Distributor Hushon is gearing up for an anticipated increase in demand for replacement air conditioning as the deadline for R22 phase-out approaches at the end of this year.

The Toshiba distributor believes that many end users have delayed replacing their R22 equipment due to recent economic uncertainties, which have hindered decisions on capital investment. As the economy picks up, however, and the phase-out deadline looms larger, it believes companies will finally have to bite the bullet and address the problem.

Use of R22 refrigerant when topping up systems will be banned from the end of this year across Europe. Air conditioning still reliant on R22 will effectively become obsolete, and will either have to be replaced or retrofitted to operate on a more environmentally friendly refrigerant.

Tony Martin, director of Hushon UK, said: "There remains a huge amount of R22 air conditioning equipment out there. No one really knows the true scale of it, but it is reasonable to assume it is in the hundreds of thousands of units. Most of the national end users have addressed the issue, however, many small to medium size operators have yet to get to grips with the problem. In many cases, these systems are providing essential cooling for business such as shops, offices, hospitals and so on. With the deadline in just six months’ time, people will have to grasp the nettle as cooling is, in many cases, essential.”

Hushon UK has expanded its sales team as part of increased activity over the coming months. The Portsmouth-based air conditioning specialist, launched in 1987, has grown to become a key supplier in the UK market.

It specialises in Toshiba air conditioning alongside its own brand chilled water systems and air handling units (AHUs), which are manufactured in Spain. Large splits and VRF systems make up the largest proportion of its business, with the biggest single seller being the Toshiba 12-14kW cassette.

The company has had particular success in the retail and office market, but is now expanding into wider application areas. It reports significant wins in the premium apartment sector in London, where the Toshiba mini VRF is ideal due to its high efficiency and ease of installation. Hushon recently also supplied air conditioning for some of the best-known restaurants and eateries in the capital.

Alongside its R22 initiative, Hushon is accelerating its air conditioning training programme. The company’s training facility offers a full range of courses and is equipped with working examples of a three-pipe VRF system, heat recovery unit and control options. It is now looking to develop courses at customers’ premises.