ASHRAE Committee’s Vote on Higher A3 and A2L Charge Limits Inconclusive

By Michael Garry, Jan 19, 2021, 22:45 4 minute reading

updated at: Jan 20, 2021, 20:57

None of the three motions on flammable refrigerants before the ASHRAE-15 committee passed; new public meetings planned in January.

A standards committee within the ASHRAE trade group failed on January 14 to approve any of the three motions on higher charge limits for flammable refrigerants in commercial display cases.

The vote by 20 members of the ASHRAE-15 committee – ASHRAE-15 is the organization’s safety standard for refrigeration systems – focused on whether to propose higher charge levels in commercial display cases for both A3/A2 (flammable) and A2L (less flammable) refrigerants, or for only A2L refrigerants,

The voters could select any or all of three motions: an APR (Advisory Public Review) proposal for higher charge limits for A3 and A2L refrigerants; a PPR (Publication Public Review) proposal for higher charge limits for A3 and A2L refrigerants; or a PPR proposal for higher charge limits for A2L refrigerants only (keeping the charge limit for A3 refrigerants at 150g, its current level under ASHRAE-15).

According to industry sources, the motion for an APR proposal for both A2L and A3 refrigerants received the most yes votes – 10 – along with eight no votes and two no responses. The A2L-only PPR motion received the second-most yes votes – nine – as well as 10 no votes, and one no response. The motion for a PPR proposal for both A2L and A3 refrigerants received six yes votes, 13 no votes, and one no response. 

Members of the committee are listed here

Since none of the measures reached or exceeded a two-thirds yes vote, they all failed to pass. 

The ASHRAE-15 committee plans to meet on January 21 and 28 and February 4 to decide on next steps. Industry sources are unclear as to what those next steps might be, though one possibility would be to move forward with the APR proposal for both A2L and A3 refrigerants, which received the most votes.

The meetings will be open to public access online. Interested parties could contact the chair of the ASHRAE-15 committee, Russell Tharp (, for more information on the February 21 meeting.

Access to the other meetings are as follows:

Thursday January 28, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET 
Meeting ID: 951 8388 9746
Passcode: 860452

Thursday February 4, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET
Meeting ID: 963 4133 6702
Passcode: 841033

UL’s higher charge limits

ASHRAE-15’s higher charge limits for A3 and A2L refrigerants follow proposed revisions to UL 60335-2-89, a separate standard for commercial refrigerating appliances, released last year by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) for the U.S. market. The proposed update was managed by CANENA (a standards harmonization body for the Americas) Working Group 12, in collaboration with UL and CSA (Canadian Standards Association). 

The UL proposal is based on, though different from, the latest version of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 60335-2-89 standard, approved in 2019.

The UL 60335-2-89 V2, Edition 2, proposal is currently out for public comment. It can be accessed at this website, where comments can also be submitted until February 2. A vote on the proposal is also due by that date.

Prior to the January 14 ASHRAE-15 committee vote, there had been concern that the committee would select the A2L-only proposal, which would put ASHRAE-15 at odds with the UL’s refrigerant safety proposal for the first time.

The ASHRAE-15 committee was originally only evaluating the UL charge limit revisions. The proposed UL standard calls for raising the charge limit for A3 refrigerants in factory-sealed, self-contained commercial appliances, under certain conditions, to 13 times the LFL, but only for open appliances (without doors); it proposes raising the charge limit for closed appliances with doors and/or drawers to eight times the LFL This would increase the charge limit for propane (R290) from 150g to 500g or 300g, respectively.

Under the proposed UL standard, field-erected systems consisting of various partial units employing an A2L refrigerant would fall under three charge-limit categories: m1 (13 times LFL, except for ice makers and products with doors or drawers, for which the limit is eight times LFL; m2 (52 times LFL); and m3 (260 times LFL).

On December 31, the ASHRAE-15 committee decided to consider an A2Ls-only option, in addition to the UL proposal.

By Michael Garry

Jan 19, 2021, 22:45

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