R410A sales restrictions

Monday, January 8, 2018

In our latest piece Graeme Fox discusses R410A sales restrictions:

For a number of months we have been warning of the urgent need for contractors to stop installing R404A equipment and for wholesalers to stop selling it. Part of that commitment to responsible use for wholesalers was the request we made several months ago for them to stop specifying or quoting for R404A systems and to encourage responsible refrigerant policy of their clientele.

We are pleased that most wholesalers and contractors have taken on board that advice and have already started the transition over to lower GWP gases where available in order to preserve the quota amounts for those gases and applications for which there is currently no alternative. However, not all wholesalers have been as responsible on this matter.

It has come to our attention in recent days as we entered 2018 and faced the biggest cliff to date on the HFC phase down under F gas – with the quota amount dropping to 63% of the 2015 baseline amount – that some wholesalers are still encouraging the use of R404A by maintaining large stocks of that gas while restricting the sale of other medium GWP gases such as R410A despite there being no alternative for a great many applications yet for R410A. This is such a short sighted position to take and not only undermines the intent of the phase down process, but is starting to put at risk the financial stability of hundreds of contractors affected by the rising cost of refrigerant gas.

It is understandable that, with their own supplies being cut this year by the quota holders, many wholesalers are starting to ration the sale of gas and anecdotal evidence is suggesting that they are largely doing so by looking at previous years’ gas sales and setting limits for this year based on previous years’ usage. However, this does not take into account the transient nature of the workforce within the sector, nor the year on year springing up of new service companies. Just before Christmas another large service contractor shut down, making a large number of engineers redundant. As in similar circumstances before, a number of those engineers will start their own small service companies. How are they to obtain gas to work in the sector if they have no track record? What about the SME current businesses who want to take over some of the contracts that are now up for grabs? If a company has previously worked mainly in small splits but now has taken over responsibility for VRF installations they will inevitably have a greater need for gas than they previously had. How can their suppliers restrict that supply?

At a time when we have just been making the case for better regulation of the supply chain to eradicate the illegal sales of bottles of gas that undermine what we are trying to do and allow cowboys to undercut our responsible members, isn’t this behavior simply encouraging people to look to the black market for illegal sales of gas?

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