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What is the most common RAC fault?

A new report prepared by the Expert Group for the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment lists the most common faults identified in residential and commercial refrigeration and air conditioning equipment. It also gauges the impacts of these faults and highlights how routine maintenance could significantly reduce electricity use, refrigerant leaks and emissions.

The report, titled Leaks, maintenance and emissions: refrigeration and air conditioning equipment, found that the most commonly recurring fault in commercial refrigeration and air conditioning equipment, is refrigerant undercharge – directly related to leakage.

“Possibly the single most important measure to improve RAC equipment performance is to eliminate leaks of refrigerant gas,” says the report. “Apart from reducing direct emissions, ensuring equipment is operating on an optimal refrigerant charge delivers the additional benefit of reducing electricity use and electricity-related greenhouse gas emissions.”

Other common faults include dirty condensers and evaporators and associated mechanical problems; issues with system capacity and mismatched components; control systems, sensors and wiring issues; and poor equipment location.

The report notes that these common faults occur across most equipment segments, and a large majority are related to maintenance or can be addressed by routine maintenance.

In terms of Australia’s energy use and greenhouse emissions, HVAC&R has a huge impact. Almost a quarter of all generated electricity is used by RAC equipment, and it contributes about 11.5 per cent of total emissions. This includes direct emissions – refrigerants leaking from systems – as well as indirect emissions from the energy that the systems use.

In other words, the emissions are large – as are the possible savings. According to the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Program, optimisation, monitoring and maintenance can reduce total cooling emissions of cooling technology by 13 per cent.

Patrick McInerney, Director, International Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Section at the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, says the findings were not unexpected.

“Technology has improved significantly over time to increase energy efficiency of equipment,” says McInerney. “However, there are opportunities to increase awareness/commitment of equipment owners and users both in the residential and commercial sectors to invest in routine preventative maintenance, proper installation, and commissioning practices. These simple steps will contribute to equipment functioning as designed, have minimum leaks, emissions and reduce the running costs over the life of the equipment.

“Access to data is critical in influencing owners and users of the importance of regular and preventative maintenance.”

McInerney stresses the importance of keeping open channels of communication, and working with the community and commercial sector through clear and transparent information on the benefits of preventative maintenance. To this end, the department is working with both industry and governments to identify and publish data that will help build the messaging around the benefits of preventative maintenance.

To read the full report, click here.

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