UK: One of the leading air conditioning companies has warned of the risks of banning pre-charged equipment as proposed in the recently leaked F-gas review document.
The proposal, if accepted, would see an end to the importation and supply of pre-charged air conditioning and refrigeration equipment - the onus being on the installer to charge the equipment on site.
'From the manufacturer's point of view, this is do-able,' says David Dunn, commercial director of Toshiba Air Conditioning in the UK. 'All it would require is an additional stage to recover the refrigerant after run testing, then charge with OFN prior to sealing and shipping.'
However, he points out that charging on site would create additional time and cost for the installer. 'It would also add to the potential risk of refrigerant loss to atmosphere,' he adds.
Echoing one of the arguments put forward by industry body EPEE, he explained: 'Charging refrigerant on site at hundreds of thousands of locations across the country, no matter how carefully done, will never be as controllable, precise or safe as in the manufacturer's factory conditions, where charging is fully automated.'
David Dunn insists that Toshiba believes the key to minimising leaks is improved standards of training for installers and the enforcement of current certification and competence regulations.
One of the main reasons for the proposal is thought to lie in the desire to introduce an HFC phase-down and the fact that there are currently no figures available to give any indication of the amount of refrigerant 'imported' in pre-charged equipment.
According to David Dunn, however, this is not insurmountable. 'If the issue is accountability and traceability, then it would be straightforward to require manufacturers to provide returns documenting the quantity of refrigerant supplied in pre-charged equipment,' he says.
In a separate response Julian Brunnock, sales and marketing director of Fujitsu equipment supplier FG Eurofred says 'While the banning of pre-charged air conditioning equipment, proposed by these changes, would seem like a major step, from our point of view it will make very little difference. We will continue our policy of only selling directly to properly certificated installers and we would urge our distributors to do the same, despite the fact that the equipment no-longer carries any refrigerant.
'The long term prosperity of the industry is best served by air conditioning systems being designed and installed by those best qualified to do so,' he added.