French government facilitates higher charge limit

French government facilitates higher charge limit

In a long-awaited move that may pave the way for wider uptake of hydrocarbon refrigerants in the French retail sector, the French government has increased the maximum recommended charge limit for hydrocarbons used in shops and shopping centres to 1.5 kg per circuit.

The increased limit is enshrined in a new fire safety guide governing the use of flammable refrigerants in shops and shopping centres.

Published on 27 December, the ‘Practical guide for fire safety in retail stores and shopping centres’ accompanies the implementation of updated regulations and promotes the harmonisation of practices across the French retail sector.

It is targeted at designers, building owners, building operators, equipment installers, technicians, safety officials, and administrative authorities.

The guide gives indications that govern the use of flammable refrigerants – A2L, A2 and A3 (hydrocarbons) – in cooling cabinets in areas of shops and shopping centres accessible to the public.

Under the new guidance, for instance, the maximum permitted propane (R290) charge per circuit is 1.5 kg in circuits located on the ground floor of the retail facility and 1 kg in circuits located in underground areas accessible to the public (in line with updated European standard EN 378-1).

Previously, the French HVAC&R sector had tended to adhere to the non-manadatory 150g charge limit recommended by the first iteration of European standard EN 378.