FETA concern over R32 retrofits

The UK manufacturers’ group FETA has warned against instances of retrofitting R410A with “mildly flammable” R32 refrigerant.

While air conditioning models, specifically designed for use with the lower GWP refrigerant, are now being introduced to the market, FETA says it has been advised of instances of R410A being removed from an air conditioning system and recharged with R32.

The trade association says that this practice is of serious concern, being that A2L refrigerants are not suitable for retrofit.

A system that was originally designed for non-flammable R410A will not have taken into account the safety factors required when using an A2L refrigerant, FETA argues, and could create a significant safety hazard. Systems designed for use with R32 have different pressure switch regimes, altered inverter profiles, and specially designed heat exchangers.

Charging an existing system with R32 would leave the system non-compliant with the refrigerant safety standard EN378, leading to the possibility of forming a flammable atmosphere in a leakage situation.

Such a refrigerant change would be strictly against the system manufacturer’s instructions, and would render any relevant warranty invalid. It would also mean that the system would no longer be compliant with its original CE marking or the Pressure Equipment Directive specifications, and could have insurance implications.

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

Should any problem arise from a system change such as this, any liability would rest entirely with the person/undertaking who carried out the change.