No more than five years apart.
Is your second inspection now due? All air conditioning systems with an effective rated output of more than 12kw must be inspected every five years to comply with legislation and avoid a fine.
BJA Refrigeration Consulting Engineers' Steve Gill explains how to remain compliant with AC systems legislation.
To remain compliant, those inspected five years ago must now be inspected again. The inspection should be carried out in an independent manner by an approved assessor to avoid any potential conflict of interest.
For many systems, that five year anniversary is coming around again this year. Here Steve Gill of BJA, an approved air-conditioning assessor himself, provides the background to the inspections and explains how the benefits should exceed meeting a compliance exercise.
There are very real benefits to the inspections being carried out by an independent inspector. That is why, BJA as independent consultants are undertaking man inspection on behalf of contractors as well as direct for end-users/building owners.
“The majority of our inspections are carried through contractors who wish to provide the best service for their clients and therefore offer them a truly independent assessment.
"However, unfortunately, we do see too many examples of contractors inspecting their own maintained systems as a compliance box-ticking exercise with no intention of finding any potential improvements for fear of that appearing as a criticism of their own performance in some way.”
Why are air-conditioning inspections required?
Not just small systems
This is unfortunate because the larger the system, the larger the great the potential for savings. The aim of an inspection is to highlight improvements to the operation of the existing systems or opportunities to replace older, less energy efficient systems or over sized systems with new energy efficient systems and thereby reduce carbon emissions. So not having the inspections carried out for whatever reason is potentially an opportunity missed.
What does the inspection involve?
Otherwise system descriptions and commissioning records may be needed to find plant types, sizes and locations. If this valuable information is not available there may be additional time and cost required in gathering the information even at the basic level of establishing what is installed.
Where information is available, this may provide useful performance factors such as the specific fan power of air-distribution systems, also any records of energy consumed or hours run may highlight excessive use and potential control issues.
The review of maintenance records and an initial visual examination of equipment allow a comparison to be made with industry good practice. Where a system is already well maintained and controlled, some aspects of the wider physical inspection may be omitted to keep costs low. However, where maintenance has not been undertaken or information is missing, there may be a need to investigate more thoroughly.
The visual inspection identifies system components, confirming that the plant matches the records. This often identifies that the information is out of date or incorrect and needs updating. As part of the inspection, the energy assessor will be look for such issues as external damage or blockage to heat exchangers, signs of leakage from refrigeration systems, and that basic operation is correct.
Estimate of cooling load
This check of the current load requirement can identify firstly opportunities to reduce these loads and secondly, opportunities to match the system more efficiently to the current load, for example by using variable-speed drives with relatively short payback times.
There is a legal financial penalty for failing to have an air-conditioning system inspected by a qualified energy assessor and while this may be an incentive in itself to comply; the greater incentive must surely be the benefit of energy savings to be made.
Time for repeat inspection?
For many, the time has arrived for their systems to be inspected again. BJA are sending out reminders to their customers of this, and are also undertaking many new inspections for contractors who recognise the benefits of using an independent assessor.
If you are a contractor, service provider, or a building owner and require further information or inspections, please contact Steve Gill at firstname.lastname@example.org