of its common meaning. The 1998 ASHRAE handbook REFRIGERATION, published by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc., states in the introductory language of Chapter 43 under LIQUID CHILLING SYSTEMS, that the most frequent application for liquid chilling systems is for air conditioning systems, although both brine cooling for low-temperature refrigeration and chilling of fluids in industrial processes are also common. This source also states that in the refrigeration cycle of modern water-lithium bromide chillers, chilled water enters the cooler at 54 degrees F, for example, and leaves at 44 degrees F. From this, we can reasonably conclude that apparatus which produces chilled water at 44 degrees F is regarded as refrigerating equipment for purposes of heading 8418.

From the discussion above, as well as the finding in HQ 952808 concerning heading 8514, it is apparent that the absorption liquid chillers in issue, imported complete or finished, are, prima facie, classifiable in heading 8415 and in heading 8418. Under GRI 3(a), they are to be classified in the heading that provides the most specific description. Specificity is often resolved in favor of the heading which most narrowly and
definitively describes the good, or which imposes conditions which are the most difficult to satisfy. Refrigeration necessarily involves air conditioning, but the latter term relates to temperature limits which provide a sense of comfort for human beings, without any other defining characteristics. Noting the discussion of the heading 8418 ENs and the types of apparatus listed in those notes, as well as the fact the chillers operate at temperatures required for refrigeration, we conclude that heading 8418 provides a more specific description for the absorption liquid chillers than does heading 8415. The absorption liquid chillers here consist of all the components necessary to constitute refrigeration apparatus of heading 8418, except for the burner. Nevertheless, for purposes of GRI 2(a), the apparatus, as described, contains the aggregate of distinctive component parts that establish the identity of the merchandise as what it is, complete or finished refrigeration equipment.


Under the authority of GRI 3(a), HTSUS, the Trane liquid absorption chiller/heaters are provided for in heading 8418. They are classified in subheading 8418.69.00, HTSUS.

HQ 952808, dated February 16, 1993, is hereby revoked. In accordance with 19 U.S.C. 1625(c)(1), this ruling will become effective 60 days after its publication in the Customs Bulletin. Publication of rulings or decisions pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 1625(c)(1) does not constitute a change of practice or position in accordance with section 177.10(c)(1), Customs Regulations (19 CFR 177.10(c)(1)).


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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