You can’t open a trade magazine or an industry website without seeing dire warnings about what will happen at the end of this year when the refrigerant is no more. In my view, this offers a serious marketing opportunity to all manufacturers.
Up until 2002, R22 was the most commonly used refrigerant in rac applications, so there are still thousands of units out there using this gas. In theory, end users have had about ten years to plan for the fact that there will be no R22, even in a recycled version, to top up their air conditioning units from the end of 2014.
Many of the end users that own this type of equipment probably have no idea of the situation they are in. In some cases, as long as the equipment works, they may not even bother to contact an air conditioning engineer – the only way they would find out.
Even some of those who are aware of the situation have other priorities – particularly with the economy as it is. As far as they are concerned, it is a problem for the future, as it may be years before their systems fail. It’s the same state of mind that makes some motorists pass forecourt after forecourt until they absolutely have to stop for petrol.
Some of them may even be aware that there are drop-in refrigerants that can prolong the life of their equipment for as long as they need it. So why should they be bothered? This is where the marketing opportunity comes in.
Since most of these old R22 units were installed, the world has moved on, with rising energy prices and more emphasis on the reduction of carbon emissions. Consequently, modern units are far more energy-efficient that those of 10 or 20 years ago.
In addition, the available drop-in refrigerants are more efficient than R22, amplifying the difference in performance.
So the marketing opportunity is for engineers to convince their customers – and potential customers – that, in the long run, they would be much better off replacing their old equipment.
With modern equipment, more efficient controls and renewed pipework, the savings in running costs will be considerable.
In addition, they may also be able to take advantage of features that their old systems did not have, such as the more efficient heating of heat pumps, the versatility of VRF and the financial boost of the Enhanced Capital Allowance scheme.
After all, a marketing opportunity is only an opportunity if you capitalise on it.
Julian Brunnock is sales and marketing director of FG Eurofred, the face of Fujitsu in the UK