Has anyone else spotted the irony that the latest flurry of worry about F-Gases has been caused by a leak?
A leak, that is, about the proposed revisions to the new European F-Gas regulations. Among other things, it suggests (with a few minor exceptions) that pre-charged air conditioning and refrigeration equipment will be banned.
Initially this sounded like it could be a major issue, but it shouldn’t make that much difference. I would be much more concerned, if I was in the fridge trade, about some of the changes this proposed new directive would bring in there.
However, in the breezy uplands of air-con, things should continue to blow along nicely. Unless, that is, manufacturers or distributors see the proposed new rule as taking the pressure off them to only sell to companies that have F-Gas certificates, with personnel that hold personal F-Gas certificates. These units will no longer contain refrigerant and yet will, by law, have to be charged onsite by a qualified person.
After all, it is not uncommon for small building firms to install lighting and other electrical equipment in new or refurbished buildings, just getting in the qualified sparks to issue the required certificate at the end.
Getting their own minimally skilled workforce to install air conditioning in new conservatories or redeveloped shops and only bringing in certified F-Gas people right at the end to charge the system and check for leaks, would allow jobbing builders to keep their estimates down, but personally I believe this would be short-sighted.
Systems installed by non-specialists seldom perform to the optimum level. There is a lot of skill in installing a system so that it operates efficiently and matches the desires of the end user. The right equipment with the correct capacity has to be chosen and the inside units have to be sited properly.
And we all know that if end-users find their system is not functioning as efficiently as they want it, they seldom blame the builder. Instead they blame the equipment or just air conditioning in general.
So, from a safety and commercial standpoint, this is not a situation I would seek to encourage. As far as my company is concerned, we will continue to only sell our equipment to properly certified installers, and we will urge our distributors to do the same. I suspect that most manufacturers and distributors in the sector will also follow this line.
However, we all remember a few years ago how builders’ merchants and DIY stores tried to break into the air conditioning market, creating horror stories in their wake. In the end the only thing that stopped that market developing were the F-Gas regulations. What will happen, I wonder, once these units are shipped without any F-gas?
Julian Brunnock is sales and marketing director of FG Eurofred, the face of Fujitsu in the UK. Email Julian at firstname.lastname@example.org