Standards are principally technical specifications as a voluntary self-commitment of the industry. They are not mandatory; however, international standards are often adopted as national standards and sometimes made into laws especially in developing countries without their own standardisation bodies.
With regards to refrigeration and air conditioning systems, especially those existing standards dealing with safety are relevant. They may present a barrier to the introduction of alternative, climate-friendly technologies because the technical options often rely on hydrocarbons, which are flammable substances, or on ammonia, which has a higher toxicity or CO2 which is used under very high pressure.
Standards are continuously developed and adopted by industries to reflect state of the art technologies. As HCFC and HFC refrigerants are still the dominating refrigerants in most refrigeration and air conditioning (RAC) sectors, most standards for RAC systems are based on these conventional refrigerants.
There is a need to further develop and promote readily applicable standards for natural refrigerants. Model safety guidelines for natural refrigerants are to be developed so that the latters’ specificities can be considered by standards committees and integrated into European and international safety standard processes.
These standards often reference other standards, such as the standard dealing with explosive atmospheres, EN60079. EN60079 defines explosive atmospheres, gives guidelines on how to install electrical applications and protect equipment in these environments. Other examples are standards on components (e.g. piping (EN13480), pumps (EN809:1998)) or leak testing (EN1779:1999).
EN 378 is not harmonised with ATEX, the two European directives on equipment (equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres) and workplace (minimum requirements for improving the safety and health protection of workers potentially at risk from explosive atmospheres) in explosive atmospheres. However, there might be cases where ATEX applies to RAC equipment and conformity with ATEX should be checked especially if larger refrigeration and air conditioning systems with potentially high amounts of refrigerant are installed. EN378 and ATEX are linked through the standard EN60079, which EN378 refers to and ATEX is harmonised with.
Another important standard for RAC equipment is EN13445-1 to -8 on unfired pressure vessels, which is harmonised with the EU Pressure Equipment Directive 97/23/EC. This standard is also frequently referred to in the standards dealing with refrigerants and refrigeration systems.