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AREA’s position on the F-Gas regulation

The Air Conditioning and Refrigeration European Association (AREA) was deeply involved in the discussion and adoption of the F-Gas Regulation in 2006.

Given that synthetic refrigerants can only achieve their Global Warming Potential if released into the atmosphere through leakages, the potential emissions and energy savings from regulations of F-Gas are enormous.

Accordingly, AREA members have been and remain involved in the Regulation’s implementation process at a national level.

Practice shows that operators are not always aware of their obligations. Many RAC contractors have reported that too few operators ask for their F-Gas certificate before a maintenance check.

This could easily be improved thanks to awareness-raising initiatives targeted directly at end-users, focusing on both their legal obligations and the advantages of having a fully leak-tight system.

Tighter distribution

Whereas refrigerants filled in a container can only be sold to certified professionals, non-monobloc systems pre-charged in refrigerant (often more than 3 kg) can be purchased by anybody and are widely found in retail outlets.

These systems are then usually installed by non-professionals and practically never checked, which invariably results in bad leakage rates. The Regulation should place direct responsibility on the refrigerant distributor not to sell HFC refrigerants to an individual or company unless they are qualified.

3 kg threshold

The adoption of a 3 kg F-Gas threshold made some sense in 2006 when the Regulation was adopted. Since then, technological progress has enabled a decrease in the F-Gas charge needed for the same power capacity. HFCs have moved on and the 3 kg charge is classed at about 15 kW of capacity.

This would appear too high, since most mini-split systems now run with less R410A. Since units less than 3 kg are not registered under F-Gas, more and more of them will be unaccountable in 20 years time when reclaiming would be required.

AREA therefore believes that the threshold should be lowered to 1 kg in order to reflect the technological evolutions that have lowered the amount of refrigerant actually used while keeping the exclusion of domestic refrigeration for practical reasons.

Flared connections out

Most split systems are supplied with flared connections on both the indoor air handler and outdoor unit. This type of connection entails a relatively high risk of leakage, in particular because of their reaction to vibrations and temperature fluctuations.

Since more reliable alternatives exist (brazed connections, machined flared adaptors), AREA believes flared connections should be progressively phased out.

Graeme Fox is the president of AREA