The statement below was issued by AREA British member FETA.
FETA has recently been advised that there have been some instances of R410A (classified as A1; non-flammable) being completely removed from an air conditioning system, and the system simply being recharged with R32 (classified as A2L; low flammability). Given the differences in properties of these two refrigerants, this is a cause for some concern for several reasons. A number of issues need to be taken into account:
- Refrigerant manufacturers have clearly stated that A2L refrigerants are NOT SUITABLE for retrofit.
- A system that was originally designed for R410A will not have taken into account the safety factors required when using an A2L refrigerant 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 EN 378, 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 not be compliant with CE marking or the Pressure Equipment Directive, and could also 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 who carried out the change.
In summary, it is not good practice to charge a system with a refrigerant that the system was not originally designed to use without appropriate assessment of the differences in characteristics of the replacement gas.