Flammable refrigerants: the IEC approves the charge increase in commercial refrigeration

The International Electrotechnical Commission rejected in April a proposal to increase the charge limit of flammable refrigerants in the commercial refrigeration. But a recount has just reversed the decision.

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is in charge of standardization in the fields of electricity, electronics, electromagnetic compatibility, nanotechnology and related technologies. Its work is complementary to that of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), specialists in all other fields.

The flammable refrigerant charge of commercial refrigeration appliances with an incorporated unit is currently ruled by IEC 60335-2-89. The charge is currently limited to 150 grams.

Since 2014, a working group has been elaborating a proposal to raise this load to approximately 500 grams for "highly flammable" refrigerants (classified A3) and 1200g for "flammable" (A2) or "mildly flammable" (A2L) refrigerants. In July 2018, the National Committees voted 75% in favor of this proposal, whose vote was submitted to the various CIS member countries in March and April 2019.

In order to be validated, the proposal had to be accepted by more than 66.7% of the “participating members”. A vote including "observer members" should also be taken into account: the number of voters opposed to the proposal should not exceed 25%.

However, when the first results were published on April 12, the second condition was not fulfilled since 25.7% of all voters had voted against this proposal. The results came down to just one vote.

In early May, the IEC announced that the measure was finally adopted. In fact, Malaysia's vote against the proposal was rejected because of a procedural error. The country failed to provide a statement justifying their choice.

Link to the result of the vote.

Commercial refrigerating appliances with an incorporated unit should therefore now be able to use flammable type A and A2 / A2L refrigerants with respective loads of approximately 500g and 1200g. This is an important step that can contribute to the progressive reduction of HFCs, and also respects the Kigali Amendment and the European F-Gas Regulation.

Edit 03/06/2019