Qualification and Certification for Refrigerant Handling
F Gas Refrigerant Handling Training
In the EU all refrigeration service and maintenance engineers involved in the installation, commissioning, service, maintenance and leak testing of stationary refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump equipment containing or designed to contain refrigerants covered by the F Gas Regulations need to hold an F Gas qualification (even those who have trained abroad or hold degree level qualifications). The European Commission set the standard and recognise the F Gas individual Certificates which cover both theory and practice related to leak checking, leak prevention and basic refrigeration theory.
Under the 2014 revision of the F Gas Regulation there is no requirement for re-certification and existing certificates remain valid in line with their conditions of issue. Individuals who already hold an F Gas Certificate should familiarise themselves with the new requirements of these regulations but they do not need to be reassessed.
What qualifications are available?
Category I to carry out all activities on all stationary r&ac and heat pumps (leak checking, recovery, installation or service and maintenance)
Category II to carry out these activities in equipment with a charge of less than 3 kg, (6kg if hermetically sealed and labelled)
Category III recovery activity only
Category IV leak checking only
Category 1 Certificates cover all activities and most RACHP technicians will need this.. Some larger end users may wish to train in-house maintenance engineers to carry out regular leak checking – but a Category 1 Certificate holder will be needed to fix any repairs identified. Category II was designed for small equipment specialists such as domestic equipment operatives. Specialist qualifications are available for those working on mobile air conditioning see www.defra.gov.uk/fgas
The amount of training required to pass this assessment varies according to the individual‘s knowledge, expertise and current qualifications. Centres may offer courses from 1 tor 5 days in length. The final assessment includes a theory and a practical test. Apprentices and trainees who do not hold these qualifications can only work under supervision of a qualified person and the City & Guilds 6187 and 7189 qualifications are also recognised as F gas Certificates - trainees must obtain their certificate within two years. More information about qualifications here.
What does the assessment include?
The F Gas Qualification includes practical assessments and a multiple choice examination to test knowledge of theory principles. The theory test covers areas such as:
- Basic refrigeration cycle
- Identifying condition and state of refrigerant
- Determining operating conditions and efficiency
- Monitoring system performance for indications of refrigerant leakage
- Understanding of environmental impact of F gases
- Knowledge of equipment record keeping requirements
- Knowledge of key components and risk of leakage associated with them
The practical test is similar to existing refrigerant handling assessments but will incorporate some extra tasks. It is carried out on a test rig and assessed on a standard marking sheet:
- Brazing pipe jointing as used to install components
- Pressure Testing
- Charging with Refrigerant
- Inspecting for Leaks, Rectifying and Re-checking
- Connecting and disconnecting Gauges
- Recovery of refrigerant
Successful candidates are issued with a Certificate stating which Category and type of work they can carry out. The Certificate may be withdrawn or suspended if necessary and end users or employers will be able to verify they are valid.
Since July 2009 it has been a legal requirement for all businesses that install, maintain or service stationary refrigeration, air-conditioning or heat-pump equipment that contains F gas refrigerants to hold an F Gas Company Certificate. It is an offence to carry out these activities without a Company Certificate. This applies to RAC maintenance contractors and installers, including sole traders or training providers, and to RAC end users and facility managers that employ their own qualified staff to carry out these activities. See www.defra.gov.uk/fgas
for a list of company certification bodies.
Individual registration of operatives
The Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Industry Board (ACRIB) operates a voluntary ACRIB SKILLcard registration scheme for individuals who hold the necessary qualifications. Although registration is voluntary, this provides a convenient way of proving to employers and end users that an individual holds the correct qualification. Individuals are issued with a photo ID card showing the validity of their qualifications. see www.skillcard.org