​A2L Safe? You may already be covered


28 November 2017
There are significant changes underway in the industry with R32 being ushered into the UK market, but knowing what you need to upgrade can be a minefield. Advanced Engineering Technical Director Colin Pratt explains why you might not have to fret just yet.
‘R32 Safe’ and ‘A2L Safe’. These terms are everywhere in the industry at the moment. Understandably, some of you may be dreading having to potentially spend thousands of pounds to upgrade your equipment to ensure compliance. 

But the truth is you may not need to.
The move from R401A to R32 makes a lot of sense from a green perspective. After all, R32 has a low GWP and we really need to be doing all we can as an industry to be more environmentally conscious. Unfortunately, the trade-off with A2L refrigerants is that they’re mildly flammable so knowing that you and your engineers are working A2L Safe is important.

There’s also your customers’ peace of mind to consider. While some may read ‘mildly flammable’ as hardly flammable at all and not worry, adopting a ‘don’t worry’ approach won’t be a sufficient explanation for a customer who notices ‘flammable’ labelled on the side of a unit and comes to you with concerns.

It’s never worth taking a risk with flammable materials, even if there’s only a slight chance. A small chance is still a chance and you will be liable if anything does go wrong.
As it stands, there is no legislation in place regarding the use of specific tools when working with R32. Reading literature from individual manufacturers will lead you to the discovery that each interprets things differently.
And this can lead to confusion. 

If you’ve bought equipment from us in the recent past then there’s every chance you may already possess equipment that is classified as safe with A2L refrigerants, such as R32 and 1234yf.
In fact, many of the HVAC premium brands have already been flagged A2L-safe. Promax, TIF, and Robinair, which are now all owned by Bosch. A number of the company’s products have been rigorously tested and are safe to use with A2L gases.

If you own any of the following you can be confident that they’re R32 ready.
  • Promax RG6 - 110v & 240v
  • Promax RG5410a Extreme - 110v & 240v
  • Promax Minimax - 110v & 240v
  • Promax RG3000 - 110v & 240v
  • TIF ZX-1/1A - Electronic Refrigerant Leak Detector
  • TIF XP-1A - Electronic Refrigerant Leak Detector
Bosch has backed the above products and confirmed they're safe, meaning you can rest assured over their safety if you already own them. If you’re buying them now, then you can consider yourself future-proofed for these new refrigerants.

Bosch has released an “additional users operating manual” which can be downloaded from our website. This provides the necessary instructions necessary for operating safely with A2L refrigerants.

There are, however, some products you will need to upgrade, so it’s worth doing your homework to avoid unnecessary risk. 

It’s important to identify which models are suitable for A2L as not all might promote themselves as being A2L ready. So we’d recommend doing your research. 

And when it comes to R32’s arrival, our primary advice is to plan ahead. By purchasing products economically as and when the need arises, you may not need to upgrade everything at once. 

As there is only a 3% difference in pressures, and the line connections and oil are the same, you may be able to get by using the same gauges for a little while. But, if you’re buying new ones for R410A, it may make sense to buy ones that work with R32 as well. 
To add to your options, we will be offering a premium manifold for the UK market for refrigerants such as R410A and R32 later this year.

Vacuum pumps
It’s important to know what makes a vacuum pump A2L-safe. For example, we recently introduced a new range of Bosch Robinair vacuum pumps into the UK market. There are various CFM models, but it’s important to know that alongside the 5CFM model, there is a 5CFM A2L-safe model available.
The major difference between the A2L safe vacuum pump and the standard 5CFM pump is that it's a 240v unit rather than dual voltage. Spark free electronic motor cut-out switch and On/Off switch.
Technically, you can use your existing vacuum pump and gauges when working with R32 or A2L refrigerants, however, like the manifolds, we’d suggest considering A2L-safe products when the time comes to replace or purchase kit. 

Stay safe, stay prepared
It’s worth remembering that, should an incident occur, the subsequent HSE investigation would examine the equipment used to see if enough care was taken to mitigate risk.

While there’s no legislation currently in place demanding A2L-approved equipment, choosing A2L-safe products demonstrates that you’ve removed this risk. 

Although you may be fine for now and some of your equipment may already be suitable, the time’s never been more right to weigh up the additional benefits (and costs) of choosing A2L-safe products.

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