A new standard, approved by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), allows higher charge limits for hydrocarbons such as propane (R-290) and other flammable refrigerants in household technology, according to the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

After a rigorous six-and-a-half-year process, a final draft of the new standard — officially designated IEC 60335-2-40 was approved on April 29. Asbjørn Vonsild, the convenor of the relevant IEC working group who shepherded the safety standard through its revisions, said, “The new edition of IEC 60335-2-40 will enable R-290 [propane] to be used in many A/C and heat pump systems, which were previously blocked from using this refrigerant by the outdated version. This will enable a thousand-fold reduction in direct climate emissions compared with systems using R-410A.”

The revised safety standard allows for using a larger charge of flammable refrigerants (up to 988 grams of R-290 in a standard split air conditioning system) in new equipment designed according to certain additional safety requirements to ensure the same high level of safety as equipment using non-flammable refrigerants.

“After urging governments and industry to address this issue for many years, EIA is delighted to see this critical milestone reached on the pathway to net-zero and clean sustainable cooling,” said Clare Perry, EIA climate campaign leader.

The new standard is expected to be published on June 24. Countries will then be able to adopt the revisions into their national legislation.