R22 Refrigerant - Regulations

Posted on 29/11/2017

As a REFCOM accredited contractor, Yee Group have been helping building managers replace their R22 refrigerant following the 1st January 2015 deadline.

What is R22?

With numerous challenges posed by maintenance of often complex building systems, it is little wonder that many building operators struggle to stay up-to-date with their legal responsibilities. This is especially true of air conditioning equipment and many may be unknowingly breaking the law. In this white paper Yee Group discuss the options open to building managers following the 1st January deadline.  R22 is a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC), and was commonly used in equipment until it was categorised as ozone-depleting. It was phased out in the Ozone Depleting Substances Regulations EC2037/2000 &1005/2009. Any air conditioning system installed before 2002 is therefore likely to employ R22. New sources of R22 have already been phased out and consequently any equipment requiring R22 gas will eventually become redundant.

Is R22 Illegal?

From 1st January 2015, it was illegal to use R22 to service industrial refrigeration and air conditioning. However, reliable and leak free R22 systems can still be legally operated, that is until they fail.  Yee Group recommends checking  whether your air conditioning system is operating R22.

Do I have to replace the whole AC system?

The company advises that there are three options available in order to comply with the regulations.  Firstly, these are to replace the whole system; secondly, to replace those units which are affected or thirdly, to use a ‘drop-in’ refrigerant. Doing nothing is no longer an option, especially if you consider the implications for your business if the system were to fail. Replacing an air conditioning system may at first seem an expensive option; however, the latest equipment using refrigerant R410A is up to 60 percent more energy-efficient and your investment will be recouped in less than four years. Running a new system is likely to be cheaper than maintaining and running an older one. In addition to the energy savings and the cost benefits that new equipment brings, the most obvious advantage of running a modern system, utilising the latest technology, is that it is far less likely to suffer breakdowns, or cause unscheduled down-time. Deciding upon what course of action to take will be helped by considering the age and life expectancy of the system, its efficiency and any leakage problems that will already have been encountered.

Can I convert my existing AC system?

It is possible to convert equipment using a ‘drop-in’ refrigerant and this approach offers the benefit of extending existing equipment life. Any conversions should be carried out by a trained refrigeration engineer to protect against system leakage.  Whilst this can be a cost-effective option for well-maintained equipment, it can lead to reduced performance, either in terms of cooling capacity or energy efficiency. Such conversions give little flexibility of response, e.g. if your current system is inefficient or oversized, the retrofilled system will probably be no better. If an existing system is old, inefficient, leaky, or ill-suited to the business’ needs, it may be more cost-effective to consider plant replacement. However critical air conditioning is to your business, Yee Group can help. Responsive and adept at problem-solving, our engineers can carry out a comprehensive survey of your existing equipment and operational needs; and then provide advice on all the options and as well as explaining how the ban will affect you.

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