What is the F Gas Regulation and how does it affect my AC Unit?

As people become more aware of the dangers of global warming it is important to make sure that steps are taken to limit the impact we have on the environment. This has a direct influence on owners and manufacturers of air conditioning units and has led to the implementation of specific legislation to make air conditioning units safer for the environment.

FM Mechanical Ltd hold F Gas Certification so we know the ins and outs of F gas regulation and what it takes to keep your air conditioning unit safe. Here’s our guide to the F gas regulation and what it means for you.

What are F gases?

Firstly, it’s useful to know what the regulation is in place for: what are these F gases and why are they so harmful?

F gases are fluorinated gases. They are man-made, powerful greenhouse gases that can stay in the atmosphere for centuries, and can have a substantial impact on global warming. F gases are used in a range of industrial applications and can have a global warming potential thousands of times greater than carbon dioxide.

The F gases used in air conditioning units are used as refrigerants, and their emissions have been rapidly rising in recent times. This has lead to the implementation of F gas regulation to gradually phase out the use of these gases throughout Europe.

F gas regulation

Original F gas regulation was introduced in 2006 but was amended and improved for 2015. The new legislation strengthened the existing measures and introduced far-reaching goals to achieve the reduction and eventual eradication of F gas usage. These goals are:

  • To limit the sale of the most important F gases from 2015 onwards.
  • To ban the use of F gases in new equipment where less harmful alternatives are available, including air conditioners and fridges.
  • To prevent emissions of F gases from existing equipment by requiring regular checks and servicing and the recovery of the gases at the end of the equipment’s life.

These goals aim to cut the EU’s F gas emissions by two thirds by 2030, compared to levels recorded in 2014.

Testing of existing units

Existing air conditioning units that have the potential to leak the F gases they carry need regular testing and maintenance performed to check for, and repair, leaks.

Under the original regulation, the requirements for testing were based on the weight of the gases present in the unit. This was revised under the new regulation which takes into account a unit’s global warming potential and states the requirements for testing in C02 equivalent.

The new requirements for leak testing is as follows:

  • Equipment that contains less than 5 tonnes of C02 equivalent have no requirements for testing.
  • Equipment that contains 5-50 tonnes of C02 equivalent needs to be tested every twelve months. For equipment with leak detection systems, this is doubled to 24 months.
  • Equipment that contains 50-500 tonnes of C02 equivalent needs to be tested every 6 months. For equipment with leak detection systems, this is doubled to 12 months.
  • Equipment that contains above 500 tonnes of C02 equivalent should have a leak detection system installed and be tested every 6 months.

It should be noted that the current exemption from testing for units with 3kg of F gases is still in place until January 2017.

Having a regular, clear method of testing means air conditioning units will become progressively safer for the environment. As the gases are phased out for new equipment and old equipment is replaced, the regulations in place will have a gradual yet noticeable impact on the environment. Companies and operators who perform maintenance on air conditioning units are expected to adhere to the testing regulations and are responsible for maintaining and repairing units that show signs of leakage.

FM Mechanical Ltd are F gas certified, so you can trust us to maintain and install your air conditioning unit to all the correct standards. We are committed to providing safe, efficient and responsible installation and maintenance to domestic and commercial AC units. To discuss the air conditioning services FM Mechanical Ltd can offer you, dont hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team today.