Does R32 need new tools?

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Published: 15 September 2017


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Ben Bartle-Ross of Mitsubishi Electric looks at what R32 systems mean for air conditioning installers.
 
R32 systems are now available in the UK and, if the experience we’ve had with our MSZ-LN units is anything to go by, then they will become common very quickly – especially with businesses who want the stylish new designs, or corporations that want to demonstrate their adoption of aircon with a lower GWP.
Since R32 refrigerant was first announced, I’ve had engineers on my training courses wondering if this meant the added expenditure of new equipment to cope with the new R32 equipment.
 
If we are honest, the industry itself wasn’t as clear as it could have been at first. 
 
Wide range
We know that R32 is mildly flammable and operates at higher pressures than R410A, so is new equipment an absolute requirement? 
 
All air conditioning engineers will already be operating under F-Gas procedures so will naturally be following best practice which equally applies to R32.
 
Installation for R32 systems is similar to R410A units and there are already a wide range of tools and equipment that are applicable to both systems.
 
The installation of pipework is identical for both refrigerants so flaring tools, vacuum pumps, scales and other fixing tools can also be used for both installations.
 
You will of course need to ensure that any equipment you use includes an R32 compliant recovery unit, an R32 specific vacuum pump, a torque wrench set to the manufacturer’s recommendations on your flare joints and for pipework, stick to material that is R410A rated, as this also suitable for R32. 
 
However, equipment manufacturers have been aware of this so many tools have been R32 compatible for several years.  Start off for example by checking current equipment for the extra R32 indication on the gauge dial.
 
Get advice
In terms of transportation, most engineers are already used to carrying flammable gases so general good practice applies here as well.  Reclaim cylinders, though, will have to be suitably classified for use with R32.
 
So in conclusion to the question: Do I need to replace my tools? The short answer is No, contractors can use many of the same installation tools as are currently used for R410A.
 
There are a couple of changes needed but if you currently use modern, up-to-date equipment, this is highly likely to be suitable.
 
It’s always worth talking directly to your wholesaler, supplier, or even the manufacturer first, though, to get advice to make sure you get the equipment that suits both you and your business.
 
Ben Bartle-Ross is a Technical Trainer at Mitsubishi Electric. 
Ben.Bartle-Ross@meuk.mee.com