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AREA seeks ban on split sales to unqualified persons

AREA, the European Contractors Association, is pressing for the 3kg limit on the F-gas regulations to be reduced and to make it an offence to sell pre-charged systems to unqualified persons. These are amongst a number of changes suggested by AREA in a comprehensive response to Oeko-Recherche, the organisation responsible for carrying out the current review of the F-gas regulations.
AREA suggests that HFCs should not be sold to any unqualified individual or uncertified company, whether those refrigerants are sold in a cylinder or in a pre-charged system. By doing so it seeks to stop pre-charged mini-split systems (often containing more than 3kg of refrigerant) being sold in retail outlets or supermarkets to any unqualified persons.

'These systems are then installed by non-professionals and never checked,' says AREA. This, it maintains, results in bad leakage rates and is at odds with the purpose of the Regulation.

AREA also calls for the 3kg threshold to be reduced to just 1kg, in line with the new HFCs and their lower charge rates. 'HFCs have moved on,' says AREA in its response, 'and this 3kg is classed about 15kw of capacity. This would appear too high, since most mini-split systems now run with less R410A. Moreover, any unit under 3kg is not registered under F-gas which will make them unaccountable in 20 years time when reclaiming would be required.'

AREA points out that some countries are already applying a lower threshold - in France, for instance, it's 2kg. AREA therefore believes that the threshold should be lowered to 1kg in order to reflect the technological evolutions that have lowered the amount of refrigerant actually used whilst keeping the exclusion of domestic refrigeration for practical reasons.

Flared connections are also under the spotlight. AREA is calling for these to be progressively phased out due to their high risk of leakage, in particular because of their reaction to vibrations and temperature fluctuations.

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