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R404A Refrigerant: What you need to know

26th May 2022

R404A is the most commonly used high GWP refrigerant gas. It’s mainly used for chilled and frozen food refrigeration but is also widely seen in the commercial sector for industrial refrigeration and cold storage. However R404A is now subject to a phase down.

With EMS as your HVAC contractor, we will guide you through all the latest legislation so that you don’t have to worry. 

The legislation

The amended F-Gas Regulations came into force from 1st January 2015. As with previous regulations, it covers the containment, control of use, maintenance and reporting of HFCs, but goes further in the requirements for leak checking and introduces a timetable for production phase down of HFCs based on their GWP – the higher the GWP, the more accelerated the phase down.

Phase – down period

2020 will see a ban of R404A in new stationary refrigeration equipment (along with all other refrigerants with a GWP of more than 2,500).

At the same time, a service ban will be applied to all systems with a charge size of more than 40 tonnes CO2 equivalent.

In practice…

Some manufacturers of R404A have already stated that they intend to stop selling high GWP refrigerants such as R404A from 2018. This has already contributed to a rise in the cost of the refrigerant. Therefore, it would be wise and possibly economical to start thinking about the alternatives now. The following gases are possible alternatives to R404A:




Retrofit or Replace?

If you have a system which uses R404A with a charge of over 10kg you should be thinking about your next steps (if you haven’t already). Two options available to you are:-

1) Using an alternative refrigerant. R407A, R407F, R442A, R449A are all possible alternatives. However be aware that you may need to retrofit some components to make any alternative refrigerant compatible.

2) You also have the option to replace the equipment. This can be costly but could be the better option long term. There are many factors to consider when deciding which route is best for your company. EMS have the expertise to go through your options and help you make the right decision for your business.

Installation considerations

When using alternative refrigerants, engineers should update training with specific knowledge in transporting and handling these refrigerants.

Record keeping

All F-Gas registers should now incorporate equivalent tonnes of CO2 emissions, variable in respect of refrigerant type and quantity, to demonstrate to the customer the overall carbon impact. This is now a regulatory requirement within revised design guides.

Maintenance Considerations

Frequency of leak checking is now amended in the updated F-Gas regulations, and is now based on equivalent CO2 emissions rather than on refrigerant charge. F-Gas registers should be amended to reflect this, plus all equipment should be labelled with the CO2 emissions in tonnes.

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