The European contractors group, which represents the interests of 9,000 companies and some 125,000 engineers across Europe, has advised that contractors and operators must start preparing now for some significant changes to the new Regulation which comes in on January 1.
Some of the most significant changes apply to leak checking, with the new system of using refrigerants’ CO2 equivalents (CO2-eq) instead of weight. Consequently, the higher GWP refrigerants have a higher CO2-eq value which may affect the leak checking requirements for equipment not previously covered by the F-gas regulations. (For an idea of CO2-eq system charges with various refrigerants, refer to the useful tables prepared by the UK’s Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Industry Board (ACRIB) at the bottom of this article.)
From January 1 2015, equipment with more than 3kg but less than 5 tonnes CO2-eq of refrigerant will no longer have to be leak checked. Equipment with less than 3kg but more than 5 tonnes CO2-eq of refrigerant, will have to be leak checked from January 1 2017.
Equipment with between 50 and 500 tonnes CO2-eq of refrigerant may have the frequency of leak checks changed from January 1 2015 (for instance, 20kg of R404A in a system without leak detection system currently has to be checked every 12 months; under the new system, it must be leak checked every 6 months).
Another significant change is that equipment with less than 300kg but more than 500 tonnes CO2-eq of refrigerant will have to be equipped with a permanent leakage detection system from January 1 2015. For instance, systems with at least 127.49kg of R404A would have to comply with this new regulation. AREA stresses that there is no grace period for this regulation and it applies to both new and existing systems.
AREA advises contractors that they should inform operators about their potential new leak check obligations.
From January 1 2015, fluorinated greenhouse gases will only be allowed to be sold to and purchased by certified undertakings, i.e. companies or self-employed individuals, including the operator and manufacturer of equipment. AREA advises that distributors should prepare to establish and maintain records of relevant information on the purchaser (certification number of the purchaser and quantities of refrigerant purchased).