There’s been a lot of talk about R32 in the air conditioning world over the past few years, but if you haven’t yet installed a piece of R32 kit, what’s it all about?
If you have fitted some of our M Series (RAC) and Mr Slim (PAC) equipment available, what do you do when it comes to VRF?
There’s a lot to get your head around whenever there is a change within our industry, especially when it concerns refrigerant, but we’ve managed to condense this all down to the 5 key things you really need to understand now.
1. Why the change? And why now?
It’s all to do with the global warming potential or GWP of the refrigerants used within air conditioning systems.
If 1 kg of R410A was leaked into the atmosphere, it is calculated to cause 2,088 times more damage than releasing 1kg of CO2.
We therefore need to move to refrigerants with lower GWPs and R32, the latest one to be introduced has a GWP of 675, so is about a third of the impact of R410A.
2. What equipment can you get on R32?
Most manufacturers now have R32 available in RAC and PAC equipment – or if not are likely to introduce them in the coming years. Our own Mitsubishi Electric R32 models not only bring the added benefits of a lower GWP refrigerant, they are also more efficient in the main, bringing even more performance and benefits to customers. They do this using about 20% less overall refrigerant as well which helps within the general installation costs.
Oh, and did I mention the technological advances as well? We have indoor units that have won red dot design awards and come with built-in sensors that can detect the temperature of individuals in the room and tailor the air conditioning to suit.
There’s little to stop most jobs converting to R32 now with the choice of indoor and outdoor units available.
3. Just how new is R32?
Would it surprise you to learn that we’ve already been using R32 for as long as we’ve been using R410A?
R32 makes up 50% of the R410A mixture, so it’s hardly new to the industry.
Not only this, but R32 systems have been available in Japan for more than 5 years now and there are an estimated 15 million units already in use.
4. What about flammability?
R32 is classed as mildly-flammable and is under the class of an A2L refrigerant. Anyone who is F-Gas certified is already qualified and trained to handle R32.
Although classed as mildly flammable R32 is very difficult to ignite. You can ‘burn’ it, but it needs exacting conditions to ignite so is perfectly safe for everyday use in air conditioning systems.
5. What about larger VRF systems? When will we see any R32 versions?
No-one has solved the challenges of manufacturing a VRF system that will run effectively on R32 under the current guidelines although many are working on it. It is possible to run R32 on VRF and we are likely to see VRF systems on R32 in the future as legislation changes and widens the envelope of opportunity for larger capacity systems.
We are therefore at least a year or more away from having mainstream VRF systems running on R32.
HOWEVER – There is only one R32 system available that offers the full benefits of VRF in terms of flexibility of design, performance and control – and that is the Hybrid VRF R32 system that we launched this summer.
Hybrid VRF is now over 5 years old, so is tried and tested and the R32 variant is now being installed in scores of projects across Europe, including a new Hotel right in the heart of London’s Piccadilly.
The R32 change has started and is expanding rapidly across Europe and the UK in the world of air conditioning. This affects anyone who uses it, commissions it, designs, installs or maintains it … and this change is coming to a building near you soon.
The good news though is that anyone using an air conditioning system really won’t notice much difference at all – except for lower overall carbon emissions.