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Refrigerant leakage in VRF systems a matter of deep concern for Middle East consultants

It’s important for VRF manufacturers to address leak detection, say Middle East-based MEP consultants

| | Apr 1, 2016 | 4:05 pm
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Dubai, UAE: VRF manufacturers need to address the issue of leakage of refrigerant from the systems, said Prabhakar Naik, Managing Director of Vastu & Engineering Consultancy JLT. “We are talking of the concentration of leakage in the room,” he said. “If a one-to-one system, the leakage will be small. In the case of a VRF system, the leakage will be large.

Echoing Naik’s observations, Hassan Younes, Technical Director & Partner of Griffin Consultants, said that VRFs, by virtue of being large systems, have a high refrigerant content. Pointing to Europe, he added that regulators in the continent were, in fact, becoming strict on the maximum volume of refrigerant that can be stored in a system.

JM Bhambure, Executive Vice President at Blue Star Limited (India) said that if regulation demands that leak detection be conducted, VRF manufacturers would have no choice but to install a leak-detection system. “If a leak-detection system has to be included,” he said, “we can offer it.” Bhambure said he understood the concern of consultants. “An air-cooled chiller is on the roof, and if it leaks, nobody dies,” he said. “Here [in the case of VRF systems], it might be dangerous for the occupants.”

Some VRF manufacturers believe that leakage of refrigerant is a non-issue. “If proper pressure testing and proper piping is done, there is very little chance of a leak happening,” said Dharmesh Sawant, Senior Manager – HVAC Engineering 1 Team at LG Electronics Gulf (Middle East & Africa). “It is okay to install a leak-detection system, but please understand it is not part of the VRF system. A leak-detection system can cost much more than what a contractor can do through a fine job.”

(The writer is the Editor of Climate Control Middle East and the Editorial Director & Associate Publisher of CPI Industry.)

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