The responsibility of cutting costs has always been first and foremost in the minds of commercial property owners. However, as companies and the public at large have become more “climate-conscious”, using refrigerants that offer a lower global warming potential (GWP) has become more of a priority.
Low-GWP A2L refrigerants are gaining traction in commercial refrigeration applications as a preferred alternative to high-GWP hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) such as R-410a. For most HVACR systems, A2L refrigerants provide the optimal balance of properties that add up to increased reliability, safety, sustainability, performance, efficiency, and cost savings.
What Are A2L Refrigerants?
A2L is considered non-toxic and mildly flammable compared to most other refrigerants, including the commonly used R-410A. A2L refrigerants are safe and easy to use, and their physical properties are similar to HFC refrigerants, making the transition to A2L from HFC relatively simple. Its low flammability makes them a safe option for most commercial refrigeration, air conditioning, and heat pump applications, as its compounds are difficult to ignite.
When used with the correct components and pipe sizes, A2L offers improved efficiency and performance over many A1 and neutral refrigerants, making them a versatile option for most commercial applications. The same codes and standards that apply to all refrigerants also apply to A2L.
However, one of the biggest draws toward A2L refrigerants is their lower impact on the environment.
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Why Are A2L Refrigerants A Better Option To Fight Global Warming?
Regulating bodies across the world continue to impose strict standards on the application of HFC refrigerants with a high GWP value. As a result, commercial buildings are increasingly replacing their legacy refrigerants with solutions that offer a lower GWP.
GWP refers to the amount of heat absorbed by any greenhouse gas in the Earth’s atmosphere. Generally speaking, all refrigeration systems can potentially impact the environment due to carbon emissions from generating the energy they need to operate.
The climate impact from your system’s energy use over its lifetime can often be more extensive than leaking refrigerant. A2L’s energy-efficient properties mean your system will need less power to operate, bringing you energy savings while decreasing your HVACR’s impact on the environment.
The only way refrigerants can directly impact the environment is if they leak into the atmosphere. It’s important to note that A2L refrigerants do not contain chlorine, so in the event of leakage, the product doesn’t pose a threat to the ozone layer.
A2L refrigerants allow commercial property managers to optimize their refrigeration and cooling systems with very low GWP solutions, combining improved performance, smoother operation, and minimal environmental impact compared to the refrigerants traditionally used in system components.
Is Refrigerant R-410a Being Phased Out?
Refrigerant R-410a will begin to be phased down starting in 2023. The phasedown by the individual provinces may occur at different times across the country, meaning that current requirements might not be consistent depending on where your contractor is located.
Many HVACR manufacturers are working diligently to ensure that contractors are educated about A2Ls and trained on their safe handling. They’re also developing educational materials about the safe transition to the new refrigerants. This may also necessitate updating certification standards for HVACR technicians.
Hiring Service Providers Qualified To Handle A2L Refrigerants
A vital issue for commercial property managers is to ensure their HVACR service providers are fully equipped to manage equipment designed for A2L refrigerants, including the safe transportation, installation, servicing, and maintenance of these components.
At Springbank Mechanical Systems, you can always trust that our technicians will be properly trained, qualified, and licensed to work with A2L or other refrigerants. We continually invest in our employees’ education while engaging with manufacturers and their representatives to ensure we’re continually up to date with changes to their products, including new systems that utilize A2L.
Our skilled technicians will ensure a smooth, safe transition to A2L HVACR equipment with minimal interruption to the comfort of your staff and tenants.
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Where Can I Learn More?
There is currently a lot of information online about A2L refrigerants, as their widespread adoption is expected to significantly transform HVACR systems over the coming years. It will also necessitate new methods of installing, maintaining, and repairing components that use A2L.
If you have any questions about how the R-410A phasedown and A2L adoption will affect your commercial buildings, please reach out to us anytime. We’re always happy to answer your questions about this new phase in HVACR standards. Our goal is to keep our customers informed and confident about the future of the heating, cooling, and refrigeration systems.
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Gregg Little, Paul DeThomasis, and Hugo Lopes are co-owners of Springbank Mechanical Systems. You can reach them at 905-569-8990 or via email at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com.