ESSEN, Germany — “Anyone purchasing new equipment today should insist on equipment without R-22.”

Lest anyone stateside who has big standing orders of R-22 air conditioners panic over such a statement, relax a bit. It comes from Europe, but it is the strongest statement yet on what’s happening overseas in the curtailing of the use of HCFC refrigerants. And it does lay out the kind of scenario stateside contractors might see in the future when R-22 phaseouts in the United States kick in with full force.

The statement was issued at International Trade Fair for Refrigerating & Air Conditioning (IKK) here.

While the United States will continue to see the manufacture of products using R-22 until 2010 and availability of the refrigerant through 2030, Germany is prohibiting the manufacture of products with that refrigerant effective Jan. 1, 2000.

Ahead of U.S.

The German plan allows for R-22 products that are in the pipeline by Jan. 1, either at a contractor’s shop or in a wholesaler’s warehouse, to be sold whenever either party can sell them, with no time or quantity limits. Imported R-22 products will be allowed into the country indefinitely, as long as those products were manufactured before Jan. 1, 2000.

Left out of the loop are the manufacturers. Any R-22 products they make have to be out of their plants and at the wholesaler’s or dealer’s by Jan. 1. They will not be allowed to send out any R-22 products after that.

The rapid German phaseout is part of a plan by the newly formed European Union to force “a drastic reduction of R-22 products starting in 2004,” according to the IKK report.

Same top picks

In a related item, the report reaffirmed that the choice of alternatives to traditional R-22 applications continue to center on R-134a, -410A, and -407C, the same top picks as in the U.S.

European companies also report work being done on ways to make R-404A and -507 work in systems that once would have used R-22.

Those refrigerants have been used as replacements for low-temperature R-502, “but the possibility for using them as R-22 substitutes in the medium and high evaporation temperature range has only achieved more importance in recent years,” according to the report.