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ACRIB backs FETA safety fears over use of R32 in R410A systems

Board endorses warning over the safety and technical implications of retrofitting mildly flammable gas into systems designed for non-flammable refrigerant

ACRIB, the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Industry Board, has endorsed a warning issued by FETA earlier this week over the safety and operational risks of retrofitting mildly flammable R32 gas in to systems designed exclusively for the non-flammable R410A.

A statement from the group said that there were a number of technical issues to be taken into account from instances reported to FETA of air conditioning systems having supplies of R410A completely removed and then being recharged with R32.

ACRIB has reiterated FETA’s warning that the different properties of the two refrigerants meant that R32 was not a suitable replacement for the increasingly expensive R410A in equipment designed for the non-flammable gas.

The group said, “It is not good practice to charge a system with a refrigerant that the system was not originally designed to use and is strongly discouraged.”

ACRIB shared FETA’s earlier warning that liability for any problems arising from improperly charged gas in an air conditioning unit would rest entirely on the individual that carried out the work.

Particular concern was noted over the safety risks resulting from a failure to consider different pressure switch regimes, heat exchanger design and altered inverter profiles that must be planned for when changing gas.

ACRIB said, “Charging an existing system with R32 would leave the system non-compliant with the refrigerant safety standard EN 378, leading to the possibility of forming a flammable atmosphere in a leakage situation.”

Retrofitting a gas into an air conditioning system not designed for its use use would also invalidate a manufacturer warranty and ensure a device is no longer compliant with Pressure Equipment Directive specifications. ACRIB warned that such a retrofit could result in insurance implications, as well as impacting overall system effectiveness.

The group added, “R32 has a higher compressor discharge temperature than R410A, and will increase wear on the compressor, reducing its life significantly.”

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