Hydrocarbon (HC) refrigerants are increasingly seen as suitable replacements for other refrigerants that contribute to global warming. HC refrigerants benefit from better energy efficiency and are more environmentally friendly. However, certain HC refrigerants like R600a are also known to be highly flammable and may be hazardous to consumers in the unlikely event of leakages. To prevent such accidents, all refrigerants must be hermetically sealed within the refrigerator as part of product safety standards.
Refrigerators belong to one of the 33 categories of Controlled Goods in Singapore and must bear the SAFETY Mark before they can be sold in Singapore. The SAFETY Mark indicates that the refrigerator has met specific safety requirements, and also carries a unique certification number traceable to the supplier. For your own safety, it is highly recommended to check for the SAFETY Mark on refrigerators before purchase.
Safe handling of HC refrigerants
In addition to checking for the SAFETY Mark, it is also important for consumers to be aware of the presence of flammable refrigerant and its inherent risks. To use HC refrigerants safely, we must first understand the basic concept of flammability.
A fire can be created when there is a right concentration of fuel, an oxygen supply (normally from the air), as well as a source of ignition as the trigger point. We can prevent a fire from happening if we eliminate at least one (preferably two) of these criteria.
In order to achieve this, three general guidelines should be followed:
For more details, you may wish to refer to Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) circular on Review of Hydrocarbon Refrigerant.
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