ACR Engineers: Future-proofing your servicing equipment for the new refrigerants

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Published: 28 June 2016


RG 6E
RG 6E
As part of plans to reduce contributions to global warming, the European air conditioning industry will experience unprecedented changes over the coming years, including the phase-out of high global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants like R410A.

​Barry Lea, Chairman of Advanced Engineering, looks at some of the changes ACR maintenance engineers may need to make to their existing equipment.
RG RE Diagram
​As refrigerants like R410A are phased out, ACR service engineers and contractors need to be aware that the maintenance equipment they currently use may need to be replaced by so-called ‘future-proofed’ equipment that can work with the new ‘mildly flammable’ class of A2L refrigerants like R32.

The challenge in the change-over period will be to identify and invest in equipment that is compatible with both generations of refrigerant… and will also accommodate other potential changes too.

Handling R32 safely: What ACR engineers need to know


Maintenance engineers need to be vigilant on how to safely handle the R32 refrigerant and ensure they have the right tools for the job.

As an industry we are already working with HC refrigerants – the handling of A2L refrigerants will follow similar procedures, which include:
  • Ensuring the work area is well ventilated and free from sources of ignition;
  • Ensuring the correct tools and equipment are used (e.g. R32-ready recovery machines);
  • Prior to unbrazing, recovering the system down to a vacuum and breaking the vacuum with dry nitrogen to avoid ignition;
  • Using appropriate leak detection.

​Unfortunately, most pieces of existing equipment will no longer be appropriate.

​ACR engineers require A2L-compatible (or R32-ready) recovery units, manifolds, gauges, hoses, vacuum pumps and leak detectors now, and this is where advice from expert equipment specialists can help you invest in future-proofed solutions.

A2L-compatible recovery machines

There are already one or two A2L-compatible refrigerant recovery machines available. One example is the new Promax RG6-E. Outside it’s the same compact and rugged casing – but inside quite a lot has changed and you should look for the same features in the model you decide to purchase.

These include new spark-proof, sealed safety switches, which are essential in ensuring the machine does not ignite any residual refrigerant.
Alongside them is a new fuseless circuit breaker, which insulates the circuit and sidesteps the danger of ignition. It is tested and approved by the VDE Testing and Certification Institute in Germany, a recognised global standard for innovation and safety.

However, there is heartening news for servicing engineers. Advanced Engineering have negotiated a significant price drop in its Promax range, and for those who already own one, parent company Bosch has stated that the majority of Promax equipment WILL accommodate the new A2L refrigerants.

To check whether the Promax unit you own is able to be used in this way, engineers can visit the Advanced Engineering website at advancedengineering.co.uk or call one of our technical advisors on +44 (0) 1256 460 300.

A2L-compatible leak detectors

It is now a legal requirement that a system with over 3kg of refrigerant must be checked for leaks on an annual basis (Article 17). This means leak detection must become part of an ongoing and regular maintenance programme.

But the new refrigerants will require new compatible leak detectors and there are already a few available. TIF Instruments, for example, has two A2L-compatible and R32-ready detectors that are future-proofed to deal with both the old and new refrigerants.

Known for the accuracy of its professional instruments, TIF is a strong brand to choose; they have more than 60 years’ experience at the forefront of electronic refrigerant leak detection and refrigerant measuring devices.

The two new A2L-compatible electronic leak detectors in question are the TIF ZX-1 Heated Pentode  Refrigerant Leak Detector and the TIF XP-1A Automatic Halogen Leak Detector.

The higher spec TIF ZX-1 is among the most advanced and precise digital handheld leak detectors currently on the market, giving an instant reading on all halogenated refrigerants with a remarkable sensitivity of less than 3g/year.
TIF ZX-1
TIF ZX-1
TIF XP-1A
TIF XP-1A
TIF ZX-1TIF ZX-1
​The more affordable XP-1A detects all halogenated refrigerants and is one of the most dependable and sensitive negative corona leak detectors ever made, with an advanced microprocessor that monitors the sensing tip 4,000 times a second.

The XP-1A has seven levels of sensitivity and a unique three colour display to indicate the size and extent of a refrigerant leak so you’re always in the know.

Suitable for use with the new A2L refrigerants such as R32 and R1234YF, both the TIF ZX-1 and TIF XP-1A are designed specifically to work in a world of ever-changing refrigerants.

Conclusion

Times are changing, and it’s up to every ACR contractor, installer and service and maintenance engineer to be ready for these changes as high GWP refrigerant R410A is phased out across Europe.

Investing now in equipment that will soon be in great demand will ensure you’re ahead of the curve, rather than left behind.

If you’re at all unsure of which products you need to replace, or if would like information on the best equipment available, you can speak to an Advanced Engineering advisor by calling +44 (0) 1256 460 300.