Safety warnings over air conditioning R32 retrofits

A UK manufacturing association has recently warned against instances of replacing R410A with R32 refrigerant in air conditioners designed for use with R410A.

During the latest Mostra Convegno Expocomfort exhibition in March 2018, for the first time, all the unitary air conditioning manufacturers exhibited R32 units. Following the worldwide phase-down of high GWP HFCs and the decrease of the quota – based on CO2 equivalents – allocated to producers/importers for placing HFCs on the market within the 2014 EU F-gas Regulation, R32 (GWP = 675) has gradually become the refrigerant of choice to replace R410A (GWP = 2090) in new air conditioners.

In this context, the UK manufacturers’ group FETA, backed by the F-gas registration body Refcom, warned against instances of retrofitting R410A with “A2L- mildly flammable” R32 refrigerant in air conditioners designed for use with R410A in March. FETA says it has been informed of cases where R410A was removed from an air conditioning systems, which were then recharged with R32. 

FETA stresses that a system that was originally designed for non-flammable R410A will not have taken into account the safety factors required when using an A2L refrigerant and could create a significant safety hazard. Systems designed for use with R32 have different pressure switch regimes, altered inverter profiles, and specially designed heat exchangers. Charging an existing system with R32 would leave the system non-compliant with the refrigerant safety standard EN378, leading to the possibility of a flammable atmosphere forming in a leakage situation.

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