The market for unit coolers is changing. The F-Gas regulation means that a ban is now in place for new installations using refrigerants with a GWP (Global Warming Potential) of more than 2500. Furthermore, other refrigerants are having their availability limited by diminishing production quotas, which is consequently affecting prices. Refrigerant producers have to fall within a regulation-defined limit of Teq CO2 (carbon dioxide equivalent tonnes) per year. So opting to produce a refrigerant with a high GWP means less product availability, leading to a higher price.
CO2 has become the preferred refrigerant in high-capacity refrigeration installations thanks to its low GWP and good thermo-physic properties. However, for small/medium-capacity systems, the choice is not so obvious. CO2 is of course an option, but alternatives such as A2L refrigerants are very attractive as their constituent technology is similar to HFCs while offering a far lower GWP.
To ensure simplicity of choice for installers, Friga-Bohn can now confirm that a number of its unit coolers offer compatibility with new A2L refrigerants, as well as existing refrigerant solutions. This approach differs to other market systems, which are only suitable for one or the other. Wholesalers therefore benefit as they only need to stock a single type of unit cooler – one capable of meeting the requirements of both applications.
The A2L-compatible coolers now available from Friga-Bohn include MR and MH series ceiling units, NTA dual-discharge units, and 3C-A cubic units. Typical applications include cold rooms in cafes, hotels, bars, restaurants, local shops, minimarkets and supermarkets, with options available to suit both positive and negative temperature conditions.
Despite their low GWP (R1234yf, R454C and R455C have a GWP of less than 150), A2L refrigerants carry a ‘slightly flammable’ security classification. For this reason, all Friga-Bohn unit coolers using A2L refrigerants have been subject to a comprehensive risk assessment, with INERIS, the French National Institute for Industrial Environment and Risks, providing full approval and validation.
A risk analysis is also necessary for each installation to ensure safety for users and the general public; a process that should take into account the entire refrigeration system as well as its environment over the product life cycle. Here, Friga-Bohn can offer several newly developed tools to help simplify this process for installers. The availability of these tools ensures that the ‘slightly flammable’ classification of A2L refrigerants should not be an obstacle in reducing the industry’s carbon footprint.
In summary, A2L refrigerants are a good solution when transitioning to lower GWP refrigerants. They provide the opportunity to reduce environmental impact and comply with the F-Gas regulation for small/medium capacity installations. However, changing to A2L does require some technical knowledge. Here, Friga-Bohn is ahead of market competitors – the company is fully prepared and ready to help wholesalers and installers with any assistance they may require in helping the food sector achieve a safe and effective switch to a future based on low-GWP refrigerants. Friga-Bohn can also help wholesalers to educate installers about this important industry shift.
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