Installing, repairing, and servicing air conditioners can be very technical processes, which is why it's vital that you hire a licensed professional who is suitably qualified to do so. In fact, it's illegal for technicians or tradesmen to ‘handle’ fluorocarbon refrigerant gases – commonly used in household air conditioners - without a licence issued by the Australian Refrigeration Council.
Split system air conditioners often contain fluorocarbon refrigerants, which are ozone depleting substances or synthetic greenhouse gases. If a single kilogram of R410a (the most commonly used refrigerant gas) is released into the atmosphere, it has the same effect on the ozone layer as running your car for six months!
An ARC Refrigerant License is a national environment-based license for the 'handling' of fluorocarbon refrigerants. 'Handling' refers to any person who carries out work in relation to air conditioning (or refrigeration) equipment including: installing, servicing, decanting; manufacturing and decommissioning - whether or not refrigerant is present.
There are two types of licences that are issued by the Australian Refrigeration Council for qualified individuals. Installers should hold at least one of these licences. If you're installing a system over 18kW or having an airconditioner serviced or repaired, the technician will require a full licence. Below are the details of the different licence types:
1. Full Refrigeration and Air conditioning (RAC) Licence
The holder of a full 'RAC' license is qualified to:
a) Work with any air conditioning system of any cooling capacity
b) Undertake all aspects of installation, service, repair, maintenance or decommissioning of air conditioning systems.
2. Restricted Split System Air conditioning Installation and Decommissioning (Splits) License
The holder of a restricted 'Splits' license is qualified to:
a) Work with a single head split system air conditioner of less than 18kW cooling capacity
b) Undertake installation, including running the pipe work of a single head split system air conditioner
c) Only introduce additional refrigerant when required on extended pipe runs
d) Commission the system after installation is complete
e) Remove the refrigerant from the system prior to decommissioning the system.
The holder of a restricted 'Splits' license is not qualified and not permitted to:
a) Work with any split system air conditioner of more than 18kW cooling capacity
b) Install multi-head split system air conditioning systems
c) Service, repair or maintain any split system air conditioner
How to check your installer's license
There are a number of ways you can check if a tradesman/technician is appropriately licenced:
- Visit the online licence check facility www.lookforthetick.com.au to see if they are licenced and current
- Businesses advertising / promoting air conditioning services should include a licence number
- Ask to see their Refrigerant Handling Licence card – this will also tell you the services they are qualified to perform in relation to air conditioning equipment
Visit the Australian Refrigeration Council's 'Look for the tick' site for more tools and information.