No such thing as a 'drop-in refrigerant'

Are retrofill or so-called 'Drop-in' Refrigerants really a solution or a problem in the making? With effect from 1st January 2010 it became illegal throughout Europe to use virgin HCFC R22 refrigerant for air conditioning, heat pump or refrigeration equipment service and maintenance purposes.

Until 31st December 2014 only recycled or reclaimed HCFC R22 can be used, after which time it will be banned completely.

Refrigerant suppliers have made it clear that recycled and reclaimed R22 will be in seriously short supply, with some estimates put at only 10% of previous, un-restricted demand. This poses a real problem for anyone still operating equipment designed to use R22, particularly if a fault occurs that necessitates replacing the refrigerant charge.

It has been suggested that such equipment can accept retrofill or 'drop-in' alternatives to R22. Whilst, to some extent, this may be the case, the practice has many disadvantages, not least of which is the risk of premature equipment failure. So what at first may appear to offer a quick fix, cost effective and practical alternative to R22 could in fact be a big mistake and not worth the risk or expense.

It must be understood that to charge equipment with any refrigerant, other than that it was designed to use, is not as straightforward as it may sound. It involves essential and in some cases costly engineering modifications, so the term 'drop-in' is extremely misleading.

To summarise - there is no such thing as a 'drop-in replacement refrigerant' for HCFC R22, essential mechanical modifications and system re-commissioning will be necessary. Whilst retrofilling is a possibility and in some situations can be considered practicable in the short term, technically, economically and environmentally it is not an option recommended by any major equipment manufacturer.

Share this: Bookmark and Share