F-Gas Regulations

New F-gas regulations in the EU came into effect on 1st January 2020, so you should be aware of the basics if you work with refrigeration systems. The Fluorinated Greenhouse Gas Regulations ban the use of certain refrigerants if they have a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of more than 2500.

This means that all existing refrigeration units that exceed this limit, such as condensing units with over 10kg of HFC 404A, must comply with the ban. All users of these refrigeration systems can continue to run them until they break down, but technicians legally cannot service or repair them.

Knowing that the UK and EU are phasing down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and other fluorinated gases over the next 10 years, you should have enough forewarning to make the switch to new refrigeration systems now that you can no longer top up your non-compliant units with F-gases.

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Which refrigeration systems use F-gases?

F-gases are commonly used as the coolant for older commercial refrigeration units. Therefore, the F-gas regulations will affect retailers and distributors using any of the following refrigeration systems, if their coolant is one of the banned F-gas refrigerants:

SMALL HERMETICALLY SEALED SYSTEMS E.g. ice cream freezers, bottle coolers, standing retail displays with 0.1-0.5kg of refrigerant
CONDENSING UNITS E.g. blast chillers, freezers, and commercial display cabinets in convenience stores
CENTRAL PACK SYSTEMS E.g. large-scale refrigeration equipment in supermarkets with more than 100kg of coolant

Smaller units are not likely to be affected by the current ban, as the amount of refrigerant in their systems will be less than the maximum allowance. The ban will affect any unit that contains the equivalent of 40 tonnes of CO2 (e.g. 10kg of R404A, the most common F-gas coolant).

 

How do I check for F-gas compliance?

If you haven’t already, then you should check whether your refrigeration systems are compliant immediately. If they aren’t, you could be subject to legal penalties, and repairs and replacements won’t be available for non-compliant units. The labels on your equipment should provide:

  • ⦿ the type and quantity of F-gas it uses
  • ⦿ its Global Warming Potential (GWP)
  • ⦿ the Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (CO2e)

Should there be no F-gas present, the equipment is probably exempt. However, the new regulations definitely apply if there is F-gas with a GWP of 2500 or above, and a CO2e of more than 40 tonnes. If you can’t find this information yourself or the labelling is unclear, consult the manufacturer of your refrigeration equipment. Alternatively, you can hire a qualified maintenance technician to assess the system for you.

 

What do the F-gas regulations mean for my business?

If your refrigeration equipment uses an F-gas below the ban’s threshold, then you may be able to continue with coolant top-ups as normal. However, if your refrigeration systems fall under the banned categories, then you now have three options for what you’re legally allowed to do:

Use reclaimed or recycled R404A refrigerant Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are exempt from the ban until 2030 if reclaimed or recycled
Replace F-gas with a lower GWP refrigerant Top up with a less harmful F-gas if it’s compatible – you may have to retrofit the system
Buy new equipment that uses a lower GWP refrigerant Replace your old refrigeration system with new equipment that uses no or low F-gases

 

Which F-gas alternative is best for my business?

Using the same F-gas from a recycled source might seem like the easiest route initially, but supplies will decrease over time. This means F-gases like R404A will be harder to find and more expensive to obtain. You’ll only be able to do this until 2030, anyway, when even recycled HFCs will be banned.

Similarly, you might find that switching to a different F-gas with a lower GWP is cheaper than buying completely new refrigeration equipment. However, if the F-gas doesn’t work with your existing system, you’ll need to spend more on upgrading the equipment to facilitate the new gas anyway.

The most forward-thinking alternative is to invest in new refrigeration systems that are compliant with the F-gas regulations from the start. This is obviously a costly undertaking, but there are several government schemes you can look into for loans or tax write-offs on energy-efficient equipment.

Besides, if you fail to comply with the F-gas regulations, your business could be facing a fine of up to £200,000. Some businesses have already received fines of more than £1 million, so it’s really not worth the risk.

 

Where can I find an F-gas engineer?

Do you need help assessing your refrigeration equipment for F-gas regulation compliance? Or could you benefit from expert advice on which F-gas compliance option is best for your business? As a long-standing refrigeration company with extensive knowledge of F-gas legislation, we’d be happy to help at Ryan-Jayberg.

Simply get in touch with us by phone or email and we’ll see what we can do to help. You can reach us on 02089 446 288 or at info@ryan-jayberg.co.uk.

Whether you need an F-gas engineer to service or replace your refrigeration system, or you’d like the F-gas regulations explained in more detail, the team at Ryan-Jayberg can assist you. Our F-gas certified HVAC experts are available at several branches across England for in-person support.

 

F-Gas Regulation FAQs

F-gases is the shortened term for fluorinated greenhouse gases – but what exactly are they? As you’re probably aware, greenhouse gases are harmful emissions that trap heat in our atmosphere, contributing to global warming. This is why there are increasingly stricter regulations for their use.

They’re basically synthetic chemicals that contain fluorine. There are three main types of F-gas:

  • ⦿ hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
  • ⦿ perfluorocarbons (PFCs)
  • ⦿ sulphur hexafluoride (SF6)

Fluorinated gases are found in many types of equipment, not just refrigeration systems. For example, air conditioning units, heat pumps, fire extinguishers, and cleaning solvents often use F-gases. Since they contribute to climate change, governments are phasing them out by 2030.

If you produce, trade, or use fluorinated gases in any capacity, then you can find detailed guidance on how to follow F-gas regulations on the government website. This will tell you which gases you’re allowed to use and how you’re allowed to use them. Here’s a quick summary of F-gas restrictions:

Current F-gas refill ban (introduced in 2020)
  • ⦿ HFC 508B (3kg)
  • ⦿ HFC 507A (10kg)
  • ⦿ HFC 404A (10.2kg)
  • ⦿ HFC 434A (12.3kg)
  • ⦿ HFC 422D (14.7kg)
Current and future ban on new F-gas products (introduced from 2020 to 2023)
  • ⦿ All perfluorochemicals (PFCs)
  • ⦿ All hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) with a GWP above 150
  • ⦿ All F-gases with a GWP above 150
Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) exemptions
  • ⦿ Feedstocks
  • ⦿ Military equipment
  • ⦿ Metered dose inhalers
  • ⦿ Semiconductor etching
  • ⦿ Cleaning vapour deposition chambers in semiconductor manufacturing
  • ⦿ Destroying or exporting

The permitted GWP, date of effect, and exemptions will depend on the specific type of F-gas and the specific product. Please click the links in the table above to view more detailed information on the current and future F-gas bans.

To ensure that all F-gas production and servicing is above board, it’s illegal for any business in this industry to operate without an F-gas certificate. This means that anyone who installs, maintains, or services stationary equipment that contains F-gas refrigerants must have the proper accreditation.

This isn’t optional – it’s required by law to have valid F-gas certification if you’ll be handling F-gases on behalf of your own or another business. Employees must be F-gas certified as individuals, and the business as a whole needs an F-gas company certificate. Find out more on the government website:

There are several certification bodies you can work with to receive accreditation, depending on the equipment you work with. The Environment Agency proactively enforces F-gas regulations, so you need to comply with the law if you don’t want to receive a fine or have your business shut down.

We’re serious about health and safety at Ryan-Jayberg, so you can trust that our F-gas engineers are all appropriately qualified. You can check our REFCOM F-gas accreditation under the certificate number REF1011245.

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