F gas in refrigeration, air conditioning and fire protection systems
Record keeping and maintenance requirements for companies that operate or service equipment containing fluorinated greenhouse gas (F gas).
Many refrigeration, fire protection and air conditioning and heat pump systems contain hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). HFCs are a type of fluorinated greenhouse gas (F gas).
Companies that operate or service and maintain equipment containing F gas must meet these requirements.
Check if your system contains F gas
Look at the list of F gases regulated by the EU.
To find out if your equipment contains one of these F gases you can:
- check your manual or the labels on your equipment
- speak to the company that installed your equipment
HFC 404A and HFC 134a are common in refrigeration systems.
HFC 23 and HFC 227ea are common in fire protection systems.
HFC 404A and HFC 410A are common in air conditioning and heat pump systems.
Use trained technicians
Only trained technicians can carry out work on equipment containing F gases, including:
- testing for leaks
- general maintenance
- disposal or decommissioning when you no longer need the product
For refrigeration systems in vehicles, (eg cars, trains and ships) this only applies to:
- refrigerated trucks that weigh more than 3.5 tonnes
- refrigerated trailers that are designed to be towed by a truck or tractor
Check that anyone working on your equipment is qualified.
Read more about the specific qualifications needed to work on equipment containing F gases.
You must add a label if you add F gas to refrigeration, fire protection or air conditioning equipment when you’re installing it. The label must state:
- that the equipment contains an F gas
- the industry name for the F gas, or the chemical name if there isn’t an accepted industry name
From 2017 the label must also state the:
- mass of F gas in the equipment (in kg)
- carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent mass of F gas in the equipment (in tonnes)
- the global warming potential of the F gas
Find the global warming potential of each F gas on the list of F gases regulated by the EU.
Find out how to use an F gas’ global warming potential to calculate the weight of the F gas in CO2 equivalent.
‘Hermetically sealed’ equipment
If F gas is ‘hermetically sealed’ within a product, the label must also state that’s the case. F gas is hermetically sealed if both of the following apply:
- any part of the product that contains F gas is welded or brazed shut, or permanently sealed in another way
- the product has a tested leakage rate of less than 3 grams per year
A system that meets these 2 conditions is considered hermetically sealed, even if it has capped valves or capped service ports to allow access for repairs and maintenance.
Check for leaks
You’re responsible for stopping leaks from your equipment.
Contractors that install, maintain or dispose of equipment share responsibility for trying to stop leaks with the operators of equipment.
You must check all equipment for leaks.
For equipment that contains F gas above certain thresholds, you must check for leaks at specific intervals.
Thresholds at which leaks check intervals are specified
The thresholds at which leak check intervals are specified are expressed in terms of CO2 equivalent.
They take into account both the quantity of F gas in the equipment and the ‘global warming potential’ of the F gas (how much the F gas contributes to global warming).
This table sets out the:
- F gas thresholds, in tonnes CO2 equivalent, at which leak leak check intervals are specified
- maximum allowed interval between leaks checks for equipment that meets each threshold
- quantities of commonly used HFCs equal to each threshold
|Maximum interval between leak checks||CO2 (tonnes)||HFC 23 (kg)||HFC 227ea (kg)||HFC 404A (kg)||HFC 410a (kg)||HFC 134a (kg)|
Equipment that didn’t require leak checks under the 2006 regulation may do so now, if it contains an F gas with a high global warming potential, like HFC 404A.
Special cases and exemptions
If you install a system to automatically detect leaks, the maximum interval between leak checks is doubled. For example you only need to leak check a product that contains F gas equivalent to 5 tonnes CO2 once every 2 years, if you fit a leak detection system.
There’s no maximum interval for leak checks on hermetically sealed refrigeration and air conditioning systems unless they contain F gas equivalent to 10 tonnes CO2. That’s equal to 2.6 kg of HFC404A or 7 kg of HFC 134a.
There’s no maximum interval for leak checks on refrigeration systems in vehicles, unless the vehicle is a refrigerated truck or trailer.
The maximum intervals don’t apply until 2017 for equipment that contains less than 3 kg of F gas.
If you find a leak
If a leak is found during a check, you must repair it and repeat the test within a month to check the repair worked.
Install leak detection equipment
You must fit a leak detection system if your equipment contains F gas equivalent to more than 500 tonnes of CO2.
This doesn’t apply to transport refrigeration systems, eg refrigeration systems in trucks, trailers, trains or ships.
For gases commonly used in refrigeration, air conditioning or fire protection, this table sets out the mass of gas equivalent to 500 tonnes of CO2.
|F gas||Mass of gas equal to 500 tonnes of CO2|
The leak detection system must alert you, or a service company responsible for your equipment, if a leak is detected.
You must have your leak detection system checked once a year to make sure it’s working properly.
A system that didn’t need leak detection equipment under the 2006 regulation may do so now, if it contains an F gas with a high global warming potential, like HFC 404A
F gases that can’t be used to refill equipment from 2020
From 2020 you won’t be able to use some ‘virgin’ (unused) F gases to refill existing refrigeration systems.
The ‘service ban’ will apply when both these conditions are met:
- the refrigeration system contains F gas equivalent to 40 tonnes of CO2 or more
- the virgin F gas has a global warming potential of more than 2,500
The service ban won’t apply to fire protection systems or air conditioning and heat pump systems.
Refrigeration systems affected
This will mainly affect the use of HFC 404A in:
- industrial refrigeration systems
- large commercial refrigeration systems, eg ‘central pack’ systems used in supermarkets
- large transport refrigeration systems, eg in trains or ships
Most refrigeration systems in trucks and trailers don’t use enough F gas to be covered by the ban, but the largest could be affected.
For gases that are commonly used in refrigeration and have global warming potentials above 2,500, this table sets out the mass needed to trigger the service ban.
|F gas||Mass of F gas needed to trigger service ban|
Options when the ban applies
If you need to add refrigerant to systems affected by the ban after 2020 you’ll need to do one of the following:
- use an F gas with a global warming potential of more than 2,500 that has been reclaimed (up to 2030 only)
- use an F gas with a global warming potential of more than 2,500 that has been recycled either from your own equipment, or by the company servicing your equipment
- remove all of the F gas from the system and replace it with an F gas that has a global warming potential lower than 2,500, eg HFC 407A of HFC 407F (this is known as ‘retrofilling’)
- replace the refrigeration system with new equipment that uses a refrigerant with a lower global warming potential
Less of your equipment will be affected by the ban if you buy equipment that uses refrigerants with low global warming potentials.
The operator of equipment, and the company that services it, must keep the following records about any equipment that has to be checked for leaks (ie any equipment that contains F gas equivalent to more than 5 tonnes of CO2):
- quantity and type of gas in the equipment when it’s installed
- quantity and type of gas added during any maintenance (eg leak repairs)
- details (name, address and certificate number if relevant) of any companies that install, service or decommission the equipment
- dates and results of all mandatory leak checks
- measures taken to recover and dispose of gases when you dispose of the equipment (eg disposing of it through a registered waste carrier)
You must also record if the gas used in the equipment has been recycled or reclaimed and if so the:
- details of the recycling or reclamation facility (name, address and certificate number if it has one)
- quantity of any gases recovered
You must keep records for 5 years and make them available to government officials if they ask for them.
The following requirements weren’t in the previous regulation:
- recording measures taken to recover and dispose of gases
- recording if the gas is recycled or reclaimed and the facility that recycled or reclaimed it
Recover F gases when disposing of equipment
You must use a qualified technician to recover F gas when disposing of equipment. Find out how to recover F gas.
Ban on new equipment
The EU is banning the use of some F gases in refrigeration, fire protection, and air conditioning and heat pump systems.
Find out more about bans on equipment containing F gases.
HFC phase down
The EU is cutting the availability of HFCs by 79% between 2015 and 2030.
Only companies with EU quotas will be able to supply HFCs to the EU market.
Equipment containing HFCs, particularly those with high global warming potentials, is likely to become more expensive to buy and maintain.
The HFCs that are part of the phase down are listed with their global warming potentials in section 1 of the list of F gases regulated by the EU.
Find out more about the HFC phase down.