Get started in the Air Conditioning industry with our 5-Day F Gas Category 1 qualification

Get started in the Air Conditioning industry with the Ellis Training 5-Day F Gas Category 1 qualification. The next available date for this course is Monday, 25 September, 2017. Subsequent Monday starting dates are 25 September, 9 October, 23 October, 6 November, 20 November and 4 December.

This F Gas course is the legal minimum requirement to become qualified in the air conditioning industry. (Once you have completed this, we recommend the City & Guilds 2081 Split Air Conditioning Installation course, followed by the Service and Maintenance course.)

This FGAS1/5 course will introduce, train, assess & qualify where appropriate, experienced and non-experienced candidates who need to obtain the minimum legal qualification to install, commission, service, maintain, recover & leak check all refrigeration, air conditioning & heat pump systems in accordance with the F Gas Regulation EC517/2014.

Click here to see full course details.

Ellis is the first training organisation registered for new Apprenticeship qualification

There have been some exciting things going on in the world of Apprenticeship training. In keeping with the recommendations of the Richards Review of some years ago, we have been working to develop a new ‘Trailblazer’ qualification – City & Guilds 6090: Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Systems Engineering Technician.

Around five years ago, in its Richards Report, the government recognised the fact that there were qualifications out there which had been put together by various groups of people but which were not necessarily what employers wanted their apprentices to have by way of qualifications.

Many different industries have responded to the recommendations of the Richards report, which flagged up the need for qualifications written by employers, our own industry included. This is the background of the 6090 qualification.

Any training organisation offering Level 3 RACHP qualifications is entitled to apply for City & Guilds approval to offer this course – and I’m very pleased to say that Ellis Training Works has become the first to be approved and be on the Register of Approved Training Providers (RoATP).

Although, some years ago, we did take funding for our apprentices, a number of factors, including all of the bureaucracy involved, did not make it worthwhile for us to continue so all of our candidates have been privately funded. Happily though, we now have a very different formula.

The new Levy scheme requires employers whose salary bill is in excess of £3m to pay into a Training Levy, with these contributions being used to pay for apprentice training. Among the many benefits of this new scheme is the fact that it will result in an increase in the number of skilled people in the workforce. We think it’s a fantastic thing and we are very excited by all of this.

Ellis Training Works is now approved to take apprentices from Levy paying employers, and although the majority of employers in our industry are non Levy paying, we fully expect, that come January, we will be able to take apprentices from these companies too. In this instance, the apprentices will be partially funded by the employer, with the remainder being met by the Skills Funding Agency.

So as you can see, all of this represents quite a turnaround. The new arrangements stand to make a hugely positive impact on our industry. Personally, I don’t think enough has been made of this – we’ll certainly do our bit to spread the word.

In my next post, I’ll share more about the background, rationale and content of the new 6090 Trailblazer qualification.

With best wishes,


Can our new system give us Legionnaire’s disease?

Advice for installers

If you’re an air conditioning installer or mechanic, you won’t be surprised at how often air conditioning installers are asked by customers if their new equipment puts them at risk of catching Legionnaire’s disease.

You know the answer to this question is ‘of course not’. But a bit of background information might also come in handy, so here’s some reassuring information to give to customers when they ask you about the disease and all that they may have heard about its supposed links to air conditioning.

Legionnaire’s disease – NOT directly from air conditioning systems

The first point to make is to do with how people actually contract Legionnaire’s disease. This is through inhaling Legionella bacteria held in airbound droplets of contaminated water.

Air conditioners don’t actually have any water in their systems so they can’t actually produce any of these bacteria. The only thing air conditioning systems could do is spread bacteria around a building.

So where does the disease originate?

The Legionella bacteria thrive in conditions where water is recirculated and kept in temperatures between 25° C – and 45° C – often in cooling towers, spas and humidifiers, and usually in older systems that have not been properly maintained.

Having said all this, it’s also important to point out that the disease is actually quite rare, and the risks are fairly minimal, which is why there is always such a lot of publicity when there is an outbreak.

Preventing Legionnaire’s disease

When customers ask you what they can do to minimise the risk of Legionnaire’s disease, point out that any water systems must be regularly cleaned to prevent any kind of organic growth, such as mould.  If water is stored between 25° C – and 45° C it’s a good idea to increase the temperature fairly regularly, for short periods, over 60OC.

The fact that there isn’t a connection between air conditioning systems and contracting Legionnaire’s disease doesn’t stop the myth from spreading, so hopefully the information here will help you to explain things to customers who might be worried or concerned about it…..

(Some very large air conditioning systems have water cooled outdoor units which utilize cooling towers, which may be the source of Legionella bacterium of not properly maintained.)

New hazards in refrigerant handling

While the topic of refrigerant hazards has always been important, right now it is more important than ever.

Refrigerants have always had their own hazards, but now, as we move away from hydro-fluorocarbons there are even more potential dangers that we must take into account.

A new era for refrigerants

Reducing fluorine in refrigerants actually increases their flammability. We are now moving into an era where we will be dealing with flammable refrigerants much more than we ever did before. Thus, working practices must be modified, to ensure maximum safety during handling.

This is particularly relevant to the task of un-brazing compressors. When we un-braze, we introduce a flame into a situation where there may be a flammable substance mixed with air. So of course, there is a risk of fire – and in worst possible cases, an explosion.

Whenever we recover systems, there is a residual amount of refrigerant left in the system, together with the compressor oil. Thus, when we heat up the joints on the compressor in order to change it – if it is faulty for example – there is a risk that as we apply heat to the compressor body, the combination of the oil fumes and the refrigerant vapour will reach a flashpoint. This could result in considerable personal injury in the form of burns.

Developing universal procedures

Having removed the refrigerant and taken it down to atmospheric pressure, the system must be evacuated before filling with nitrogen at atmospheric pressure to ensure no oxygen is present in the system. Right around the world, at various events, work is under way to develop universal procedures for preparing compressor bodies for removal.

As we move forward, there needs to be general awareness of the fact that just about all refrigerants will be flammable, and some highly so. In all situations, operatives must be fully aware of all potential hazards associated with this, even when some refrigerants have a lower level of flammability – it is important never to be complacent.

Training – more important than ever 

In systems involving non-flammable refrigerants, fumes from oil elements still constitute a hazard. Refrigerants will sometimes produce toxic fumes when they break down. Because these fumes are heavier than air, they displace air, and are therefore potentially asphyxiating substances.

Although refrigerant hazards have been with us for as long as any of us in the industry can remember, it is absolutely crucial that we are aware of the changes concerning flammability and that we develop appropriate procedures to maximise safety at all times.

How our training makes a lasting difference

Ellis Training Works founder and MD John Ellis explains the strapline: ‘Committed to education, not just passing exams’.

We say our training is about education, not just passing exams. Here are a few thoughts about what we actually mean by this statement.

When we sat down with our marketing people to look at how to promote the courses we offer at Ellis Training Works, it turned out to be a very useful experience, because it forced us to look at what is most important in the training we provide.

Ellis Training Works is certainly in the business of imparting skills and awarding certification. But our ‘unique selling point’ is to do with something far more important and valuable than that – it’s about knowledge.

The difference between knowledge and skills is the difference between what someone is doing, and why they’re doing it.

Having the skill to do the practical things is important but pretty straight forward, most people can be taught to braze, make joints, fit gauges, add refrigerant, recover refrigerants and so on, quite quickly. Once a person has the ‘skills’, they can use them pretty much for ever. But, they will be reliant on someone who has the ‘knowledge to tell them which skills to use and when.

For example when a faulty system is reported it requires someone with sufficient ‘knowledge’ of the system and the refrigerant properties, air properties and or electrical systems to diagnose the fault using their knowledge before the skills can be put to use.

Our aim is to provide sufficient skills and knowledge in the short time that people are with us in the training centre so that they can practice and develop them while at work.

Ellis Training Works puts great emphasis on equipping trainees with the kind of understanding that will allow them to use their knowledge and their skills to solve problems. It’s not necessarily something you can convey quickly or instantly and it does depend on having an attitude that brings a genuine thirst for knowledge and an enthusiasm for wanting to know more.

I’ve always loved staying at the forefront of thinking in my industry – it’s what enabled me to start this training company of ours in the first place. Like so many industries, ours is constantly on the move. Continuous developments in technology and updated regulations demand not just new skills, but new understanding. The old scenario, where engineers did their initial training, became certificated and then worked through a long career without any further training, is long gone. And that’s a good thing.

What is really important now, is a kind of incremental, non-stop approach to learning, where engineers, in the course of their work, learn something new almost every day by applying their skill and knowledge. This, more than anything else, is what will ensure a healthy future for the refrigeration and air-conditioning industry.

Approved to offer 6090!

We are now approved to offer the new ‘Trailblazer’ qualification for Refrigeration, Air Conditioning & Heat Pumps and will be doing so from summer this year!

These are exciting times for our industry with this new qualification that can ultimately lead to candidates being considered competent at Engineering Technician Level after completing a three year course.

Got F Gas but can’t ‘Get’ Fault Finding?

How many hours do your engineers spend on the phone to your office or to colleagues trying to ‘fix’ the many problems they come across in the course of a week?

Probably more than you think, due to the ‘mysteries’ of the systems they are called out to.

We hear it all the time, the gasps of surprise and gasps of recognition when the penny drops why it is they have supposedly insurmountable problems that can’t be solved.

The truth is that more in depth training is required to be able to eradicate these issues and save countless wasted hours in call backs and those phone calls.

With a little more training and better understanding of the systems (F Gas is after all only a basic entry level qualification) engineers will be far better able to diagnose faults and rectify them, saving thousands of pounds in lost revenue to companies.

We hear of systems almost rebuilt with the number of spare parts replaced, only to find the same problem exists!

Take a look at our Fault Finding, Service and Maintenance course for more info.

New RACHP Diploma Apprenticeship Students

41 newly enrolled students have just completed the first ‘block’ of a new RACHP Diploma apprenticeship course at Ellis Training Works in Cuffley. Early indications are that the students are settling down well with good results overall in their first end of block assessment.

We are also enjoying welcoming our new level 3 course students this week.

ACR Champion 2015

This year’s winner of the ACR Champion Award is an individual who we could really only describe as a true gentleman, helpful in every way. He cares about what impact he has on the industry and people within it. His career started in 1965 as a Refrigeration Mechanic and Combat Engineer. He swiftly became an Instructor at the Royal School of Military Engineering, instructing military personnel to craft and technician level in refrigeration and air conditioning.

His outstanding contributions to industry include:

  • President of the Institute of Refrigeration
  • Chairman, Vice Chairman and Director of ACRIB
  • Chair of BRA
  • Appointed honorary member of the City & Guilds of London in recognition of significant involvement and contribution to the furtherance of his work in the Institute in technical and vocational education and training.
  • Member of Managing Panel of the National Training Organisation for the HVAC&R industries
  • Chair and member of the Management Committee of the ACR Interest Group for SummitSkills.

Our ACR Champion’s career has taken him all over the world, including Ghana, Spain, Syria, Turkey and Hong Kong. Most recently he has authored the F gas qualification C&G 2079 on behalf of the industry, completely free of charge. Our champion also spent a lot of time reviewing the EU specifications and regulations.

He has worked with the ACRIB Education Committee to ensure the new qualification was up in time, proportionate and relevant. He continues to ensure this is updated and remains corrected over time. He is currently working as a technical author and consultant (again volunteering) for a group of employers working with the IOR and BRA to develop the completely new Trailblazer apprenticeship scheme.

Ellis Training Consultancy was set up in 1991 and has gone from strength to strength providing training to the ACR and Building Services industries. Many of the centre’s recent successes have been demonstrated and rewarded over many years at the highly thought of ACR Trainee of the Year Awards. We at The ACR Journal are thrilled to have awarded John Ellis ACR Champion 2015.

Give us a call for more information

01707 879 879

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A Momentous Day at Ellis Training Works!!

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Get started in the Air Conditioning industry with our 5-Day F Gas Category 1 qualification

Get started in the Air Conditioning industry with the Ellis Training 5-Day F Gas Category 1 qualification. The next available date for this course is Monday, 25 September, 2017. Subsequent…

Read More

Ellis is the first training organisation registered for new Apprenticeship qualification

There have been some exciting things going on in the world of Apprenticeship training. In keeping with the recommendations of the Richards Review of some years ago, we have been…

Read More

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