What are Chill Factor’s alternatives to R22 Refrigerant?

Most companies that are affected by the R22 legislation will have a policy to specify certain recommended alternatives. Chill Factor Ltd. may use the following environmentally friendly refrigerants, any one of which could be incorporated into new equipment: -

R410a, R404A and R407c.

The chosen alternative can be decided at business unit level and is usually dependent upon the business’ requirements towards energy efficiency.

Air Conditioning Costs and the banning of R22 Refrigerant

It will be illegal to use Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), including the ozone-depleting refrigerant gas R22 after 1st Jan 2015, in refrigeration, heat pump and air conditioning systems. R22 is commonly used in AC systems pre-dating 2004 and so its ban will have a major effect on air-conditioning costs covering: -

  • Investment
  • Property
  • Corporate occupiers
  • Real estate
  • Core Industries & Markets

R22 has not been legal for use in new AC equipment since 2004. In 2010, existing AC equipment became affected. A European Regulation (known as the ‘ODS Regulation’) imposed a ban in all EU Member States against the use of new (or "virgin") R22 to maintain existing AC equipment. Since then only recycled R22 obtained from decommissioned AC equipment or reclaimed R22 can be used. Such recycled or reclaimed R22 is becoming increasingly scarce and expensive.

This will change in 2015. From then AC systems will not be able to be topped up with any R22, whether that is virgin, recycled or reclaimed. There will be two options for such AC systems:

Option 1: they are replaced by new AC equipment

Option 2: alternative modern refrigerant is used to top them up. This will normally involve having to replace parts of the current AC system.

Things to consider when choosing which is the better of these two options include: -

  • the age of the current AC system;
  • the efficiency of the system;
  • leakage problems;
  • whether alternative refrigerants are compatible;
  • cost;
  • efficiency and availability of modern refrigerants,
  • equipment manufacturers' advice about using modern refrigerants.

Some manufacturers suggest that using modern refrigerant in converted AC systems can lead to poorer equipment performance and so higher energy costs. Any increase in energy costs is something property owners and occupiers will want to avoid given recent legislative developments, such as the introduction of the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme and the passing of the Energy Act 2011. The Energy Act paves the way for new rules making it unlawful to let properties with low energy performance ratings without undertaking work to improve their energy performance.
The costs and practicalities involved may mean installing a new AC system will be the only viable option in many cases.

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