The assembled room of influential contractors answered questions concerning the pertinent issues impacting the air-conditioning industry, including barriers to growth in sales, investment in training, use of cloud-based systems, knowledge and attitudes to the changes to industry legislation, as well as their position regarding the Brexit debate.
The prospect of the UK leaving the EU was cause for serious concern among HVAC installers and contractors - with over 60% polled worried about the consequences of such a move. This compared to just 22% of respondents who were worried about staying within the confines of the EU, while 18% of those polled felt it would make no discernable difference.
In line with general construction commentary and trends, the respondents felt that economic uncertainty (34.6%) and the skills shortage (25.2%) provided the biggest barriers to growth. Also, indicative of the shifting technological landscape of the sector was the fact that nearly 80% of respondents now made use of cloud-based systems to capture project data.
The importance of ongoing training and development within the sector was also reiterated, with 70% of installers investing over £1,000 annually on training staff, 29% spending between £1,001 and £5,000, and over 13% investing over £20,000.
Although more than two-thirds of the audience were fully aware of the latest legislative alterations to regulations affecting the industry, the result did show that more could be done by the regulators to keep contractors fully informed.
Encouragingly however, the survey did reveal that for those conversant with the new F-Gas regulations, there is an desire to change with nearly 80% of those surveyed either ‘happy’ or ‘keen’ to use new refrigerants such as R32 as required by the legislation. However, less that 20% have yet to witness a demand high enough to invest in training.
The European regulation placed restrictions on the use of certain HFC refrigerants in certain applications. Consequently, there has been an effort to phase down gases and refrigerants with high Global Warming Potential (GWP). The implications of the legislation are that, over the coming years, the supply of all HFC's including R410a will be reduced and alternative refrigerants with a lower GWP, such as R32, are being sought as the environmentally friendly climate control solution.
Consequently, Daikin, a pioneer of R32 refrigerant-based systems, has now launched the first commercial R32 refrigerant air conditioning range in the UK and plans to have all its DX equipment running, in due course, on R32 - including VRV systems. Encompassing Daikin Split and Sky Air systems, the R32 Bluevolution range offers a future proof, affordable, air conditioning solution, offering improved energy efficiency and reduced environmental impact.
Speaking on the poll results and the potential for the widespread introduction of R32 in the UK air-conditioning sector Martin Passingham, Product Manager for DX at Daikin UK said, “The results of this poll highlight that there is still some way to go, to get the entire industry fully prepared for the implications of the F-Gas legislation – and to educate end-users on the benefits.
“The installation of R32 gas systems is simple and straightforward and not very different when compared to a R410a installation.
“As the F-Gas phase out continues, it is important that installers make the move to lower GWP refrigerant-based systems that offer end users a more energy efficient and environmentally friendly climate control solution.
“For example, our new Bluevolution range delivers a future proof investment throughout the F-Gas phase out. Alongside the efficient R32 refrigerant, additional new system features, such as a power saving mode, ensure low running costs over the course of the systems’ lifetime.”
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