One such deadline is heading towards us at a rate of knots; the end of R22 refrigerant on January 1, 2015. From that date, if R22 equipment needs recharging, there will be no R22 available – not even recycled product.
Given that there will still be the need for heating and/or cooling that merited its installation in the first place, just switching it off to delay the decision is not really going to be an option for long. This leaves the owners of such equipment two choices: use a replacement drop-in gas or replace it with new equipment. Both of these options have their pros and cons.
Using a drop-in replacement, such as R417A, may seem the easiest choice, but it is not necessarily the most cost-effective. For example, the drop-in may reduce the performance of the equipment by up to 10 per cent.
If end users decide to go for the drop-in, despite these cons, it still means they will be left with old equipment, far less efficient than modern air conditioning, that is now going to take an additional reduction in performance.
Installing a new system instead of using the drop-in option is much more expensive in the short term, but with energy charges high and rising, it is likely to be the most cost-effective in the long run. It is not without its own cons. For example, it is generally recommended that any existing pipework be replaced, as the old R22 system may include incompatible oil, which leaves a film on the inner surface of the pipework and usually invalidates manufacturers’ warranties on new equipment.
While I believe the new-equipment option is clearly the best course of action, the drop-in route may be better for end users who cannot raise the capital outlay for a new system in the current climate.
The key thing for end users is not which option to choose, but to decide on an orderly plan now, with the help of contractors.
Most major end users have laid their plans long ago and are in the process of an orderly changeover.
The real problem is that many smaller companies are sleep walking their way into an unnecessary crisis.
Once again, it is down to us to do something about it.
Julian Brunnock is sales and marketing director of FG Eurofred, the face of Fujitsu in the UK.