Training for split systems using hydrocarbons


04 October 2022

Four European training providers from the UK, Germany and Italy, in association with leading manufacturer Clivet, have launched a joint training plan to increase awareness and build competency in the use of hydrocarbon refrigerants in split systems. 

This plan is the first of its kind to be launched in the European market and aims to help it move towards the adoption of alternative highly flammable refrigerants in small commercial and domestic air conditioning to respect and match the future regulations and future trends within the required time frame and improve safety at the same time.

The proposed revision of the EU F-Gas regulation, expected to be in place from January 2024, after completion of the legislative process, will place a ban on split systems using a refrigerant with GWP (Global Warming Potential) above 150 with thermal capacity up to 12kW; at present for these kind of applications the only refrigerant matching the requirement is R290. 

The training centres have been equipped with specialist tools and equipment for use with flammable refrigerants (i.e. recovery machines, vacuum pumps, mobile and permanent leak detectors, ventilation fans to dilute the flammable concentration) to ensure safe operation of the new units. 

All equipment is approved for use in a flammable atmosphere in accordance with ATEX and DSEAR Regulations.

The procedure for the safe installation, servicing and maintenance of equipment utilizing natural refrigerants as R600a and R290 is completely different to those required to work with more traditional synthetic HFC.

For this reason, the technicians who will handle these kind of systems, potentially hundreds of thousands of people across Europe, will need to be retrained. This is a concern that has been expressed by the European contractors body AREA and BESA in the UK.

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The training which will be provided by the selected training centres will follow the real alternatives project principles and programme.  It provides a certification scheme which is mutually recognised in 20 countries globally and translated into 17 languages. The certification is already mandatory in Spain, Netherlands and Denmark. All EU countries will probably follow and 500,000 technicians (already F-Gas certified) will potentially need to be certified for the alternative refrigerants on top of the F-Gas certification they already hold with a further two days specific training and certification.

In particular the practical part of the training will provide the procedure to install and service those systems in a safe manner, focusing on the connection of the external and internal units, pipe jointing, evacuation, charging and recovery of refrigerant, leak testing and commissioning. 

Heat pumps (including air-to-air split systems) also have a bright future due to the European policy of decarbonisation and the change in refrigerant, if not followed correctly by all parties within the chain, could jeopardise this important growth. 

The four training providers, qualified by the real alternatives project funded by the EU commission, are:

The first training session has been confirmed for November 29-30 in Italy, Casale Monferrato and Bologna. 

Training can be undertaken at Business Edge in Waterlooville, Hampshire, on October 20, February 20, 2023 and March 30, 2023.

In Germany the training will be held on January 12, 2023.