Recently our Technicians attended a cool room with a failed refrigeration system at a Pizza Hut in east Auckland. The system had lost most of the refrigerant charge through a leak on the high-pressure switch connection which had rubbed a hole against the compressor.
After the connection had been replaced and the system was leak tight, we replaced the original (expensive) refrigerant with a lower GWP (global warming potential) alternative. This saved our client money two ways; the cost per kilogram was lower and the charge (kilograms of refrigerant in the system) was lower. Less of the lower GWP refrigerant was required to do the same job.
This failure was avoidable because the rubbing connection would have been identified during a maintenance visit. Considering that the failure was identified on the weekend a maintenance program would have cost a fraction of the cost of this repair.
Refrigerants have long chemical names that we do not use in our daily life. We call them R (for refrigerant) then a number like R404a and R410a for example. What is important is these chemicals have been identified as synthetic greenhouse gasses (SGG’s) and as such are targeted for phase out in the future.
While SGG’s are available to import and purchase they are subject to a levy which increases every year. Most commercial refrigeration and air conditioning systems all contain SGG’s. If the system is leak tight and the refrigerant remains inside the system, it is a benefit. If the refrigerant leaks it is expensive to replace and may be scarce in the future.
The levy is calculated on the basis of each refrigerants global warming potential (GWP). The higher the GWP the higher the levy and therefore the price.
The best advice is to ensure your system is leak tight by having regular maintenance from Thermo Tech. Know what refrigerant is in your system and have a plan. This is a dynamic situation so keep informed on new refrigerants entering the market.