VRF & CAN/CSA B52 Refrigeration Code
UPDATED: August 25, 2021
While variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems offer great flexibility in your designs and can provide outstanding energy savings, there are some code requirements that must be considered. In Ontario, the code of reference is CAN/CSA B52 – Mechancial Refrigeration Code. This code outlines all of the safety requirements that must be met in order for a refrigeration system to be approved for installation.
In this post, I want to specifically address the quantity of refrigerant allowed in any given system.
The first order of business is to define the type of system we are dealing with. VRF systems are classified as: direct with a high probability of leakage. It should also be noted that all VRF systems currently available in North America use R410a refrigerant. Applying the code for different occupancy classifications, the maximum refrigerant capacity in any system is defined as follows:
|Occupancy Classification||MAX Refrigerant Charge
The volume is calculated based on the smallest confined space that refrigerant could discharge into in the event of a rupture. This would include the celing plenum in a non-ducted return application as well as any spaces interconnected by transfer openings, etc.
NOTE: Table 1 in CAN/CSA B52-2018 provides guidance on the max refrigerant charge. However, Note 2 identifies a similar table in ASHRAE Standard 34, which takes precedence over the CSA standard. In the case of R410a, the allowance in ASHRAE is higher than the CSA standard. (25 vs. 13)
I believe the information given in this post is incorrect. As stated in the Safety Bulletin for B52 published by CSA in 2013,
which is now incorporated in note 5) of Table 1 in CSA B52-2018 : “The maximum refrigerant quantities per occupied
space presented in CSA B52-13 for A1 and B1 refrigerants are based on the lesser of two values, RCL at sea level
or ODL above 1500m altitude as determined from ASHRAE Standard 34-13. Therefore the ODL may be adjusted to match
application specific altitudes. It is not mandatory to use the values corresponding to altitudes above 1500m.”
Therefore, the information given in this article is only true for systems installed at an altitude of 1500m and
above. For a system installed at sea level, the RCL is double what is published in this article.
This distinction should be mentioned in this post so as to not supply incomplete/false information.
Such information might also require changes to the paragraph starting by: “A word of CAUTION!”
Thank you for your comment. You are correct! I did post an update to this blog post here: https://www.odellassoc.com/vrf-cancsa-b52-update/
In light of your comment, I’ll update the table provided on original in order to avoid any confusion.
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