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F-Gas Tribulation

Five years ago, I had the unenviable position of being at a meeting discussing what to do about the F-Gas Regulation.

The idea was to get engineers in the field to try and reduce refrigerant emissions to placate the environmental lobby. At the time there was a big movement to allow any one who could pass the trivial safe handling of refrigerant qualification to become F-Gas accredited. I took the position that this test was too easy and should be made tougher.

The result as many of you know is the slightly tougher F-Gas assessment, I recently underwent this training and I am sure you will be thrilled to hear I passed. The course was good, packed as much as was possible into three days and expensive; I think it was £500 pounds and three days off work. I personally don’t think it is enough just to do this course before you can call yourself a fridge engineer, but who am I to comment? At least now you need to do three days’ training, whereas in the bad old days all you needed was a load of tools off eBay.

Then on Saturday I went to Halfords, I was looking for some petrol pipe for my decrepit Triumph Dolomite sprint (ask me about that another time). It was here that I found a £49 product called EzChill. Apparently it is ‘as used by NASA’ so if it is good enough to take into space, it must, you would have thought, be pretty hot on containment.

EzChill is a can with a gauge on the top and a hose, which allows you to fill up your leaking car air-conditioning system with R134A. The gauge on the top tells you when the charge is correct. Brilliant, now everyone can be a fridge engineer for just £39, since if you take the canister back you get a tenner back.

Hilariously, the Halfords website states this product is subject to new legislation, as of 1st April 2010. But the legislation it refers to is to the rules ensuring air conditioning canisters can be recycled and refilled in an environmentally friendly manner. There was nothing on there about refrigerant emissions.

The fact that Halfords can sell you a can of gas which allows you to fill a system with refrigerant which is definitely leaking, makes a mockery of the whole F-Gas issue.

It makes me wish I had bunked off college and saved the cash from all the training courses and tools like vac pumps, torr gauges, scales etc and just filled the van with a load of cans of EzChill.

If we want to raise standards and reduce leaks, shouldn’t we be trying to plug loopholes like this?

Graham Hendra is a heat pump consultant