Flammable Refrigerants

Last Friday the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) voted against increasing the charge limits on flammable hydrocarbon refrigerants such as propane (R-290) and isobutene (R-600a). The proposed changes aimed at increasing the global standard charge limit to five-hundred grams. Today, the International Standard known as IEC 60335-2-89 limits hydrocarbon A3 refrigerants at a charge of one-hundred and fifty. In order for it to pass the amendment needed a three quarters approval. It failed by one vote.

The International Electrotechnical Commission is an international standards organization that reviews, prepares, and publishes worldwide standards for electrical and other technologies. The group is made of nearly twenty-thousand experts from various industries. Their goal is to provide the companies, governments, and industries standards to follow when working with specific equipment. You can read more about them by clicking here.

Over the past decade or so there has been a large push to get back to the basics when it comes to refrigerants. Hydrocarbons were one of the very first refrigerants used way back in the 1800s. Back then, they were used because they were naturally found within the environment, were easily accessible, and performed efficiently. The problem with them back then, and in today’s world, is that they are highly flammable. Their flammability posed a potential risk and as soon as CFCs and HCFCs were synthesized we began to see a decline in hydrocarbon usage.

The push for hydrocarbons today comes from them being so environmentally friendly. Hydrocarbons have no Ozone Depletion Potential and they have very low, sometimes non-existent, Global Warming Potential. In order to use these climate friendly refrigerants while being conscious of their flammability many governments and organizations have imposed charge limits. By limiting the charge the risk of explosion is much lessened.

As a global standard IEC had a maximum charge of one-hundred and fifty grams as we mentioned above. Other governments have their own specific regulations, but they more or less follow the standard which is one-hundred and fifty grams. Here in the United States we were a bit behind the times. Up until a few years ago the maximum charge allowed by the EPA was fifty-seven grams. Most applications today have been approved by the EPA’s SNAP up to one-hundred and fifty grams. But, this was a recent development and you will still certain applications only allowing up to fifty-seven grams.

The hope from Friday’s decision was that the IEC would rule in favor of the five-hundred gram charge. This ruling would then inspire other governments and regulatory agencies to move forward with higher charged systems. It would be a cumulative effect across the world that would allow us to see hydrocarbons used in larger applications.

IEC’s ruling is disappointing to many. All is not lost though. The amendment will go back to a sub-committee where they will revisit the issue. They may end up making revisions so that it is not as such an aggressive change. In the meantime, we may see other countries move forward with their own increase in charge.

It is a delicate decision. Yes, there is a lot of pressure on having climate friendly refrigerants, but that doesn’t mean we should dive into flammable refrigerants. There has to be a balance between safety and climate. This balance may mean we need steer more towards less flammable refrigerants such as HFOs. Hydrocarbons will always have their place in their world but their growth into newer applications will be limited this latest ruling. This story broke from Hydrocarbons21.com.

Thanks,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

It is human nature. If the demand is high enough then the market will provide. It doesn’t matter if the product is illegal or not. If there are people willing to pay for it than others will provide the product, even if there is great risk involved.  When most people hear the terms ‘black market’ they think of various drugs and or weapons. These items are sold under the radar of government agencies and often times at great profit.

While the above items are mostly illegal there is another kind of black market that can occur when a product is strictly regulated, refrigerant for example. By now, we all know the amount of regulations, rules, and restrictions that are in place on various refrigerants across the globe. To complicate things more these regulations can change from country to country and now state to state.  Due to these regulations the price of refrigerant has risen significantly in certain parts of the world. Eventually, there was a breaking point where the increased price meant substantial profits to those who were willing to bypass the law.

Europe

The large majority of illegal refrigerants are being found within the European Union. The CoolingPost.com has done a fantastic job about reporting every one of these instances. I’m not going to go into every documented case here but to start reading on some of these scroll to the bottom of our article under the ‘Sources’ section.

Instead, in this section we’re going to focus on why and what kind of illegal trade is occurring. The biggest violation in Europe is under the ‘F-Gas’ quota system.  Just like here in the United States, the EU has a quota on how much a specific refrigerant can be produced or imported into the EU. The difference here is that Europe has begun phasing down HFC refrigerants such as R-134a, R-404A, and R-410A. The phase down came with a very aggressive import/production quota similar to what we have on R-22. This aggressive phase down caused the prices on HFC refrigerants in Europe to go up hundreds of percent. I recall reading that at one point a cylinder of R-404A was going for over seven-hundred dollars.

That crazy price point was a prime target for illegal trade. Companies from outside of the European Union saw a window of opportunity for a hefty profit. Let’s think about it for a moment. A cylinder of R-404A from China could cost around fifty dollars. If you could smuggle multiple pallets of 404A into Europe and sell it for a hundred bucks less than the going rate then the reward would be huge. For argument’s sake let’s say five pallets at forty cylinders each. So, two –hundred cylinders selling at five-hundred dollars a cylinder equals out to one-hundred thousand dollars in sales. Take out your ten-thousand dollars of cost for the Chinese product and you’re looking at ninety-thousand profit. (Minus transport fees.)

I have read from a few reports that the amount of illegal refrigerants flowing into Europe equals nearly twenty percent of the yearly F-Gas quota. So, best case Europe is looking at one-hundred and twenty percent of their HFC quota. This number could be even higher as there is no good way to measure all illegal imports. It is easy to see why Europe is having such an illegal refrigerant problem. Something has to be done to shrink these smuggler’s profit margins. Only then will we begin to see the number of illegal shipments shrink.

Other EU Struggles

Another struggle that the EU is facing is on non-refillable disposable cylinders.  These types of refrigerant containers have been banned in the EU since 2007. They were banned due to there always being a slight remainder of refrigerant gas leftover in the disposable cylinder. In some cases this leftover refrigerant can be as high as five percent. When disposed of this cylinder can leak out which in turn can harm the environment. The smugglers however see these disposable cylinders as another cost cutting point so that they can make even more profit on their illegal sales.

The last struggle that I have seen in Europe is online refrigerant sales.  There are refrigerants being sold on sites like Amazon, Ebay, and other EU specific sites. This wouldn’t be a problem if the buyer was certified and licensed to handle refrigerant, but in many cases the sellers on these websites do not ask for any certification details. In most cases they are willing to sell to anyone who wants it. This again, bypasses EU law. There is also no way to tell if these online sales are compliant with the F-Gas quota.

United States

The United States has not seen the scale of illegal refrigerants that Europe has. This is mostly due to the US still hanging onto HFC refrigerants. As I write this article, in April of 2019, there is still not formal HFC phase down plan for the US. Heck, we still haven’t even ratified the Kigali Amendment. Because of these factors the prices on HFCs have been relatively low. In fact, this year I am seeing some of the lowest prices on HFCs that I have seen in ten years.

That doesn’t mean that everything is perfect in the United States though. We have our problems as well. The first one I mentioned already in the European section, but I’ll mention it again here. In January 1st, of 2018 there was a new regulation that added HFC refrigerants to the refrigerant sales restriction. Before this rule, you could purchase a variety of HFCs on websites like Amazon.com or Ebay.com.  Shortly after the rule went into place there were a few stragglers on Amazon.com but after some more time the refrigerant listings on Amazon began to dissipate. The same story cannot be said for Ebay. I can pull up the website today and find numerous listings for R-22, R-134a, R-410A, R-404A, and more.  Now, in Ebay’s defense most of these listings ask for an EPA certification number before purchasing… but there is no way to know if they all do. I am one-hundred percent certain that sales are done without collecting the proper information.

Cans

Another problem in the United States is non-compliant refrigerant cans. The Department of Transportation has four main groups of pressure ratings for aerosol cans. (Source from Cornell.edu) This includes your typical household products like furniture polish, hairspray, tire shine, etc.  What determines the correct rating is the pressure of the product being filled at one-hundred and thirty degrees Fahrenheit.  The required ratings are below.

  • <140 psig = 2N (Non-Spec)
  • 140-160 psig = 2P
  • 160-180 psig = 2Q
  • >180 psig = Special Permit

R-134a at one-hundred and thirty degrees Fahrenheit is rated at 199 psig. As you can see, this puts 134a well outside the range of the 2Q can type. Products like refrigerants that are routinely higher than 180 psig have to be packaged in either a cylinder or in an aerosol can with a special permit. There are companies who specialize in manufacturing and obtaining special permit cans. (One example is ITW Sexton.) As you can imagine, a specialized can costs more than a standard 2Q can.

In another example of companies cutting corners there have been R-134a cans imported into the United States in a 2Q can. This is not only against government regulation but it can also be quite dangerous. There is a reason for this regulation. If refrigerant is packaged in an improperly rated can then there is risk of explosion.

Now, I am not going to name company names here for legal reasons and also not to publically shame. It is distasteful to do so. Instead, I wanted to educate you , the reader, that if you are working with or purchasing refrigerants cans please ensure that the refrigerant is stored in the correct can type. Sure, you might save some money with a 2Q can but you’re in violation of DOT regulations and you are also risking safety of yourself and others.

Conclusion

In both cases, in the European Union and the United States, the majority of this illegal product is sourced from China. In the case of Europe the product is being sneaked in through Turkey or through Russia. There are many instances where trucks are stopped and searched in Belarus or Bulgaria for illegal refrigerants.

While the world knows about these illegal refrigerants the biggest struggle is enforcing the laws on the books. Many governments are failing to impose penalties on companies who are in violation. This applies both within the United States and Europe. As an example, in the US government agencies are aware of companies importing non-compliant cans, but so far, nothing has been done about it. (At least that I am aware of, if I am incorrect please let me know.)

Over in Europe, if the government does find an illegal shipment they will often charge the truck driver and fail to follow the source of the shipment and the company behind the shipment. The driver is the pawn and without tackling the source of the problems the illegal shipments will continue.  There will be a new driver right away that is willing to take the risk.

The refrigerant black market is only going to flourish unless governments decide to crack down. While it can never be truly stopped we can at least make a dent in the amount of illegal refrigerants by strictly enforcing the laws on the books and punishing those who are defying said laws.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Top 5

Greetings ladies and gentlemen. Hope everyone is ready for the weekend. I certainty am after the week I had. I had every intention on working on another article over the course of the week but before I knew it Friday had arrived and the week was over. On top of that my Saturday and Sunday are completely booked with either yard work or family time. So, here I am on a Friday night just after ten o’clock working on an article.

Today’s post is a bit different then my others. Typically, when I do an article I like to write it myself and provide all of the details and sources myself as well. Over the course of this week I had a few contacts at Bacharach reach out to me. They had just completed a study on leak detection and they wanted to spread the word on what their study and what their findings were. If you are an avid reader of other HVAC or refrigerant news you may have already seen other websites such as CoolingPost.com do an article on this study.

A refrigerant leak is obviously never a good thing. If you’re a home owner it can mean an expensive repair bill to fix the leak and recharge your system. If you’re a business owner that expensive repair just increased ten fold. Now, imagine if you’re dealing with an industrial refrigeration system that has thousands of pounds of refrigerant in it. That bill just keeps going up and up. This is why it is so important to identify and catch refrigerant leaks before they get out of control. Typically, the quicker the problem is found the less money you will have to pay in repairs.

On top of refrigerant leaks being expensive they are also hugely detrimental to the environment. Obviously, it matters what kind of refrigerant you’re using in but more often then not the refrigerant leaking is either hurting the Ozone or is affecting Global Warming. refrigerant either. There was a story last month that involved a seafood company not correcting their leaking R-22 units. They were then fined by the Environmental Protection Agency for not following the Clean Air Act. Leaks are serious.

The problem though when dealing with refrigerant leaks is finding and identifying the leak. You need the right equipment and the right knowledge on how to find a leak but even in the best cases a leak can be difficult to find. In fact, there are instances where leaks can come and go making it that much more difficult to find. So, how can we improve this process? How can we help our customers before the leak gets out of control?

Bacharach

What Bacharach has done is they have recorded leak detection data from all over the world. Over three billion samples, yes three billion. That is a huge number and an amazing amount of data at their fingertips. The aim here is to aggregate all of this data and determine what exactly are the top five refrigerant leak types. I am a big fan of this type of thing as I am a data guy and love digging into the numbers and analyzing the results.

To show these results Bacharach has created a free webinar for anyone to watch. All you need to do is fill out a simple form of name, e-mail, phone and then the webinar pops right up. The video is twenty-five minutes but it contains a lot of great information. It is narrated by Jason Ayres, a veteran at the Bacharach company with over twenty years of experience.

It’s easy to see after just a few minutes of watching the video that these guys know what they’re talking about. If you’d like to watch the video then please click here to be taken to Bacharach’s website. Again, you’ll have to fill out a short form but it only took me a few seconds.

Conclusion

Just so you all know, I was not compensated for this post. I did enjoy a nice dinner with the Bacharach guys here in Kansas City, but that was more of a meet and greet then anything else. We enjoyed some of that famous Kansas City barbecue! I watched this leak detection video myself and thought that it was a great resources for those of you within the industry. Check it out if you’ve got some time over the weekend or if you’ve got a slow day at the office!

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

To start off with a quote from one of my favorite movies, “You ain’t no kind of man unless you got land.” – Delmar, O’Brother Where Art Thou? Well, the same can be said about tools. “You ain’t no kind of man unless you’ve got tools.” A man isn’t nothing without the right tools. I don’t care what line of work you are in, having the proper tools is essential. Along with that, having tools that are a step above can not only save you time but frustration.

Just the other day I was prepping my zero turn mower for the season and noticed I had a flat front tire. Once I jacked the mower up I got my tools out to remove the tire. Now, I could have used two wrenches to get the job done. One to hold it in place and the other to loosen the bolt. While this would have worked it would have also taken longer and also cost some frustration if one of the wrenches slipped off. Instead, I held it in place with one wrench and then used my socket wrench to loosen the bolt. Bam. It was over in just a few seconds and the tire came right off. The same logic can be applied when working on an HVAC job. It can become a whole lot harder if you don’t have the right tools on hand.Tools

The aim of this article is to layout the essential tools that an HVAC service technician will need in the field and then to also make recommendations on those very tools. I’ll be forward with you up front though that the recommendations I am providing are sourced through Amazon.com and that I will receive a percentage of the sale if you decide to purchase. However, if you return that item then my commission is lost. That is why I will only recommend quality products to ensure that you have the proper tools for the job and that you’re receiving quality items. That is also why I am doing research on the recommenced products.

In order to create this listing of tools and recommendations I went through numerous other articles on the same topic. The goal was to aggregate the information into one easily readable source. The references for this article can be found at the very bottom of the post under the title, ‘Sources.’ Also note, that you may not have to purchase all of these tools, especially if you’re working for a larger contractor. A lot of the times the contractor will provide you with SOME of these tools. It is up to you to determine which tools will be provided and which ones you need to source for yourself.

When we look at these tools we are going to divide this up by category. First we’ll start with the specialized tools that an HVAC technician. Afterwards we’ll move towards the more standard tools that most every tradesmen can’t go without and then we’ll take a look at safety. Without further ado, let’s dive in and take a look:

HVAC Tech Specific:

Gauges

  • This is one of your most important tools to have with you on the job. You won’t be much of a technician if you can’t measure temperature and pressure of the system you’re working on. A lot of folks end up having a few pair of gauges they take with them. If you wanted to you could even go for the more expensive route and purchase a digital gauge, or you could stick the the tried and true classic analog gauge.
  • For an analog gauge we recommend the Mastercool 59161 2-Way Manifold Gauge Set with 3-1/8 Inch Gauges, 3-60 Inch Hoses and Standard 1/4 Inch Fittings. This gauge set will allow you to check on R-22, R-410A, R-404A and many other common refrigerants used today.
  • For a digital, or micron, gauge we recommend the Fieldpiece SMAN360 3-Port Digital Manifold with Micron Gauge. This gauge works with forty-five different refrigerants and simultaneous readings of superheat and subcooling. Just be aware though folks that digital gauges can be quite expensive.

Thermometer

  • Thermometers will be used routinely to help determine temperature change on the system you’re working on. And, no, it is not the same type of thermometer you give to your kid during the winter season. There is a ton of variety here when it comes to choosing a product. You can get the best of the best or a decent product and save some money.
  • We recommend the Fieldpiece ST4 Dual Temperature Meter, -58 to 2000F(-50 to 1300C). This unit comes with the reputable Fieldpiece name, has the ability to check two temperatures at once, and comes with a magnetic clip. While the magnetic clip may not seem like a big deal it is definitely a great feature to have while on the job. You just clip it to the system and you now have one less tool to hold. Just don’t forget it at the job site when you’re done!

Multi-Meter

  • Having a multi-meter with you on a job site is essential. A multi-meter will stop you from being electrocuted, which is always good! It can check for electrical currents and will let you know if voltage is found. It is best to find one that can test for alternating current, direct current, amps, temperature, and microfarads. Here at RefrigerantHQ we recommend the UEi Test Instruments DL369 Digital Clamp-On Meter.

Leak Detector

  • The choice of a leak detector is an important one. If you choose a poorly designed one, or go for a cheaper model, then you could end up costing yourself a lot of time trying to identify the source of a leak. A lot of guys will use the soap and bubbles method or even ultraviolet oil to find a leak. The leak detector will be the last resort for them. Other guys go right for the sniffer on the leak detector. Either way, you will need a quality one.
  • There are quite a few options to choose from when selecting a leak detector. I’ll offer two recommendations in this article. The first is none other then Bacharach’s H-10 Pro. This detector from Bacharach is widely considered one of the best on the market. The downside is that it can get quite expensive.
  • The other model we will recommend that isn’t quite as expensive as the Bacharach is the Fieldpiece Heated Diode Refrigerant Leak Detector. It is still a high quality detector that is about half the price of the H-10.

Vacuum Pump

  • One of the worst things you can do after repairing a customer’s system is forgetting to vacuum it out before you recharge. By not removing any air, moisture, or other impurities from the system before charging you risk contaminating the oil. The contaminated oil Having a vacuum pump is a must for any technician so that you can remove those impurities.
  • Here at RefrigerantHQ we recommend  Robinair (15500) VacuMaster Economy Vacuum Pump – 2-Stage, 5 CFM. While there are larger pumps out there this is a good basic model for contract work.

Recovery Machine

  • You’re going to need a way to get that refrigerant out of your customer’s system. Recovery machines are a must for any technician. Without one you can’t even do standard diagnosis.
  • Here at RefrigerantHQ we recommend the Robinair RG3 Twin-Cylinder Portable Refrigerant Recovery Machine – 115V AC, 60 Hz. This machine will work with all of the common refrigerants of today such as R-22, R-404A, R-410A, etc.

Refrigerant Scale

Core Removal Tool

  • This tool isn’t a must for techs out there but it can certifiably make your job easier. This will allow you to remove the valve core during refrigerant recovery to make for a much faster process. A brochure about the product can be found by clicking here.
  • We recommend the product that is found in the brochure above known as the Appion MGAVCT 1/4″ MegaFlow Vacuum-Rated Valve Core Removal Tool.

Tubing Cutters

Recovery Cylinder

  • These will most likely be provided to you by your contractor. But, in the off chance that they are not you will definitely need one of these when working on a system. That extracted refrigerant needs to go somewhere, right? You sure as hell better not vent it! Our recommend recovery tank is the MASTERCOOL 62010 Gray/Yellow Recovery Tank.

General Tools:

These tools aren’t necessarily exclusive to the HVAC world but they can come quite handy when at a job site.  Let’s take a look:

Sawzall

  •  This is by far one of my favorite tools. Mainly… because it’s a lot of fun and also allows you to get a lot of work done quickly. For the most part, if you need something removed or cut through then your sawzall will do it. I demolished my sub basement entirely with a sawzall and a sledgehammer. Between my metal and wood blades there wasn’t anything I could saw right through. I recommend the Milwaukee 2720-20 M18 SAWZALL. I push for this one as I’ve had a Milwaukee sawzall for years and have never had a problem with it.

Screwdrivers

  • Yes, I realize this is the most basic of all tools there is but you would be surprised how many people forget the basics. You will need both flathead and phillips head screwdrivers. A lot of people aim for the insulated handles, but these aren’t necessary. We recommend the Craftsman 8 Piece Phillips and Slotted Set, 9-47136. Some folks will opt for the adjustable screw driver set instead of having multiple screw drivers to carry around. It’s up to you, but I prefer the classics.

Pliers

Hammers

  • I can go on and on about hammers. I honestly couldn’t tell you why, but I have a fascination with hammers. There are so many types of them out there. It doesn’t matter what trade or job you are in a hammer is always useful. I’l tell you right now though that I’m going to try and sell you on a titanium hammer. I love these damn things. The whole concept is that you get the striking power of a heavy duty framing hammer but in an fifteen ounce package. So, you get a powerful light weight hammer.
  • Our recommended titanium hammers are either the Stiletto or the Martinez. Either one are great… just be prepared to pay a heavy price. Don’t be wary though, as this is a life time hammer. You’ll never need to buy another one again.

Wrenches

  • The more wrenches the better, right? Well, that’s what I always say. I don’t even know how many dam sets of wrenches I’ve got lying around in my workshop. The good news though is that if I lose one I can find another one just like it in no time! For HVAC work it is recommended to have a wrench set, a crescent wrench set, a set of allen wrenches, and a pipe wrench. For more on the various types of wrenches there are you can click here to be taken to homequicks.com complete wrench guide.

Flashlight

  • Having a powerful flashlight will make your life easier especially in those hard to see places like attics, basements, or even crawl spaces. I’ve seen some techs use the flashlight app on their phone, but if it was me, that wouldn’t be enough. I recommend the GearLight LED Tactical Flashlight S1000. It’s powerful, gives you plenty of light, and it’s small. There is another option though that some techs like to use as it frees their hands up. It is the DanForce LED headlamp. Yes, that’s right a head lamp. You just pop it on and flip the switch and you’ve got light without having to move your flashlight all around.

Wire Strippers/Crimpers

  • This is a very commonly used tool within the trade and is used numerous times during a job. You also don’t want to go cheap on a tool like this as it is much easier to strip the wire in one clean sweep then having to go over it again and again. Having a crimping function built in as well is a must. The crimper provides you with a great cutting tool allowing you to cut through wires and sheet metal alike. We recommend the Neiko 01924A Ultimate Self-Adjusting Wire and Cable Stripper.

Snips/Sheers & Metal Cutters

  • These tools will allow you to cut through sheet metal. They come as right handed, left handed, or straight. These can be bought individually or as a set of three. Here at RefrigerantHQ we recommend the Craftsman Evolv 3 pc. Aviation Snip Set.

Tape Measure

  • This should be just a default tool on any job even if you’re not in HVAC. Tape measures can be used to measure duct placement, air conditioner placement, and furnace placement. Be sure to get a self-locking measure that can also retract at a moment’s notice. We recommend the Stanley Tools 33-725 25-Feet FatMax Tape Measure.

Cordless Drill

  • There are so many opportunities that you will need to use a drill for and you never truly know when you’ll need one. We recommend using a twenty-four volt model for the most power. What’s that Home Improvement line, MORE POWER? I did some searching on this as it was hard to find a reputable twenty-four volt drill. What I ended up settling on was the Greenworks 24V 2-Speed Cordless Compact Drill, Two 2.0 AH Batteries included 37012B.

Staple Gun

Caulk & Caulking Gun

  • Having a caulking gun handy will allow you to clean any work you’ve done on a customer’s duct work. It also allows you to fix any mistakes you’ve made along the way without any serious damage being done. You can’t really go to wrong with this tool. Here is what I found from Amazon.

Hand Seamers

  • A hand seaming tool is designed to use with your duct work. This tool will allow you to mold the duct work by bending, flattening, or shaping as you require. Here at RefrigerantHQ we recommend the ABN Metal Hand Seamer.

Awl

  • This is a great tool to have in your arsenal. It allows you to punch openings through drywall, sheet metal, or wood whenever necessary. It also allows you to scratch as well. This can be used for marking a line before cutting. The Malco A1 USA Made Regular Grip Scratch Awl is a great choice here.

Extension Cords

  • More often then not the job site that you are working at is farther away from an outlet or power source. You could be outside on the side of the homeowner’s house or you could be in an unfinished basement that isn’t wired yet. Whatever the situation you are in it would be a whole lot nicer if you had an extension cord with you so that you could actually use some of your machines during the job. We recommend the outdoor fifty foot extension cord which can be found by clicking here.

Tool Bag & Tool Belt

  • We couldn’t wrap this article up without the most important ‘tool’ you’ll need on the job. With all of the tools we recommended above you are going to need a way to carry them around. Now, you can be like my father and carry around the Milwaukee tool bag. It’s just a big open duffel bag with everything piled into it. But, hey, it works for him so who’s to judge?
    • If you find however, that you want to be a bit more organized then we recommend getting the backpack tool bag. I’m a big fan of the backpack approach as you can carry it on your shoulders instead of with one hand to the side. It’s easier on the back that way. You also get a ton of pockets and side compartments for organized storage. There are quite a few models like this but today we’re going to recommend the Veto Pro Pac TECH PAC Service Technician Bag. Yes, I understand that it is pricey but it is one of those times where you want to spend a bit more to get that quality. Otherwise, you’re going to have to keep buying a bag every few years due to tears and rips.
    • As for a tool belt there are hundreds to choose from. Just make sure that it stays on you, isn’t too burdensome, and that it can carry what you want it to carry. We recommend the NoCry Heavy Duty Canvas Tool Pouch with 7 Roomy Pockets, 10 Tool Loops, Adjustable Waist Strap, and Sturdy Velcro Belt Flap. It’s highly rated on Amazon and after reading some of the reviews I am quite confident with it.

Safety:

Safety is very important as an HVAC technician. There is a tendency for the younger generations to disregard safety. They have that mentality that nothing will happen to them and that they’ll just be fine. I know this because I was like this fifteen years or so ago. Now, I wouldn’t consider myself old but I am old enough to know better now. I take precautions nowadays and you should too especially if you’re going to be doing this job day in and day out. If you rely on your body then take care of it and take the proper steps and precautions.

Our first recommendation is having a nice pair of safety glasses. I would actually buy a couple that way if you forget a pair you have a back up. These are, along with the gloves I’m going to mention next, are some of the most important when it comes to safety. If you’re using a sawzall or even just clipping through sheet metal you never know what’s going to happen. Something could come up and fly right into your eye.  We recommend the JORESTECH Eyewear Protective Safety Glasses. You get a pack of twelve for a decent price. That way when you lose a pair, which I always do, you have a back up.

Along with the safety glasses having a nice pair of work gloves will not only make your life easier but will also serve to protect your hands from cuts, abrasions, and even frostbite if you have a nasty encounter with some refrigerant. What kind of gloves you like to purchase are up to you. Personally, I like the pig skin leather with the insulated interior. Word of the wise though, keep them somewhere secure. I made the mistake of leaving my last pair of gloves in my workshop over the winter. I went out there the other day to get something and notice a mouse had chewed them all up. Here at RefrigerantHQ we recommend the G & F 2012M-3 Cold Weather Premium Genuine Grain Pig Skin Leather Gloves with Red Fleece Lining. Again, you get multiple pairs here, three to be exact, to allow you to misplace a pair or here every now and then.

These next two aren’t as important, but they are still great to have. First, I would recommend having a set of painter’s masks either in your van or in your toolbox. These will come in handy when you’re crawling around in a moldy basement, an attic covered in insulation, or worst of all… a crawl space. For those of you who haven’t experienced before, there are a lot of homeowners who like to spray their crawl space with pesticides to ensure no bugs come in through the floor. Obviously, a painter’s mask isn’t going to solve everything and you should exercise your best caution when working jobs like this. If it doesn’t look safe, don’t do it. We recommend the Universal 4528 Non-Toxic Disposable Dust & Filter Safety Masks (50 Count Box). You get a fifty pack that should last you quite a while.

The last point I’ll mention is that it is always good to have a standard first aid kit in your van. You never truly know what’s going to happen at a job site and having a kit within reach can be extremely helpful. Even the most experienced technicians make mistakes and it only takes one to get a nasty cut either from the sheet metal or one of your tools. Having some gauze and disinfectant will help you recover and get back to the job, or limp back home! We recommend the Swiss Safe 2-in-1 First Aid Kit.

Conclusion

Well there you have it folks. That should be absolutely everything you would ever need during an HVAC job. I tried to be as thorough as I could with this article but if you find that you’re still wanting more information please visit our sources below. These are all great articles that have their own flair on exactly what tools an HVAC technician needs for the job.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

RefrigerantHQ's Pressure Charts

The HFO R-1234yf is the refrigerant of the future. Or, at least, that is how it has been marketed. Yf was the first HFO refrigerant to see mainstream attention. A few years back there was immense pressure in the European Union to stop using the HFC R-134a for automotive air conditioning. The pressure was there due to the extremely high Global Warming Potential (GWP) that R-134a has. R-134a has a GWP of one-thousand four-hundred and thirty. It is classified as a super pollutant.

The answer to the world’s problems came with the announcement of the new HFO refrigerant known as R-1234yf. Yf refrigerant has a Global Warming Potential of only four. That is a huge difference when comparing it to other refrigerants on the market today. The only downside for yf is that it is rated as slightly flammable or 2L from ASHRAE and other air conditioning organizations.

The European Union quickly phased down and out R-134a and had their new vehicles start taking R-1234yf. While the acceptance of yf is much slower here in the United States there are numerous vehicle manufacturers who have begun using this refrigerant in their newer model vehicles. With each year that passes more and more vehicles begin taking yf.

To read more about 1234yf please click here to be taken to our official refrigerant fact sheet on yf.

1234yf Pressure Chart

One of the very first steps when it comes to diagnosing a vehicle’s air conditioner is understanding the temperature and the current pressure that your system is operating at. Having these facts along with the saturation point, the subcool, and the superheat  numbers for the refrigerant you are working on are essential when it comes to really understanding what is going wrong with your system.

The chart below details the pressures and the saturation point, or boiling point, R-1234yf:

°F °C PSI KPA
-94 -70 -9.82 -67.7
-90.4 -68 -9.26 -63.8
-86.8 -66 -8.65 -59.6
-83.2 -64 -7.99 -55.1
-79.6 -62 -7.27 -50.1
-76 -60 -6.49 -44.7
-72.4 -58 -5.65 -39.0
-68.8 -56 -4.73 -32.6
-65.2 -54 -3.75 -25.9
-61.6 -52 -2.69 -18.5
-58 -50 -1.55 -10.7
-54.4 -48 -0.33 -2.3
-50.8 -46 0.99 6.8
-47.2 -44 2.39 16.5
-43.6 -42 3.89 26.8
-40 -40 5.49 37.9
-36.4 -38 7.19 49.6
-32.8 -36 9.01 62.1
-29.2 -34 10.94 75.4
-25.6 -32 12.99 89.6
-22 -30 15.17 104.6
-18.4 -28 17.47 120.5
-14.8 -26 19.91 137.3
-11.2 -24 22.49 155.1
-7.6 -22 25.21 173.8
-4 -20 28.08 193.6
-0.4 -18 31.11 214.5
3.2 -16 34.29 236.4
6.8 -14 37.64 259.5
10.4 -12 41.17 283.9
14 -10 44.87 309.4
17.6 -8 48.75 336.1
21.2 -6 52.82 364.2
24.8 -4 57.09 393.6
28.4 -2 61.56 424.4
32 0 66.23 456.6
35.6 2 71.11 490.3
39.2 4 76.21 525.4
42.8 6 81.54 562.2
46.4 8 87.09 600.5
50 10 92.89 640.5
53.6 12 98.92 682.0
57.2 14 105.21 725.4
60.8 16 111.75 770.5
64.4 18 118.55 817.4
68 20 125.63 866.2
71.6 22 132.98 916.9
75.2 24 140.62 969.5
78.8 26 148.54 1024.1
82.4 28 156.77 1080.9
86 30 165.3 1139.7
89.6 32 174.15 1200.7
93.2 34 183.32 1263.9
96.8 36 192.82 1329.4
100.4 38 202.65 1397.2
104 40 212.85 1467.5
107.6 42 223.39 1540.2
111.2 44 234.29 1615.4
114.8 46 245.57 1693.1
118.4 48 257.24 1773.6
122 50 269.31 1856.8
125.6 52 281.76 1942.7
129.2 54 94.75 653.3
132.8 56 100.09 690.1
136.4 58 105.62 728.2
140 60 111.34 767.7
143.6 62 117.26 808.5
147.2 64 123.38 850.7
150.8 66 129.71 894.3
154.4 68 136.26 939.5
158 70 143 986.0

 

Conclusion

There you have it folks. I hope this article was helpful and if you find that something is inaccurate here in my chart please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I have sourced this the best I could but there is always going to be conflicting data.  I’ve seen it multiple times on various refrigerants. I’ll search for a refrigerant’s pressure chart and get various results all showing different pounds per square inch temperatures.

The aim with this article is to give you accurate information so again, if you see anything incorrect please let me know by contacting me here. On top of this post we are also working on a comprehensive refrigerant pressure/temperature listing. The goal is to have every refrigerant out there listed with a pressure/temperature chart that is easily available. 

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Owner

RefrigerantHQ's Pressure Charts

One of the very first steps when it comes to diagnosing your home air conditioner, refrigerator, or even your vehicle’s air conditioner is understanding the temperature and the current pressure that your system is operating at. Having these facts along with the saturation point, the subcool, and the superheat  numbers for the refrigerant you are working on are essential when it comes to really understanding what is going wrong with your system.

After a visual inspection the very next step for the most seasoned technicians is pulling out their gauges and checking the pressure and temperature. It just becomes second nature after enough calls. I have heard stories of rookie techs calling some of the pros on their team for help on a system that they’re stuck on. It doesn’t matter what the situation is. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Miami or in Fargo. It will never fail that one of the first questions the pros ask the rookie is what is your subcool and what is your superheat? Having  and understanding these numbers is key to figuring out what to do next.

But, these numbers won’t do you any good if you don’t know what refrigerant you are dealing with and what the refrigerant’s boiling point is at each pressure level. This article aims at providing you with just that information.

R-32 Pressure Chart

The HFC R-32 refrigerant is quickly becoming popular, more so then it already was. Most of you know R-32 as a necessary component in the widely popular HFC blend known as R-410A Puron. R-32 along with R-125 gets you that R-410A that is found in nearly every air conditioner today.

However, in recent years there has been a push to slowly phase down R-410A. That is because of 410A’s very high Global Warming Potential, or GWP. The higher the GWP the more harm the refrigerant does to the climate. R-410A has a GWP of over two-thousand whereas R-32 has a GWP of only six-hundred and seventy-five.

While R-32 isn’t perfect it is a lot better then R-410A. That is why we are beginning to see a rise of usage of R-32 in the European Union and here in the United States as well. I do not foresee this becoming a long term trend but only as a temporary place holder until the world finds a more suitable R-410A replacement.

If you would like to read more about R-32 refrigerant please click here to be taken to our refrigerant fact sheet.

Let’s take a look at our pressure chart:

°F °C PSI KPA
-94 -70 -9.46 -65.2
-90.4 -68 -8.77 -60.5
-86.8 -66 -8.02 -55.3
-83.2 -64 -7.19 -49.6
-79.6 -62 -6.27 -43.2
-76 -60 -5.27 -36.3
-72.4 -58 -4.17 -28.8
-68.8 -56 -2.98 -20.5
-65.2 -54 -1.67 -11.5
-61.6 -52 -0.26 -1.8
-58 -50 1.28 8.8
-54.4 -48 2.95 20.3
-50.8 -46 4.75 32.8
-47.2 -44 6.69 46.1
-43.6 -42 8.78 60.5
-40 -40 11.04 76.1
-36.4 -38 13.45 92.7
-32.8 -36 16.05 110.7
-29.2 -34 18.82 129.8
-25.6 -32 21.79 150.2
-22 -30 24.96 172.1
-18.4 -28 28.34 195.4
-14.8 -26 31.94 220.2
-11.2 -24 35.77 246.6
-7.6 -22 39.83 274.6
-4 -20 44.15 304.4
-0.4 -18 48.72 335.9
3.2 -16 53.56 369.3
6.8 -14 58.68 404.6
10.4 -12 64.09 441.9
14 -10 69.79 481.2
17.6 -8 75.81 522.7
21.2 -6 82.15 566.4
24.8 -4 88.82 612.4
28.4 -2 95.84 660.8
32 0 103.21 711.6
35.6 2 110.95 765.0
39.2 4 119.07 821.0
42.8 6 127.58 879.6
46.4 8 136.49 941.1
50 10 145.81 1005.3
53.6 12 155.57 1072.6
57.2 14 165.76 1142.9
60.8 16 176.41 1216.3
64.4 18 187.53 1293.0
68 20 199.13 1373.0
71.6 22 211.21 1456.2
75.2 24 223.81 1543.1
78.8 26 236.93 1633.6
82.4 28 250.59 1727.8
86 30 264.8 1825.7
89.6 32 279.57 1927.6
93.2 34 294.93 2033.5
96.8 36 310.89 2143.5
100.4 38 327.47 2257.8
104 40 344.67 2376.4
107.6 42 362.51 2499.4
111.2 44 381.05 2627.2
114.8 46 400.24 2759.6
118.4 48 420.15 2896.8
122 50 440.79 3039.1
125.6 52 462.17 3186.6
129.2 54 484.33 3339.3
132.8 56 507.27 3497.5
136.4 58 531.02 3661.3
140 60 555.63 3830.9
143.6 62 581.1 4006.5
147.2 64 607.49 4188.5
150.8 66 634.81 4376.9
154.4 68 663.11 4572.0
158 70 692.45 4774.3

Conclusion

There you have it folks. I hope this article was helpful and if you find that something is inaccurate here in my chart please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I have sourced this the best I could but there is always going to be conflicting data.  I’ve seen it multiple times on various refrigerants. I’ll search for a refrigerant’s pressure chart and get various results all showing different pounds per square inch temperatures.

The aim with this article is to give you accurate information so again, if you see anything incorrect please let me know by contacting me here. On top of this post we are also working on a comprehensive refrigerant pressure/temperature listing. The goal is to have every refrigerant out there listed with a pressure/temperature chart that is easily available. 

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Owner

RefrigerantHQ's Pressure Charts

One of the very first steps when it comes to diagnosing your home air conditioner, refrigerator, or even your vehicle’s air conditioner is understanding the temperature and the current pressure that your system is operating at. Having these facts along with the saturation point, the subcool, and the superheat  numbers for the refrigerant you are working on are essential when it comes to really understanding what is going wrong with your system.

After a visual inspection the very next step for the most seasoned technicians is pulling out their gauges and checking the pressure and temperature. It just becomes second nature after enough calls. I have heard stories of rookie techs calling some of the pros on their team for help on a system that they’re stuck on. It doesn’t matter what the situation is. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Miami or in Fargo. It will never fail that one of the first questions the pros ask the rookie is what is your subcool and what is your superheat? Having  and understanding these numbers is key to figuring out what to do next.

But, these numbers won’t do you any good if you don’t know what refrigerant you are dealing with and what the refrigerant’s boiling point is at each pressure level. This article aims at providing you with just that information.

R-22 Pressure Chart

R-22 refrigerant is the major refrigerant, or… it was. R-22 was invented by a partnership with General Motors and DuPont back in the 1930’s. In the 1950’s the use of R-22 exploded and for nearly sixty years it was THE refrigerant to be used in home, office, and commercial air conditioning. Along with air conditioning it was also used in chillers, ice rinks, and many other applications.

It was in the 1980’s that it was discovered that R-22 was damaging the Ozone layer with the chlorine that it contained. In order to correct this R-22 was phased out across the world. Here in America our phase out began in 2010 and the refrigerant will be completely phased out in 2020. Taking R-22’s place is the HFC refrigerant blend known as R-410A, our Puron.

As I write this article, in 2019, there are still thousands of R-22 machines out there, but they are a dying breed and within the next ten to twenty years R-22 will be as rare to find as R-12 is today.

If you would like to read more about R-22 Freon  refrigerant please click here to be taken to our refrigerant fact sheet.

Let’s take a look at our pressure chart:

°F °C PSI KPA
-40 -40.0 0.5 3.4
-35 -37.2 2.6 17.9
-30 -34.4 4.9 33.8
-25 -31.7 7.4 51.0
-20 -28.9 10.1 69.6
-15 -26.1 13.2 91.0
-10 -23.3 16.5 113.8
-5 -20.6 20.1 138.6
0 -17.8 24 165.5
5 -15.0 28.2 194.4
10 -12.2 32.8 226.1
15 -9.4 37.7 259.9
20 -6.7 43 296.5
25 -3.9 48.8 336.5
30 -1.1 54.9 378.5
35 1.7 61.5 424.0
40 4.4 68.5 472.3
45 7.2 76 524.0
50 10.0 84 579.2
55 12.8 92.6 638.5
60 15.6 102 703.3
65 18.3 111 765.3
70 21.1 121 834.3
75 23.9 132 910.1
80 26.7 144 992.8
85 29.4 156 1075.6
90 32.2 168 1158.3
95 35.0 182 1254.8
100 37.8 196 1351.4
105 40.6 211 1454.8
110 43.3 226 1558.2
115 46.1 243 1675.4
120 48.9 260 1792.6
125 51.7 278 1916.7
130 54.4 297 2047.7
135 57.2 317 2185.6
140 60.0 337 2323.5
145 62.8 359 2475.2
150 65.6 382 2633.8

Conclusion

There you have it folks. I hope this article was helpful and if you find that something is inaccurate here in my chart please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I have sourced this the best I could but there is always going to be conflicting data.  I’ve seen it multiple times on various refrigerants. I’ll search for a refrigerant’s pressure chart and get various results all showing different pounds per square inch temperatures.

The aim with this article is to give you accurate information so again, if you see anything incorrect please let me know by contacting me here. On top of this post we are also working on a comprehensive refrigerant pressure/temperature listing. The goal is to have every refrigerant out there listed with a pressure/temperature chart that is easily available. 

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Owner

RefrigerantHQ's Pressure Charts

One of the very first steps when it comes to diagnosing your home air conditioner, refrigerator, or even your vehicle’s air conditioner is understanding the temperature and the current pressure that your system is operating at. Having these facts along with the saturation point, the subcool, and the superheat  numbers for the refrigerant you are working on are essential when it comes to really understanding what is going wrong with your system.

After a visual inspection the very next step for the most seasoned technicians is pulling out their gauges and checking the pressure and temperature. It just becomes second nature after enough calls. I have heard stories of rookie techs calling some of the pros on their team for help on a system that they’re stuck on. It doesn’t matter what the situation is. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Miami or in Fargo. It will never fail that one of the first questions the pros ask the rookie is what is your subcool and what is your superheat? Having  and understanding these numbers is key to figuring out what to do next.

But, these numbers won’t do you any good if you don’t know what refrigerant you are dealing with and what the refrigerant’s boiling point is at each pressure level. This article aims at providing you with just that information.

R-404A Pressure Chart

R-404A rose to prominence in the late 1990’s with the phasing out of CFC and HCFC refrigerants like R-12 and R-502. There had to be a replacement for the Ozone damaging refrigerants of the past and the successor was the HFC R-404A that we all know of today.

404A’s reign however was short lived. R-404A has one of the highest Global Warming Potential numbers of any modern day refrigerant and is known as a super pollutant. Because of this we are seeing various countries and manufacturers no longer using R-404A in new machinery. Instead, companies and countries are opting for more climate friendly refrigerants such as natural refrigerants, hydrocarbons, and newer less GWP heavy HFO refrigerants

If you would like to read more about R-404A  refrigerant please click here to be taken to our refrigerant fact sheet.

Let’s take a look at our pressure chart:

°F °C PSI KPA
-40 -40.0 4.3 29.6
-35 -37.2 6.8 46.9
-30 -34.4 9.5 65.5
-25 -31.7 12.5 86.2
-20 -28.9 15.7 108.2
-15 -26.1 19.3 133.1
-10 -23.3 23.2 160.0
-5 -20.6 27.5 189.6
0 -17.8 32.1 221.3
5 -15.0 37 255.1
10 -12.2 42.4 292.3
15 -9.4 48.2 332.3
20 -6.7 54.5 375.8
25 -3.9 61.2 422.0
30 -1.1 68.4 471.6
35 1.7 76.1 524.7
40 4.4 84.4 581.9
45 7.2 93.2 642.6
50 10.0 103 710.2
55 12.8 113 779.1
60 15.6 123 848.1
65 18.3 135 930.8
70 21.1 147 1013.5
75 23.9 159 1096.3
80 26.7 173 1192.8
85 29.4 187 1289.3
90 32.2 202 1392.7
95 35.0 218 1503.1
100 37.8 234 1613.4
105 40.6 252 1737.5
110 43.3 270 1861.6
115 46.1 289 1992.6
120 48.9 310 2137.4
125 51.7 331 2282.2
130 54.4 353 2433.9
135 57.2 377 2599.3
140 60.0 401 2764.8

 

Conclusion

There you have it folks. I hope this article was helpful and if you find that something is inaccurate here in my chart please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I have sourced this the best I could but there is always going to be conflicting data.  I’ve seen it multiple times on various refrigerants. I’ll search for a refrigerant’s pressure chart and get various results all showing different pounds per square inch temperatures.

The aim with this article is to give you accurate information so again, if you see anything incorrect please let me know by contacting me here. On top of this post we are also working on a comprehensive refrigerant pressure/temperature listing. The goal is to have every refrigerant out there listed with a pressure/temperature chart that is easily available. 

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Owner

RefrigerantHQ's Pressure Charts

One of the very first steps when it comes to diagnosing your home air conditioner, refrigerator, or even your vehicle’s air conditioner is understanding the temperature and the current pressure that your system is operating at. Having these facts along with the saturation point, the subcool, and the superheat  numbers for the refrigerant you are working on are essential when it comes to really understanding what is going wrong with your system.

After a visual inspection the very next step for the most seasoned technicians is pulling out their gauges and checking the pressure and temperature. It just becomes second nature after enough calls. I have heard stories of rookie techs calling some of the pros on their team for help on a system that they’re stuck on. It doesn’t matter what the situation is. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Miami or in Fargo. It will never fail that one of the first questions the pros ask the rookie is what is your subcool and what is your superheat? Having  and understanding these numbers is key to figuring out what to do next.

But, these numbers won’t do you any good if you don’t know what refrigerant you are dealing with and what the refrigerant’s boiling point is at each pressure level. This article aims at providing you with just that information.

R-410A Pressure Chart

R-410A, or Puron, is one of the most popular refrigerants in today’s modern world. However, if you rewind just fifteen or twenty years you would find that very little people even knew about it. Most contractors and technicians worked with R-22 systems for home and commercial air conditioning. R-22 had been the standard bearer refrigerant for nearly fifty years. However, R-22 harmed the Ozone Layer and a replacement refrigerant needed to be found. This is where our friend R-410A came into play. New machines from 2010 and onwards were banned from using R-22. Instead, they were outfitted with R-410A. 

If you would like to read more about R-410A  refrigerant please click here to be taken to our refrigerant fact sheet.

Let’s take a look at our pressure chart:

°F °C PSI KPA
–37.7 -38.7 12 82.7
–34.7 -37.0 14 96.5
–32.0 -35.6 16 110.3
–29.4 -34.1 18 124.1
–36.9 -38.3 20 137.9
–24.5 -31.4 22 151.7
–22.2 -30.1 24 165.5
–20.0 -29.0 26 179.3
–17.9 -27.7 28 193.1
–15.8 -26.6 30 206.8
–13.8 -25.4 32 220.6
–11.9 -24.4 34 234.4
–10.1 -23.4 36 248.2
–8.3 -22.4 38 262.0
–6.5 -21.4 40 275.8
–4.5 -20.3 42 289.6
–3.2 -19.6 44 303.4
–1.6 -18.7 46 317.2
0 -17.8 48 330.9
1.5 -16.9 50 344.7
3 -16.1 52 358.5
4.5 -15.3 54 372.3
5.9 -14.5 56 386.1
7.3 -13.7 58 399.9
8.6 -13.0 60 413.7
10 -12.2 62 427.5
11.3 -11.5 64 441.3
12.6 -10.8 66 455.1
13.8 -10.1 68 468.8
15.1 -9.4 70 482.6
16.3 -8.7 72 496.4
17.5 -8.1 74 510.2
18.7 -7.4 76 524.0
19.8 -6.8 78 537.8
21 -6.1 80 551.6
22.1 -5.5 82 565.4
23.2 -4.9 84 579.2
24.3 -4.3 86 592.9
25.4 -3.7 88 606.7
26.4 -3.1 90 620.5
27.4 -2.6 92 634.3
28.5 -1.9 94 648.1
29.5 -1.4 96 661.9
30.5 -0.8 98 675.7
31.2 -0.4 100 689.5
32.2 0.1 102 703.3
33.2 0.7 104 717.1
34.1 1.2 106 730.8
35.1 1.7 108 744.6
35.5 1.9 110 758.4
36.9 2.7 112 772.2
37.8 3.2 114 786.0
38.7 3.7 116 799.8
39.5 4.2 118 813.6
40.5 4.7 120 827.4
41.3 5.2 122 841.2
42.2 5.7 124 855.0
43 6.1 126 868.7
43.8 6.6 128 882.5
44.7 7.1 130 896.3
45.5 7.5 132 910.1
46.3 7.9 134 923.9
47.1 8.4 136 937.7
47.9 8.8 138 951.5
48.7 9.3 140 965.3
49.5 9.7 142 979.1
50.3 10.2 144 992.8
51.1 10.6 146 1006.6
51.8 11.0 148 1020.4
52.5 11.4 150 1034.2
53.3 11.8 152 1048.0
54 12.2 154 1061.8
54.8 12.7 156 1075.6
55.5 13.1 158 1089.4
56.2 13.4 160 1103.2
57 13.9 162 1117.0
57.7 14.3 164 1130.7
58.4 14.7 166 1144.5
59 15.0 168 1158.3
59.8 15.4 170 1172.1
60.5 15.8 172 1185.9
61.1 16.2 174 1199.7
61.8 16.6 176 1213.5
62.5 16.9 178 1227.3
63.1 17.3 180 1241.1
63.8 17.7 182 1254.8
64.5 18.1 184 1268.6
65.1 18.4 186 1282.4
65.8 18.8 188 1296.2
66.4 19.1 190 1310.0
67 19.4 192 1323.8
67.7 19.8 194 1337.6
68.3 20.2 196 1351.4
68.9 20.5 198 1365.2
69.5 20.8 200 1379.0
70.1 21.2 202 1392.7
70.7 21.5 204 1406.5
71.4 21.9 206 1420.3
72 22.2 208 1434.1
72.6 22.6 210 1447.9
73.2 22.9 212 1461.7
73.8 23.2 214 1475.5
74.3 23.5 216 1489.3
74.9 23.8 218 1503.1
75.5 24.2 220 1516.8
76.1 24.5 222 1530.6
76.7 24.8 224 1544.4
77.2 25.1 226 1558.2
77.8 25.4 228 1572.0
78.4 25.8 230 1585.8
78.9 26.1 232 1599.6
79.5 26.4 234 1613.4
80 26.7 236 1627.2
80.6 27.0 238 1641.0
81.1 27.3 240 1654.7
81.6 27.6 242 1668.5
82.2 27.9 244 1682.3
82.7 28.2 246 1696.1
83.3 28.5 248 1709.9
83.8 28.8 250 1723.7
84.3 29.1 252 1737.5
84.8 29.3 254 1751.3
85.4 29.7 256 1765.1
85.9 29.9 258 1778.8
86.4 30.2 260 1792.6
86.9 30.5 262 1806.4
87.4 30.8 264 1820.2
87.9 31.1 266 1834.0
88.4 31.3 268 1847.8
88.9 31.6 270 1861.6
89.4 31.9 272 1875.4
89.9 32.2 274 1889.2
90.4 32.4 276 1903.0
90.9 32.7 278 1916.7
91.4 33.0 280 1930.5
91.9 33.3 282 1944.3
92.4 33.6 284 1958.1
92.8 33.8 286 1971.9
93.3 34.1 288 1985.7
93.8 34.3 290 1999.5
94.3 34.6 292 2013.3
94.8 34.9 294 2027.1
95.2 35.1 296 2040.8
95.7 35.4 298 2054.6
96.2 35.7 300 2068.4
96.6 35.9 302 2082.2
97.1 36.2 304 2096.0
97.5 36.4 306 2109.8
98 36.7 308 2123.6
98.4 36.9 310 2137.4
98.9 37.2 312 2151.2
99.3 37.4 314 2165.0
99.7 37.6 316 2178.7
100.2 37.9 318 2192.5
100.7 38.2 320 2206.3
101.1 38.4 322 2220.1
101.6 38.7 324 2233.9
102 38.9 326 2247.7
102.4 39.1 328 2261.5
102.9 39.4 330 2275.3
103.3 39.6 332 2289.1
103.7 39.8 334 2302.8
104.2 40.1 336 2316.6
104.6 40.3 338 2330.4
105.1 40.6 340 2344.2
105.4 40.8 342 2358.0
105.8 41.0 344 2371.8
106.3 41.3 346 2385.6
106.6 41.4 348 2399.4
107.1 41.7 350 2413.2
107.5 41.9 352 2427.0
107.9 42.2 354 2440.7
108.3 42.4 356 2454.5
108.8 42.7 358 2468.3
109.2 42.9 360 2482.1
109.6 43.1 362 2495.9
110 43.3 364 2509.7
110.4 43.6 366 2523.5
110.8 43.8 368 2537.3
111.2 44.0 370 2551.1
111.6 44.2 372 2564.9
112 44.4 374 2578.6
112.4 44.7 376 2592.4
112.6 44.8 378 2606.2
113.1 45.1 380 2620.0
113.5 45.3 382 2633.8
113.9 45.5 384 2647.6
114.3 45.7 386 2661.4
114.7 45.9 388 2675.2
115 46.1 390 2689.0
115.5 46.4 392 2702.7
115.8 46.6 394 2716.5
116.2 46.8 396 2730.3
116.6 47.0 398 2744.1
117 47.2 400 2757.9
117.3 47.4 402 2771.7
117.7 47.6 404 2785.5
118.1 47.8 406 2799.3
118.5 48.1 408 2813.1
118.8 48.2 410 2826.9
119.2 48.4 412 2840.6
119.6 48.7 414 2854.4
119.9 48.8 416 2868.2
120.3 49.1 418 2882.0
120.7 49.3 420 2895.8
121 49.4 422 2909.6
121.4 49.7 424 2923.4
121.7 49.8 426 2937.2
122.1 50.1 428 2951.0
122.5 50.3 430 2964.7
122.8 50.4 432 2978.5
123.2 50.7 434 2992.3
123.5 50.8 436 3006.1
123.9 51.1 438 3019.9
124.2 51.2 440 3033.7
124.6 51.4 442 3047.5
124.9 51.6 444 3061.3
125.3 51.8 446 3075.1
125.6 52.0 448 3088.9
126 52.2 450 3102.6
126.3 52.4 452 3116.4
126.6 52.6 454 3130.2
127 52.8 456 3144.0
127.3 52.9 458 3157.8
127.7 53.2 460 3171.6
128 53.3 462 3185.4
128.3 53.5 464 3199.2
128.7 53.7 466 3213.0
129 53.9 468 3226.7
129.3 54.1 470 3240.5
129.7 54.3 472 3254.3
130 54.4 474 3268.1
130.3 54.6 476 3281.9
130.7 54.8 478 3295.7
131 55.0 480 3309.5
131.3 55.2 482 3323.3
131.6 55.3 484 3337.1
132 55.6 486 3350.9
132.3 55.7 488 3364.6
132.6 55.9 490 3378.4
132.9 56.1 492 3392.2
133.3 56.3 494 3406.0
133.6 56.4 496 3419.8
133.9 56.6 498 3433.6
134 56.7 500 3447.4
134.5 56.9 502 3461.2
134.8 57.1 504 3475.0
135.2 57.3 506 3488.7
135.5 57.5 508 3502.5
135.8 57.7 510 3516.3
136.1 57.8 512 3530.1
136.4 58.0 514 3543.9
136.7 58.2 516 3557.7
137 58.3 518 3571.5
137.3 58.5 520 3585.3
137.6 58.7 522 3599.1
137.9 58.8 524 3612.9
138.3 59.1 526 3626.6
138.6 59.2 528 3640.4
138.9 59.4 530 3654.2
139.2 59.6 532 3668.0
139.5 59.7 534 3681.8
139.8 59.9 536 3695.6
140.1 60.1 538 3709.4
140.4 60.2 540 3723.2
141 60.6 544 3750.7
141.6 60.9 548 3778.3
142.1 61.2 552 3805.9
142.7 61.5 556 3833.5
143.3 61.8 560 3861.1
143.9 62.2 564 3888.6
144.5 62.5 568 3916.2
145 62.8 572 3943.8
145.6 63.1 576 3971.4
146.2 63.4 580 3999.0
146.7 63.7 584 4026.5
147.3 64.1 588 4054.1
147.9 64.4 592 4081.7
148.4 64.7 596 4109.3
149 65.0 600 4136.9
149.5 65.3 604 4164.4
150.1 65.6 608 4192.0
150.6 65.9 612 4219.6
151.2 66.2 616 4247.2
151.7 66.5 620 4274.8
152.3 66.8 624 4302.3
152.8 67.1 628 4329.9
153.4 67.4 632 4357.5
153.9 67.7 636 4385.1
154.5 68.1 640 4412.6
155 68.3 644 4440.2
155.5 68.6 648 4467.8
156.1 68.9 652 4495.4
156.6 69.2 656 4523.0
157.1 69.5 660 4550.5
157.7 69.8 664 4578.1
158.2 70.1 668 4605.7
158.7 70.4 672 4633.3
159.2 70.7 676 4660.9
159.8 71.0 680 4688.4
160.3 71.3 684 4716.0
160.8 71.6 688 4743.6
161.3 71.8 692 4771.2
161.8 72.1 696 4798.8

Conclusion

There you have it folks. I hope this article was helpful and if you find that something is inaccurate here in my chart please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I have sourced this the best I could but there is always going to be conflicting data.  I’ve seen it multiple times on various refrigerants. I’ll search for a refrigerant’s pressure chart and get various results all showing different pounds per square inch temperatures.

The aim with this article is to give you accurate information so again, if you see anything incorrect please let me know by contacting me here. On top of this post we are also working on a comprehensive refrigerant pressure/temperature listing. The goal is to have every refrigerant out there listed with a pressure/temperature chart that is easily available. 

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Owner

RefrigerantHQ's Pressure Charts

One of the very first steps when it comes to diagnosing your home air conditioner, refrigerator, or even your vehicle’s air conditioner is understanding the temperature and the current pressure that your system is operating at. Having these facts along with the saturation point, the subcool, and the superheat  numbers for the refrigerant you are working on are essential when it comes to really understanding what is going wrong with your system.

After a visual inspection the very next step for the most seasoned technicians is pulling out their gauges and checking the pressure and temperature. It just becomes second nature after enough calls. I have heard stories of rookie techs calling some of the pros on their team for help on a system that they’re stuck on. It doesn’t matter what the situation is. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Miami or in Fargo. It will never fail that one of the first questions the pros ask the rookie is what is your subcool and what is your superheat? Having  and understanding these numbers is key to figuring out what to do next.

But, these numbers won’t do you any good if you don’t know what refrigerant you are dealing with and what the refrigerant’s boiling point is at each pressure level. This article aims at providing you with just that information.

R-290 Pressure Chart

A few decades ago very few people had heard of using propane as a refrigerant. Propane was the stuff you use in your grill and what powered your forklift. While the concept of using R-290 as a refrigerant had been around for over a century it was rarely used due to the flammability risk. Over the years though technology has improved and the need for an environmentally refrigerant has surfaced. The HFC refrigerants that most of the world uses today have a huge impact on Global Warming and an alternative needed to be found. Propane provides the answer to that alternative. Already today in the United States we are seeing propane in vending machines, ice machines, stand alone supermarket refrigerators/freezers, and in many other applications. As time moves forward and the Environmental Protection Agency becomes more comfortable with R-290 we may begin to see more and more applications be authorized to use propane. 

If you would like to read more about R-290 propane refrigerant please click here to be taken to our refrigerant fact sheet.

Let’s take a look at our pressure chart:

°F °C PSI KPA
-40 -40 1.4 9.7
-35 -37 3.4 23.4
-30 -34 5.7 39.3
-25 -32 8.1 55.8
-20 -29 10.7 73.8
-15 -26 13.6 93.8
-10 -23 16.7 115.1
-5 -21 20.1 138.6
0 -18 23.7 163.4
5 -15 27.6 190.3
10 -12 31.8 219.3
15 -9 36.3 250.3
20 -7 41.1 283.4
25 -4 46.3 319.2
30 -1 51.8 357.15
35 2 57.7 397.8
40 4 63.9 440.6
45 7 70.6 486.8
50 10 77.6 535
55 13 85.1 586.7
60 16 93 641.2
65 18 101.4 699.1
70 21 110.2 759.8
75 24 119.5 823.9
80 27 129.3 891.5
85 29 139.7 963.2
90 32 150.5 1037.7
95 35 161.9 1116.3
100 38 173.9 1198.9
105 41 186.5 1285.8
110 43 199.6 1376.2
115 46 213.4 1471.3
120 49 227.8 1570.6
125 52 242.9 1674.7
130 54 258.7 1783.7
135 57 275.1 1896.7
140 60 292.3 2015.3
145 63 310.2 2138.7
150 66 328.9 2267.7
155 68 348.4 2402.1
160 71 368.7 2542.1

Conclusion

There you have it folks. I hope this article was helpful and if you find that something is inaccurate here in my chart please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I have sourced this the best I could but there is always going to be conflicting data.  I’ve seen it multiple times on various refrigerants. I’ll search for a refrigerant’s pressure chart and get various results all showing different pounds per square inch temperatures.

The aim with this article is to give you accurate information so again, if you see anything incorrect please let me know by contacting me here. On top of this post we are also working on a comprehensive refrigerant pressure/temperature listing. The goal is to have every refrigerant out there listed with a pressure/temperature chart that is easily available. 

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Owner

RefrigerantHQ's Pressure Charts

One of the very first steps when it comes to diagnosing your home air conditioner, refrigerator, or even your vehicle’s air conditioner is understanding the temperature and the current pressure that your system is operating at. Having these facts along with the saturation point, the subcool, and the superheat  numbers for the refrigerant you are working on are essential when it comes to really understanding what is going wrong with your system.

After a visual inspection the very next step for the most seasoned technicians is pulling out their gauges and checking the pressure and temperature. It just becomes second nature after enough calls. I have heard stories of rookie techs calling some of the pros on their team for help on a system that they’re stuck on. It doesn’t matter what the situation is. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Miami or in Fargo. It will never fail that one of the first questions the pros ask the rookie is what is your subcool and what is your superheat? Having  and understanding these numbers is key to figuring out what to do next.

But, these numbers won’t do you any good if you don’t know what refrigerant you are dealing with and what the refrigerant’s boiling point is at each pressure level. This article aims at providing you with just that information.

R-600a Pressure Chart

Isobutane is being seen more and more across the world. This holds especially true as various countries begin to phase out the ever common HFC refrigerants such as R-404A and R-134a. There will come a time where HFCs area thing of the past and we need to be ready for it. Today we are seeing isobutane based systems in home refrigerators/freezers, vending machines, ice machines, stand alone supermarket refrigerators/freezers, and many more expanding options. While they are quite popular in Europe and in Asia it is only a matter of time before they start showing up in United States. If you haven’t run into one of these systems yet then it’s only a matter of time. For more information on R-600a please click here to be taken to our R-600a Refrigerant Fact Sheet.

Let’s take a look at our pressure chart:

°F °C psi kpa
-40 -40 4.16 28.7
-36 -38 4.6 31.75
-33 -36 5.08 35.05
-29 -34 5.6 38.62
-26 -32 6.16 42.47
-22 -30 6.76 46.62
-18 -28 7.41 51.09
-15 -26 8.11 55.9
-11 -24 8.85 61.05
-8 -22 9.66 66.57
-4 -20 10.51 72.48
0 -18 11.43 78.79
3 -16 12.4 85.52
7 -14 13.45 92.7
10 -12 14.55 100.33
14 -10 15.73 108.45
18 -8 16.98 117.07
21 -6 18.31 126.21
25 -4 19.71 135.89
28 -2 21.19 146.13
32 0 22.77 156.96
36 2 24.42 168.39
39 4 26.17 180.45
43 6 28.02 193.16
46 8 29.96 206.54
50 10 32 220.61
54 12 34.14 235.41
57 14 36.4 250.94
61 16 38.76 267.24
64 18 41.24 284.32
68 20 43.83 302.22
72 22 46.55 320.95
75 24 49.39 340.54
79 26 52.36 361.02
82 28 55.46 382.4
86 30 58.7 404.72
90 32 62.08 428
93 34 65.6 452.26
97 36 69.26 477.53
100 38 73.08 503.84
104 40 77.05 531.21
108 42 81.17 559.66
111 44 85.46 589.23
115 46 89.92 619.95
118 48 94.54 651.82
122 50 99.34 684.9
126 52 104.31 719.19
129 54 109.47 754.74
133 56 114.81 791.56

Conclusion

There you have it folks. I hope this article was helpful and if you find that something is inaccurate here in my chart please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I have sourced this the best I could but there is always going to be conflicting data.  I’ve seen it multiple times on various refrigerants. I’ll search for a refrigerant’s pressure chart and get various results all showing different pounds per square inch temperatures.

The aim with this article is to give you accurate information so again, if you see anything incorrect please let me know by contacting me here. On top of this post we are also working on a comprehensive refrigerant pressure/temperature listing. The goal is to have every refrigerant out there listed with a pressure/temperature chart that is easily available. 

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Owner

facts

In the very beginning of refrigerants and air conditioning there were a select few refrigerants used. These refrigerants occurred naturally within our environment and were known as natural refrigerants. These included ammonia, carbon dioxide, water, and oxygen. Among these natural refrigerants under a subset category are what’s known as hydrocarbon refrigerants. Some examples of hydrocarbon refrigerants are propane, butane, ethyl, and isobutane.

In this article we’re going to take an in-depth look at the isobutane refrigerant also known as R-600a. What are the facts on this refrigerant? What are the pros and cons? What are some worthy notations? How is it used today and how will it be used in the future? We will go all over of this and more. Without further adieu let’s dive in and take a look:

The Facts

Name:R-600a
Name - Scientific:Isobutane
Name (2):HC-600a
Name (3):Care-10
Name (4)R600a
Classification:Hydrocarbon Refrigerant
Chemistry:C4H10 or CH(CH3)2CH3
Status:Active & Growing
Future:Will Be Used All Over The World
Application:Home Refrigerators & Freezers
Application (2):Commercial Refrigerators & Freezers
Application (3):Commercial Vending Machines & Plug-Ins
Application (4):Industrial Refrigeration
Application (5):Medium, High, &Very High Temperature
Replacement For:CFCs, HCFCs, and now HFCs
Ozone Depletion Potential:0
Global Warming Potential:3
Global Warming Risk:Very Low
Toxicity Levels:A (No Toxicity Identified.)
Flammability Levels:Class 3 - Highly Flammable
Lubricant Required:MO, AB, POE
Boiling Point:−11.7 °C (10.9 °F; 261.4 K)
Critical Temperature:134.7 °C or 274.46 °F
Critical Pressure:3,640 kpa
Auto ignition Temperature:460 °C (860 °F; 733 K)
Flash Point−83 °C (−117 °F; 190 K)
Molar Mass:58.124 g·mol−1
Density:2.51 kg/m3 (at 15 °C, 100 kPa)
Density (2):563 kg/m3 (at 15 °C, boiling liquid)
Melting Point:−159.42 °C (−254.96 °F; 113.73 K)
Vapor Pressure: 3.1 atm (310 kPa) (at 21 °C (294 K; 70 °F))
Manufacturers:Various Including: Honeywell, Chemours, Arkema, Mexichem, Chinese, etc.
Manufacturing Facilities:All Over Including: USA, Mexico, EU, China, and others.
Form:Gas
Color:Colorless gas
Odor:Odorless
EPA Certification Required:No
Require Certification to Purchase?No
Cylinder Color:Unknown
Cylinder Sizes:1 lb, 20 lb, 100 lb, 200 lb, 420 lb.
Purchasing:CLICK FOR A QUOTE!

R-600a Pressure Chart

Knowing the pressure and the temperatures associated to the machine you are working on is essential to being able to diagnose any possible issues. Without knowing the temperatures you are more or less walking blind. These pressure checks give you the facts so that you can move onto the next step of your diagnosis. Instead of pasting a large table of information here I will instead direct you to our specific R-600a refrigerant temperature page. This can be found by clicking here.

R-600a Pros & Cons

Just like with any other refrigerant there are always going to be pros and cons. I’ve said it countless times before, but there are no perfect refrigerants out there. Regardless of what you look at you will always have a downside. As an example of this I like to use Ammonia R-717.

Ammonia is deemed as one of the absolute best refrigerants due to it’s energy efficiency. This is why you see ammonia applications in systems that require very large charges such as meat packing plants. These systems demand a lot of energy and by having the most efficient refrigerant out there these companies can save a lot of money. The downside of ammonia based systems is it’s safety rating. Ammonia is rated as slightly flammable and is rated as toxic if exposed in large enough quantities. It is this reason alone that ammonia has seen very limited use in more residential and commercial applications.

Ok, so now that we have that in mind let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons that come with R-600a Isobutane refrigerant.

Pros

  • Just like with other hydrocarbons and natural refrigerants, Isobutane has zero Ozone Depletion Potential, or ODP. When using R-600a there is no risk of damaging the Ozone layer.
  • Sticking with the environmental side of things, R-600a also has a very low Global Warming Potential (GWP) when compared to other synthetic refrigerants such as R-134a or R-404A. Isobutane’s total GWP is 3.
  • There are also no venting regulations to worry about when dealing with R-600a. (Although, I would advocate venting due to the flammability aspect.)
  • Moving to safety, R-600a is rated as an ‘A’ from ASHRAE. The A stands for non-toxic. While that is great news, please note that isobutane is heavier then air and if enough is leaked in a confined area it can displace the oxygen in the room which can cause asphyxiation.
  • R-600a is a very efficient refrigerant with low discharge temperatures. It also operates at a low pressure level when compared to other refrigerants. Not only does this make for an overall quieter machine, but it also reduces chances of failures and extends the life of your compressor.
  • Going along with the efficiency benefit, R-600a actually requires a smaller charge to complete the same job as other refrigerants. As an example, the required charge is forty-five percent less when compared to R-134a and sixty percent less when compared to R-12.
  • Lastly, isobutane is relatively low cost when compared to the synthetic refrigerants we use today.

Cons

  • Well, you may have guessed it by now, but the biggest drawback when it comes to R-600a is it’s flammability rating. Yes, just like other hydrocarbons, flammability is the biggest factor. R-600a is rated as a ‘3’ from ASHRAE. That three signifies a ‘higher flammability,’ rating.
  • Because of this higher flammability risk with isobutane the amount of charges allowed by governments is quite limited. As an example, in the United States isobutane based systems can not have a charge greater then one-hundred and fifty grams. This was actually recently changed by the EPA. (UL standard 60335-2-24 – Source) Before that the old limit was just fifty-seven grams. This rule change applied to refrigerators and freezers as well as other approved applications we’ll get into further on into this article.
  • Again, due to it’s flammability, R-600a is not suitable for use in retrofitting existing fluorocarbon based systems such as R-22, R-134a, or R-404A. These machines were not made to handle flammable refrigerants such as R-600a.
  • Depending in the municipalities and governments on where you live you may find that hydrocarbon based systems are not allowed within certain types of buildings. These could be database centers, museums, or government buildings. This is to minimize risk of fire or explosion.
  • Lastly, technicians must be well trained in order to properly use, handle, and maintenance hydrocarbon based systems. While this may not been seen as a con, it does require extra knowledge and cost to train. This limits the amount of people who can work on these types of systems.

R-600a Points of Note

OK folks so we’ve got the facts and the pros and cons down. Now let’s take a look at some of the more intricate details of R-290.

  • Isobutane belongs to the hydrocarbon refrigerant classification and it, along with propane, are the most popular hydrocarbon refrigerants used today.
  • Isobutane is derived from butane and is created by the isomerization of butane.
  • R-600a is used for blending in a variety of other refrigerants mixes found in HCFC, HFC, and Hydrocarbon classifications. There are nearly twenty different blends with R-600a. (R-441A being one of them.)
  • As I had mentioned earlier in our ‘Pros’ section isobutane has zero Ozone Depletion Potential and a very low Global Warming Potential of three. It is one of the most climate friendly refrigerants out there today. This is one of the main reasons we are seeing a growing hydrocarbon market.
  • Because of the climate friendliness of 600a there are not venting regulations or purchase restrictions that you would normally find on other refrigerants like HFCs and HCFCs. In other words, anyone can purchase and handle R-600a without EPA Clean Air certification.
  • R-600a has an A3 safety rating from ASHRAE. The ‘A’ stands for non-toxic and the ‘3’ stands for higher flammability. This flammability rating is the biggest problem with isobutane and other hydrocarbons.
  • Isobutane is mainly used in household appliances such as refrigerators and freezers. It is also used in medical equipment, vending/ice machines, and in larger scale refrigerators and freezers such as at bakeries or gas stations.
  • R-600a is often the best choice when it comes to medium, high, and very high temperature applications. Whereas R-290 is geared towards lower temperature applications.
  • Ninety-five percent of refrigerators manufactured in Europe, China, Brazil, and Argentina use Isobutane. Even today there are more and more countries adopting R-600a for their refrigerators and freezers.
  • Isobutane is also used in non-refrigerant applications such as aerosol sprays, portable stoves that are used in camps and for geothermal power generation.
  • It is illegal to convert or retrofit existing systems over to using isobutane unless it explicitly stated in the EPA’s SNAP Program. (If outside the US then you will need to check your local regulations.)
  • Isobutane and other hydrocarbons should be handled by trained professionals due to their flammability risk.
  • Due to it’s flammable nature, systems that use isobutane have their charge amount strictly limited by governments and worldwide agencies.
    • In the United States the EPA has approved isobutane for use in certain applications but only up to one-hundred and fifty grams.
    • There are also pending global proposals to increase the standard one-hundred and fifty gram charge upwards to five-hundred grams.

R-600a EPA Approved Applications

As I was writing this article I took the time to go through the EPA’s SNAP Approved Refrigerant listing. Under each category I searched for R-600a and rather it was approved and for what charge it was approved for. (Be aware that these can change at anytime if the EPA decides to issue a new rule.) Let’s take a look:

  • Household Refrigerators & Freezers – Originally approved in December of 2011 and then revised in August of 2018. This change increased the maximum charge to one-hundred and fifty grams (source).
  • Retail Food Refrigeration – Stand Alone Equipment – Acceptable as of April of 2015. Approved applications cannot exceed charges of higher then one-hundred and fifty grams.
  • Vending Machines – Approved as of April of 2015. Approved applications cannot exceed charges of higher then one-hundred and fifty grams (source).

When going through these approved applications I was honestly surprised to see how small this list was. The list is significantly smaller then even it’s rival hydrocarbon R-290. This may be quite different if your outside of the United States.

>Also, please note that these regulations can change at any time. It is best to check the EPA’s SNAP Substitutes in Refrigeration and Air Conditioning page by clicking here to check for the most updates.

R-600A Past

The concept of refrigeration and air conditioning using refrigerants dates back over one-hundred and fifty years ago. In the very beginning stages of invention, innovation, and testing the most common refrigerants used occurred naturally within our environment. These were what’s known as natural refrigerants and within these natural refrigerants existed a subset known as hydrocarbons.

Hydrocarbons were among the very first refrigerants ever used. These included propane, isobutane, ethane, and butane. These hydrocarbons along with the natural refrigerants ammonia and carbon dioxide were the building blocks of modern refrigeration and air conditioning technology that we use today.

While these refrigerants were able to cool to the desired temperatures that we wished there were inherent problems with each one of these natural refrigerants. These ranged from the flammability problem found in hydrocarbons to the toxicity in ammonia and to the extreme operating pressures of carbon dioxide. Whatever the natural refrigerant was there was a problem associated to it.

It was in the 1930’s that the DuPont corporation formed a partnership with General Motors. The goal of this partnership was to synthesize a new type of refrigerant that would be efficient, safe, and affordable to the masses. The end result of this partnership brought into the world some of the most famous refrigerants in the world: R-11, R-12, and R-22. These new refrigerants were known under the classifications Chloroflurocarbons (CFCs) and Hydrochloroflurocarbons (HCFCs).

These new refrigerants reigned supreme for nearly sixty years. The thought of hydrocarbons and natural refrigerants was just that, a thought. Nearly everyone had moved to the new and improved CFC and HCFC refrigerants. While there was still some usage of hydrocarbons they were scarce and more often then not replaced by artificial refrigerants.

It was in the 1980’s when it was discovered that when vented or leaked into the atmosphere the chlorine in these refrigerants would damage the Ozone layer. It had gotten so bad that a thinning of the layer was beginning to form in Antarctica. Scientists sounded the alarm to their governments and after some time a world wide treaty was signed to phase down and eventually phase out all CFC and HCFC refrigerants. This treaty was known as the Montreal Protocol.

To take the place of the phasing out CFC and HCFC refrigerants a new synthesized classification was introduced known as Hydroflourocarbons (HFCs). These refrigerants were very similar to their predecessors except that they did not contain chlorine, so they did not affect the Ozone layer. While there was a rise in natural refrigerants and hydrocarbons usage during this time it was still mostly eclipsed by the newer HFC refrigerants.

The reign of HFCs was much shorter lived then previous refrigerants. It was only about fifteen to twenty years before the world decided to start phasing down HFC refrigerants as well. This time instead of the Ozone it was due to the Global Warming Potential (GWP). The higher the GWP the more damage the product does to the environment and it was found that HFCs have extremely high GWPs. A new solution needed to be found.

While HFCs are still majorly used in today’s world there is a large market for alternative refrigerants such as hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs) and now natural refrigerants including hydrocarbons. The attraction of natural refrigerants is that they are just that, natural. They are environmentally neutral which is exactly what the world is looking for today. On top of that, technology has improved leaps and bounds from where it was over a hundred years ago. In today’s world natural refrigerants and hydrocarbons are much safer.

R-600A Present & Future

In the future of refrigeration and air conditioning  we will see these most common refrigerants that we use today, HFCs, become a thing of the past. Already today they are being phased down across the world. The European Union has done away with R-134a and is working towards R-404A and eventually R-410A.

The question though is what refrigerants will replace these? There is a battle going on in the industry between natural refrigerants and the newer artificial refrigerant classification known as hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs). At this point I don’t know if there’s going to be a declared winner or not. It seems that as the years go by we are going to see certain parts of the world, and even certain companies, advocate and use one over the other. If it was me, and my business, I would push for natural refrigerants and hydrocarbons. We never truly know how long the HFOs will be with us. I mean just look at the history of the other artificial refrigerants out there. At least with the natural refrigerants we know they’ll be here forever as there is no risk of phase out.

While the push to use hydrocarbons is admirable there is still a large hurdle that needs to be cleared before we can begin to truly see world wide adoption. This hurdle is the various charge limits that have been suggested and implemented by different governments and agencies.

The IEC

In the early summer of 2018 the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) released a drafted proposal that outlined increasing the charge limits on hydrocarbon refrigerants, such as R-600a, from one-hundred and fifty grams upwards to five-hundred grams. The current standard known as IEC60335-2-89 is seen as the worldwide guideline for what charges to use in hydrocarbon based systems.

This proposed changes goes hand in hand with the lobbying efforts of North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council (NASRC). The aim is to increase the charge limits for a variety of hydrocarbon applications to five-hundred grams. This change would allow R-600a and R-290 (Propane) to be deployed to larger systems such as supermarkets and eventually air conditioners. While this change has not yet been approved, most people expect it will be sometime in 2019.

IEC addresses the safety concerns of dealing with a larger R-600a charge in the following manners.

  1. The first precaution they give is that the system should be completely air tight… but shouldn’t this already be the case when dealing with a refrigerant cycle?
  2. The second precaution is that any construction in or around the system cannot cause excessive vibrations. If these vibrations occur damage to the pipes could happen which could cause the isobutane to leak out causing an ignition risk.
  3. The last safety precaution that they mention is that if a leak does occur that there is enough room for air to flow and for the refrigerant to dissipate.

According to IEC If these precautions are followed then there should be no safety difference between a one-hundred and fifty gram system and a five-hundred gram system.

Please note that IEC does not represent the United States of Americas. Their suggestions are just that, suggestions. It is up to individual governments and regulatory agencies to determine the exact amount of hydrocarbon charge that they are comfortable with. Here in the United States the EPA has approved R-600a for use in some applications as long as the charge does not exceed one-hundred and fifty grams.

United States

Isobutane is quickly becoming the standard refrigerant when it comes to home refrigerators and freezers. In some parts of the world it is becoming standard even in larger commercial refrigerators and freezers that you would find in restaurants or bakeries.

As usual, the United States has lagged behind on this change. We are still using HFCs like R-134a and R-404A to cool our food and drinks. Back in 2015 there were proposed rules by the EPA to begin phasing down HFCs across the US but the rule was overturned by a court’s ruling in 2017. Now, as of today in 2019, there is not yet an Environmental Protection Agency policy on phasing down HFCs. They are expected to make an announcement sometime this year on proposed new HFC rules, but so far there is nothing yet.

Some states have taken matters into their own hands and have begun phasing down HFCs. The problem with this though is that many applications that could use hydrocarbons are still deemed as unacceptable by the EPA’s SNAP program. So, it seems that these states will be forced to go through the HFO or other natural refrigerant routes such as R-717 or R-744.

Conclusion

Regardless of the various regulations, charge limits, and different agencies we can all be assured of one thing. The hydrocarbon market is growing and will continue to grow. There are just too many benefits for them not to grow and only one, albeit significant, drawback to using them.

Just know that these systems are perfectly safe as long as you follow the proper precautions, training, and procedures. Here in the United States we may still be quite a ways off from seeing widespread hydrocarbon usage the time will come where you will run into one of these systems.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Owner

Sources

facts

Natural refrigerants and hydrocarbons, such as propane, are some of the cleanest and environmentally friendly options out there for air conditioning and refrigeration. However, over the past century America has had very little use of natural refrigerants. Instead, we have opted for synthetic refrigerants such as CFCs, HCFCs, HFCs, and now HFOs. While these synthetic refrigerants get the job done and provide us with that cool air we all crave they are not healthy for the environment.

As we move deeper into the twenty-first century natural refrigerants have become more and more of our everyday life. The pressure is on here in America and across the world to begin phasing down these synthetic refrigerants and replace them with more environmentally friendly natural refrigerants such as R-290 propane.

In this article we’re going to take an in-depth look at propane. We’ll look at the facts, the pros and cons, points of note, the past, present, and the future of this natural refrigerants. Let’s dive in and take a look:

R-290 Facts

Name:R-290
Name - Scientific:Propane
Name (2):HC-290
Name (3):CARE-40
Name (4)R290
Classification:Hydrocarbon Refrigerant
Chemistry:C3H8 or CH3CH2CH3
Status:Active & Growing
Future:Will Be Used All Over The World
Application:Supermarkets, Gas Stations, Vending/Ice Machines
Application (2):Refrigerated Transport, Industrial Refrigeration, and Much More
Replacement For:CFCs, HCFCs, and now HFCs
Ozone Depletion Potential:0
Global Warming Potential:3.3
Global Warming Risk:Very Low
Toxicity Levels:A (No Toxicity Identified.)
Flammability Levels:Class 3 - Highly Flammable
Lubricant Required:MO, AB, POE
Boiling Point:−42.25 to −42.04 °C; −44.05 to −43.67 °F; 230.90 to 231.11 K
Critical Temperature:96.7 °C or 206.06 °F
Critical Pressure:4,248 kpa
Auto ignition Temperature:470 °C (878 °F; 743 K)
Flash Point−104 °C (−155 °F; 169 K)
Molar Mass:44.097 g·mol−1
Density:2.0098 kg/m3 (at 0 °C, 101.3 kPa)
Melting Point:−187.7 °C; −305.8 °F; 85.5 K
Vapor Pressure:853.16 kPa (at 21.1 °C (70.0 °F))
Manufacturers:Various Including: Honeywell, Chemours, Arkema, Mexichem, Chinese, etc.
Manufacturing Facilities:All Over Including: USA, Mexico, EU, China, and others.
Form:Gas
Color:Colorless gas
Odor:Odorless
EPA Certification Required:No
Require Certification to Purchase?No
Cylinder Color:Unknown
Cylinder Sizes:1 lb, 20 lb, 100 lb, 200 lb, 420 lb.
Purchasing:CLICK FOR A QUOTE!

R-290 Pressure Chart

°F °C PSI KPA
-40 -40 1.4 9.7
-35 -37 3.4 23.4
-30 -34 5.7 39.3
-25 -32 8.1 55.8
-20 -29 10.7 73.8
-15 -26 13.6 93.8
-10 -23 16.7 115.1
-5 -21 20.1 138.6
0 -18 23.7 163.4
5 -15 27.6 190.3
10 -12 31.8 219.3
15 -9 36.3 250.3
20 -7 41.1 283.4
25 -4 46.3 319.2
30 -1 51.8 357.15
35 2 57.7 397.8
40 4 63.9 440.6
45 7 70.6 486.8
50 10 77.6 535
55 13 85.1 586.7
60 16 93 641.2
65 18 101.4 699.1
70 21 110.2 759.8
75 24 119.5 823.9
80 27 129.3 891.5
85 29 139.7 963.2
90 32 150.5 1037.7
95 35 161.9 1116.3
100 38 173.9 1198.9
105 41 186.5 1285.8
110 43 199.6 1376.2
115 46 213.4 1471.3
120 49 227.8 1570.6
125 52 242.9 1674.7
130 54 258.7 1783.7
135 57 275.1 1896.7
140 60 292.3 2015.3
145 63 310.2 2138.7
150 66 328.9 2267.7
155 68 348.4 2402.1
160 71 368.7 2542.1

R-290 Pros and Cons

Just like with any other refrigerant there are always going to be pros and cons. I’ve said it countless times before, but there are no perfect refrigerants out there. Regardless of what you look at you will always have a downside. As an example of this I like to use Ammonia R-717.

Ammonia is deemed as one of the absolute best refrigerants due to it’s energy efficiency. This is why you see ammonia applications in systems that require very large charges such as meat packing plants. These systems demand a lot of energy and by having the most efficient refrigerant out there these companies can save a lot of money. The downside of ammonia based systems is it’s safety rating. Ammonia is rated as slightly flammable and is rated as toxic if exposed in large enough quantities. It is this reason alone that ammonia has seen very limited use in more residential and commercial applications.

Ok, so now that we have that in mind let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons that come with R-290 propane refrigerant.

Pros

  • The largest attraction when it comes to using R-290 is it’s effect on the climate. Synthetic refrigerants such as CFCs, HCFCs, and HFCs all damage the environment. Some damage through Ozone depletion and others through Global Warming. Either way, they are harmful. Propane has zero Ozone depletion potential and has a Global Warming Potential of just three. In contrast, one of the most popular HFC refrigerants today, R-404A, has a GWP of nearly four-thousand. These facts alone are why the world is pushing for more and more R-290 applications.
  • R-290 has excellent thermodynamic performance, it is energy efficient, and it is very reliable.
  • Propane is very affordable and has ample supply especially when compared to some of the more expensive refrigerants out there like R-22.

Cons

  • The biggest drawback with propane, and with many other hydrocarbons, is flammability. Yes, I know most of you could have guessed that already since we’re dealing with propane. The substance can be quite flammable when put under the right conditions. This is why it is rated as an A3 refrigerant from ASHRAE. The A standing for non-toxic and the 3 standing for ‘higher flammability.’
  • Because of this higher flammability risk with propane the amount of charges allowed by governments is quite limited. As an example, in the United States propane based systems can not have a charge greater then one-hundred and fifty grams. This was actually recently changed by the EPA. (UL standard 60335-2-24 – Source) Before that the old limit was just fifty-seven grams. This rule change applied to refrigerators and freezers as well as other approved applications we’ll get into further on into this article.
  • Again, due to it’s flammability, R-290 is not suitable for use in retrofitting existing fluorocarbon based systems such as R-22, R-410A, or R-404A. These machines were not made to handle flammable refrigerants such as R-290.

R-290 Points of Note

Ok folks so we’ve got the facts and the pros and cons down. Now let’s take a look at some of the more intricate details of R-290.

  • Propane belongs to the hydrocarbon refrigerant classification and it, along with Isobutane, are the most popular hydrocarbon refrigerants used today.
  • I mentioned this briefly already but the biggest selling point of R-290 is how environmentally friendly it is. Propane has zero Ozone depletion potential and has a Global Warming Potential of only three. That blows out even some of the newer HFO refrigerants.
  • R-290 has a variety of applications that it can be used in including commercial refrigeration, vending machines, ice machines, industrial refrigeration, residential and commercial air conditioning, industrial chillers and much more.
  • Again, I mentioned this already in our cons section, but propane is highly flammable and is rated as such through the ASHRAE safety guidelines. This means that you need to be extra careful when working with it and observe all of the proper safety procedures.
  • Due to the phasing down of HFCs across the world the demand for hydrocarbon refrigerants like propane have gone up exponentially. Along with that demand has come innovation as we are seeing newer and better ways to use R-290 in various systems.
  • Due to it’s flammable nature, systems that use propane have their charge amount strictly limited by governments and worldwide agencies.
    • In the United States the EPA has approved propane for use in certain applications but only up to one-hundred and fifty grams.
    • There are also pending global proposals to increase the standard one-hundred and fifty gram charge upwards to five-hundred grams.

R-290 EPA Approved Applications

As I was writing this article I took the time to go through the EPA’s SNAP Approved Refrigerant listing. Under each category I searched for R-290 and rather it was approved and for what charge it was approved for. (Be aware that these can change at anytime if the EPA decides to issue a new rule.) Let’s take a look:

  • Refrigerators & Freezers – The EPA approved isobutane in 2012 and propane in 2015. Then, in 2018 a change was made that allowed the maximum charge to move up from fifty-seven grams up to one-hundred and fifty grams.
  • Ice Machines – These were approved for use on December 1st, 2016 and have charges eligible up to one-hundred and fifty grams. (Rule 81 FR 22827 – Source )
  • Industrial Process Refrigeration – Approved in March of 1994 and then changed to June of 2010.
  • Vending Machines – Acceptable as of April of 2015 with a charge limit of one-hundred and fifty grams.
  • Water Coolers – Acceptable as of December 2016 with a charge limit of one-hundred and fifty grams.
  • Retail Food Refrigeration/Freezer – Stand alone equipment acceptable as of December 2011. Maximum charge of fifty-seven grams. ( I searched through out EPA’s rules but I did not see a change to one-hundred and fifty grams for this application.)
  • Very Low Temperature Refrigeration – Acceptable as of December of 2016 with a charge limit of one-hundred and fifty grams.
  • Residential Light & Commercial Air Conditioners – Approved in August of 2015 with a charge limit of one-hundred and fifty grams. Heat pumps are included in this as well.

While they do mention air conditioners as approved please pay close attention to that charge limit. One-hundred and fifty grams equates out to 0.33 pounds. Now, what air conditioner do you know of that only takes 0.33 pounds of refrigerant? MAYBE a five-thousand BTU system, but even then I feel like that might not be enough. So, while we’re approved for air conditioners I think we’re still a long ways off before we even begin seeing R-290 in window or portable systems.

Also, please note that these regulations can change at any time. It is best to check the EPA’s SNAP Substitutes in Refrigeration and Air Conditioning page by clicking here to check for the most updates.

Homeowners, Air Conditioners, & R-290

When R-22’s prices were hitting all time highs in the summer of 2017 there was a big push for R-22 alternatives from shady manufacturers. Now, I’m not saying that all R-22 alternatives are shady. There are in fact quite a few very well designed ones such as Chemours’ MO99 and Bluon’s TDX-20. But, there are also companies out there who marketed R-290 as an R-22 alternative. They called it ‘R-22a.’ In some cases it was straight propane and in others it was a blend of various refrigerants including R-290.

Not only is R-290 illegal in the US for home air conditioners it is also quite dangerous as these R-22 systems are not outfitted to handle flammable refrigerant. This can lead to safety hazards for the homeowner when ‘retrofitting,’ their system to R-290.  Along with that if something does go wrong with their air conditioning system down the road and the homeowner does not know how to repair they will  end up calling an HVAC technician. If the homeowner does not inform the technician that they switched their system over to R-290, or the homeowner did not update the stickers on the outside of the unit, then disastrous consequence can happen. In a tragic example out of Australia two technicians were killed when working on what they thought was an R-22 system. It had been switched over to R-290, a leak occurred, and the techs were smoking cigarettes in an enclosed room. (Story can be found here.) Recipe for disaster.

A few years back in 2016 a company out of my home state, Kansas, was fined one-hundred thousand dollars for marketing and selling unapproved alternative refrigerants. They had alternatives for R-12, R-22, and R-502 labeled as HC-12a, HC-22a, and HC-502a. You can read more about this story by clicking here.

While these poorly done retrofits may not be as much of a problem as they were a few years ago it is best to keep your eyes open when servicing older R-22 systems. You never know what could have been done before you either by the homeowner or a previous technician.

R-290 History

The concept of refrigeration and air conditioning using refrigerants dates back over one-hundred and fifty years ago. In the very beginning stages of invention, innovation, and testing the most common refrigerants used occurred naturally within our environment. These were what’s known as natural refrigerants and within these natural refrigerants existed a subset known as hydrocarbons.

Hydrocarbons were among the very first refrigerants ever used. These included propane, isobutane, ethane, and butane. These hydrocarbons along with the natural refrigerants ammonia and carbon dioxide were the building blocks of modern refrigeration and air conditioning technology that we use today.

While these refrigerants were able to cool to the desired temperatures that we wished there were inherent problems with each one of these natural refrigerants. These ranged from the flammability problem found in hydrocarbons to the toxicity in ammonia and to the extreme operating pressures of carbon dioxide. Whatever the natural refrigerant was there was a problem associated to it.

It was in the 1930’s that the DuPont corporation formed a partnership with General Motors. The goal of this partnership was to synthesize a new type of refrigerant that would be efficient, safe, and affordable to the masses. The end result of this partnership brought into the world some of the most famous refrigerants in the world: R-11, R-12, and R-22. These new refrigerants were known under the classifications Chloroflurocarbons (CFCs) and Hydrochloroflurocarbons (HCFCs).

These new refrigerants reigned supreme for nearly sixty years. The thought of hydrocarbons and natural refrigerants was just that, a thought. Nearly everyone had moved to the new and improved CFC and HCFC refrigerants. While there was still some usage of hydrocarbons they were scarce and more often then not replaced by artificial refrigerants.

It was in the 1980’s when it was discovered that when vented or leaked into the atmosphere the chlorine in these refrigerants would damage the Ozone layer. It had gotten so bad that a thinning of the layer was beginning to form in Antarctica. Scientists sounded the alarm to their governments and after some time a world wide treaty was signed to phase down and eventually phase out all CFC and HCFC refrigerants. This treaty was known as the Montreal Protocol.

To take the place of the phasing out CFC and HCFC refrigerants a new synthesized classification was introduced known as Hydroflourocarbons (HFCs). These refrigerants were very similar to their predecessors except that they did not contain chlorine, so they did not affect the Ozone layer. While there was a rise in natural refrigerants and hydrocarbons usage during this time it was still mostly eclipsed by the newer HFC refrigerants.

The reign of HFCs was much shorter lived then previous refrigerants. It was only about fifteen to twenty years before the world decided to start phasing down HFC refrigerants as well. This time instead of the Ozone it was due to the Global Warming Potential (GWP). The higher the GWP the more damage the product does to the environment and it was found that HFCs have extremely high GWPs. A new solution needed to be found.

While HFCs are still majorly used in today’s world there is a large market for alternative refrigerants such as hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs) and now natural refrigerants including hydrocarbons. The attraction of natural refrigerants is that they are just that, natural. They are environmentally neutral which is exactly what the world is looking for today. On top of that, technology has improved leaps and bounds from where it was over a hundred years ago. In today’s world natural refrigerants and hydrocarbons are much safer.

R-290 Present & Future

Over the past few years there has been a big push to use more and more hydrocarbon refrigerants such as propane and isobutane. One of the biggest hurdles though in using these refrigerants is the various charge limits that have been suggested and implemented by different governments and agencies.

In the early summer of 2018 the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) released a drafted proposal that outlined increasing the charge limits on hydrocarbon refrigerants, such as R-2190, from one-hundred and fifty grams upwards to five-hundred grams. The current standard known as IEC60335-2-89 is seen as the worldwide guideline for what charges to use in hydrocarbon based systems.

This proposed changes goes hand in hand with the lobbying efforts of Sustainable Refrigeration Council (NASRC). The aim is to increase the charge limits for a variety of hydrocarbon applications to five-hundred grams. This change would allow R-290 and R-600a (Isobutane) to be deployed to larger systems such as supermarkets and eventually air conditioners. While this change has not yet been approved, most people expect it will be sometime in 2019.

IEC addresses the safety concerns of dealing with a larger R-290 charge in the following manners. The first precaution they give is that the system should be completely air tight… but shouldn’t this already be the case when dealing with a refrigerant cycle? The second precaution is that any construction in or around the system cannot cause excessive vibrations. If these vibrations occur damage to the pipes could happen which could cause the propane to leak out causing an ignition risk. The last safety precaution that they mention is that if a leak does occur that there is enough room for air to flow and for the refrigerant to dissipate. According to IEC If these precautions are followed then there should be no safety difference between a one-hundred and fifty gram system and a five-hundred gram system.

Please note that IEC does not represent the United States of Americas. Their suggestions are just that, suggestions. It is up to individual governments and regulatory agencies to determine the exact amount of hydrocarbon charge that they are comfortable with. Here in the United States the EPA has approved R-290 for use in various applications as long as the charge does not exceed one-hundred and fifty grams.

New Systems

Regardless of charge limits there are innovations being done every year on R-290 systems. Some of the most recent that I have seen are the stand alone R-290 supermarket systems. These units are just that, stand alone. They are NOT cooled by a control room or centralized unit. Instead, the charge is kept in the unit itself and the freezer/refrigerator can be moved as needed. It also eliminates risk to business owners as if there is a problem with their system it does not bring down the whole row of refrigerators but just one small section.

Something I just read about the other day was that the European Union is working on a double ducted air conditioner that would be designed to replace R-410A systems. This system would use, you guessed it, propane. The proposed system would not be split so there would be no need for refrigerant piping going between parts. This alone would reduce the risk of leakage and make installation much easier. The project is still very much in it’s infancy but it is exciting to see the types of innovations that are being done. For more information on this story please click here.

Conclusion

The number of R-290 applications are rising exponentially with each passing year. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world. If you maintenance other equipment besides your standard home/commercial air conditioners then you will run into a propane system. It will only be a matter of time when we begin to see propane home air conditioners as well just as I mentioned above.

Don’t let the flammability risk scare you away though. Remember, at least in America, the charges on these systems are quite small and as long as you take the proper precautions and follow standard safety practices then you will be fine. Even if the whole world goes for the five-hundred gram charge we’re still only looking at just over a pound of propane for a charge.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Owner

Sources

 

facts

R-125 is one of the most common refrigerants across the world yet so many people have never heard of it. While it is rare to find a direct R-125 refrigerant application, it is very common to find some of the blended refrigerants that R-125 contributes to.

The ever popular R-410A and R-404A are blended HFC refrigerants and one of the ingredients in both of these blends is R-125. Along with these there are a variety of other refrigerants comprised of R-125. So, while you may not actually see R-125 in a direct use application you will see it’s blended version of 410A, 404A, and other refrigerants in nearly every modern application.

In this article we’re going to take a deep dive on this refrigerant looking at the facts, points of note, the past, present, and what we can expect in the future for R-125.

The Facts

Name:R-125
Name - Scientific:Pentafluoroethane
Name (2):Freon™ 125
Name (3):HFC-125
Name (4)Genetron HFC 125
Name (5)Khladon 125
Name (6)Suva 125
Name (7)FC-125
Classification:HFC Refrigerant
Chemistry:C2HF5
Status:Phasing Down Across The World
Future:Will Most Likely Be Phased Out in 10-20 Years
Application:Supermarkets, Gas Stations, Vending/Ice Machines
Application (2):Refrigerated Transport, Industrial Refrigeration, and Much More
Replacement For:Mainly R-22 and R-502 Through Blends
Ozone Depletion Potential:0
Global Warming Potential:3,500
Global Warming Risk:VERY HIGH
Toxicity Levels:A (No Toxicity Identified.)
Flammability Levels:Class 1 -No Flame Propagation.
Lubricant Required:Synthetic Oil - Polyol Ester Oil or POE
Boiling Point:-48.5°C (-55.4°F)
Critical Temperature:66.18°C (151.124°F)
Critical Pressure:3,629 kpa
Auto ignition Temperature:Unknown
Molar Mass:120.02 g/mol
Density:1.53 g/cm3 (liquid at -48.5 °C)[1]
Melting Point:−103.0 °C (−153.4 °F; 170.2 K)
Vapor Pressure:1414.05 kPa (at 25 °C)
Manufacturers:Various Including: Honeywell, Chemours, Arkema, Mexichem, Chinese, etc.
Manufacturing Facilities:All Over Including: USA, Mexico, EU, China, and others.
Form:Gas
Color:Colorless Liquid & Vapor
Odor:Faint Ethereal Odor
EPA Certification Required:Yes, 608 certification required by January 1st, 2018.
Require Certification to Purchase?Yes, 608 certification required by January 1st, 2018.
Packaging:Bought in Bulk for Mixing - Cylinders are Rare
Bulk Purchasing:CLICK FOR A QUOTE!

R-125 Pros & Cons

As we all know there are no perfect refrigerants out there. Across all of the various refrigerant classifications and types there are always going to be pros and cons. Look at ammonia (R-717) for example. It is widely accepted as one of the best refrigerants out there, but it has a safety rating of B2L. That rating means that ammonia is not only slightly flammable but is also toxic. So, while you have an amazingly efficient refrigerant you also have a extraordinary safety concern when using ammonia.

When determining a refrigerant to use there are a variety of factors that are considered. These can be efficiency, safety flammability/toxicity, climate Ozone/Global Warming Potential, and operating pressures. Whatever refrigerant  that checks the most boxes will usually end up on top.

With those factors in mind let’s look at the pros and cons of R-125:

Pros

  • The big reason R-125 took off in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s was due to it NOT having any Ozone Depletion Potential. Remember folks, that the R-125 blends replaced the Ozone damaging HCFC and CFC refrigerants such as R-22 and R-502.
  • R-125 is very versatile and it can be found in nearly twenty different blends including R-410A, R-404A, and R-407C. Even today engineers are trying new blends of R-125.
  • The other big Pro with R-125 is it’s safety rating. It is rated as an A1 from ASHRAE. The A1 rating signifies that R-125 is not toxic and is not flammable. Please note though, that while R-125 is non-toxic if enough vapor is leaked into an enclosed area it can displace oxygen which can eventually lead to asphyxiation.

Cons

  • The only con that I know for R-125 is a big one. In the last decade or so there has been a lot of focus on Greenhouse Gases and the overall Global Warming Potential (GWP) of those gases. R-125 is a Greenhouse Gas and has a GWP of thirty-five hundred. It is known as a ‘Super-Pollutant.’ R-125 has one of the higher GWPs of any modern refrigerant. For a comparison the HFC R-32 refrigerant has a GWP of only six-hundred and seventy-five.

Notes on R-125

Alright folks so we’ve got the pros and cons out of the way now let’s take a look at some points of note on R-125.

R-125 came about in the mid 1990’s and early 2000’s when the world was looking for replacements to the popular CFC and HCFC refrigerants R-502 and R-22. These previous refrigerants were found to be harming the Ozone layer and were phased out by the Montreal Protocol. R-125 was safe, it was cheap, and it was efficient. R-125, and it’s many blends, were the solution to the phasing out of CFCs and HCFCs.

As I had mentioned before, R-125 is the building block of many refrigerants that we see and use throughout the world today. We’ve mentioned some of the more popular blends like 410A and 404A but now let’s take a look at all of the other blends that are out there:

  • R-402A HCFC R-125/290/22 (60±2/2±1/38±2)
  • R-402B HCFC R-125/290/22 (38±2/2±1/60±2)
  • R-408A HCFC R-125/143a/22 (7±2/46±1/47±2)
  • R-417A HFC R-125/134a/600 (46.6±1.1/50±1/3.4+.1,–.4)
  • R-417B HFC R-125/134a/600 (79±1/18.3±1/2.7+.1,–.5)
  • R-419A HFC R-125/134a/E170 (77±1/19±1/4±1)
  • R-421A HFC R-125/134a (58±1/42±1)
  • R-421B HFC R-125/134a (85±1/15±1)
  • R-422A HFC R-125/134a/600a (85.1±1/11.5±1/3.4+.1,–.4)
  • R-422B HFC R-125/134a/600a (55±1/42±1/3+.1,–.5)
  • R-422C HFC R-125/134a/600a (82±1/15±1/3+.1,–.5)
  • R-422D HFC R-125/134a/600a (65.1+.9,–1.1/31.5±1/3.4+.1,–.4)
  • R-424A HFC R-125/134a/600a/600/601a (50.5±1/47±1/.9+.1,–.2/1+.1,+.2/.6+.1,–.2)
  • R-426A HFC R-125/134a/600/601a (5.1±1/93±1/1.3+.1,–.2/.6+.1,–.2)
  • R-428A HFC R-125/143a/290/600a (77.5±1/20±1/.6+.1,–.2/1.9+.1,–.2)
  • R-434A HFC R-125/143a/134a/600a (63.2±1/18±1/16±1/2.8+.1,–.2)
  • R-437A HFC R-125/134a/600/601 (19.5+.5,–1.8/78.5+1.5,–.7/1.4+.1,–.2/.6+.1,–.2)
  • R-507[A] HFC R-125/143a (50/50)
  • R-404A HFC R-125/143a/134a (44±2/52±1/4±2)
  • R-410A HFC R-32/125 (50+.5,–1.5/50+1.5,–.5)

As you can see from the listing above there are a variety of blends and applications that can be used within these blends. R-125 is by far one of the most versatile refrigerants out there today. This is why this refrigerant can be found in nearly every home and building that utilizes air conditioning or refrigeration.Along with being used as a refrigerant R-125 is also used in fire suppression systems. This is mainly used when water is not advised as fire extinguisher option. This could be in laboratories with expensive equipment, in museums, or banks.

There was a worldwide shortage of R-125 during the summer of 2017. The majority of R-125 is sourced from China and something happened over the spring and summer of 2017 that caused the shortage to ripple across the marketplace. The most common explanation that I found was that the chemical Flurospar experienced a forty percent price increase towards the beginning of 2017. (Flurospar is a main ingredient in the R-125 refrigerant.) This price increase caused a direct effect on the price of R-125 raising it by one-hundred and thirty percent. The price increase on Flurospar was blamed on China’s strengthening of environmental laws that directly affect the mining industry. Depending on where you were in the world when this shortage hit you could have seen your prices raise by forty or fifty percent on 125 blends. In some cases though, especially over in the European Union, prices shot up hundreds of percents.

While R-125 doesn’t deplete the Ozone it does have an extremely high Global Warming Potential (GWP). The GWP’s zeroing scale is Carbon Dioxide (R-744). Carbon Dioxide has a GWP of one whereas R-125 has a GWP of thirty-five hundred. Obviously, the higher the GWP number the more damage the refrigerant does to the environment.

It is due to high GWP number that we are beginning to see various R-125 blends being phased down and in some cases completely phased out. While most countries and municipalities have focused on R-404A it is only a matter of time before everyone sets their sights on R-410A.

R-125 Past, Present, & Future

I won’t get into all of the details here, instead I will give a brief overview of what happened, where we are today, and what will be happening in the future. Firstly, let’s look at the rise of CFCs and HCFCs. These refrigerants rose to prominence in the 1950’s and 60’s. They were safe, cheap, and efficient. It was in the 1980’s that it was discovered that these refrigerants were also harming the Ozone layer. To put a stop to this the world introduced the Montreal Protocol. This signed treaty aimed at phasing out Ozone damaging refrigerants as well as other chemicals.

With the CFCs and HCFCs refrigerants going away an alternative, non Ozone depleting, refrigerant was needed. This is where the HFCs came into play. In the mid 1990’s R-12 was phased out and replaced with the HFC R-134a. A few years later is when we began to see the blended refrigerants (Made of R-125) start to replace R-22 and R-502 applications.

Ever since then HFCs and R-125 have been the standard bearer for a variety of applications including home and commercial air conditioners, supermarket refrigerators/freezers, vending machines, ice machines, refrigerated transport, and so much more.

While the Ozone was fixed the new HFC refrigerants were found to have a large effect on Global Warming due to their high Global Warming Potential (GWP). The higher the GWP the more damage the refrigerant did to the atmosphere. Pressure began to mount in Europe, Asia, and in America to slow the use of HFCs and to begin looking for alternatives.

In the European Union there are regulations in place already that are phasing down and eventually completely out HFC refrigerants such as R-134a, R-404A, and eventually R-410A. While here in America there isn’t an exact plan on when HFCs will be phased down. At one time there was through the Environmental Protection Agency, but their proposed rules were overturned by a Federal Court. There is hope though. A select few states have begun moving forward with their own HFC phase down regulations. Some of these states include California, New York, and Washington.

It doesn’t matter if we have a federally backed phase down program through the EPA or if we have a patchwork of policies and regulations that vary state to state. Whatever happens we can be assured that HFCs will be a thing of the past very soon.

Conclusion

While R-125 may be in nearly every household and commercial building it’s future is anything but bright. With each passing year more and more pressure is put on the use of R-125 and it’s blends. The Global Warming Potential is just too high, especially when there are alternative refrigerants coming out every year.

We may be stuck with R-125 for another decade or so but it’s time is limited and the countdown has begun. R-404A is the first target and then once that has been phased down the world will set it’s sights on R-410A.

For now, in 2019, we will stay the course of R-125 usage.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Greetings folks! Another month is nearly wrapped up and we are slowly inching towards spring. We’ve got a few more hard weeks here in Kansas but I’m looking forward to the day when I can start planting some trees.

I’m writing this article today as I was informed of more volatility in refrigerant pricing. Even though we’re only two months in, 2019 is certainty turning out to be an interesting year. In late fall early winter I always take the time to do my refrigerant pricing prediction articles. In these articles I do my best to predict what prices will be the following year by weighing a variety of factors and considerations. Some years I miss and other years I hit the mark. It looks like this year is going to be a miss.

Towards the beginning of January a notification went out to various refrigerant distributors from two refrigerant manufacturers. I cannot and will not names here, but the notification stated that there would be a six percent increase on your everyday refrigerant including R-134a, R-410A, and R-22. I had assumed that this increase would be the start of a trend of upward momentum for the year. I was wrong, very wrong.

Pricing

What surprised me is that prices are going down and down. They are at levels I haven’t seen in years. Let’s take a look:

R-134A – Thirty Pound Cylinder Pricing:

  • Fall 2017 – $140
  • Fall 2018 – $85
  • Jan 2019 – $88
  • Feb 2019 – $70

Most people had thought we had reached the bottom of the barrel when it came to R-134a pricing. This was especially the case when that notification was sent out in January stating that prices were going up. People were used to paying around $90-$100 a cylinder.

This new price of $70 is the lowest I have seen in years. In fact it’s close to where it was when I used to buy R-134a in bulk back in 2008. Back then I was paying around $61-$65… but that was before tariffs. I am really amazed to see the price back to almost pre-tariff levels. Who knows how much lower it will go.

R-410A – Twenty-Five Pound Cylinder Pricing:

  • Fall 2017 – $140
  • Fall 2018 – $65
  • Jan 2019 – $68
  • Feb 2019 – $56

Just like R-134a, R-410A is going down and down. At this point it’s difficult to forecast what will happen. I honestly don’t know folks. Will we keep going down, or will we start creep back up as the summer season sets in?

R-22 – Thirty Pound Cylinder Pricing:

  • Fall 2017 – $550
  • Fall 2018 – $350
  • Jan 2019 – $410
  • Feb 2019 – $300 or Under

Obviously, the big story here is R-22. There are only ten months left until R-22 is completely phased out across the United States (January 1st, 2020). Everyone had assumed that the price would go up and up as we approached closer to that deadline. What actually happened is that we saw a spike in pricing hit in the summer of 2017. At certain points it was $600-$700 a cylinder. However, in 2018 the price started to go down and down.

There could be a resurgence in pricing as the summer season sets in and people began to realize that R-22 will be going away. But, we may also have just too much overstock in the market place which is causing prices to stay low.

Conclusion

The refrigerant market is anything but stable this year folks. It is tough to tell when the right time to buy is. You don’t want to get stuck with overpriced product but you also want the opportunity to buy low and sell high. Time will only tell. It’s as much as a guessing game for you as it is for me.

If you are interested in purchasing refrigerant please check out our bulk refrigerants page by clicking here.  We are partnered with one of the leading distributors in the country and will get you a competitive price in today’s marketplace.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

facts

Today the HFC R-404A is one of the most commonly used refrigerants in the United States and in the world. You can find it most commercial refrigerators/freezers, in vending and ice machines, in refrigerated transport, and in specific industrial applications.

404A was originally implemented as a replacement option for the now banned CFC R-502. R-502 was widely used throughout all of the applications we mentioned above until 1995/1996 when it was phased out entirely due to it’s Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP). While 404A has been around for decades it’s future may be short lived due to it’s high Global Warming Potential (GWP).

In this post we are going to take an in-depth look at R-404A. In our first section we’ll cover all of the facts, then the pros/cons, points of note, and the history of R-404A.

The Facts

Name:R-404A
Name - Scientific:Blend of R-125, R-143a, & R-134a
Name (2):404A
Name (3):HFC-404A
Classification:HFC Refrigerant - Blend
Chemistry:Pesudo-Azeotropic Blend
Chemistry (2):R-125 Pentafluroethane (44%)
Chemistry (3):R-143a 1,1,1-Trifluoroethane (52%)
Chemistry (4):R-134a 1,1,1,2-Tetrafluoroethane (4%)
R-125 Chemistry:44±2% C2HF5
R-1143a Chemistry:52±1% C2H3F3
R-134a Chemistry:4±2% C2H2F4
Status:Phasing Down Across The World
Future:Will Be Phased Out in 10 Years
Application:Low to Medium Temperature Systems
Application (2):Supermarkets, Gas Stations, Vending/Ice Machines
Application (3):Refrigerated Transport & Industrial Refrigeration
Replacement For:CFC R-502, R-12, & R-22
Ozone Depletion Potential:0
Global Warming Potential:3,922
Global Warming Risk:VERY HIGH
Toxicity Levels:A (No Toxicity Identified.)
Flammability Levels:Class 1 -No Flame Propagation.
Lubricant Required:Synthetic Oil - Polyol Ester Oil or POE
Boiling Point:-46.6° Celsius or -51.88° Fahrenheit
Temperature Glide:0.8
Critical Temperature:72.14° Celsius or 161.852° Fahrenheit
Critical Pressure:3.735 MPA or 541.716 PSI
Auto ignition Temperature:Not Determiend
Manufacturers:Various Including: Honeywell, Chemours, Arkema, Mexichem, Chinese, etc.
Manufacturing Facilities:All Over Including: USA, Mexico, EU, China, and others.
Form:Gas
Color:Colorless Liquid & Vapor
Odor:Faint Ethereal Odor
EPA Certification Required:Yes, 608 certification required by January 1st, 2018.
Require Certification to Purchase?Yes, 608 certification required by January 1st, 2018.
Cylinder Color:Orange
Cylinder Design:
R-404A 24 pound jug cylinder
R-404A 24 pound jug cylinder
Cylinder Design (2):Twenty-four pound cylinder
Price Point:Medium - $70-$160 a cylinder.
Where to Buy Can or Cylinder?Click Here to Purchase Cylinders
Bulk Purchasing:CLICK FOR A QUOTE!

R-404A Pressure Chart

Knowing the pressure and the temperatures associated to the machine you are working on is essential to being able to diagnose any possible issues. Without knowing the temperatures you are more or less walking blind. These pressure checks give you the facts so that you can move onto the next step of your diagnosis. Instead of pasting a large table of information here I will instead direct you to our specific R-404A refrigerant temperature page. This can be found by clicking here.

R-404A Pros & Cons

Regardless of what refrigerant you are looking at they all have their own pros and cons. There is no perfect refrigerant. There may never be. Ammonia for example is deemed one of the best refrigerants in the world… but it’s extremely toxic and can be deadly in high amounts.

R-404A has it’s own pros and cons. Let’s take a look at some of them:

Pros:

  • R-404A provided an immediate replacement product for both R-12, R-22 and R-502. This allowed the world to stop using Ozone depleting refrigerants. R-404A operated at comparable physical and thermodynamic properties that R-502 did which made transitioning to new systems or retrofitting older systems a much easier task.
  • 404A is rated as an A1 from ASHRAE. That means that it is non-toxic and non-flammable. While this may not seem like a big deal for HFC refrigerants, this rating is becoming more and more important when it comes to looking for a more environmentally friendly replacement refrigerant.

Cons:

  • The biggest con with R-404A is it’s extremely high Global Warming Potential (GWP). It’s GWP rating is three-thousand nine-hundred and twenty. This number makes it one of the absolute highest GWP refrigerant that is widely used in the world today.
  • In some applications 404A is not the most efficient. There are other refrigerants that can save five to ten percent efficiency. (R-134a for example.) The lost efficiency with 404A can translate into more energy and more money spent when compared to other refrigerants. Refer to our ‘R-404A Potential Replacements’ section for some of these more efficient refrigerants.

Notes on R-404A

Just like with our other facts sheets I’d like to take some time in this section and go over some facts and other points of note on R-404A refrigerants:

  • R-404A began seeing usage in 1996 after the phase out of CFC R-502 due to it’s Ozone Depletion Potential.
  • R-404A is a ternary refrigerant blend consisting of the HFC R-125 (forty-four percent), HFC R-143a (fifty-two percent), and HFC R-134a (four percent).
  • R-404A is used across a variety of low and medium temperature applications including super market freezers/refrigerators, vending machines, ice machines, refrigerated transport, and industrial refrigerant systems.
  • Starting in 1996, 404A was the primary refrigerant for the above mentioned applications for over twenty years.
  • R-404A is non toxic and non flammable and has an A1 rating from ASHRAE. Note that if 404A is pressurized after being mixed with air the chance of flammability increases. You should never mix 404A with air under.
  • R-404A is heavier then air and will displace oxygen in a room if a large enough quantity is leaked. This can be said for various types of refrigerants though and is not unique to 404A.
  • When charging systems with R-404A the refrigerant must be in a liquid state. If done in a gaseous state you risk damaging the entire system.
  • In some cases R-404A can replace R-22 systems when the proper retrofitting is done, but this may not make sense in the long run due to my next point.
  • R-404A is being phased down and in some cases completely phased out due to it’s high Global Warming Potential and it’s detrimental effect on the climate.
  • In many cases R-404A is the first HFC refrigerant targeted for phasing down HFCs due to it’s extremely high GWP of nearly four-thousand.
  • Some refrigerant manufacturers and distributors have already announced they will no longer be making or selling R-404A.
  • Europe will input a ban on any new stationary 404A systems in the year 2020. (Along with any other refrigerants that have a GWP higher then twenty-five hundred.) 
  • Along with the ban on new systems the European Union has also issued import and production limits on R-404A.
  • Due to these production/import limits Europe has seen crazy prices come on R-404A. At some points in the past few years it rose over seven-hundred percent in one season.
  • Prices in the United States have remained relatively stable the past year or so, but in 2017 there was a large increase due to a shortage of flurospar in China.

R-404A Possible Replacements

In the initial switch from CFC/HCFCs over to HFCs in the 1990’s there was a rush to find a quick and fast alternative refrigerant. Before HFCs a lot of supermarkets were using both R-12 and R-502 for their systems. (R-12 was used for the refrigerators and R-502 was used for freezers.)

At the time the world switched over to R-404A there was little other choice and most business owners and contractors consolidated their refrigerators and freezers over to one refrigerant to simplify things. That is why you see 404A nearly everywhere in these types of applications.

When we do completely phase out R-404A it will not be like it was in the 1990’s again. No folks, this time we are going to go about it smarter. (This is me being optimistic.) Instead of superseding every machines and application to a new specified refrigerant we will be looking at each application specifically an determining the best refrigerant for it’s needs. This is why we’ll see R-290 propane used in some 404A applications and an HFO refrigerant used in a different 404A application. When it’s all said and done we should see a diversified refrigerant market in place of the standard 404A that we see today.

At this time it’s impossible to list every 404A alternative or option out there. Things are always changing and evolving. The ‘perfect’ replacement may be discovered one month from now.

All that being said, let’s take a look at some of the possible R-404A replacements listed below. Just keep in mind that none of these are a ‘fix all’ solution. These refrigerants range from natural refrigerants, to HFOs, and the occasional HFC.

  • R-448A
  • R-449B
  • R-449A
  • R-448A
  • R-452A
  • R-455A
  • R-407A
  • R-407F
  • R-442A
  • R-290
  • R-744

R-404A History

The Past

To understand the history of R-404 we first have to travel back to the 1960’s. It was then that the CFC refrigerant R-502 was invented. R-502 was a blended refrigerant using HCFCs and CFCs. It was comprised of of R-22 (48.8%) and R-115 (51.2%). This new refrigerant R-502 offered a lower discharge temperature and improved capacity when compared to R-22.

Once invented R-502’s usage exploded across low and medium temperature applications. Over the next thirty years R-502 was the dominant refrigerant for a variety of applications including super market refrigerators/freezers, industrial refrigeration, vending machines, and in refrigerated transport.

For thirty-five years R-502 reigned supreme, but like all good things it had to come to an end. In 1995 and 1996 R-502 was phased out for all new machines. 502 was just another one of the many CFC and HCFC refrigerants that have been phased out over the past twenty to thirty years.

These refrigerants were phased out due to the chlorine that they contained. When the refrigerant was vented or leaked it would move into the atmosphere where the chlorine would damage the Ozone Layer. While there wasn’t an official ‘hole’ in the Ozone there was a thinning of the layer above Antarctica. The Ozone layer protects us from radiation and a thinning of said layer can result in a whole host of problems including various cancers.

Scientists noticed this thinning in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Once the seriousness of the problem was revealed world leaders got together in Montreal and signed a treaty that most all of us know by now, The Montreal Protocol. This treaty aimed at phasing down and eventually completely out Ozone damaging chemicals. This included insulation, pesticides, refrigerants, and many other applications.

When R-502’s turn for phase down came in 1995 a new alternative refrigerant needed to be chosen. At this time the world turned towards HFC refrigerants. One of the very first phase outs was R-12 for automotive applications. It’s replacement was the HFC R-134a. It was a logical move to use R-404A as R-502’s replacement as 404A was an HFC and it partly blended from R-134a.

Once R-404A was implemented in the 1990’s it was the standard bearer for the next thirty years. But now, just like R-502, it’s time has come.

Present Day

Today, as I write this article in 2019, R-404A is being phased down and in some cases completely out across the world. The European Union has import and production limits set on R-404A and have plans to completely phase it out over the next few years.

This time though folks the phase out has nothing to do with the Ozone Layer. This time it has to deal what’s known as Global Warming Potential (GWP). GWP is a measurement of how much heat a greenhouse gas traps within the atmosphere. The higher the number the worse the product is for the environment. Like with every scale there has to be a zeroing measurement. In this case it is Carbon Dioxide (R-744). The GWP on R-744 is one. The GWP on R-404A is nearly four-thousand.

That number alone is why the world is pushing to get rid of R-404A as fast we can. Out of all of the HFCs R-404A is one of the absolute highest when it comes to GWP. While the European Union has already begun taking steps of a complete phase out the United States is quite a bit behind.

Originally, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a rule in 2015. This new rule was under the EPA’s SNAP and was titled, ‘Rule 20.’ This new rule aimed at phasing down HFCs across the country. They did this by deeming certain refrigerants would no longer be acceptable in specific applications. As an example, one of the stipulations was that R-134a would no longer be acceptable in 2021 model year vehicles. R-404A, along with R-134a, was one of the prime targets in these new regulations.

Over the next few years the industry moved on expecting these changes laid out in Rule 20 to take effect. It was in the summer of 2017 that a surprise ruling by a federal judge overturned all of the EPA’s SNAP Rule 20. The judge ruled in favor of Mexichem and Arkema (Two refrigerant manufacturers). While other companies, such as Chemours and Honeywell, appealed the ruling they eventually got nowhere and the judge’s ruling stood. It went as far as going to the Supreme Court but the Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

Now, as of 2019, there is no set phase down schedule of R-404A or other HFC refrigerants. The only bright spot is what’s known as the ‘United States Climate Alliance.’ This alliance formed after Trump pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Accord. Their goal is to have a gathering of states that will enforce their own climate policy.

Future

Regardless of the politics across the United States and the world we can all be assured of one thing: R-404A is going away. When exactly it goes away is a different story though. Within the United States I predict us having a patchwork of different laws and regulations across the various states. While this is disorganized and confusing it does have some positive effects as well.

With the lack of a central federal policy on HFCs we have states taking matters into their own hands. If enough states get on board with these HFC phase down changes then air conditioning and refrigerator manufacturers will eventually throw in the towel on HFCs and began transitioning over to lesser GWP refrigerants. After all, it wouldn’t make sense to make a system that could only be sold in half of the country. Instead these companies will start manufacturing based on the states that have HFC phase down policies. This will allow them to still sell into all fifty states and prevent them from doing double work.

As we mentioned in our potential replacements section, there is not yet a perfect R-404A replacement option. Instead, we are having a variety of refrigerants show up as replacements for specific R-404A applications. As an example, instead of 404A in vending machines we will start using propane or isobutane. But, these refrigerants will not work for refrigerated transport or in larger charged systems.

Among these alternatives to 404A a war is brewing between natural refrigerants and HFO refrigerants. While HFOs have significantly lower GWP then HFC refrigerants they are still not perfect and still do have a GWP that is higher then the neutral carbon dioxide point. It is this reason why groups are pushing to skip HFOs and go with natural refrigerants entirely. At this time there is no saying what refrigerant will win the ‘war,’ but the predicted outcome I see is a good mix between the two. We’ll see all of the smaller to medium charged systems start using natural refrigerants and the larger systems still using fluorinated refrigerants such as HFCs and HFOs.

There may come a time in the not too distant future that a ‘perfect’ 404A alternative is discovered. But, for now, we are all stuck with our patchwork of alternative refrigerants. If you haven’t run into some of these already it’ll only be a matter of time.

Conclusion

Well folks, that about covers it for R-404A. I tried to cover absolutely everything that I could when it came to this refrigerant. If you find that I missed something or that if something is inaccurate please reach out to me and let me know.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Even today there are so many homeowners and companies hanging onto their old R-22 systems. Sometimes it takes a heated negotiation just to convince a homeowner to switch from R-22 over to R-410A. Now imagine trying to convince a billion dollar company to switch all of their systems away from R-22. You think it would be an easier discussion. You would think that the company would want to get the obsolete units out of rotation and start using a more climate friendly solution.

Well folks, this wasn’t the case with Trident Seafoods out of Seattle, Washington. Trident is one of the largest seafood processing companies in the northwest and Alaska. Between the years 2009 through 2016 Trident violated the Environmental Protection Agency’s leak restrictions on Ozone depleting refrigerants. Leaks in their R-22 systems went untreated for years. They also failed to document services and repairs on two-hundred and eighty-nine separate occasions. On top of that they used uncertified technicians and inadequate recovery tooling.

Because of their lack of maintenance Trident was directly responsible for leaking over two-hundred thousand pounds of R-22 into the atmosphere. These leaks occurred on their various fishing and transport ships.

It was announced today that the Environmental Protection Agency and Trident Seafoods had come to a preliminary agreement. Trident would pay a nine-hundred thousand dollar fine for violating the Clean Air Act. They would also pay for twenty-three million dollars worth of retrofits to prevent these incidents from occurring again. Quite a lot of expense and fines all because this company didn’t follow proper regulations or that they didn’t want to invest in new refrigerant systems.

As a result of this ruling Trident will be retiring or retrofitting twenty-three r-22 systems across fourteen ships. These retrofits will remove one-hundred thousand pounds of r-22. The removal of all of this R-22 is the equivalent of one-hundred and forty-three thousand passenger cars being removed from the roads.

Along with the retrofitting Trident Seafoods will conduct routine leak inspections and fix any leaks in a timely manner in accordance to EPA standards. They will also have a third party auditor to review their leak inspection procedures. This way we don’t have a repeat.

EPA regulations state that owners or operators of industrial refrigerant equipment that contains over fifty pounds of ozone depleting refrigerants have their leaks repaired within thirty days. Along with that, these leak repairs have to be documented in full. Lastly, only 608 certified technicians are able to open and work on these systems.

Conclusion

While this settlement is still subject to public comment and court approval it is easy to see the type of punishment companies can receive if they fail to comply with the Clean Air Act and the EPA standards.I’m actually surprised the fine and repercussions wasn’t higher. The amount of refrigerant that was leaked is staggering. Rather Trident thinks it or not, they got off easy.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

 

It was announced today via press release from the Chemours company that their new plant located in Ingleside, Texas (Outside of Corpus Christi) is now manufacturing R-1234yf refrigerant. This factory is by far one of the largest and now that it is live the capacity of HFO-1234yf being produced in the world has tripled.

Today the overall demand for 1234yf is still quite low in the United States. In the European Union volume is beginning to pick up due to their mandatory phase out of R-134a. While there are automotive manufacturers here in the US that are switching their vehicles over to yf it is not yet mandatory. Because of this, we are seeing a slow transition cycle.

Along with the slow change over we also have to keep in mind that if a new vehicle with 1234yf rolls off the floor today that same vehicle may not need an air conditioning repair for another four years. The standard amount of time for a new vehicle to need air conditioning repair is between five to six years. So, even though we had a lot of manufacturers and models switch to yf in 2015 we are still a ways out before the demand of yf is heightened due to automotive repairs.

The good news here though is that with this new plant live and producing yf here in the United States we should begin to see the price dip. Yf still continues to be one of the most expensive modern day refrigerants on the market place. Today it ranges between sixty to seventy dollars a pound. (R-134a is about three dollars a pound.) With the increased supply coming into the market we may begin to see this price drop. Well, at least until the demand starts to climb, then we could see prices level back out.

While we mostly know R-1234yf as the new automotive refrigerant it is also important to note that it is used in other various HFO refrigerant blends such as R-455A and R-513A. As more HFOs are developed in the future we may begin to see the versatility of yf expand. If this happens then we could see another effect on the overall demand of the refrigerant. Regardless of the other application market, we can all be certain that the automotive demand is more then enough to satisfy the needs of this production plant.

In my opinion the launching of production of yf at this plant was a bit too early. Now, I didn’t find anything that specifically said that Chemours was going to be producing at maximum capacity or if they were going to slowly start production to meet market needs. I am assuming that they are going to start slow and adjust as the market requires. Either way though, I just don’t see the demand yet. Perhaps Chemours is preparing for the future but if you ask me I would say we are still a few years out before we really see the demand for 1234yf pick up.

Conclusion

In the short term, a savvy investor may have an opportunity if the prices of 1234yf begin to drop due to oversupply. One could wait for the price to bottom out, buy up a few pallets, and then sit on it and wait for the prices to climb. Remember though folks, it’s always a gamble. If the prices do fall whose to say that they’ll go back up? We could be looking at a new normal price point wise on yf with this new plant.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Greetings folks! I hope everyone had a great January and was able to stay warm during the Polar Vortex. Kansas City didn’t get it as bad as some other areas as we only got down to negative five. (Only!) I apologize for not updating the past few weeks but we all need a little R and R every now and then.

As most of you know I came from the automotive industry, specifically trucking. While in this industry I was responsible for purchasing R-134a for our dealerships. After doing this for a few years I found that the absolute best time to buy is right now. Yes, January and February are the best time to purchase refrigerants rather it be R-134a, R-410A, R-404A, or anything else.

The Why

There are a few reasons you should consider buying right now. As the year progresses and we get into the spring and summer months the price on refrigerants steadily begins to creep up. This is due to demand and the hotter weather. As we all know, more demand equals higher pricing. This is why it makes sense to buy most of your company’s yearly demand in the down season while the prices are still quite low.

That being said, I wouldn’t recommend purchasing in November or December either. Depending on the year you could see the high summer prices extend even to the fall months. With some years I’ve seen exceptional pricing last all the way to mid November. The demand and the pricing that followed finally begins to die down in December and is pretty much non-existent in January. This causes the price to drop to it’s lowest point.

Even though January has the absolute best prices a lot of companies will wait until the magical month of February. This may be due to the pricing being right around the same and that we’re another month closer to spring and summer. That’s one less month of sitting on expensive inventory.

Late last month we had a trucking company go through our bulk purchasing program. After some negotiations they ended up buying a full trailer load of R-134a from us. For those that don’t know, a trailer load consists of twenty pallets of forty cylinders each. (Eight-hundred cylinders.) Just about a week later we had another trucking company purchase just under five trailer loads. That’s nearly four-thousand cylinders.

All of these large purchases are designed to give companies the best price in the market, to insulate them from seasonal price increases, and to also fill their demand for the entire season.

The Risk

It’s not all a bed of roses though folks. There is a risk to purchasing like this. Refrigerant is a commodity and it’s pricing can change with just the snap of a finger. In previous articles I equated it to the price of oil. We always see in the news that oil prices are going up and down every week or even every day. While refrigerant isn’t as volatile as oil is, it is important to know that the prices can go down or up at any moment.

While it is fairly standard for prices to go up during prime season it is not always the case. There are a variety of reasons that prices could actually go down in the hot months of summer. It could be oversupply across the country. Or, it could be a very mild summer and the need for air conditioning just isn’t there. Whatever the reason is, you should know that there is the possibility of prices going down as well as going up in prime season.

Let’s look at a worst case scenario. Say your company bought a trailer load of refrigerant this week and you got what you believe was an aggressive price. As the months go by and summer arrives you begin to notice that you are getting priced out of the market. Your competitors are quoting fifteen to twenty percent lower then you. You are now stuck with overpriced product. Do you sell at a loss? Do you buy some at the lower price and hold onto your current inventory? Do you write off the cost difference as a loss and move on?

Conclusion

While the above scenario isn’t a pretty picture I can assure you that the other end of the spectrum is. Imagine for a moment that you purchased a trailer load product at ninety dollars a cylinder. Then, as summer arrives, the price goes up and up until it hits over one-hundred and fifty dollars a cylinder.  Now you are in a great position to make a killing and still undercut some of your competition.

Whatever you decide to do with your company’s refrigerant needs this year just remember that there is no right or wrong answer. No one knows for certain what will happen within the market this year. There are always going to be winners and losers. Here’s hoping you’re on the winning side!

If you are interested in purchasing please contact us and we’ll do our best to get your an aggressive price.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Kigali Amendment

Just over two years ago there was a final meeting on what is known today as the ‘Kigali Amendment.’ This amendment added to the existing Montreal Protocol. As you all know, the Montreal Protocol originated in the 1980’s and aimed at phasing down CFC and HCFC refrigerants. This phase out aimed at stopping any further damage to the Earth’s Ozone layer. While the treaty did what it set out to, it also directly led to the rise of HFC refrigerants such as R-410A, R-134a, and R-404A. Now, no matter where you go you’re going to find HFC refrigerants. The good news is that the Ozone damaging Chlorine refrigerants are a thing of the past. The bad news is that HFCs aren’t perfect though and now this latest amendment has HFCs in it’s cross hairs.

It took seven years of meetings and careful planning but an agreement was made in October of 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda. The amendment aimed at reducing HFC emissions by over eighty percent over the next thirty years. While it was signed by over one-hundred and sixty-seven countries, in order for the treaty to come into effect it had to be ratified by twenty separate countries governments before January 1st, 2019. This number was easily met and as I write this article today there are sixty-five countries that have ratified the HFC reducing amendment. There are many more expected to ratify over the next coming weeks and months.

That being said, there is some concern about this amendment. While sixty-five countries have ratified another one-hundred and thirty-two have not. Adding more worry about the amendment is that the United States and China fall into the listing of countries that have not ratified the amendment. I cannot imagine the overall effectiveness of a treaty like this if you do not have China and the US on your side. I do not know enough about the Chinese side of things, so in this article I’ll stick with the United States.

Since Trump took office there has not been a clear message on what will be done with the Kigali Amendment. In order for it to be ratified in America it has to go through The Senate, but in order for it to get to The Senate  President Trump, or The Executive Branch, has to provide the amendment to The Senate. So far, over the past two years the Trump Administration has sat on the amendment and done nothing with it. There were a few times where it looked like progress would be made. An employee of the Trump Administration would say something positive about Kigali but then a few weeks later they would backpedal and we would be back at square one. I had predicted that by 2019 hit we would see nothing different from them either. There isn’t a flat-out refusal. The amendment is just in purgatory here in America and I predict it will stay that way.

If the pressure increases on the Trump Administration to adopt this amendment (Say if China ratifies the amendment before we do) then I can very well see Trump nixing the whole thing. That just seems to be his modus operandi. If you push too hard then he’ll go the other way. I think for now it is best for everyone to stay quiet and let the pressure build naturally. If there is too much pressure or if it seems genuine then we may get the exact opposite reaction that we are hoping for. I know it sounds a little far fetched but I believe that is how it is with this current administration.

The Good News

It’s not all bad news around here folks. No, there is a shining light when it comes to phasing down HFC refrigerants across the United States. Around the same time that the Trump Administration announced that they were pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord a group of Governors from various states formed an alliance. This alliance, known as the Climate Alliance, aimed at upholding the goals laid out in the now defunct Paris Climate Accord. Along with these goals they have also targeted similar climate and environmental changes and regulations.

Some of these specific targets have been HFC refrigerants. In fact, last year California passed a bill that closely imitated the Environmental Protection Agency’s SNAP Rule 20. This EPA rule was meant to be the first step in phasing down HFC refrigerants across the country. While the EPA’s rule was overturned by a Federal Court it is still being used as a template for various states such as California, New York, Connecticut, Maryland, and Washington State.

In fact the first part of California’s new law known as ‘The Cooling Act,’ went into effect January 1st, 2019. This first step is targeting supermarket systems, condensing units, and self-contained units. The rule states that R-404A, R-507A, and other high Global Warming Potential refrigerants would no longer be acceptable in new machines. Along with the stick there is also a carrot that gives incentives for those businesses that adopt lower GWP systems earlier then the required deadline.

Conclusion

I mentioned this above in the previous section but I just do not see the Trump Administration pushing this amendment to The Senate for ratification. It goes against everything else that the Administration has done. In fact, we are all waiting patiently on new HFC rules to be released from the Environmental Protection Agency. Some of these ‘new’ rules could end up rescinding HFC rules that were put in place during the Obama Administration. If these are rescinded then we could see recycled refrigerant being used in different machines, HFC leak repairs plummet, and unregulated HFC purchasing. (End users could purchase HFC refrigerants without licensing.)

The Kigali Amendment may be seen as a disappointment for those of us in the United States but we have hope with the Climate Alliance. While only a few states have come out with a HFC phase down plan it is just a matter of time before more states come forward. In fact, the newly elected governors of Michigan and Wisconsin have already signaled that they would be joining the alliance. We may end up with a piecemeal of states that phase down HFCs but if enough states jump on board then manufacturers will be forced to use lower GWP alternative refrigerants.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Owner