Concerns about DIY R134a refrigerant products for mobile air conditioning (MAC) units, such as those found in passenger vehicles, has put the validity of the latest F-gas regulation document deeper into question.
Explaining the amendment, a DEFRA spokesperson has said: “As the only qualification within the MAC sector related to recovery, this is what was requested by suppliers.”
The original regulation followed the advice of the European Commission that suppliers of F-gas for servicing MAC were required to obtain evidence of certification when selling.
However, DEFRA claim suppliers of DIY R134a MAC refill cans questioned the Commission’s interpretation.
“DEFRA lawyers examined the regulation in detail and concluded that as certification and training attestations are only needed in relation to recovery and not servicing, then sales for servicing could actually continue without certification or attestation,” DEFRA has said.
The latest interpretations mean that DIY R134a ‘kits’ that are sold in retail outlets do not require a qualification for their purchase because they do not recover gas.
James McClean, managing director of MotorClimate and CompressorTech, told GW that this has made a “complete mockery” of the original ruling.
Mr McClean said: “It seems we’ve now got ‘DEFRA lawyers’ interpreting regulation text in a way that runs contrary to the entire purpose of the legislation.
“The MAC sector amendments have been written by individuals with little or no experience of how vehicle air conditioning systems are serviced.”
He argues that F-Gas directives from as early as 2006 are concerned with the reduction of F-gas sales and the reduction of spillage and leakage.
Documents released to motor factors and technicians earlier this year detailed the requirement for end-user qualifications and the need for factors to log these details as part of the 2014 No 517 EC F-Gas regulations.
However, last month’s document states that F-gas restrictions do not apply for the servicing of Mobile Air-Conditioning (MAC) systems.
Commenting on GW, Gary Jones said: “[It] means less customers for us doing the job properly, and more gas for the atmosphere.
“The only reason they buy the canisters is because the gas has leaked out, so where do DEFRA and the agency think the new gas is going to go?
“It’s certainly not going to stay in the system until the leak is repaired.”
Another GW reader, David Dawson of the Car Doctor, wrote: “We are a small independent workshop and invested fortunes in training and equipment, the cowboys win again.
“You cannot correctly service or repair air-con systems without recovery.
“I’m feeling a bit miffed as we could have put the cost of certification to better use.”
Mr McClean said that DIY repairers are now “free to pollute the planet and vent harmful R134a refrigerant into the environment.
“Issuing the Industry EU December 2014 F-Gas record keeping and F-gas qualification criteria and nearly 12 months later, creating an exception for the sale and instalment of F-gas in the retail and DIY marketplace begs belief.”
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