China releases national safety standard for flammable refrigerants

By Huiting Jia, Jul 12, 2012, 14:30 2 minute reading

At the end of June 2012, China released a national safety standard for flammable refrigerants, which will come into force on May 1, 2013. The new safety standard formally allows the adoption of flammable refrigerants like R290 in the production of air conditioners in China. It could potentially accelerate the market uptake of R290 air conditioners in the Chinese market.

Last month China released its first national standard on the use of flammable refrigerants. The “Household and similar electrical appliances – Safety - particular requirements for heat pumps, air-conditioners and dehumidifiers”(GB 4706.32-2012) was released by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of P. R. China and the Standardization Administration of China on June 29, 2012.  
The standard was jointly drafted by the China Household Electric Appliance Research Institute (CHEARI), the Guangzhou CVC Institute of Technology Detection and representatives from air conditioner and refrigerator/freezers manufacturers including Gree and Haier and Midea.
Regulation for flammable refrigerants 
The safety standard formally allows the use of flammable refrigerants in China. In particular, it formalises the use of R290 in air conditioners for the first time. 
The standard adopts the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)’s safety requirements for electrical heat pumps, air-conditioners and dehumidifiers containing flammable refrigerant (IEC 60335-2-40:2005). Compared with the old version (GB 4706.32-2004) released in 2005, the 2012 version of the safety standard sets out detailed rules for safe operation relating to safety warning, transportation, installation, storage and charging of flammable refrigerants. The new standard applies to heat pumps equipped with electric motors, compressors or room fan-coil units (including domestic hot water heat pumps), air-conditioners and dehumidifiers. The maximum rated voltage for a single unit cannot exceed 250V and the maximum rated voltage for other units cannot be more than 600V.
For refrigerant R290, the standard provides a formula for calculating the refrigerant charge quantity and security values for installation height, housing area and refrigerant concentration, etc.

Standard addresses safety concerns and reassures industry paving the way for R290 air conditioners in China
In the Chinese market, the key barrier affecting R290 air conditioners is the flammability risk posed by R290. With the safety standard for flammable refrigerants to guide the design, production and installation of R290 air conditioner,manufacturers and end users’ reservations over safety will be greatly alleviated. After the formal implementation of the standard in May 2013, Chinese consumers will be able to purchase R290 air conditioners.
With the lifting of the ban on flammable refrigerants, a rapid market expansion of R290 air conditioners is foreseeable especially considering the acquisition of R290 technology by some Chinese air conditioner manufacturers. For air conditioner manufacturers that already have R290 air conditioner production capacity like Gree, Midea, and GMCC, the release of the standard removes potential policy and market barriers for production. AC producers like Haier and Hisense that have had preliminary R&D of R290 technology are likely to also enter into the market once they realize the significant market potential for R290 AC in China. 


By Huiting Jia

Jul 12, 2012, 14:30

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