Replacing R404 in stores: what are the options?
Replacing R404 in stores is a topical issue for all large and medium-sized department stores since the introduction of the new F-Gas II regulations. R404 is a refrigerant whose main applications include commercial or industrial refrigeration. Until recently, R404 was commonly used to replace R22, which was banned in 2010 because of its negative impact on the ozone layer, but R404 now also finds itself threatened under new regulations, and it is advisable for store owners to anticipate replacing R404 in their stores.
R404 is a fluid whose energy efficiency no longer matches that of its alternatives and also has a significant environmental impact!
The regulations driving R404 replacement
New European regulations came into force, commonly known as F-Gas II (as it follows on from the first regulation on fluorinated gases from 2006) and Regulation No. 517/2014, on the 1st of January 2015. These regulations concern fluorinated gases such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), Perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and hexafluoaride (SF6), whose presence on the marketing must be reduced by 79% by 2030.
What is the role of R404 in all of this? Why is replacing R404 in stores now on the agenda? In 2020, the regulations prohibit the use of fluorinated gases with a global warming potential (GWP) greater than 2500, and R404 is found in these gases. Why should we replace R404 before 2020 then? Replacing R404 is necessary because the legislation also toughens control operations on these fluids.
Depending on the amount of fluid that your system uses, you might find yourself obliged to carry out checks several times a year. To find out if this is your case, you just know the system load, i.e. the amount of R404 your system uses: if it uses more than 127 kilos of R404 you must perform quarterly monitoring and use a detector.
It seems clear that replacing R404 in their system, can save storeowners money, even if its actual ban will only come into effect in 2020. Taking the decision to replace R404 today can ensure saving time, money, but also lessen stress since using a gas other than the R404 will save on tedious controls.
In addition, R404 will also be banned for the maintenance of the systems from 2020: this means that in 2020, a R404 system may no longer be maintained and it will be obligatory to replace R404. Also as the amount of R404 put on the market will decrease in the run up to 2020, storeowners should consider replacing it now.
If you do not know if you need to replace your R404, please contact a professional who will direct you to the service and solutions that are right for you.
What are the alternatives for replacing R404 in stores?
To replace R404 in stores (and elsewhere), two major types of alternatives are possible: gas-based HFC (hydrofluorocarbons) & HFO solutions and natural solutions. The solution depends on your preferences, but most of all on the system. If in doubt, the best solution is to call a professional for guidance.
HFC & HFO-based solutions
Among these solutions, the most common options are R407A (HFO), R407F (HFO) and R442A. With a GWP of 2107, 1825 and 1888 respectively compared to that of 3922 for R404, these gases allow us to replace R404 with a gain in energy efficiency and especially a much lower environmental impact!
It is also possible to perform the replacement of R404 with so-called “natural” fluids, such as CO2 or ammonia. These compounds are sometimes more expensive but have almost zero GWP: between 0 and 5! The investment costs may be higher, but operating costs (including taxes) are attractive, so using these natural refrigeration fluids will strengthen the environmental image of a business and is also beneficial to the planet.
These are not the only options for replacing R404: The simplest solution is to call in a professional who will guide you towards the best solution to suit your system and its application domain.
How do you replace R404?
How does R404 replacement work, and, especially, what are the disadvantages when making the replacement? As you can imagine, it depends on the solution you choose to replace R404, but it should be noted that certain alternatives are operational in one night without having to stop the cold chain!
Replacing R404 is a necessity!
As is now abundantly clear, replacing R404 is as a necessity in the long term, but it might prove beneficial in terms of time, money and stress if it is replaced right now. And of course, given the complexity of replacing R404, only a cooling professional can advise you effectively and quickly!
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