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F Gas

F-Gas Support has issued its most strongly worded advice yet to companies operating R22 and other HCFC systems, telling them ‘doing nothing is not a sustainable option’ in the wake of the phase out at the end of the year.

The guidance from the government backed group states the case starkly: “The imminent ban represents a very real business threat to any company which uses R22 or R408A in their processing or air conditioning operations. Typical applications include refrigeration in supermarkets, blast coolers, cold stores and process coolers and many types of building air conditioning. Many of these applications are absolutely critical to the continued operation of their owners’ business.

The guidance RAC 8 exhorts companies to draft a strategic approach, following an assessment of the business risk of all equipment using HCFCs and then to decide between three basic options: Replace equipment, convert it using a retrofill or alternative refrigerant or leave as is. But the guidance stresses that the third option is only viable if there is a guaranteed stock of HCFCs or the system is not business critical. End users with flooded systems cannot use retrofills or drop-ins it warns.

The guidance also contains the updated EU legislation which sees new rules for record-keeping, leak-testing and refrigerant tracking for HCFCs. This brings the rules broadly into line with the F-Gas regulations, so anyone with R22 or R408A in their systems will now need to check for leaks every 12 months if the charge is 3kg or above, or every 6 months if it is 30kg or above. Any leaks found have to be repaired within 14 days and the system needs to be checked again a month after a leak is repaired.

Like F-Gas, details of the refrigerant charge at maintenance, repair and disposal have to be kept, along with the details of company or technician who performed the service. The guidance also notes that recent legislation amendments restrict the use of recycled HCFCs – where it has been given only basic cleaning after recovery – can only be reused by the firm who recovered the gas or the owner of the site. It cannot be traded.

For further information

Refrigerant types R22, R410a, R407c, R417a- More Information

Older hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) based refrigerants are in the process of being phased out due to their ozone depleting potential (ODP). That means the current air conditioning refrigerant R22 has a phased reduction until 2015. Import levels at 2009 equate to ~1800 metric tonnes dropping to 1350 in 2010, 720 in 2012 and 180 tonnes in 2014. From 2015 to 2030 approximately 45 metric tonnes will be available per year to service existing equipment and none by 2030. Alternative refrigerants (drop ins) will most likely be available for older equipment so you will still be able to repair them using these.

The main replacement that is being introduced is hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) R410a which has an ODP of zero. Unfortunately it has a higher direct greenhouse warming potential (GWP) than R22 but indirectly it’s less damaging. R22 manufacturing by-products caused a far higher total GWP.

R407c is another of the R22 replacements that requires polyol ester oil.

R417a is a drop in replacement for R22 systems that requires no changes and uses the existing mineral oil. It will become the simplest replacement as R22 is phased out.

If you are considering purchasing a new air conditioner, it’s worth shopping for an R410a or R407c unit. They’re marginally more efficient, better for the environment and will be more future proof in terms of servicing. Another benefit is reduced unit size relative to an R22 unit.

Systems using R410A refrigerant run at a pressure of approximately 1.6 times that of similar systems using R22 so it can’t be used in existing systems due to different components such as compressors and the pipe wall thickness needing to be higher on R410a.

A unit drawing 746W (1Hp) of electricity may move 2 to 3.5 times that in cooling or heating wattage. Only the latter refrigeration kilowatt (kW) rating will give an accurate representation of unit size.

The table below shows some of the refrigerants affected by each piece of legislation.

​Refrigerant ​Type ​EU Gas Regulation ​ODS Regulation
R22​ ​HCFC No​ Yes​
R408A​ HCFC + HFC Blend​ Yes​ Yes​
R134A​ HFC​ Yes​ No​
R404A​ HFC Blend​ Yes​ No​
R407C​ HFC Blend​ Yes​ No​
R410A​ ​HFC Blend Yes​ ​No

Input power conversions.

  • To convert from Hp to kW multiply by 0.746
  • To convert from kW to Hp multiply by 1.34

Systems are judged on their efficiency by their Coefficient Of Performance (COP) in the case of heating, or the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) for cooling. The EER and COP are calculated by dividing the capacity output divided by the electrical input. To work out how much your unit will cost to run multiply the kW input figure (electrical) by how much you pay per kilowatt hour for your electricity.

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