Are you a business with refrigerant or air conditioning equipment? Did you know that it is now illegal to use R22 refrigerant gas to, repair or maintain ANY form of air conditioning and refrigeration equipment?
So if your system runs on R22 gas, your equipment is effectively irreparable.
What is R22?
R22 is a powerful greenhouse gas commonly used as refrigerant in systems manufactured up to the early 2000s. It has a detrimental effect on the ozone layer. The ban is part of Government legislation aiming to reduce the use of ozone depleting substances and greenhouse gases by UK businesses. The ban does include domestic use too.
How do I know if my system runs on R22?
There should be a label (normally on the outdoor unit) stating which gas your system runs on.
You may have no cause for concern, at present, if your system runs on a currently approved refrigerant such as R410A or R407C.
Age also plays a factor as R22 systems were manufactured until the early 2000s. Therefore, if your equipment is over 10 years old, please check to see what gas it operates on. You don’t want to get a nasty surprise if it breaks down.
What can you do?
As it stands, you only really have two options: convert or replace.
Pros: Systems can be converted to use legal ‘drop-in’ refrigerants which mimic R22. The systems will need to undergo modifications to use a replacement gas, so there will be costs involved, but this can offer a cheaper solution to a full replacement.
Cons: Although systems can be modified to use modern refrigerants, this is not always cost effective for old R22 equipment. New gases require different operating temperatures and the old systems will require alterations in order to operate.
In addition, old R22 systems are up to 40% less energy efficient than a new system. Continuing to operate an inefficient system increases running costs, as well as affecting any environmental policies your company may have.
Conversion is also only likely to give you a temporary solution: as R22 systems become obsolete, replacement parts have become harder to find. It won’t be long until the systems are impossible to maintain due to a lack of parts.
Conclusion: Conversion will buy you time and save money in the short term, but will not provide a permanent solution. Long term costs are more expensive as you will pay out twice – once to convert and then once to inevitably replace.
Pros: A new system gives peace of mind (as it can be maintained for years to come), but also provides a long-term solution for better performance. Technology has advanced significantly since R22 systems were produced. A new air conditioning system can generally offer:
- A better working environment for employees, which increases workplace productivity.
- A system providing air purification (such as the Ingenious Air® System) reduces transmission of airborne infections, which can reduce staff absentee rates.
- Draught-free systems feel comfortable and can also stop the arguments over temperature control.
- Energy savings of up to 40% compared with older systems.
Cons: Replacing could require a significant financial outlay. It may also cause some disruption and potential working downtime, although good planning can keep this to a minimum.
Conclusion: All R22 systems will need replacing eventually; it’s just a question of when. You can keep ahead of your competition by replacing now and choosing an advanced system. This could give your business multiple benefits, including increased productivity, reduced absentee rates and lower energy bills.
What if I do nothing?
Choosing to do nothing is allowable but leaves you at risk of unexpected breakdown and with higher energy bills. The ban on R22 did not automatically make your system illegal from 1st January 2015. Re-charging the system using any R22 compound is breaking the law. Repairs or maintenance must be carried out using an alternative refrigerant gas, or the whole system must be replaced.
Replacing can be affordable!
The good news is that help is at hand to cover your costs. The Ingenious® Air Company offer affordable lease finance options on commercial installations.
You could also be eligible for grants and funding when upgrading to the energy efficient and virtually draught-free Ingenious Air® system. The system provides heating, cooling, ventilation and high specification air purification.