New rules for charging refrigeration and air conditioning equipment came into force on 1 January 2020. The Australian Government brought in these new rules to support the hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) phase down and reduce emissions of climate damaging HFCs.
You cannot charge refrigeration and air conditioning equipment with a higher global warming potential (GWP) refrigerant than the equipment was designed to use (the design refrigerant).
It is an offence under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Regulations 1995. (See regulations 2AAA, 111A, 135, 141, 906A and 969)
Example: you cannot charge an air conditioning system designed to use R32 (GWP = 675) with R410A (GWP = 2088).
The ban applies if the design refrigerant:
- is an HFC, controlled under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989, or
- isn’t a controlled refrigerant.
Example: you cannot replace R1234yf, which is not a controlled substance (GWP < 1), with R134a (GWP = 1430).
The rules apply to any equipment that uses refrigeration technology, whether for cooling, heating or both.
The design refrigerant can be found on compliance plates and in manufacturers’ manuals. A list of the global warming potential of commonly used refrigerants can be found on our website.
The ban does not apply if the refrigeration or air conditioning equipment is essential for health or public safety purposes and the design refrigerant is not available. The equipment owner and the technician will be best placed to decide if this exception applies to your situation. If you are unsure, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some equipment is designed to use more than one type of refrigerant. In this case, and where a refrigerant type is not specified on a compliance plate or in a user manual, the equipment may be charged with any of the refrigerant types recommended by the manufacturer.
The ban does not apply if charging HCFC equipment with an HFC. Example: you can replace R22 (GWP = 1810) with R427A (GWP = 2138).
The ban does not apply to charging equipment with a refrigerant that has a lower GWP than the design refrigerant. Example: Replacing R404a (GWP = 3922) with R452a (GWP = 2139).
The relevant standards and codes of practice must be followed in any refrigerant charging. For example, equipment should not be charged with refrigerant that has a higher hazard classification, such as replacing A1 rated refrigerant with an A2L or A3, unless the system has been converted in accordance with all relevant codes of practice, Australian Standards and Commonwealth, and state and territory laws. If a system is to be retrofitted for use with a different refrigerant, full refrigerant evacuation and recovery, and system leak testing, are required and seeking guidance from manufacturers is recommended.