The Dilemma for Suppliers of Air Conditioning

The Dilemma for Suppliers of Air Conditioning

Mike Nankivell, marketing director for the Daikin distributor, Space Air, comments on a dilemma facing suppliers of air conditioning and parts now it is illegal to use the refrigerant R22 for service and maintenance purposes.

“HCFC R22 refrigerant was phased-out under the Ozone Depleting Substances Regulations EC 2037/2000 & 1005/2009, yet we are still receiving enquiries and orders for Daikin parts, including compressors, specifically for products designed to use the banned refrigerant HCFC R22.

For the European market, manufacture of equipment designed to contain HCFC R22 ceased between 2000 and 2003, so we are talking about equipment that is at least 12 years old and in most cases has exceeded typical life expectancy.

Given that from 1st January 2015 it became illegal to use HCFC R22 refrigerant for service and maintenance purposes, our concern is that purchasers of these spare parts are either unaware of the legislation or are using or considering so-called “drop-in” R22 alternative refrigerants.

Reliable, leak free, R22 equipment can be legally operated until it fails. However, in the event that it could “technically” be repaired, once the existing R22 refrigerant charge is removed, it is illegal to re-charge/re-commission the system using R22. Should we, in such circumstances, simply stop selling parts for equipment designed to use HCFC R22?

Operators of such equipment basically have 2 choices:

1 – The system can be replaced with modern day equivalent - recommended

2 – The system can be recharged with an alternative refrigerant – NOT recommended

Of course we are sympathetic to the potential cost burden imposed on customers as a result of the R22 phase out, however we believe the advantages in replacing the equipment, which has already exceeded normal service life, outweigh the disadvantages.

The retrofitting of any refrigerant, other than the original equipment was designed to use, is not recommended by Daikin, the manufacturer we have represented for over 34 years. Consequently no warranty is available on any component, including compressors, where an alternative refrigerant is used. Great care should be taken if considering any alternative “drop-in” refrigerant for a number of reasons, including:

“Drop-ins” are usually anything but – often involving costly preparation and modification.

Repairs may not be as cost effective as new equipment in the final analysis.

The equipment will have other age related defects, which should be a consideration.

This choice can only be considered a short-term measure.

A variety of refrigerants are claimed to be suitable as R22 replacements, however their characteristics vary and may not work in your equipment or seriously impair its operation.

Most R22 alternatives are HFC blends with relatively high GWP (Global Warming Potential). Given that older equipment is more prone to leakage, such refrigerants could prove to be an environmentally questionable choice.

No warranty is available.   

Our dilemma is whether or not we continue to supply parts for equipment designed to operate with HCFC R22. Our decision for the time being is to maintain supplies, for as long as they remain available, however, we will remind customers of the legislation and the pitfalls of temporary/interim solutions, and offer to quote for replacement Daikin equipment.”

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