1234YF

R-134yf

A few days back I was speaking to an acquaintance of mine. It was a relaxed setting with a few beers and good food. Sometime during the conversation the topic of refrigerant came up, mainly 1234yf. You see, he manages a service center at a Ford dealership. He has been doing this job for over a decade and this fall was the first time that he came across a vehicle needing an air conditioning repair that used R-1234yf. They didn’t have any on hand and worse yet, they didn’t have a recovery machine fit for 1234yf either. They ended up having to purchase the refrigerant from a local autoparts store and paid way more then they should have for a recovery unit.

Up until this point everyone at the dealership had been trained and accustomed to using R-134a. After all, pretty much every vehicle on the road within the past twenty to thirty years was using the HFC R-134a. The concept of vehicles using an alternative refrigerant, like R-1234yf, was foreign to a lot of service managers and technicians. Service employees could have twenty years of experience and not know the first thing about this new 1234yf refrigerant.

Over in the European Union it was a different story as R-134a had been completely phased out for years now. While they may have run into the same problems we are having today, the length of these were short lived due to the mandatory switching from 134a over to yf. If EVERY new vehicle on the road was taking 1234yf then you are going to run into it quite often and you will begin to know exactly how to handle it. Things are different here in the United States.

As I write this article today there is no set phase down of R-134a in vehicles in the United States. Originally, the goal was to have R-134a labeled as unacceptable in all new vehicles in 2020. (2021 model year.) This deadline was set by the Environmental Protection Agency back in 2015 through their Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP). Years went by as this being the status quo and so vehicle manufacturers here in the US began to slowly switch their vehicles away from R-134a and over to R-1234yf. This trend started in 2015 and with each year that has passed more and more vehicle manufacturers have begun switching more and more models over to yf. Chances are if you check your company’s new vehicles you will see some of them are taking R-1234yf.

There was a wrench thrown into all of this in the summer of 2017. In August of 2017 a federal court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency’s new SNAP rules had overreached the EPA’s authority. I won’t get into all of the court details here, but basically the EPA used the same set of laws in the Clean Air Act that were intended for Ozone depletion refrigerants and applied them to Global Warming refrigerants. Ozone depletion does not equal Global Warming. They are two different matters and that is how the court saw it as well. The EPA’s proposed 2020 phase down of R-134a was thrown out the window. There were numerous appeals by varying companies and there was even one to the Supreme Court but the court rejected the case and the previous ruling standed. Today we are in limbo between R-134a and R-1234yf.

Preparing for 1234yf

Regardless of what happened in the courts the fact of the matter is that 1234yf is coming. The only thing the court ruling did was muddy the waters and slow down the rate of change. Now instead of having a mandated change and forcing everyone to ‘rip the band aid off’ we now this slow dribble of vehicles coming into shops with 1234yf refrigerant.

What we find is that service managers and technicians are not prepared. When a vehicle does come in needing a repair there is a scramble to first find a source for the needed yf refrigerant and then to find an adequate recovery and identifier machine compatible with yf. The good news here is that 1234yf and 134a aren’t that different mechanically speaking. A few of the major differences that you will see when dealing with 1234yf are listed below:

  • At the very minimum you will need to purchase a new refrigerant recovery machine if you plan to be working on 1234yf units in the future. The machine will have to meet SAE spec J2843. We recommend purchasing Robinair AC1234-6 recovery machine.
  • There are slight design differences in the design specs of certain components like TXVs, ports, evaporators, and condensers.
  • Service ports are different then 134a. This is done to alert the technician that this is a 1234yf unit and also prevents the technician from accidentally connecting the wrong hose and mixing refrigerants. So even if you aren’t paying attention and try to hook up your 134a hose you’ll quickly realize you’re working on a YF unit. This is very similar to what was done with diesels back in 2007 during the Diesel Exhaust Fluid change. (DEF)
  • With 1234yf systems they have added a Suction Line Heat Exchanger, also known as an internal heat exchanger. This is an additional component located before the expansion valve. It is a state change helper that is used to improve overall efficiency of the unit.
  • The operating pressures and temperatures of 1234yf are VERY similar to that of 134a. This was done intentionally to make for an easy transition.
  • 1234yf uses PAG oil just like R-134a but please note that it does use a different type of PAG oil. It is always safest to read the sticker labels under your hood or to consult the instruction manual before adding in any oil.
  • Evaporator designs must meet JAE standard J2842. Yf is tougher on evaporators then 134a and this new standard is to prevent wear and tear and premature failure.
  • 1234yf is classified by the ASHRAE as a 2L flammable gas. That means that 1234yf is rated as mildly flammable.

Conclusion

The good news here is that we still have some time to prepare before the onslaught of 1234yf repairs begins to hit your dealership. The average length of time before a significant air conditioning repair is needed is between five to six years. Yf really began to pick up steam amongst vehicle manufacturers in 2015 and has increased each year that goes by. So, what that means is that we have five to six years from 2015 before the real quantity of repairs begin to come in. While it’s already 2019 we still have around another year or two before we start seeing yf every day in the shop. The worst thing you can do though is bury your head in the sand and hope that the problem goes away. The change is coming.

Will your dealership be ready? Have you already purchased your yf recovery machine? Do you have a source for purchasing yf refrigerant? If not, then I highly recommend contacting us by filling out the form below to receive a quote. We will get back to you with an aggressive price point. Also, please note that in order to purchase yf you or your technicians will need to be 609 certified with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Lastly, for more information on R-1234yf please click here to be taken to our official 1234yf Refrigerant Fact and Information Sheet.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Owner

 

How Much Does It Cost?

Hello folks and welcome to RefrigerantHQ. As I write this article today Halloween has just passed and the weather has already begun to get cold. We’re expecting snow in just a few days here in Kansas City. All of this is happening outside and here I am sitting at my desk, sipping on some hot cocoa, and thinking about refrigerant. Yes, I know that sounds rather odd… but that is what we do here at RefrigerantHQ. Refrigerant all the time. Today I am thinking about R-1234yf. What can we expect from it next year? What will consumers be paying for it?

Over the past few years here at RefrigerantHQ we have taken the time to write what’s known as our ‘Price Per Pound’ articles. These articles break down the cost of refrigerant so any laymen can understand it. It takes away that hidden cost and brings it out into the light. The goal of these articles is to arm the homeowner or business owner with enough knowledge so that when they receive a quote for R-1234yf they know where the price should be. This prevents people from being gouged and overcharged, especially during the dead heat of summer.

Now before we go any further into this post I first want to give you a warning that I can be rather long winded. All of this information is good and relevant to your situation, BUT if you are just looking for a basic price per pound price then I suggest you just scroll on down to our ‘Price Per Pound’ section. However, if you’re looking to learn a bit more about your air conditioner then by all means keep reading.

Know This Before Purchasing

Purchasing refrigerant from your contractor isn’t always black and white. There are different factors that need to be considered before you purchase. In this section we are going to take a look at each of these:

You Are Paying For Expertise

Ok folks, so the information that I am going to give you in our ‘Price Per Pound’ section is very nearly, if not exactly, the cost that your technician is paying for their R-1234yf refrigerant. What that means is that you can expect a markup. After all, the technician and the dealership need to make money as well. This is a specialized trade and requires trained expertise in order to succeed in. Thinking that you can do this yourself is never a good idea as there are a lot of intricacies that need to be accounted for. As an example, let’s go through and ask a few simple questions that a technician would either have to do or consider:

  • Do you know how to flush your system?
  • Do you know what refrigerants can be vented?
  • Are you 609 certified with the EPA to handle HFO refrigerants?
  • Do you know how to find, let alone fix, a refrigerant leak?

All of these questions and more are what you are paying your technician for. Remember that they need to make money too, but there is also a fine line between having profit and gouging. Reading this article, and reviewing the price per pound, will allow you to be educated and give you the power to negotiate the price of refrigerant.

Your AC Unit is a Closed System

Refrigerant Cycle in a Closed System
Refrigerant Cycle in a Closed System

Even before you bring your car into the dealership to look at the air conditioner you should be aware that air conditioners are what’s known as closed systems. What that means is that the refrigerant in your air conditioner moves back and forth between different cycles and it, in theory, never runs out or needs refrigerant refilled.

If you find that your unit is low on refrigerant or is completely out do NOT just refill your machine with a new refrigerant. I repeat do NOT do this. Your system does not need a top off. It does not need just a little bit more refrigerant to get by. No. If you are running out of refrigerant that means that somewhere in the refrigerant cycle there is a leak. Your unit is leaking refrigerant and will continue to leak refrigerant until a repair is made. If you dump more refrigerant into it without fixing the leak you are literally throwing money down the drain.

I like to think of it as a above ground pool. If you get a puncture in the pool lining water will leak out. Sure you can always add more water but it’s not fixing the problem. Adding more refrigerant doesn’t fix the problem either. It’s just prolong the inevitable and wasting money.

R-1234yf Price Per Pound

Ok, now we are ready to take a look at the price per pound of 1234yf. First, let me paint a picture for you. Let’s say the air conditioner on your new vehicle went out and you just went past the warranty period. What can you expect repair wise? Well, you will need to repair and replace the part that failed but you will also most likely need to have the refrigerant recharged for your vehicle. But, what price should you pay?

I could tell you the price today, which I will in a bit, but I will also give you kind of a cheat sheet that I like to use when gauging the R-1234yf market price. It’s so simple. All I do is just go to Ebay.com and search for R-1234yf cylinders.  By doing this I can see what the going rate is per pound of R-1234yf. As I write this article today I can see that R-1234yf is priced between six-hundred and seventy to seven-hundred dollars a  ten pound cylinder. Now, let’s do some simple math to get your price per pound. Let’s take the higher amount of seven -hundred just to be safe.

$700 / 10lb cylinder = $70.00 per pound.

There you have it folks, $70.00 for one pound of R-1234yf refrigerant. Some of you may be having sticker shock right now, and yes I agree. It is a very high price especially when compared to R-134a. But, that’s just the way it is unfortunately. Now, please keep in mind that these prices CAN change. To give you a bit more help I have also included a feed from our Ebay partner below that shows you the current market price of R-1234yf:

Honeywell HFO-1234YF Refrigerant 10 lb Cylinder NEW, Sealed, Ships UPS ground

$665.00
End Date: Thursday Jan-24-2019 8:55:20 PST
Buy It Now for only: $665.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

OMEGA ENVIRONMENTAL TECHNOLOGIES 41-50222 - REFRIGERANT R1234YF 10LB CYLINDER

$1,839.06
End Date: Thursday Feb-14-2019 7:18:40 PST
Buy It Now for only: $1,839.06
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Now each car is different and the amount of refrigerant that they need can be different as well. Some only require one pound and others upwards of eight to nine pounds. It is always best to check your owner’s manual or your dealership to see how much you need. In our example we’re going to call it three pounds of refrigerant to get a complete fill up of your vehicle.

3 pounds of refrigerant * $70.00 per pound = $210.00 for a complete fill up.

Conclusion

There you have it folks, that is the true cost per pound of R-1234yf refrigerant. I have said it already in the beginning of this article but I want to emphasize again that you may not pay the price we mentioned above due to your dealership’s markup. They deserve to make money as well and they deserve to be paid for their expertise. Just keep this article in the back of your mind so that when you do receive a quote you can ensure that you are receiving an accurate and fair price.

If you do find that you are being gouged and the dealership won’t budge then you may be able to run by a local auto-parts store to see if they have any yf cans in stock. If they do, then you could save some money by providing the refrigerant to the dealership.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

EU Phasing out HFC

Over the last few years the European Union has experienced a rash of illegal refrigerants, refrigerant thefts, smuggling, and counterfeit refrigerants. Most of the time the refrigerants affected were R-22 or HFCs such as R-134a or R-404A. This time though things are a bit different.

Last month Honeywell worked directly with the Czech Republic’s Customs Office to seize a 1234yf shipment. As most of you know, Honeywell has a patent on 1234yf manufacturing. That means they are the only ones who can manufacture this refrigerant. (Chemours can as well, but that is because they are partnered with Honeywell.)  Besides these two companies no one else is able to legally manufacture 1234yf. That doesn’t stop everyone though, especially rogue companies found in China. Yes, this product that was seized came directly from China. Along with seizing the product Honeywell also took the step to file a suit against a Czech Republic refrigerant distribution company for attempting to distribute illegal product.

Earlier in the same month Honeywell did something similar to a Chinese manufacturer and distributor in Germany. And a few years back Honeywell partnered with the government out of Shanghai to sentence a man convicted of producing counterfeit 1234yf refrigerant. The man who was sentenced served nine months in jail and also paid a hefty fine for the violation.

Causation

All of the above cases were done to protect Honeywell’s monopoly on the 1234yf refrigerant. Some of you may not like that word monopoly, but that is what it is. Honeywell not only invented and patented this refrigerant but they also pushed and lobbied to have it adopted in every new vehicle across the globe. As the years go by Honeywell’s slice of the automotive refrigerant market gets larger and larger as R-134a applications begin to retire.

In Europe it has already happened. As of 2015 no newly manufactured vehicles can use R-134a. That leaves vehicle manufacturers with one of two options. They either use 1234yf or they use the experimental R-744 applications like what Daimler is doing. Most companies opt for 1234yf as it is the easier choice.

Since Europe started this conversion a few years ago it is only fair to have the first waves of counterfeit product arrive there. The price per pound on yf is quite expensive. Here in the United States it is about sixty-five dollars a pound. If we compare that to R-134a’s price per pound of three dollars we can begin to see why counterfeiting has begun. Now, I don’t know the markets over in the European Union, but I imagine yf is just as high if not higher over there. It is only natural for counterfeit product to show up.

Conclusion

There is only one real way I can see this counterfeiting to stop. Sure, Honeywell can keep playing whack-a-mole with these Chinese counterfeiters but it is not addressing the root of the problem. A counterfeit market typically exists because the price point is too high or the availability of the product is too low. By Honeywell addressing these concerns they could very well stop the counterfeit market in it’s tracks. But, that also means that Honeywell may have to lower price on their prized 1234yf refrigerant.

Over here on the Americas’ side I do not believe we’ve seen this problem yet on 1234yf. Yes, we’ve had our share of counterfeit products but that is still mostly HFCs and R-22. As the market for yf grows here we may very well have the same problems the EU is having. Remember, that when purchasing refrigerants to always ensure you are buying from a reputable supplier.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

R-134yf

By now we all know that R-134a is on it’s way out. It has already been phased out on new vehicles in the European Union for years now. While there was a planned phase out date here in the United States of 2020 (2021 Model Year) by the EPA, it was overturned earlier this year by a federal court. The phase out is still coming though and some States (California and New York) have already announced they will mandate the 2020 deadline even if the EPA does not.

The problem we now have though is the price of 1234yf. Originally, we heard from the manufacturers that the price was so high due to development time and lack of resources to manufacture the product. But now, years have passed and fully functioning manufacturing plants have been opened. Honeywell opened one up in Louisiana and Chemours broke ground on theirs over a year and a half ago in Texas. That isn’t even mentioning the plants in China.

We would think that the price would begin to come down but here we are in 2018 and we are still looking at around seventy dollars a pound wholesale. That is NOT even mentioning the cost to the end user. If we check on E-bay or Amazon we’ll find cans of 1234yf selling for forty or fifty dollars per eight ounces. Let’s look at R-134a pricing now. If we go to Amazon.com we can buy three twelve ounce cans for less then twenty dollars.

Now let’s really do some math. Most cars take anywhere from two to three pounds of refrigerant. Let’s say, for whatever reason, our compressor has cracked and we have lost all refrigerant in the system. We need a new compressor and a complete recharge. Let’s look at the two different refrigerants and what the predicted cost would be to repair at a dealership.

R-134a

For argument’s sake let’s call a new A/C compressor around two-hundred dollars. So, we have the new compressor and the two pounds of refrigerant to fill up. Using the R-134a price we mentioned above we can figure out what the approximate resale price would be. If we break down that twenty dollar price on Amazon by can, then by ounce, and then multiply the ounce price by sixteen ounces we get the price per pound. In this case the price we get is just shy of nine dollars per pound.

So, for this repair we would be looking at:

  • $200 for a compressor
  • $18 for two pounds of R-134a refrigerant
  • $100 for labor.
  • $318 for your grand total to get your AC running again.

R-134yf

Now, going through the same scenario that we laid out above, let’s do the math with the 1234yf refrigerant. The A/C compressor will still be two-hundred dollars. The price we mentioned earlier on 1234yf was around forty-five dollars per eight ounces. Let’s take that number times two to get our per pound price of ninety dollars. Now let’s figure the repair bill:

  • $200 for a compressor
  • $180 for two pounds of 1234yf refrigerant
  • $100 for labor.
  • $480 for the grand total of the repair.

Difference

Obviously, there is a large disparity in price here between the two refrigerants. So large in fact, that 1234yf is ten times the price of R-134a. In this example the customer is paying one-hundred and sixty-two dollars more to repair their air conditioning system and that is assuming that the dealership won’t mark up 1234yf at a higher percentage then they do R-134a.

This difference is causing a lot of gripe and complaints here in the United States. Over in the European Union it isn’t as big of a problem as the price of R-134a has gone up to extreme levels due to the mandatory phase down and phase out of the HFC refrigerant. So, the price disparity between the two refrigerants isn’t as dramatic.

In the US though things are different. Consumers have been paying dirt cheap refrigerant prices for decades now and they are used to it. The moment someone gets one of these high priced repair bills on a faulty yf system they are going to be in for a shock. I can’t even imagine what will happen when refilling a larger vehicle like a semi-truck. I believe this cost difference is what is causing some users to ‘retrofit’ their yf systems back over to R-134a.

Yes, you heard me right. There are quote a few people doing this today. In fact, I found a video about a month ago that gave viewers a ‘How To Guide’ on switching yf over to R-134a. The video has since been taken down (Smart of the creator), but my article can be found by clicking here. This conversion is not only risky to your car and it’s air conditioning components but it is also against the law.

Yes, that’s right folks. This isn’t just about the environment. If you convert your vehicle over like what was done in this video then you are actively breaking Federal Law under Section 203 of the Clean Air Act. What was done in this video is known as ‘tampering’ with a vehicle’s emissions’ control device.

“According to MACSWorldWide.com, ‘Any person other than a manufacturer or dealer who violates the tampering prohibition is subject to a civil penalty of not more than $2,500 per violation.'”

Conclusion

If the price doesn’t come down on yf then I can foresee a lot of these do-it-yourself conversions or retrofits back over to R-134a. While this is illegal, the risk of doing it is so minimal that I can see a lot of folks doing it already today. Heck, there are even conversion port adapters out there so that you can charge R-134a in your yf ports.

The only way I can see this getting better is if the price on yf begins to drop and drop significantly. I just don’t see this happening though as the price and market on yf is controlled by two companies: Honeywell and Chemours. They have a monopoly on this refrigerant and I do not see them giving up their cash cow, especially when it’s just starting to get good as more and more vehicle manufacturers are beginning to switch over to yf.

The other option is if yf price doesn’t go down then the price of R-134a will need to go up, and up dramatically. Maybe, once we get closer to the 2020 deadline and more States phase out 134a we will begin to see the price rise enough to make yf look more attractive. For now, it seems we are stuck with the high price of 1234yf refrigerant.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

R-134yf

A reader reached out to me today and told me that I had to watch a YouTube video. I pulled it up not really knowing what to expect. It definitely surprised me. The video is a do-it-yourself guide on how to convert your vehicle’s R-1234yf system over to R-134a. Yes, you read that right. I didn’t have that backwards. We have end users actively converting HFO systems back over to HFCs. I am sure most of us knew this would be happening on one off bases here and there but I didn’t expect to see a full do-it-yourself guide for everyone to watch and learn.

As most of you know, I began my career in the heavy-duty diesel industry. I remember back in 2007 when a new regulation went into effect for our trucks. All new vehicles were to be equipped with a Diesel Particulate Filter, or a DPF. Along with that you had a new fluid to add to your vehicle every so often called Diesel Exhaust Fluid. The point of this was to reduce the pollutants of semi-trucks that move all over the country’s roads. (After all, trucking is the life blood of the country.) While most fleets adapted to the change without issue there were guys out there, mainly owner-operators, that decided they didn’t like the DPF on their new truck. These guys came up with their own work-around that completely bypassed the particulate filter. It wasn’t legal, it wasn’t right, and it caused a ton of damage to the vehicle. But hey, they got their work around and got to do it ‘their,’ way.

We’re seeing a very similar thing here. People assume that R-1234yf and R-134a can be interchangeable. Yes, the pressures between the two refrigerants are very close to each other, but they are NOT exact. Click here to see a pressure comparison chart, courtesy of Lexissecurities.com. (Third page down) As you can see, the two refrigerants meet at thirty degrees Celsius, but after that they differ. Like with any air conditioning equipment the parts on your 1234yf vehicle are specifically manufactured to take 1234yf and no other refrigerants. Contaminating your system with a foreign refrigerant will at best case shorten the life of your compressor and other components. At worst, it will permanently damage your system causing an entire replacement.

When watching this video you’ll notice that he had to get a specific adapter just so he could insert the R-134a refrigerant into the system. This should have been a red flag. There is a reason why there are two different fittings between R-1234yf and R-134a. It is to prevent accidental contamination. I’m not sure why these adapters exist, but there must be a market for them or else they wouldn’t be found in auto parts stores or online. On the upside here, in this video the narrator did go through the trouble of vacuuming out the remaining R-134a from his system. So, we don’t have a contamination of mixed refrigerants… we just have all of the wrong refrigerant.

The video in question can be found below:

The Why?

Now there is one main reason for someone to do this: Money. Yes, it’s all about money and savings folks. R-1234yf is not easily found in stores at this time. Yes, it is available at online sites like Amazon.com and also through certain auto-parts stores but it is hit and miss. While the availability is a problem it is not the main gripe from end-users. R-1234yf is significantly higher in price then it’s predecessor R-134a. Let’s do a comparison real quick just to show the price difference. We’ll use Amazon.com as a point of reference just to make things easy:

  • R-134a: Three twelve ounce cans are for sale right now at $19.95. (Price can change at any time.) Let’s do some math now and break this down by price per ounce. $19.95 / 36 ounces = $00.55 per ounce for R-134a.
  • R-1234yf: Four eight ounce cans are for sale right now at $168.99. (Price can change at any time.) Let’s do some math now and break this down by price per ounce. $168.99 / 32 ounces = $5.28 per ounce for R-1234yf.
  • That is an eight-hundred and sixty percent increase in price between the two refrigerants.

Now, we can begin to see the end-users’ reasoning here. That is one hell of a price increase. Now if we couple that with the fact that not many stores handle 1234yf we find that most car owners end up having to go to the dealership for air conditioning repairs. I can only imagine the mark-up on 1234yf. Ok so, we understand the end-users reasoning but now we need to look at the consequences of converting a system over to R-134a.

Consequences

As with any action there are always consequences. In the case of this moving a vehicle from 1234yf over to 134a we have two distinct consequences:

The first is that by doing this switch you are actively harming the environment. The point of 1234yf is to reduce the overall Global Warming Potential (GWP) of vehicles and the refrigerants that they use. R-134 has a GWP of fourteen-hundred and thirty times that of Carbon Dioxide. Inversely, R-1234yf has a GWP number of four times that of Carbon Dioxide. Beginning to see the difference here? If you switch your unit back to 134a you are actively harming the environment.

The second reason, and the one that will most likely get everyone’s attention, is the Federal Government. Yes, that’s right folks. This isn’t just about the environment. If you convert your vehicle over like what was done in this video you are actively breaking Federal Law under Section 203 of the Clean Air Act. What was done in this video is known as ‘tampering,’ with a vehicle’s emissions control device.

According to MACSWorldWide.com, “Any person other than a manufacturer or dealer who violates the tampering prohibition is subject to a civil penalty of not more than $2,500 per violation.” 

That is quite the fine and if you get caught doing this that extra mark-up at the dealership might not seem so bad. Also, see the below excerpt from the Environmental Protection Agency’s website. Trust me in saying this folks, the Federal Government does not fool around with this stuff. Ask yourself is it really worth it?

Tampering. The CAA prohibits anyone from tampering with an emission control device on a motor vehicle by removing it or making it inoperable prior to or after the sale or delivery to the buyer. A vehicle’s emission control system is designed to limit emissions of harmful pollutants from vehicles or engines. EPA works with manufacturers to ensure that they design their components with tamper-proofing, addresses trade groups to educate mechanics about the importance of maintaining the emission control systems, and prosecutes cases where significant or imminent harm is occurring. – EPA.Gov Source

Conclusion

I am hoping that this isn’t the start of a trend. Remember folks, that the whole reason we’re moving away from R-134a is to reduce Greenhouse Gases and slow Global Warming. By having end-users actively retrofitting their systems back to R-134a we are defeating the entire purpose of this phase down. Now, I wasn’t really around for the whole R-12 phase out. (I was only seven in 1993.) so I don’t know if this was common place in the early stages of the R-12 phase out or not. Regardless, it needs to stop.

I’m hoping that writing this article we can grab the attention of other users out there who are thinking about doing this conversion and steer them away from the cliff. Sure, you might save a little bit of money upfront but you have to ask yourself is it really worth it in the long term? Also, maybe it’s time we get some 1234yf recharge kits out there so that we can prevent these types of retrofits in the future. If they have access to a recharge kit then maybe they will not go down the path of 134a.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

While all of the other car manufacturers around the world are scurrying towards the latest and newest fad of HFO refrigerants Daimler is stepping away from the pack and creating their own alternative refrigerant method for automotive air conditioning. If we look at the automotive market today we can see one primary refrigerant known as R-134a. 134a is an HFC refrigerant and is known for it’s extremely high Global Warming Potential number of one-thousand four-hundred and thirty times that of Carbon Dioxide. That means that any of this R-134a that is released or vented into the atmosphere actively contributes to Global Warming at a rate a thousand times more than Carbon Dioxide.

The rush was on to develop a new alternative refrigerant. Honeywell and Chemours offered a solution. They offered the new Hydrofluoroolefin refrigerant known as 1234yf. This yf refrigerant is non Ozone depleting and also has a minimal GWP of four. Automotive companies jumped at this new refrigerant as a solution to their problems. However, there was one company, Daimler, that was not in favor of this new refrigerant. Their reasoning was that this new refrigerant went up a scale on the refrigerant flammability rating. 134a was rated as a 1, or non-flammable. 1234yf was rated as a 2L, or mildly flammable. To remove their doubts about this new refrigerant Daimler did numerous test scenarios to see how the refrigerant would react when the tank was ruptured and the refrigerant made contact with the hot parts of the engine. The test did not end well, in fact the refrigerant ignited causing a fire under the hood of the vehicle. There is a video of this that can be found by clicking here.

After this test result was released the rest of the world tried to replicate it, but no one was able to. After time the governments and companies dismissed the video and test as a fluke and stated that it was not reproduce-able. Since then the world has moved forward with 1234yf. In fact in the European Union 134a was banned entirely on new models. There is a similar ban coming to the United States in the year 2020. (2021 model years.) Throughout all of these changes Daimler fought and fought against companies and even against the European Union.

They wanted to continue using R-134a as they deemed 1234yf as unsafe. I won’t get into all of the details here but there was a large back and forth between Daimler, Germany, and the European Union. After years of debate and arguing Daimler eventually agreed to use 1234yf in all of it’s model ranges starting in 2017. To get around the safety issues that they saw with 1234yf Daimler developed their own innovations including a patented system to keep the fluid and hot engine components separated even in the event of an accident.

The Rise of R-744

Remember how I said that all Daimler 2017 models would be using 1234yf? Well, there is an exception to that. The S-Class and the E-Class models will not be using 1234yf and will not be using R-134a. No, folks. They will be using the first R-744 Carbon Dioxide automotive application. What is so amazing about this is that Daimler started working towards their own alternative clean refrigerant in January of 2014 and then just three short years later they already had models rolling out of the shop with it installed and ready to go. Talk about German efficiency.

This was no easy feat either. As most of you know CO2 operates at a much higher pressure then other refrigerants. CO2 was actually one of the first mainstream refrigerants to be used across the United States but it’s popularity waned due to the high rate of part failure and also due to the invention of CFC and HCFC refrigerants like R-12 and R-22. In order for Daimler to properly use CO2 for their cars they had to redesign nearly all of the components to accommodate the higher operating pressure. To give an idea of the pressure difference, CO2 operates around ten times the pressure of a regular system. So, that meant that they had to create a new compressor, evaporator, and condenser. That’s not even factoring in the new seals, hoses, o-rings, and everything else that was involved. Frankly, folks I’m astonished at how they accomplished this. It makes me want to go out and by a Daimler vehicle… if only I could afford one.

Usually, when a company makes this kind of invention and progress on new technology they like to hold on to it and patent it so that they keep the competition’s hands off of it. Not Daimler. Nope. They have allowed other companies access to the designs and equipment used so that other OEs can more easily design their own CO2 systems. That is a stand up move by Daimler and really shows that they care about the safety of the drivers as well as the environment.

 

Conclusion

Now, you may remember from earlier that I said Daimler was using 1234yf refrigerant on most of their models in 2017. This was not their choice but they gave in after a long and hard fought battle. Well the good news here is that this yf usage from Damiler is only temporary. It was only because of the time crunch that they were under. On January 1st, 2017 R-134a was no longer acceptable in new vehicle models in the European Union. So, Daimler was practically forced to use 1234yf on their models. Their ultimate plan is to transition all of their vehicle models over to the new R-744 application but at this time they are just not quite ready yet. Don’t worry though I’m sure it will only take them a couple more years.

Regardless, I am just amazed at the speed and innovation that Daimler has done when faced with a new refrigerant that they felt was not safe for public use. Instead of towing the line like the rest of the OEMs in the world they decided to set themselves apart and make their own system. That alone speaks to the quality of Daimler.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigeantHQ

Sources

If you haven’t heard of 1234yf yet then I can assure you that you will soon. Especially if you have a newer car that’s out of warranty. You’ll really hear about it then when you get a leak in your system and you get that nice recharge bill.

1234yf is the latest and greatest when it comes to automotive refrigerant. This new refrigerant is designed to take the place of the HFC R-134a. 134a has been used since the early 1990’s but has since fallen out of favor with companies and governments due to it’s high Global Warming Potential. While R-134a has already been phased out in the European Union it has not quite taken hold yet in the United States. Don’t get me wrong though folks it’s coming and it has been coming since 2013-2014. The first few models to start using YF in the United States were Fiat, then Chrysler, then Ford, then Toyota, and so on and so on. Heck, the truck I want to get next year (Toyota Tundra) is using 1234yf.

My point is folks that it’s everywhere and it’s growing fast. Give it a few years and R-134a will go the way of R-12. The only people using it will be clunkers or ‘antique’ car restorers. 1234yf with it’s expensive price tag will be the only real option for automotive applications at least until Daimler perfects their R-744 systems. So, the question is what will the pricing of 1234yf do next year in 2018? Will it remain the same, climb drastically, or start to decline? Let’s dive in and find out.

Considerations

Like with any good analysis we have to look at the considerations and outside factors that will affect the price on 1234yf in 2018 before we can make an attempt at an accurate price prediction for next summer. Let’s take a look:

  • I looked around online for a recent list from this year that would display all of the cars that were using 1234yf. I couldn’t find one but I did find one from 2015 and I have to say that even back then, nearly three years ago, there were a whole host of cars and manufacturers that had begun using 1234yf. With each passing year the amount of models using 1234yf will go up and with that more and more cars on the road will be using YF refrigerant. All of this is only going to increase demand for the new HFO refrigerant.
  • While we will have that increased demand from the point I mentioned above the second point to bring up is that the two companies that make 1234yf, Honeywell and Chemours, have either opened or have broke ground on gigantic production plants here in the United States. Honeywell started building their plant a few years ago and has actually already opened their plant for business in May of this year. Their plant out of Geismar, Louisiana has now become the world’s largest site for producing 1234yf. Chemours isn’t as fast as Honeywell. They broke ground on their plant in February of this year and once their plant is finished it will triple their output potential on HFOs. Talk about an increase in supply.
  • The last point that I’m going to make before I get onto my prediction is the planned EPA phase out of the HFC R-134a. The EPA announced this phase out under their ‘SNAP Rule 20,’ program. It basically said that R-134a would be unacceptable for use in new vehicles starting at the 2021 model year.  While this Rule 20 from the EPA is contested in the courts right now the rest of the world is treating these phase outs as still active and ongoing. I am going to write my prediction here assuming that the EPA’s planned phase out stands. For more information on the EPA’s phase out of R-134a click here or you can read the excerpt from their site in the bulleted points below:
    • Unacceptable as of Model Year (MY) 2021, except where allowed under a narrowed use limit through MY 2025.
    • Acceptable, subject to narrowed use limits, for vehicles exported to countries with insufficient servicing infrastructure to support other alternatives, for MY 2021 through MY 2025.
    • Unacceptable for all newly manufactured vehicles as of MY 2026.

Pricing Predictions

I’ve been doing this price prediction articles for a few years now and it has given me a unique opportunity to see the trend in pricing of 1234yf over the years. Before I get into my prediction let’s take a quick look to see how the pricing has climbed over the years. Keep in mind that these prices are based off the standard 1234yf ten pound cylinder.

As you can see above folks the pricing on 1234yf has stayed pretty stable over the past few years. The only real increase I saw was this year and it was a very slight one at that. The price went up about ten dollars, or just over one percent. The thing to keep in mind here too is that this is the price of purchasing one ten pound cylinder. If you were to buy three, four, or even more you could easily get a price under that seven-hundred dollar mark.

Weighing the considerations I discussed above it basically boils down to will the new production facilities outweigh the demand for all of the new 1234yf vehicles on the road today? My thoughts are… yes. I believe that these new production facilities, especially Honeywell’s which has already opened, are going to increase the supply of YF refrigerant substantially and we could be looking at a lower price for 2018.

As time goes on and we get closer and closer to that 2020 (2021 Model Year) date for R-134a to go away we will definitely begin to see the price of 1234yf climb. More and more manufacturers will be using the new refrigerant the demand will be climbing and climbing.

As far as my prediction for 2018 I think we’ll see a slight decrease in pricing from where it’s at today for individual cylinders. With the new plant operating here in the states and another one set to open soon I think we’ll see prices go down about two to three percent in 2018. My predicted price is $690.00 for a ten pound cylinder of 1234yf.

 

Only time will tell if I am right. I hope the article and was helpful and if you enjoyed it please take the time to subscribe to my mailing list.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

R-134yf

Let me start this off with saying that a 1234yf system is VERY similar to an R-134a system. If you are familiar with 134a repairs then you should be just fine with YF repairs as well. That being said there are a few points that I want to make:

  • Just like before in order to legally work on an HFO-1234YF unit you will need to be section 609 certified with the Environmental Protection Agency. If you are working at a shop then you are most likely already certified but if you are not then contact your service manager and see what steps need to be taken to get you certified. The certification is no different between R-134a and R-1234YF.
  • While a new certification is not necessary there is additional training available through SAE Spec J2845. This training will go over specific requirements and techniques when servicing either 1234yf or R-744 mobile air conditioning systems. The easiest way to acquire this training is to retake your 609 certification exam through MACS Worldwide. They have updated their test to include YF material.
  • The recovery and recycling procedures on 1234yf machines are basically identical to R-134a machines. The only differences that you will notice are:
    • When beginning to charge your system the recovery machine will do a vacuum hold test that will go for around two minutes. If the vacuum holds then we move onto the next step. If it doesn’t hold then check for leaks in your system.
    • Once we have passed the vacuum test the recovery unit will deliver a fifteen percent charge to the system. This is known as a ‘precharge,’ of the system.
    • While this is going on the tech will be prompted to start the blower motor on low, grab his leak detector, and then check the front evaporator inside the car for any leaks.
    • After giving it some time to check for leaks go back to your recovery unit and alert it if you found a leak or not. If your vehicle has a dual system then you will also need to check your rear evaporator for leaks as well.
    • If the leak detector did not trigger any leaks with the fifteen percent charge in the system then the recovery machine will go ahead and put the rest of the refrigerant back into the system.
    • After the system has been fully charged, disconnect your lines, and reseal the valves just like your normally would.
    • Some of you may be groaning at the extra steps when compared to R-134a. Well, with all things, there is a reason why these are performed. The fifteen percent precharge and leak detection step is key to catching a leak on your vehicle before it has been fully charged. If we catch the leak early while the charge is still low we can save loss of refrigerant, save your shop some cash on that refrigerant, save the customer money, and also prevent further damage to the environment. It’s a win win for all involved.

Conclusion

Besides that folks 134a and 1234yf are basically the same. Yes, it’s a different refrigerant and yes you will need new tools which is always a hassle but once you get the proper equipment the actual diagnosis, repair, and replace are very close to what you do today with 134a.

There are two more points I want to make before closing this article. The first is that there is a great resource that Honeywell has provided that will show you training videos, service videos, and any and all other questions that you would have on 1234yf. Their are two websites that I’m going to recommend here. The first is called 1234facts.com and goes over all frequently asked questions, fact sheets, and anything else you’d like to know about the refrigerant. The second website is aviondemand.com. This website has in-depth training videos on 1234yf and will also provide a short quiz and certificate once you have completed the course. I took these the other day and they were very helpful.

Alright, the last thing I’m going to mention here is here at RefrigerantHQ we took the time to create a recommended tool listing to service your 1234yf vehicles. It can be found by clicking here. This guide will give you everything from a leak detector to a recovery unit.

Thanks for reading and I hope that I was able to help answer your questions,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

R-134yf

To understand the history of 1234yf and the other HFO refrigerants we first have to go back in time to the 1980’s. Back then all automotive applications were using the CFC R-12 refrigerant for their air conditioning. R-12 was the original mainstream refrigerant that came from the 1930’s. Ever since then it and R-22 had gained and gained in popularity until they were practically found everywhere across the country and the world.

It was in the 1980’s that a team of scientists out of California realized that all of the Chlorine that was in CFC and HCFC refrigerants was causing damage to the Ozone layer. When vented or leaked the refrigerant would drift up and into the atmosphere. It is there where the Chlorine would do it’s damage. Eventually it got so bad that a thinning of the Ozone layer began to form over the Arctic. The scientists noticing this sounded the alarm and the world’s governments took action by creating the Montreal Protocol.

The Montreal Protocol is a treaty that was signed in the late 1980’s by more then one-hundred countries. It’s goal was to rid the world of using Ozone depleting substances like CFC and HCFC refrigerants. This treaty was enacted in countries all over the world. The first target was CFC refrigerants such as R-12. In 1992 R-12 was phased out of the automotive market in the United States and was replaced with the newer HFC refrigerant known as R-134a. R-134a had the benefit of not containing Chlorine so with its usage there would be no danger to the Ozone layer.

Lo and behold there was found to be another problem with R-134a. Instead of the Ozone layer issue we now had a new issue called Global Warming Potential. Global Warming Potential, or GWP, is a measurement of how much heat a greenhouse gas can trap in the atmosphere. The basic measurement on GWP is Carbon Dioxide which measures as one. This is our standard. Now, if we look at R-134a’s GWP number we can see a number of one-thousand four-hundred and thirty. Quite the difference here folks. We can now begin to see why a substitute for 134a was needed as well.

Enter HFO-1234YF

The problem was discovered and companies along with governments began to look for an alternative solution to R-134a and to other HFC refrigerants that were currently on the market as early as 2001. That’s less then ten years after the switch from R-12! While there were a plethora of ideas presented such as Hydrocarbons, R-744, or other natural refrigerants there were two companies that were doing the research, development, and work on creating and perfecting a new refrigerant known as HFO-1234yf. These companies were Honeywell and DuPont/Chemours.

In 2006 the European Union came out with a directive known as 2006/40/EC. This directive’s goal was to reduce the emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases from mobile air conditioning systems. This would be a gradual phase out across the European Union. The end goal was to have automobiles using refrigerants that had a Global Warming Potential, or GWP, number of one-hundred and fifty or less. The first major date of the phase out was 2008, then 2011, and then finally on January 1st 2017 any new vehicle using a refrigerant with a GWP higher then one-hundred and fifty would be banned from the European Union. The problem here was that there wasn’t a viable alternative to HFC refrigerants at the time this directive was made. I’m sure you’ve heard of the expression: Necessity is the mother of invention.

This timeline put even more pressure on Honeywell and Chemours. In only a few short years later in 2008 they presented HFO-1234yf to the Society of Automotive Engineers Cooperative Research Program. (SAE CRP1234) The society concluded that 1234yf offered superior environmental performance and that 1234yf was safe to use in automotive applications. After this test came a whole host of other tests from companies, governments, and other organizations all over the globe. Everyone wanted to make sure that this new refrigerant was not only good for the environment but also safe. Remember now folks that the new YF refrigerant went up a flammability level to 2L. Was it safe to use? Most everyone said that yes, it was… but there was one company that disagreed.

Daimler

There was one major bump in the road of HFO-1234yf to becoming the dominant automotive refrigerant. In 2012 Daimler began their own internal testing with 1234YF on some of their vehicles. They claimed that in some of their tests that when the refrigerant tank ruptured during an accident that the refrigerant ignited and caused a fire to occur. The video can be seen below. In the video there is a test with 1234yf leaking and then there is a test with R-134a leaking. The video speaks for itself.

There were many disputes from numerous companies and organizations from all over the world to this test and claim from Daimler that the new refrigerant was unsafe for use. For a time it seemed like German Automakers were going to fight HFOs tooth and nail. They had their hearts set on R-744 CO2.  Over the years though there have been numerous court battles and fines issued by the European Union but still Germany persisted against 1234yf.

Eventually a lot of these companies lost the war of attrition and have folded into the 1234YF HFO craze and from the pressure from the European Union. There is one company, Daimler, that is pursuing their own route into the future by developing CO2 R-744 automobile air conditioning systems. Eventually, in 2015 Daimler did agree to use 1234yf in their new vehicles but this was only done to appeal the European Union. In the background, and now in 2017, very publicly Daimler has been developing and testing R-744 or Carbon Dioxide refrigerant modeled cars. It will definitely be interesting to see how this new technology develops over the years.

The EU and the USA

In 2017 the final law went into effect across the European Union and 1234YF was found in every new car that was manufactured or imported into the EU. The only exception that I know of is Daimler and their CO2 automobiles. While the European Union market was changing there was also change going on in the United States.

It seems that the EU is always a precursor for what happens here in the states. In 2015 the Environmental Protection Agency announced a new rule under their SNAP program called rule 20. This new rule dictated the eventual phase out of HFC refrigerants across the United States. While there are many HFC refrigerants in this ruling I will stick with R-134a for now. The basis of the rule was that by the year 2020, or model year 2021, all new manufactured or imported vehicles would not be able to use R-134a. There is room for a few exclusions here and there but these can only push the date back to 2025. Another thing to note here is that they do not state medium duty or heavy duty vehicle markets. So, that means your trucks, haulers, and other large equipment are not included in this ruling as of yet.

By combining the EU’s policy on R-134a and now the United States’ public policy everyone knew that the most logical choice for an alternative was HFO-1234yf. Sure, there were companies like Daimler researching R-744 but this was not a viable alternative at this point in time. Production had to be increased on YF as soon as possible. Earlier this year, 2017, the Chemours company broke ground on a new 1234YF manufacturing plant in Corpus Christi, Texas. This new facility is expected to triple the company’s output of 1234yf. Chemours was just following suit though as the Honeywell corporation actually opened up their new three-hundred million dollar facility in Geismar, Louisiana earlier this year.

These two companies know whats coming. There is a wave of demand that is going to hit and hit hard. The question you have to ask yourself folks is are you ready? Are your employees ready? Is your shop ready? If not today then tomorrow you may have a YF unit roll in. Are you going to know what to do? Are you going to be prepared?

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

R-134yf

There are dozens of car manufacturers using 1234YF as their refrigerant in newer models not only here in the United States but also across the world. In fact the common automotive HFC refrigerant known as R-134a is already banned across the entire European Union on new models. To add fuel to the fire the same thing will be happening here in the United States by the year 2020. (Model Year 2021.)

So, with everything switching over to 1234yf questions arise. What is it? What can we expect from it? Will everything be changing, or is it mostly the same? Let’s find out!

The Questions

  • What is HFO-1234yf?
    • HFO-1234yf is a new class of refrigerants known as hydrofluoroolefins. These refrigerants are similar to HFC refrigerants except that they have a much much lower Global Warming Potential number. This is done by creating a double carbon bond within HFO refrigerants. This double bond is easily decompable in the environment if the refrigerant is leaked or vented. 1234yf is the first of these class of refrigerants and will be used in automotive applications to replace R-134a.
  • What applications will use 1234yf?
    • Mostly it will be automobiles that use 1234yf. Eventually we will see medium duty and even heavy duty vehicles come over to the YF side as well.
  • When will 1234yf come to the United States?
    • It’s already here! While the actual phase out R-134a doesn’t go into effect until the year 2020 many auto manufacturers have already taken the initiative and have begun using 1234yf on their newer model vehicles.
  • Why are we switching refrigerant again for automobiles?
    • I am sure most of you remember the days of R-12 refrigerant. R-12 was phased out back in 1992 due to the Ozone depleting Chlorine that it contained. The substitute that we used for R-12 was the new HFC called R-134a. It was later found that R-134a had a very high Global Warming Potential, or GWP, number. GWP is a measurement of Greenhouse Gases and their effect on Global Warming. A lower GWP alternative to R-134a had to be found and thus we have the new 1234yf.
  • How is 1234yf different from R-134a?
    • 134a is a Hydroflurocarbon refrigerant while 1234yf is a Hydrofluroolefin refrigerant. While these are two separate classes of refrigerants they are in fact very close to each other. The only main difference is that the HFO refrigerants have a double carbon bond whereas HFCs do not.
  • I read that 1234yf is flammable, should I be worried?
    • Truth be told, it’s not that big of a concern. Yes, it’s mildly flammable but so is the gasoline in your car. There have been countless tests from all different companies and organizations from all over the world. Throughout all of these tests there has been only one that found bad results from flammability. I will get further into this one bad test in the ‘history’ section in this post.
  • Do I need to do anything different to work on a YF unit if I am already 609 certified?
    • No, if you are 609 certified through the EPA already you are legally able to work on these new YF units. However, it may make sense to go through 609 training again and to take the test again as these tests have been updated to include newer YF questions.
  • Do I need to be certified to purchase 1234yf refrigerant?
    • Yes, as of January 1st, 2018 you will need to 609 certified with the EPA in order to purchase 1234yf refrigerant. The only exception is when purchasing containers that contain less then two pounds of refrigerant. This new rules applies to R-134a cylinders as well.
  • Will I see a difference between temperatures and pressures when working on a 1234yf unit?
    • There is a slight difference as you go up in temperature but for the most part 134a and 1234yf work on very similar temperatures and pressure.
  • Do I need different tools to work with 1234yf?
    • Yes, yes you do. You will need a host of tools. I recommend clicking here to go to our 1234yf tool buyers guide. This guide will provide you with the tools that you need when the new vehicles come into your garage.
  • How long will 1234yf be around?
    • I predict 1234yf will be around for quite some time, even longer than R-134a. 1234yf has an extremely low GWP number of four and has no Ozone depletion potential. It’s here to stay. The only downside is the price.
  • How expensive is 1234yf?
    • As I write this in October of 2017 it is around seventy dollars a pound of refrigerant. That is a HUGE increase when comparing to R-134a which has a price of about five dollars per pound. We can only hope that this price goes down as more cars switch over.

Conclusion

If you haven’t come across a 1234yf unit either in your garage, your shop, or your neighbors garage then I can assure you that the time will come shortly. The number of vehicles using YF refrigerant is expanding rapidly. As I write this article in October of 2017 there are an estimated thirty-five million cars on the road using YF refrigerant and that number is only growing. Are you ready?

Well folks that covers about every question on 1234yf that I could think of. I am sure that I missed some here and there and if you feel that I need to add something or even correct something please do not hesitate to reach out and contact me by clicking here.

Thanks again for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

R-134yf

1234yf is coming. If you haven’t come across a 1234yf unit either in your garage, your shop, or your neighbors garage then I can assure you that the time will come shortly. The number of vehicles using YF refrigerant is expanding rapidly. As I write this article in October of 2017 there are an estimated thirty-five million cars on the road using YF refrigerant and that number is only growing. Are you ready? I hope so.

One step in getting ready is preparing your garage with the right tools needed to service a 1234yf vehicle. Here at RefrigerantHQ we have built a list of recommended tools for you so that you can be one-hundred percent ready when a vehicle rolls into your shop.

The Tools

Like with most new technology comes new tools. Let’s take a look:

  • Gauges – This first one is optional and truth be told a lot of you may not even need it as a good recovery unit should have gauges built in. But, if you want to have them as a backup or just like do things the old fashioned way then a good set of gauges will never let you down. We here at RefrigerantHQ recommend you buy the Robinair 41234 Manifold Gauge Set from our E-Bay Partner.
  • Refrigerant Leak Detector –The next essential tool is a electronic refrigerant leak detector. For an HFO detector you want to make sure that it meets SAE spec J2913. Our pick here at RefrigerantHQ is INFICON’s Tek-Mate Refrigerant Leak Detector. We did a review on this detector just last month. Click here to view.AC1234-6 Robinair 1234YF Recover, Recycle, Recharge Machine
  • Refrigerant Identifier – A refrigerant identifier is also a must. Now some guys prefer to have a stand alone identifier while others prefer to just use the one that is built into their recovery machine. It’s up to you. Just be aware that if you do go with the stand alone that it should meet SAE spec J2912. (I’d recommend you go with the recovery machine, skip the identifier, and save some money.)
  • Recovery Machine – Lastly, and most importantly you’re going to need to purchase a whole new recovery/recharge machine in order to service HFO-1234yf. Yes, I know. It’s an expensive switch but like it or not every shop in town and across the industry is going to have purchase one of these. You’ll either bite the bullet now or a few years from now. Here at RefrigeantHQ we recommend purchasing the Robinair AC1234-6 recovery machine. Like I mentioned before this unit comes with a refrigerant identifier built right in so you don’t have to worry about buying one of those as well. This unit was the first commercially available recovery machine to meet the new SAE standards J2843 for a 1234yf recovery machine. Click here to purchase on Amazon and click here to view Robinair’s official product page.

Conclusion

The tool listing that we built above will serve you well over the next few years as more and more 1234yf cars come in. Remember folks that the United States’ deadline on R-134a refrigerant for automobiles is the year 2020. (2021 Model Years.) That means that we have three years left of R-134a and then EVERYONE has to be ready for the wave of 1234yf demand.

Thanks for reading and I hope that I was able to answer your questions.

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

R-134yf

R-1234yf, or HFO-1234yf is soon to be one of the most popular refrigerants in the world. Making it’s debut in the early 2000’s it has quickly rose to power and will soon be the dominant refrigerant in the automotive industry. Today, as I write this in October of 2017 there are approximately thirty-five million cars on the road that are using 1234yf. This number will only grow as R-134a is no longer allowed on newer models in the European Union and will be banned from newer models in the United States by 2020. (2021 model year.)

With this refrigerant being in such high demand I have found very little information about it. There seemed to be a scattering and mish mash of data from various websites across the internet. My goal here with this post is to give the most comprehensive and complete guide to all of the facts, questions, and points of note on 1234yf. Let’s take a look:

The Facts

Name:HFO-1234yf
Name - Scientific:2,3,3,3 -
Tetrafluoropropene
Name (2):R-1234yf
Name (3):Opteon YF (Chemours' Brand)
Name (4):Solstice YF (Honeywell Brand)
Classification:Hydrofluroolefin
Chemistry:Carbon, Hydrogen, Fluorine with a double Carbon bond.
Chemistry (2):
Status:Active and Growing Market
Applications:Mobile Air Conditioning (Automotive) and Domestic Refrigeration
Replacement For:HFC R-134a and CFC R-12
Ozone Depletion Potential:0
Global Warming Potential:4
Toxicity Levels:A (No Toxicity Identified.)
Flammability Levels:2L (Mildly flammable.)
Lubricant Required:Pag Oil (Check unit for specific type.)
Boiling Point:−29°C (−22°F)
Critical Temperature:95°C (203°F)
Critical Pressure:34 bar(a)
Auto ignition Temperature:405°C (761°F)
Manufacturers:Honeywell, Chemours, and Arkema
Manufacturing Facilities:Texas, Louisiana, & China
Form:Liquefied Gas
Color:Clear
Odor:Slight
EPA Certification Required:609
Require Certification to Purchase?Yes, 609
Cylinder Color:White with Red Band
Cylinder Design:Fitted with left-handed valve that will be CGA 166 type.
Cylinder Design (2):Contains a pressure relief valve on the cylinder shoulder.
Price Point:Very high price when compared to R-134a.
Where to Buy Can or Cylinder?Amazon.com, O'Reillys, Napa, Autozone, Dealerships
Bulk Purchasing:CLICK FOR A QUOTE!

Points of Note

Ok, so we’ve got the basic facts out of the way now on this refrigerant. Now let’s take a look at some of the more interesting points about this refrigerant.

  • As I am sure most of you know 1234yf is meant to take the place of the very popular HFC R-134a refrigerant. This has already happened in the European Union as of January 1st, 2017 and will be happening in the United States by the year 2020. (Model year 2021.) Know that those dates are the deadline though and some manufacturers are already using 1234yf on newer vehicle models.
  • R-134a and 1234yf systems are very similar to each other. In fact this was one of the reasons that 1234yf was chosen as an alternative refrigerant. A few of the major differences can be read below:
    • Slight design differences in the design specs of certain components like TXVs, ports, evaporators, and condensers.
    • Service ports are different then 134a. This is done to alert the technician that this is a 1234yf unit and also prevents the technician from accidentally connecting the wrong hose and mixing refrigerants. So even if you aren’t paying attention and try to hook up your 134a hose you’ll quickly realize you’re working on a YF unit.
    • With 1234yf systems they have added a Suction Line Heat Exchanger, also known as an internal heat exchanger. This is an additional component located before the expansion valve. It is a state change helper that is used to improve overall efficiency of the unit. You may have even noticed these on newer model 134a systems as well. There are no moving parts on this addition as it is part of the hose line.
    • The operating pressures and temperatures of 1234yf are VERY similar to that of 134a. As I said before this was done intentionally to make for an easy transition. Refer back to my fact sheet above to see the boiling temperatures.
    • 1234yf uses PAG oil just like R-134a but please note that it uses a different type of PAG oil. It is always safest to read the sticker labels under your hood or to consult the instruction manual before adding in any oil.
    • Evaporator designs must meet JAE standard J2842. YF is tougher on evaporators then 134a and this new standard is to prevent wear and tear and premature failure.
  • 1234yf is classified by the ASHRAE as a 2L flammable gas. That means that 1234yf is rated as mildly flammable. Depending on who you are this could be a big deal or it couldn’t matter at all. There are two ways to look at this. Your car is already carrying gasoline in it and I can assure you that gas is far more flammable then 1234yf. On the other hand adding more flammable liquids to your car only increases your chance of fire during a collision.
  • At the very minimum you will need to purchase a new refrigerant recovery machine if you plan to be working on 1234yf units in the future. The machine will have to meet SAE spec J2843. I will go into this further in our tools section further on down the page.
  • YF’s price is significantly higher than what you are used to with a R-134a cylinder. A typical thirty pound cylinder of 134a would be around one-hundred and twenty dollars. If we divide that up that’s about four dollars a pound. Conversely, the cost of a ten pound cylinder of 1234yf is around seven-hundred dollars. Let’s divide that up as well. After the math we get seventy dollars a pound. That is a sixteen-hundred and fifty percent increase in cost. There are going to be a lot of shocked people when this refrigerant begins to get popular.
  • You may not be seeing very many cars come into your shop today with YF refrigerant, especially here in the United States. There is a reason for that. Yes, there a lot of cars on the road that are using this new refrigerant but these cars are so new that most of them are falling under warranty when something goes wrong. What we are seeing today, October 2017, is a lot of dealerships doing the YF repairs. If we wait a few more years, say 2019-2020 I predict that a lot of the aftermarket shops out there will begin to see the demand for YF repairs. It just takes time folks. Hopefully by then the cost would have gone down.
  • For those of you in the distribution industry or even those of you who like to buy cylinders in bulk you should know that 1234yf is labeled as a hazardous material. You will need to follow certain restrictions if you plan on storing a significant amount of YF at your facility. I won’t go too deep into it here but if you click this link you’ll be taken to Honeywell’s website with more information on the topic. It is best to read up on this topic and also to consult with your local fire department to ensure that you are in standard.

Servicing 1234yf

Let me start this off with saying that a 1234yf system is VERY similar to an R-134a system. If you are familiar with 134a repairs then you should be just fine with YF repairs as well. That being said there are a few points that I want to make to you before we move on to the next section:

  • Just like before in order to legally work on an HFO-1234YF unit you will need to be section 609 certified with the Environmental Protection Agency. If you are working at a shop then you are most likely already certified but if you are not then contact your service manager and see what steps need to be taken to get you certified. The certification is no different between R-134a and R-1234YF.
  • While a new certification is not necessary there is additional training available through SAE Spec J2845. This training will go over specific requirements and techniques when servicing either 1234yf or R-744 mobile air conditioning systems. The easiest way to acquire this training is to retake your 609 certification exam through MACS Worldwide. They have updated their test to include YF material.
  • The recovery and recycling procedures on 1234yf machines are basically identical to R-134a machines. The only differences that you will notice are:
    • When beginning to charge your system the recovery machine will do a vacuum hold test that will go for around two minutes. If the vacuum holds then we move onto the next step. If it doesn’t hold then check for leaks in your system.
    • Once we have passed the vacuum test the recovery unit will deliver a fifteen percent charge to the system. This is known as a ‘precharge,’ of the system.
    • While this is going on the tech will be prompted to start the blower motor on low, grab his leak detector, and then check the front evaporator inside the car for any leaks.
    • After giving it some time to check for leaks go back to your recovery unit and alert it if you found a leak or not. If your vehicle has a dual system then you will also need to check your rear evaporator for leaks as well.
    • If the leak detector did not trigger any leaks with the fifteen percent charge in the system then the recovery machine will go ahead and put the rest of the refrigerant back into the system.
    • After the system has been fully charged, disconnect your lines, and reseal the valves just like your normally would.
    • Some of you may be groaning at the extra steps when compared to R-134a. Well, with all things, there is a reason why these are performed. The fifteen percent precharge and leak detection step is key to catching a leak on your vehicle before it has been fully charged. If we catch the leak early while the charge is still low we can save loss of refrigerant, save your shop some cash on that refrigerant, save the customer money, and also prevent further damage to the environment. It’s a win win for all involved.

1234yf Necessary Tools

We have gone over the requirements to service 1234yf but now we need to cover what kind of tools that you will need. Like with most new technology comes new tools. Let’s take a look:

  • This first one is optional and truth be told a lot of you may not even need it as a good recovery unit should have gauges built in. But, if you want to have them as a backup or just like do things the old fashioned way then a good set of gauges will never let you down. We here at RefrigerantHQ recommend you buy the Robinair 41234 Manifold Gauge Set from our E-Bay Partner.
  • The next essential tool is a electronic refrigerant leak detector. For an HFO detector you want to make sure that it meets SAE spec J2913. Our pick here at RefrigerantHQ is INFICON’s Tek-Mate Refrigerant Leak Detector. We did a review on this detector just last month. Click here to view.AC1234-6 Robinair 1234YF Recover, Recycle, Recharge Machine
  • A refrigerant identifier is also a must. Now some guys prefer to have a stand alone identifier while others prefer to just use the one that is built into their recovery machine. It’s up to you. Just be aware that if you do go with the stand alone that it should meet SAE spec J2912. (I’d recommend you go with the recovery machine, skip the identifier, and save some money.)
  • Lastly, and most importantly you’re going to need to purchase a whole new recovery/recharge machine in order to service HFO-1234yf. Yes, I know. It’s an expensive switch but like it or not every shop in town and across the industry is going to have purchase one of these. You’ll either bite the bullet now or a few years from now. Here at RefrigeantHQ we recommend purchasing the Robinair AC1234-6 recovery machine. Like I mentioned before this unit comes with a refrigerant identifier built right in so you don’t have to worry about buying one of those as well. This unit was the first commercially available recovery machine to meet the new SAE standards J2843 for a 1234yf recovery machine. Click here to purchase on Amazon and click here to view Robinair’s official product page.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What applications will use 1234yf?
    • Mostly it will be automobiles that use 1234yf. Eventually we will see medium duty and even heavy duty vehicles come over to the YF side as well.
  • When will 1234yf come to the United States?
    • It’s already here! While the actual phase out R-134a doesn’t go into effect until the year 2020 many auto manufacturers have already taken the initiative and have begun using 1234yf on their newer model vehicles.
  • Why are we switching refrigerant again for automobiles?
    • I am sure most of you remember the days of R-12 refrigerant. R-12 was phased out back in 1992 due to the Ozone depleting Chlorine that it contained. The substitute that we used for R-12 was the new HFC called R-134a. It was later found that R-134a had a very high Global Warming Potential, or GWP, number. GWP is a measurement of Greenhouse Gases and their effect on Global Warming. A lower GWP alternative to R-134a had to be found and thus we have the new 1234yf.
  • How is 1234yf different from R-134a?
    • 134a is a Hydroflurocarbon refrigerant while 1234yf is a Hydrofluroolefin refrigerant. While these are two separate classes of refrigerants they are in fact very close to each other. The only main difference is that the HFO refrigerants have a double carbon bond whereas HFCs do not.
  • I read that 1234yf is flammable, should I be worried?
    • Truth be told, it’s not that big of a concern. Yes, it’s mildly flammable but so is the gasoline in your car. There have been countless tests from all different companies and organizations from all over the world. Throughout all of these tests there has been only one that found bad results from flammability. I will get further into this one bad test in the ‘history’ section in this post.
  • Do I need to do anything different to work on a YF unit if I am already 609 certified?
    • No, if you are 609 certified through the EPA already you are legally able to work on these new YF units. However, it may make sense to go through 609 training again and to take the test again as these tests have been updated to include newer YF questions.
  • Do I need to be certified to purchase 1234yf refrigerant?
    • Yes, as of January 1st, 2018 you will need to 609 certified with the EPA in order to purchase 1234yf refrigerant. The only exception is when purchasing containers that contain less then two pounds of refrigerant. This new rules applies to R-134a cylinders as well.
  • Will I see a difference between temperatures and pressures when working on a 1234yf unit?
    • There is a slight difference as you go up in temperature but for the most part 134a and 1234yf work on very similar temperatures and pressure.

Auto Manufacturers Using 1234YF

As I have said throughout this article there is a numerous list of automotive manufacturers that have already begun using the new 1234yf refrigerant. I may miss some here but I aim to show you some of the manufacturers that are currently using the new HFO refrigerant. The point here is to show you that this stuff isn’t going away and that in fact it is only becoming more popular. This data is from 2017 and a make list does not necessarily mean that all of their models are using 1234yf. Let’s take a look:

  • Buick
  • Cadillac
  • Chevrolet
  • Dodge
  • Ford
  • GMC
  • Honda
  • Jaguar
  • Jeep
  • Kia
  • Land Rover
  • Lincoln
  • Subaru
  • Toyota

These are all huge names in the car industry and while not all of their models are covered under YF I feel that it is only a matter of time before they all make the switch. (Keep in mind too that the EPA’s mandated deadline is 2020/2021 model year.)

History of 1234yf

So, when did all of this start? Well, to understand the history of 1234yf and the other HFO refrigerants we first have to go back in time to the 1980’s. Back then all automotive applications were using the CFC R-12 refrigerant for their air conditioning. R-12 was the original mainstream refrigerant that came from the 1930’s. Ever since then it and R-22 had gained and gained in popularity until they were practically found everywhere across the country and the world.

It was in the 1980’s that a team of scientists out of California realized that all of the Chlorine that was in CFC and HCFC refrigerants was causing damage to the Ozone layer. When vented or leaked the refrigerant would drift up and into the atmosphere. It is there where the Chlorine would do it’s damage. Eventually it got so bad that a thinning of the Ozone layer began to form over the Arctic. The scientists noticing this sounded the alarm and the world’s governments took action by creating the Montreal Protocol.

The Montreal Protocol is a treaty that was signed in the late 1980’s by more then one-hundred countries. It’s goal was to rid the world of using Ozone depleting substances like CFC and HCFC refrigerants. This treaty was enacted in countries all over the world. The first target was CFC refrigerants such as R-12. In 1992 R-12 was phased out of the automotive market in the United States and was replaced with the newer HFC refrigerant known as R-134a. R-134a had the benefit of not containing Chlorine so with its usage there would be no danger to the Ozone layer.

Lo and behold there was found to be another problem with R-134a. Instead of the Ozone layer issue we now had a new issue called Global Warming Potential. Global Warming Potential, or GWP, is a measurement of how much heat a greenhouse gas can trap in the atmosphere. The basic measurement on GWP is Carbon Dioxide which measures as one. This is our standard. Now, if we look at R-134a’s GWP number we can see a number of one-thousand four-hundred and thirty. Quite the difference here folks. We can now begin to see why a substitute for 134a was needed as well.

Enter HFO-1234YF

The problem was discovered and companies along with governments began to look for an alternative solution to R-134a and to other HFC refrigerants that were currently on the market as early as 2001. That’s less then ten years after the switch from R-12! While there were a plethora of ideas presented such as Hydrocarbons, R-744, or other natural refrigerants there were two companies that were doing the research, development, and work on creating and perfecting a new refrigerant known as HFO-1234yf. These companies were Honeywell and DuPont/Chemours.

In 2006 the European Union came out with a directive known as 2006/40/EC. This directive’s goal was to reduce the emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases from mobile air conditioning systems. This would be a gradual phase out across the European Union. The end goal was to have automobiles using refrigerants that had a Global Warming Potential, or GWP, number of one-hundred and fifty or less. The first major date of the phase out was 2008, then 2011, and then finally on January 1st 2017 any new vehicle using a refrigerant with a GWP higher then one-hundred and fifty would be banned from the European Union. The problem here was that there wasn’t a viable alternative to HFC refrigerants at the time this directive was made. I’m sure you’ve heard of the expression: Necessity is the mother of invention.

This timeline put even more pressure on Honeywell and Chemours. In only a few short years later in 2008 they presented HFO-1234yf to the Society of Automotive Engineers Cooperative Research Program. (SAE CRP1234) The society concluded that 1234yf offered superior environmental performance and that 1234yf was safe to use in automotive applications. After this test came a whole host of other tests from companies, governments, and other organizations all over the globe. Everyone wanted to make sure that this new refrigerant was not only good for the environment but also safe. Remember now folks that the new YF refrigerant went up a flammability level to 2L. Was it safe to use? Most everyone said that yes, it was… but there was one company that disagreed.

Daimler

There was one major bump in the road of HFO-1234yf to becoming the dominant automotive refrigerant. In 2012 Daimler began their own internal testing with 1234YF on some of their vehicles. They claimed that in some of their tests that when the refrigerant tank ruptured during an accident that the refrigerant ignited and caused a fire to occur. The video can be seen below. In the video there is a test with 1234yf leaking and then there is a test with R-134a leaking. The video speaks for itself.

There were many disputes from numerous companies and organizations from all over the world to this test and claim from Daimler that the new refrigerant was unsafe for use. For a time it seemed like German Automakers were going to fight HFOs tooth and nail. They had their hearts set on R-744 CO2.  Over the years though there have been numerous court battles and fines issued by the European Union but still Germany persisted against 1234yf.

Eventually a lot of these companies lost the war of attrition and have folded into the 1234YF HFO craze and from the pressure from the European Union. There is one company, Daimler, that is pursuing their own route into the future by developing CO2 R-744 automobile air conditioning systems. Eventually, in 2015 Daimler did agree to use 1234yf in their new vehicles but this was only done to appeal the European Union. In the background, and now in 2017, very publicly Daimler has been developing and testing R-744 or Carbon Dioxide refrigerant modeled cars. It will definitely be interesting to see how this new technology develops over the years.

The EU and the USA

In 2017 the final law went into effect across the European Union and 1234YF was found in every new car that was manufactured or imported into the EU. The only exception that I know of is Daimler and their CO2 automobiles. While the European Union market was changing there was also change going on in the United States.

It seems that the EU is always a precursor for what happens here in the states. In 2015 the Environmental Protection Agency announced a new rule under their SNAP program called rule 20. This new rule dictated the eventual phase out of HFC refrigerants across the United States. While there are many HFC refrigerants in this ruling I will stick with R-134a for now. The basis of the rule was that by the year 2020, or model year 2021, all new manufactured or imported vehicles would not be able to use R-134a. There is room for a few exclusions here and there but these can only push the date back to 2025. Another thing to note here is that they do not state medium duty or heavy duty vehicle markets. So, that means your trucks, haulers, and other large equipment are not included in this ruling as of yet.

By combining the EU’s policy on R-134a and now the United States’ public policy everyone knew that the most logical choice for an alternative was HFO-1234yf. Sure, there were companies like Daimler researching R-744 but this was not a viable alternative at this point in time. Production had to be increased on YF as soon as possible. Earlier this year, 2017, the Chemours company broke ground on a new 1234YF manufacturing plant in Corpus Christi, Texas. This new facility is expected to triple the company’s output of 1234yf. Chemours was just following suit though as the Honeywell corporation actually opened up their new three-hundred million dollar facility in Geismar, Louisiana earlier this year.

These two companies know whats coming. There is a wave of demand that is going to hit and hit hard. The question you have to ask yourself folks is are you ready? Are your employees ready? Is your shop ready? If not today then tomorrow you may have a YF unit roll in. Are you going to know what to do? Are you going to be prepared?

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

 

Important Links

 

R-134yf

Most of you in the automotive industry have already heard of the new HFO 1234YF refrigerant. Depending on where you are in the world you may have already come across 1234YF vehicles during service appointments. If you haven’t heard of it or seen it by now I can assure you that it is coming.

As of January 1st of this year all vehicles either manufactured or imported into the European Union could no longer have R-134a systems. The specific directive stated no refrigerants with a Global Warming Potential higher than one-hundred and fifty. This excluded R-134a immediately and left very few alternative refrigerants to be chosen. In 2015 the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency followed suit and announced a new rule to their SNAP Program called Rule 20. This rule had very similar criteria and restrictions that the EU’s did. The catch here was that instead of the 2017 guideline the EPA set a 2020 (2021 Model Year) deadline on new automobiles using R-134a. In both the EU and the United States 1234YF was not a mandated alternative but YF was the only viable alternative that was available and it got the auto makers on board by default. If there’s no other choices and the refrigerant you’re using today will soon be illegal what would you do?

The only other choice out there was a refrigerant that hadn’t been used in automobile air conditioning before. To use it would require a lot of research and development but there is one company who decided to spend the capital and begin implementing CO2 or R-744 into their automobiles. That company is Daimler. I plan to write an article on Daimler’s progress on mobile CO2 applications shortly but for now I will leave it as this. Daimler believes that 1234YF isn’t safe due to the increased flammability rating so instead of following the crowd they set out on their own and began developing their own R-744 applications.

I will mention that there was a stay put in place on the EPA’s SNAP rule that was to phase out R-134a by 2020. Originally, in August the courts ruled against the EPA’s new rule. Then in September Honeywell and Chemours appealed the court ruling and now we are in a limbo period waiting to see how the courts rule. All I can say here though is not to get your hopes up. HFCs are going away and going away fast. If this ruling doesn’t do it then something else will soon.

Napa, Autozone, & O’Reillys

1234YF is the future of the automobile refrigerant industry. Just like back in 1992 when R-12 was phased out and 134a was introduced the pace of introduction was slow, very slow. The goal was not to create a shock to the industry and not to create shortages for the vehicles that were already on the road. It was not a simple switch that could be turned from on to off. Considerations had to be taken in.

We are going through the same thing right now on 1234YF. I can almost guarantee that if you pull up a random instruction manual on a United States car made this year or even last year we will find out that the car is using a 1234YF system. To save everyone the trouble though I found a listing on Chemour’s website that lists all of the new cars that are using YF refrigerant. Click here for the link. You’d be surprised of the amount of vehicles on there. Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota, Chrysler, so on and so on. There’s no avoiding it folks.

The reason you may not have heard much about YF yet is that these cars are so new that not a lot of them are breaking and the ones that do break are still under warranty. That means that only the car dealerships and their service shops are seeing 1234YF repairs. Give it some more time though and in a couple more years when the crunch really starts to be applied to 134a we will begin to see 1234YF stocked at all of your service garages rather they are dealerships or a Bubba’s Repair Shop off a dirt road.

The big auto parts chains are already stepping up to the plate today and have begun stocking 1234YF cans and cylinders on their shelves and on their online stores. It was such a big deal that Honeywell even took the time to write about Napa’s announcement to stock 1234YF on their shelves. (Article here.) O’reillys and Auto-zone are all stocking 1234yf on their websites and in some stores as well. You can even find a ten pound cylinder on Amazon.com as well. These companies know whats coming. They are getting their names out there and their pages indexed by all of the search engines. There is a wave of demand coming and it’s going to be here in just a few years.

Conclusion

Honeywell and Chemours are doing their part to increase production so that when the demand does come for YF they can keep up. Earlier this year Honeywell opened up their three-hundred million dollar HFO manufacturing plant in Louisiana. The other YF manufacturer, Chemours, is working on their own plant in Corpus Christi, Texas. Together these two plants should cover the demand of the United States and even those outside of the country.

One word of caution though when you do come across a 1234YF unit and it needs additional refrigerant let me warn you right now. The price is high, very high. A typical thirty pound cylinder of R-134a could be anywhere from one-hundred to one-hundred and fifty dollars depending on the time of the year. A ten pound cylinder of YF refrigerant is going to cost your around seven-hundred dollars. If you couple that with having to pay a dealership markup on it you are look at one expensive recharge. It’s hard to say rather this price will come down or not when things get kicked into high gear. Time will tell.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

As I am sure that all of you know when it comes to manufacturing refrigerant there are only a few players left in town. Sure there are some smaller companies scattered here and there across the country but for the most part when you are buying refrigerant it is coming from one of two companies: Honeywell or Chemours. (Formerly DuPont.) These two companies are household names because of their innovations and inventions but also because of their size. Honeywell’s revenue last year was thirty-nine billion dollars. Chemour’s net revenue last year was just shy of six billion dollars. (Don’t let that six billion number fool you though, Chemours was the DuPont company just a few years ago and we all know how big they are.)

There are other medium sized companies out there today that are still manufacturing refrigerants across the country and outside of the states. Now, I am not going to count the Chinese guys as half that stuff is counterfeit or not mixed correctly. Instead I am going to highlight two companies that you may have already heard of: MexiChem and Arkema. At this point in the game they are the only major competition against the two giants.

Mexichem and Arkema have been fighting the conglomerates Honeywell and Chemours tooth and nail on a variety of issues. I won’t get into everything but I will point out two major suits. They were the ones who started the anti-dumping law-suits against R-134a a few years ago. They were also the ones who filed suit against Honeywell and Chemours claiming that they were exhibiting anti-competitive behavior on their 1234YF product.

The Patent

We all knew that the timeline for HFC refrigerants was short lived due to their Global Warming Potential. We all knew that alternative refrigerants were being developed even before R-410A was being rolled out across the country. What I did not know until writing this article was that Honeywell patented their new HFO refrigerant that they developed in co-operation with DuPont/Chemours. Yes, that’s right. They patented HFO-1234YF and their other classes of HFO refrigerants. The patent details can be ready by clicking here.

What does that mean? Well folks, I am by no means an expert here when it comes to patent law but from what I can gather from the sources that I have read and gathered (Source list at bottom of the article.) is that only Honeywell or Chemours can manufacture HFO-1234YF. So, this new refrigerant that will be used all across the European Union next year and potentially throughout the United States in 2021 will be held in the hands of only two companies: Honeywell and Chemours. Fast forward five or ten years and it will be at the point that whenever an automobile develops a leak and needs more refrigerant it will be bought from either Chemours or Honeywell. Now that just doesn’t seem right now does it?

For those of you who haven’t bought 1234YF yet you will be in for a shock when you see the price. Right now it’s running around seven-hundred dollars for a ten pound cylinder. Heck, you can get a thirty-pound cylinder of R-22 for less. Maybe even a rusted cylinder of R-12. It makes you wonder. Is the cost this high due to the innovation and the hours spent in the lab creating this new class of refrigerant or is it an effort to keep profits up in between these two companies?

To top it all off Honeywell and Chemours are building each their own separate HFO-1234YF plants in the southern United States. Honeywell actually just opened their three-hundred million dollar plant in Geismar, Louisana. One state over in Texas the Chemours company broke ground in February of this year on their two-hundred and thirty million dollar plant. The Chemours facility is expected to go live at the end of 2018, although this may be delayed due to the hurricane Texas just went through. At least they are keeping their plants here in the States.

Arkema

While Mexichem was battling it out in the courts trying to get anti-dumping duties placed on R-134a Chinese imports Arkema was fighting Honeywell and Chemours on their patent and manufacturing rights of 1234YF. They originally filed suit with the European Commission stating that Honeywell has unfairly limited supplies and manufacturing of the refrigerant.

There isn’t a lot of news on this but this snippet I found is from October of 2014. I wanted to quote it to provide you with some context, “The European Commission announced Tuesday that it believes Honeywell International Inc. and E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Co. may have violated antitrust rules by allegedly limiting the production and development of a new environmentally friendly refrigerant used in car air-conditioning systems.” – Source.

Now I am not sure what happened to this initial feeling but I can tell you that nothing came of this. There was never an official ruling and the investigation is still ongoing but I believe it has stalled and nothing will come from it.

In June of this year Arkema filed another suit with the European Commission over Honeywell not allowing them to produce and manufacture 1234YF refrigerant. Arkema accused Honeywell of dominating the HFO-1234yf market and preventing fair competition. Since this suit was just filed there has been little news on the outcome or even rumors on what will happen.

Conclusion

Honeywell has invested nearly one-billion dollars into research, planning, constructing, and manufacturing 1234YF. Their plan, along with Chemours, is to dominate the market of automobile refrigerant in the European Union and soon in the United States. It seems that governments in the European Union and even here in the US have turned a blind eye towards this ever growing monopoly between these two companies. They are not concerned as the end game here is to stop Global Warming and to reduce the Global Warming Potential of automobile refrigerants. If it comes at the cost of having an even bigger conglomerate then so be it as long as Global Warming is slowed down. Take that as you will.

Like it or not 1234YF is the future for automobile refrigerants across the world. It has already been deemed so. The question is will there be enough competition to keep prices low or will auto shops be paying an arm and a leg just to get a few pounds of 1234? I can’t even imagine what the markup would be to the customer!

Remember folks, all Arkema wants to do is produce the refrigerant themselves but they cannot due to the constraints of the patent and Honeywell’s licensing. It’s that simple. Will the EU rule in favor? We will see. We will see.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson
RefrigerantHQ

 

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Hello everyone! It’s been a long time for me here at RefrigerantHQ. Life has been crazy as I’ve started a new job, written a few books, and I’ve started a new website as well dedicated to the tool industry. It can be found at ToughAssTools.com. But hey that’s enough about me. Let’s move on to refrigerants.

I wanted to make an announcement today as I have recently found out that HFO-1234YF, the R-134a replacement,  is now available for retail. (You can buy by clicking on this link and being taken to my store’s page.) So, What does that mean? Well folks it means that we can actually buy the stuff now. I swear if we rewound twelve months ago 1234YF seemed harder to find than a bar of gold. Half the time you had to go straight to Chemours or Honeywell just to get a cylinder.

But now with each passing year 1234YF has been increasing in popularity and it seems that we finally reached the point where it is going to start being able to be purchased for retail use. R-134a is quickly going away and is scheduled to be phased out very soon. Just like R-12 there will come a time that 134a will be going for over a thousand dollars just for a thirty pound cylinder. Any cars in Europe made over the past couple of years are using the new HFO-1234YF and a lot of manufacturers here in the United States and in Asia are switching their vehicles over to 1234 as well. Like it or not HFOs are the future.

What is 1234YF?

1234YF refrigerant is designed to be an alternative to the R-134a HFC refrigerant that is used today. R-134a has been discontinued in the European Union and is on it’s way to being discontinued in the United States.  134a is being phased out due to it’s high global warming potential number of over 1,300. With 134’a widespread use across the world it was having a significant impact on global warming.

1234YF was introduced as an alternative refrigerant with a MUCH lower global warming potential of 4. Yes, that’s right 4. As you can see there is quite the difference between the two refrigerants. 1234YF also does NOT contain Chlorine like it’s early R-12 predecessor. There are only two drawbacks that come to mind when dealing with 1234YF:

  • The flammability risk is higher than 134a and R-12. While this sounds dangerous, the chances of this impacting you are minimal. There have been numerous controlled tests in Germany and other countries testing 1234YF in a collision. More often than not everything is fine. There were a few tests in the early days of 1234YF that the refrigerant tank ruptured and ignited during a simulated car accident. These have not been replicated.
  • The price on 1234YF is significantly higher than what you are used to paying for 134a. The typical price for a thirty pound jug of 134a is around $70-$100 a cylinder. The price on 1234YF may be as much as six times that cost for a single cylinder. Instead of $100 you could be looking at $700.

Who’s Using 1234YF?

The demand for 1234YF is still small in the United States. In the European Union 134a was completely phased out a few years ago and was replaced by 1234YF. Demand over there is growing exponentially. The story is a bit different here as only a few OE manufacturers have begun using 1234YF. Even those manufacturers are only using it on certain models. With that being said with each year that passes the demand for 1234YF grows and more models and manufactures begin using it.

134a is predicted to be phased out entirely across the United States in the year 2021. As we approach that year the demand for 1234YF will grow year over year. There are numerous 2015 year vehicles on the road today that use 1234YF, but since the air conditioning system is a completely sealed unit the need to refill their vehicle with 1234YF only arises when the system breaks or a collision accident occurs.

Well ladies and gentlemen it’s that time of year again. The time of year when a cold wind blows, the temperature doesn’t rise above thirty degrees, and snow flurries fall from the sky. What better time than now than to talk about refrigerant? It’s the slowest point in the season and it seems that when things slow down everyone is able to take a step back and look at what the market is doing and will be doing in the upcoming months.

This post will go over what my pricing predictions are in 2017 on some of the most common refrigerants used today. I am by no means a fortune teller or clairvoyant so I ask that you take these predictions with a grain of salt. My theories are based off of what I have seen happen in 2016 and what I believe will happen in 2017.

For 2017 I see it as kind of a mixed bag. I see the high possibility of two wild cards on a couple refrigerants (R-134a & R-404A) and the others I see as barely changing a dime. Before we get started digging into each refrigerant let’s take a moment and consider the following things that will happen next year in the refrigeration industry:

Considerations

Donald Trump's Affect on the Refrigerant Industry
Donald Trump’s Affect on the Refrigerant Industry
  • Trump – It’s worth noting that next year we will be having a ‘Donald Trump’ effect on the market. Rather this is a good thing or a bad thing is to be determined. Trump has shown that he is against regulations, against the EPA and it’s enforcement of climate changing policies, and most of all he doesn’t believe in Climate Change. All of this bodes well for the price of refrigerant. He very well may get rid of some of the phase outs and extra regulations. However, the other side of the coin is that Trump is VERY anti-China. He is against their so called currency war. He is against their trade policies. He is against dumping of their imports into the United States market. He has also talked about imposing a thirty-five to forty-five percentage tariff on Chinese imports into the United States. This would have a significant impact on not only imported refrigerant but also on US manufactured product. (If I was a manufacturer in the US and saw all the import price rising I would raise my cost too and make some extra money.) I wrote more about what impact Trump will have in another article that can be found by clicking here.
  • Anti-Dumping Tariffs – On top of the ‘Trump Effect,’ we also have the lawsuit filed by the HFC coalition with the International Trade Commission. For those of you that have been paying attention for the past few years I’m sure you are very well aware of it. The claim is that China is importing their refrigerants into the United States market at dirt cheap prices. They can do this because of course labor is cheaper over there but also because the Chinese goverment subsidizes these companies with the unlimited coffers of the goverment treasury. So, when this imported product hits the United State’s market it comes in at a very low price. (Sometimes $40-50 a cylinder.) The initial lawsuit was filed on R-134a and on September 30th, 2016 the Trade Commission made a preliminary ruling in favor of imposing a tariff on imported R-134a from China. The agreed percent was 137.23 on the two main Chinese companies and 188.94% on other Chinese companies. The Trade Commission released a fact sheet on this that can be read by clicking here. 
  • Phase Outs – Along with the other two factors phase-outs is something veterans of the refrigeration industry had grown to hate. It seems that every few years another refrigerant is being pushed out and being replaced by something else. Instead of the goverment coming after the CFCs or HCFCS they are now coming after the friendly HFC refrigerant class. This includes your commonly used R-134a, R-404A, and R-410A. Don’t be surprised if you hear of an upcoming phase out of these in the next few months and also don’t be surprised if you see your price raise due to a recently announced phase-out.

Alright, so now that we got all of that out of the way let’s dive into it by looking at each of the common refrigerants out there today:

 R-22 HCFC

R-22 30 Pound Refrigerant Cylinder
R-22 30 Pound Refrigerant Cylinder

Phase-Out

Ok guys first thing’s first. If you haven’t switched your unit from R-22 and over to R-410A DO IT NOW! Your R-22 machine is at least seven to eight years old now and I’m betting that a lot of them are quite a bit older than that. On top of your machine being older it is also less inefficient than it’s HFC 410A counterpart. And finally, R-22 is extremely expensive due to the Montreal Protocol mandated phase out. Every year that passes less and less R-22 is allowed imported or produced in the United States and just like everything else the less supply there is the more demand there will be. According to the EPA’s website, which can be found by clicking here, the phase out schedule of R-22 is as follows:

Year to Be Implemented Implementation of HCFC Phaseout through Clean Air Act Regulations Year to Be Implemented Percent Reduction in HCFC Consumption and Production from Baseline
2003 No production or import of HCFC-141b 2004 35.0%
2010 No production or import of HCFC-142b and HCFC-22, except for use in equipment manufactured before January 1, 2010 2010 75.0%
2015 No production or import of any other HCFCs, except as refrigerants in equipment manufactured before January 1, 2020 2015 90.0%
2020 No production or import of HCFC-142b and HCFC-22 2020 99.5%
2030 No production or import of any HCFCs 2030 100.0%

Now, you may have noticed we’ve hit the majority of these dates already. Remember how I said your R-22 unit is getting old? As shown above no new machines from 2010 or greater can be manufactured with R-22. So, if you have an R-22 machine it is approaching or is already over ten years old. Worst of all, if your unit springs a leak and you run out of refrigerant you face paying a large sum of money just to replace your R-22.

Price

Let’s talk about price now. I’ve been writing my price per pound articles for the past three years now and each time I write one the price of R-22 keeps on climbing up. (My latest price per pound article can be found here.) In my 2015 article R-22 was retailing at about $300 per thirty pound cylinder. In my 2016 article R-22 was retailing at about $480.00 for a thirty pound cylinder. In my latest article that I wrote only a few days ago for the 2017 year R-22 is between $600-$700 for a thirty pound cylinder. That $300 price back from 2015 for a thirty pound cylinder will now only get you a ten pound cylinder for the same amount of money. (Example Amazon link.) It’s amazing at how fast the price can go up.

As you can see the price of R-22 is continuing to climb. The past two years it has gone up thirty percent consistently. My prediction for the 2017 year is more of the same. Let’s call the current price $650.00 for a thirty pound cylinder. That’s a happy medium between the $600-$700 that I’ve been seeing. If we do the below math we will get the number of $928.00.

$650.00 / (1-.30) = $928.00 for a thirty pound cylinder.

So there you have it folks. Next year’s predicted price for a thirty pound cylinder of R-22 is set at $928.00. If you are looking to buy some I would suggest to buy it now before the price climbs any higher. However, if you are on the other side of the coin and you have some inventory that you are sitting on I would hold onto it and watch the value climb and climb. I’ve even heard of some people buying whole pallets a few years back and storing it away in their warehouse for a few years. Imagine the profit if you bought forty cylinders at $300 and then turned around and sold them at $900 a few years later.

$300 * 40 = $12,000 cost

$900 * 40 = $36,000 cost.

Profit of:      $24,000

Not too bad of a deal if you ask me! If you are interested in purchasing R-22 please visit our product page. Also, if you are interested in purchasing pallet quantities please visit our bulk purchasing page. Lastly, please be aware that you need to be certified with the EPA in order to purchase or handle R-22.

R-410A HFC

R-410A Refrigerant 25 Lb Cylinder
R-410A Refrigerant 25 Lb Cylinder

Potential Phase Out

Along with R-134a I would say R-410A is one of the most popular refrigerants on the market today. Nearly every home or commercial air conditioning unit is using or will be using R-410A for their refrigerant. It became the default refrigerant back in 2010 when it replaced the HCFC R-22 as I talked about in the R-22 section.

Now that we went through all of the work of replacing R-22 with the 410A HFC there is now talk about replacing 410A. Can they make up their minds? Even though 410A does not contain Chlorine like it’s predecessor it has been found that HFC refrigerants have a very high Global Warming Potential (GWP). 410A has a GWP of 1,725 times the effect of carbon dioxide. Basically, 410A emits Greenhouse Gases that get trapped in the atmosphere and warm the planet. Now imagine the impact that it could have if every air conditioner in the world begins using R-410A. Startling, huh? So, now the race is on to find an alternative to 410A.

So far there is no end all be all for a 410A replacement. Honeywell, Chemours, and other companies are hard at work as we speak seeking out the best alternative refrigerant with the lowest GWP. Some of the contenders are:

  •  R-32 – This has a GWP of 675, not the best but better than what we have now. I wrote an article about this one last year that can be found by clicking here.
  • Natural Refrigerants such as R-290 and CO2 – So far these have not shown to be a cost effective solution but their GWP is VERY low. (Source article.)
  • DR-55 – A Chemours refrigerant pending approval as R-452B. Blend of R32, R1234yf and R125. GWP of 698. (Source)
  • L41z – A Honeywell refrigerant pending approval as R447B. Blend of R32, R125 and R1234ze(E). GWP of 740. (Source)
  • ARM-71a – An Arkema development refrigerant with a GWP of 460. (Source)

There is no set date on when R-410A will be phased out but I foresee it as only a matter of time. Once a standard replacement has been found than the phase out will begin. This could be next year or five years down the road. It’s difficult to tell.

Price

When 410A started to become popular the price was about on par with the price of R-134a. In 2014-2015 the price hovered between $75 and $80 for a twenty-five pound cylinder. Over the past few years it has climbed about fifteen to twenty percent each year. Today the price is hovering around $130 for a retail customer. (If you purchase more than one cylinder or go in for a pallet of 410A you will save money per cylinder as well.)

Even though the price has climbed over the past few years I honestly don’t see 410A changing much in 2017. The phase out won’t be happening for a while. They haven’t even decided on a replacement product yet and when they do decide the phase out will be a staggered approach just like all of the others. If they decide on a standard replacement product in 2017 the phase out of 410A may not even start until 2022 or 2023. So, with that in mind I predict that the price of 410A in 2017 will stay relatively flat at between $130-$150 retail. Bulk purchasing may get you lower but even then you’re still looking at being in the hundreds, maybe in the high nineties if you’re lucky.

Another thing to mention on 410A is that in 2017 you do NOT need to be certified with the EPA to purchase. If you wanted you could go to Amazon.com or E-Bay.com today and purchase yourself some 410A with no regulations required. However, starting on January 1st, 2018 you will be required to be certified before purchasing or handling any HFC refrigerants including 410A, 134a, 404A, and others. (Source from EPA’s website.)

Lastly, if you are looking to purchase 410A by the cylinder I recommend Amazon.com today or E-Bay.com. If you are looking for a bulk purchase of forty cylinders or more visit our bulk purchasing page and we’ll see what we can do for you!

R-134a HFC

R-134A 30 Pound Cylinder Refrigerant
R-134A 30 Pound Cylinder

Phase-Out?

Remember those wildcards I mentioned at the beginning of my post? Well 134a is one of them. (If you haven’t noticed already by watching the market.) It was announced in the summer of 2015 that R-134a would be joining alongside R-404A in the slow phaseout of applications. The case on R-134a wasn’t  nearly as drastic as it was for R-404A. The phase-out of 404A has already begun where with R-134a we still have a few good years left. (2020 is the main year for vehicles.)

R-134a days are numbered rather you like it or not. More and more newer model cars are opting for the HFO 1234YF made by Honeywell and Chemours. The Global Warming Potential of 1234YF is significantly less than R-134a and it is being pushed heavily by the United States’ Government as well as many other nation states including the European Union. Give it a few more years and 134a will be the exception instead of the rule.

The Anti-Dumping Tariff

Alrighty, ladies and gentlemen. Here were are. The tariff. You may have noticed that the price of R-134a went from about $70 a cylinder this summer all the way up to an average of $110 a cylinder over the fall and winter. This jump in price is in direct correlation to the ruling by the International Trade Commission on a anti-dumping tariff on R-134a imports from China. As I said in the beginning of this post they ruled in favor of imposing a tariff on September 30th, 2016. While this ruling is still preliminary and the final ruling won’t happen until March of 2017 the market still freaked out. (Click here for the Trade Commission’s fact sheet on the ruling.)

The standard price of $70 flew up overnight with the announcement of a proposed 137.23% tariff on all imported Chinese product. (188.94% on smaller Chinese refrigerant companies.) Can you imagine taking a 137% increase in cost for your business? I certainty can’t. This ruling is a double edged sword. If the HFC Coalition gets their way Chinese imports price will sky rocket. This will create a chasm in the market and cause every price on 134a to climb along with the imports… just like it did this fall. You, me, and everyone else will end up paying more for their refrigerant. On the other side is the preservation of American jobs and American manufacturing. We can be competitive again. We can actually buy American made product. Sounds nice huh? Do you want to pay more and save jobs… or do you want to pay those low prices and maybe put your neighbor out of work?

R-134a Tariff Schedule
R-134a Tariff Schedule

Pricing

Alright, so enough about all that other stuff. Let’s get to the reason you came here. What is the price of R-134a going to do next year? Up until the ruling in September the retail price on cylinders was just shy $100.00 on Amazon and E-Bay. After the ruling the price only jumped to about $115. While this may not seem like a big jump I can assure you that on the wholesale side of things we saw our price jump from $80 a cylinder all the way up to over $100 a cylinder. I believe the product that we are seeing sell for $115 online are distributors sitting on old inventory. I do not see this price lasting for long.

As for what will happen in 2017 this is a tough one to call. I do not believe the impending phase out in a few years is going to effect the pricing at this time. My big concern is the ruling on the tariff in March. What will happen if they rule in favor? What will happen if they rule against? Here are my two predictions:

  • If the Trade Commission rules in favor I do not see the market adjusting much at all. I believe the adjustment already happened in early October when their preliminary announcement was made. (It jumped nearly thirty dollars a cylinder.) My prediction if they rule in favor is that wholesale prices will stay just a shy above $100 a cylinder. Retail prices will level out at about $130-$135 a cylinder.
  • If the Trade Commission rules against the tariff than I can see the price plummeting back down to where it was earlier this summer. My prediction would be that wholesale pricing will be in mid $70s and retail pricing will be in the high $90s. 

Lastly, if you want to purchase R-134a by the cylinder I would suggest visiting our Amazon and E-Bay partners. If you are looking for more than just a few cylinders please visit our bulk purchasing page and we will get you in contact with some of our distributors.

 

R-404A HFC

R-404a Refrigerant
R-404a Refrigerant

So-Called Phase-Out

This is the other wildcard of 2017. No one really knows what’s going to happen on the price of 404A as there are so many cards in play in 2016, 2017, and 2018. Starting in July 20th, 2016 the initial phase-out began. While the July date only imposed a ban on retrofitting existing machines over to 404A it was just the beginning. The next big date on 404A phase-out is January 1st, 2017… you know only a few weeks away. The order and the types of machines affected can be very confusing. Instead of trying to explain everything in text I figured it would be easier to review in a table or picture. I pulled these tables directly from Chemour’s website. All credit goes to them for compiling the data. (Click here for source.)

Chemours HFC Phaseout Schedule
Chemours HFC Phaseout Schedule
Chemour's HFC Phaseout Table
Chemour’s HFC Phaseout Table

As you can see from the above tables this is the beginning of the end for 404A. July 2016, January 2017, January 2018, and so on. The big thing to mention though is that 404A will no longer be accepted in these machines it is NOT at this point in time being phased out. Let me rephrase that: R-404A is not being phased out yet but it’s use in certain machines is. So, unlike R-22 where the applications were limited and the production/imports were phased out R-404A is not being phased out. It is just having it’s applications severely limited. Their strategy could very well be phasing out 404A by starvation. If there are no more legal applications what would we use R-404A for anyways? It’s a roundabout way of going about it but maybe this will be the new way to rid the world of HFC refrigerants.

Price

So, what are we looking at as far as price on R-404A next year? Well, before we look to the future let’s look at the past. In 2015 we were at about $90-95 for a twenty-four pound cylinder of R-404A.  The price went up slightly in July of 2015 when the EPA announced their intention to phase out R-404A starting in July of 2016. I believe almost everyone saw it coming anyways so it came as no surprise. After a few months the price leveled out and has remained fairly constant for the rest of 2015.

The price began to climb again in 2016. As shown in the above table the first phaseout was this July with the ban on retrofitting. In just a few weeks the next ban hits. As of right now the price online on Amazon and E-Bay are between $110 at the lowest and at $175 at the highest. It is honestly very difficult to say what’s going to happen next year.  The phase out of machines using R-404A inclines me to believe that the price will go up. But, on the other hand there is no official reduction in R-404A production, only the shrinkage of machines using it.

Because of the supply remaining the same but the demand slowly shrinking I predict R-404A to actually go down in price next year. My prediction is that we will see single cylinder price at the end of next year hovering right around $85-$90 a cylinder. We’ll see if I’m right!

If you’re interested in purchasing R-404A by the cylinder I advise you to check out our Amazon and E-Bay partners for the best deal.  If you’re looking at purchasing more than a few cylinders at a time please check out our Bulk Purchasing page and we will see what we can do for you.

1234YF HFO

1234YF Refrigerant & Refrigerant
HoneyWell’s Solstice 1234YF Private Brand

Background

1234YF is one of the highest priced refrigerants on the market today. A ten pound cylinder goes between $700 to $800 a cylinder. This is substantially higher than it’s HFC counter part R-134a. The reason this HFO is so high in price is due to the demand. At this point in time there just isn’t that much demand for it. Even as I write this towards the end of 2016 the majority of vehicles in the United States are still using the trustworthy HFC R-134a for their refrigeration systems.

While 1234YF is the minority today it won’t be for long. There is already a scheduled plan to phase out R-134a across the United States starting in 2020. (2021 model years on vehicles.) The phase out will be staggered like most of the other refrigerant phaseouts but the process will start in only three short years. Hard to believe 2020 is that close. On top of our phase out the European Union has already phased out R-134a entirely and has moved the majority of their new vehicles over to 1234YF or to other lower Global Warming Potential alternatives.

Price

Over the course of 2016 the price of 1234YF has fallen, albeit slowly. We started the year right around $750 and we are ending the year at a price at or just below $700 for a ten pound cylinder. If I was to predict what would happen next year I would say almost exactly the same thing as this year. The addition of more cars to the marketplace will create more demand for manufacturing. Honeywell and Chemours will respond accordingly and start to add more of it to the market. This will be a slow creep effect and I could see at the end of 2017 that we will be looking at a price of around $620-$650 a cylinder.

As the years roll by and the refrigerant becomes more popular I see us going under $500 but not much lower than that. When the phaseout of 134a starts in 2020 I could see 1234YF jumping up in price for a a few months but as the phaseout wears on the price of 1234YF will settle back down to around $500-$600. In my opinion, the days of lower priced HFCs are gone. HFO’s will always be higher than what we are used to today with our low cost environmentally damaging HFCs. My final prediction for 2017 on 1234F is $635.00 for a ten pound cylinder this time next year.

If you are interested n purchasing 1234YF than I suggest your visit our friends over at Refrigerant Depot. We’ve been partnered with them for the past couple years and they have provided the best product and service to our customers.

Conclusion

As I said at the beginning of this post these predictions are just that… predictions. No one knows exactly what will happen next year and anyone who claims to know is making it up! Here’s hoping that I’m right on 1234YF and 410A and am dead wrong R-22! No one wants to see the price go up. (Well at least I don’t.)

I hope all of you enjoyed my post and my fortune telling on next year’s market trends. Here’s to a happy new year and I wish everyone the best sales next summer!

Thanks for reading,

Alec John Johnson

Owner.

Over the past few years I have done numerous posts concerning the true cost per pound of R-22, R-410A, and R-134a. Each one of these posts have had outstanding success including the one I just published only a few days ago. (Link is here.) Throughout these articles I have yet to mention the refrigerant that is slowly picking up traction in the automotive world, HFO 1234YF.

1234YF is designed as a replacement for the HFC R-134a. While 134a is still active and going in the United States it has already been phased out in the European Union and it is only a matter of time before 134a is phased out the US as well. The scheduled beginning stages of phasing out 134a is scheduled for 2020, or on 2021 model years. It is worth noting that this date may change with the election of Donald Trump and the nomination of Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Both of these guys are anti regulation and anti EPA. I could easily see them pushing out the 134a phase out date down the road.

Pricing on 1234YF

In my other articles I usually use the rule of thumb of going on Amazon and E-Bay to get a feel for the market price. There are usually multiple listings on both sites. These listings will allow you to gather an average price and base everything off of that. This method doesn’t work for 1234YF. For some reason I have found only one listing of 1234YF on E-Bay at $750.00. (This listing may go away in the future.)

No one else has taken the imitative to start selling 1234YF on Amazon or E-Bay. It very well could be that the sales just aren’t there yet but give it a few more years and I bet we’ll start seeing it pop up on these websites along with others. **Update – Please be aware that this product is now on Amazon.com for retail.

With all of that being said instead of using Amazon and E-Bay I am going to use my source from Refrigerant Depot, Eric Sugarman. In my e-mail discussion with Eric the other day he informed me that he is charging $675.00 per ten pound cylinder of 1234YF. (Price goes down further if you buy multiple quantities.) He also informed me that the price has been fairly stable over the past few years, much unlike the 134a counterpart.

Math

Alright so we’ve got two prices to work with here $745 on E-Bay and Refrigerant Depot’s $675. Let’s take a middle of the road number, $700, for our math example.

$700 / 10 pounds of refrigerant per cylinder = $70.00 per pound of HFO-1234YF

Each car is different on how many pounds of refrigerant they require. Some only require one pound and others upwards of eight to nine pounds. It is always best to check your owner’s manual or your dealership to see how much you need. In our example we’re going to call it three pounds of refrigerant to get a complete fill up of your vehicle.

3 pounds of refrigerant * $70.00 per pound = $210.00 for a complete fill up.

Now, please keep in mind that these prices CAN change. To give you a bit more help I have also included a feed from our Ebay partner below that shows you the current market price of R-1234yf:

Honeywell HFO-1234YF Refrigerant 10 lb Cylinder NEW, Sealed, Ships UPS ground

$665.00
End Date: Thursday Jan-24-2019 8:55:20 PST
Buy It Now for only: $665.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

OMEGA ENVIRONMENTAL TECHNOLOGIES 41-50222 - REFRIGERANT R1234YF 10LB CYLINDER

$1,839.06
End Date: Thursday Feb-14-2019 7:18:40 PST
Buy It Now for only: $1,839.06
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Remember, Mechanics Need Money Too

Ok, so we’ve got our numbers. If you are a do-it-yourselfer than you know how to take it from here. However, if you are taking your car into a shop to be worked on the thing that you need to remember is that $70.00 per pound is very nearly, or is, your mechanic’s cost. You are paying your mechanic or dealership for not only their labor but also for their expertize. Expect markup. Do NOT expect to pay $70.00 per pound. They deserve to be paid for their knowledge.

The goal of this article is two things:

  • If you are a small business, or do-it-yourselfer, this gives you the average price of 1234YF and an option to purchase it at Refrigerant Depot.
  • If you are having your car worked on at a dealership or a shop than this article gives you the knowledge to negotiate the price of your refrigerant down to a manageable markup. While you may not pay $70.00 per pound you will be able to recognize a gouge if they charge you $300 or $400 a pound.

What Cars are Using 1234YF Today?

As I said before 1234YF is still fairly new to the United States market. Each year the numbers of cars the US using this refrigerant is growing. While I couldn’t find a true up to date listing of every car that is using this refrigerant today I did find this article from last year listing some makes and models. (Source of list can be found here.)

  • BMW i3 Electric
  • Cadillac XTS
  • Chevrolet Malibu, Spark EV, Trax
  • Chrysler 200C, 200S, 300, 300C
  • Citroën C4, Elysëe
  • Dodge Challenger, Charger, Dart, Ram 1500
  • Fiat 500
  • Ford Transit
  • Great Wall Motor Company Limited – Voleex C30
  • Honda Fit EV
  • Hyundai Santa Fe, i30
  • Infinity Q50
  • Jaguar F Type
  • Jeep Cherokee, Renegade
  • Kia Sorento, Optima, Carenz, Cee’d2
  • Lexus GS450h
  • Mazda CX-5
  • Mitsubishi Mirage
  • Opel Mokka
  • Peugeot 301, 308
  • Range Rover and Range Rover Sport
  • Renault Zoe 3
  • SAIC Motor Corporation Limited MG350/Rover 350
  • Subaru BRZ, Forrester, Impreza, XV
  • Tesla Model S
  • Toyota Yaris HSD, Prius Plus, GT86

This list is eighteen months old and it is already large. Imagine what this list will be like in just a few more years. I found this quote from November of 2016 off of Chemours’ official website:

“The use of HFO-1234yf is growing exponentially; by the end of 2017 an estimated 50 million vehicles are expected to use it in their air conditioning systems.” – Chemours Website

Imagine that, fifty million cars. It’s coming folks.

Conclusion

In conclusion 1234YF is here to stay. I would like to say that the high price tag of $700 for a ten pound cylinder is going to come down but to be honest over the past few years the price has stayed consistent. The days of cheap refrigerant may be over as we transition away from HFCs and over to the new HFO class of refrigerants. The hope that is as HFOs become more and more popular that the price begins to fall.

Either way I hope this article was helpful to you and ended up saving you some money!

Thanks for reading,

Alec John Johnson

Owner.

Donald Trump's Affect on the Refrigerant Industry

Regardless of your politics last month’s election was definitely a surprise. Obviously, the election of Donald Trump will have a profound impact on the country and the rest of the world. The question I ask to you is what kind of impact will he have on the United States’ refrigerant market?

Now, we all know what kind of affect Barack Obama had on the market. While he didn’t preside over the phase out of HCFCs like R-22 he did preside over the beginning stages of phasing out HFC refrigerants such as R-134a, R-404A, and R-410A. All of his actions were in response to his Climate Change Action Plan. (This link to whitehouse.gov will show more detail.) Obama used the Environmental Protection Agency to impose new regulations on HFCs and to eventually phase them out entirely. His goal was to replace all of these refrigerants with the less potent, but more flammable, HFO refrigerants such as 1234YF. On top of that he also pressured other countries to do the same. (India, China, Pakistan, and others.)

R-404A is the first to go away and the process has already begun. In 2015 the EPA listed R-404A as unacceptable in newly manufactured machines as of 2017. This covers all supermarket refrigerators and freezers. Vending machines get a bit more of a break and have a deadline of 2019. I wrote an article about this at the time of the release and it can be found by clicking here. Next on Obama’s list was R-134a. The EPA has listed 134a as unacceptable in new vehicles as of the year 2020. (2021 model years.) The goal here is to switch everyone over to 1234YF or to other natural refrigerants.

So we know what Obama did and wanted to do the question is what do we predict Trump doing over the next four years? While I am not a fortune teller I believe the answer can be drilled down to two main points:

Tariffs on Imports

Before President Trump was even a pipe dream there were already anti-dumping law suits filed against Chinese companies importing their R-134a refrigerant in mass. The complaint was that the Chinese companies were being subsidized by the Chinese government which caused their price to lower to unheard of levels. Since this cheaper import was being flooded into the United States market it caused the US refrigerant manufacturers to drop their price as well. While this may sound good for the consumer it was actively hurting the manufacturers such as Honeywell, DuPont/Chemours, and Mexichem. Along with hurting US companies it also allowed for impure 134a product from China to enter the market. (Not all of the Chinese product was one-hundred percent 134a.)

The three companies I just mentioned joined together in a group called the American HFC Coalition. The coalition filed a suit with the US government’s International Trade Commission. The Trade Commission took over a year to decide and so far nothing official has happened but the signs are all pointing to an imposed tariff on the imported 134a.

The commission is due to hold another hearing on February 23rd, 2017 on it’s decision. (Link about it can be found here.) The rumor is that there will be around a two-hundred percent tariff imposed on new product. This tariff may in fact even be retroactive on previous imports. So, if you imported 134a in the past you may be at risk of having to pay the tariff or fine on your old product. This has many small business owners very nervous.

Donald’s Stance

Throughout the campaign Donald Trump has stated again and again that he is against China. In his words they have been doing a trade war with the United States and they have been winning. He has also said that he is in favor of large tariffs on companies that move jobs overseas. It only seems logical that he would be in favor of anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese imported refrigerant.

I foresee that when he becomes President that he will push this even more than it already is. Chemours and Honeywell will grab his ear and he will push his Trade Commission hard and fast to approve the tariffs. If this does get approved the price on a cylinder of R-134a could reach upwards to $150-$200 a cylinder perhaps even higher than that.

Climate Change Skepticism

Well that first part was the bad news. Are you ready for the good news now? Donald Trump has stated again and again that he believes Climate Change to be a hoax. Believe it or not, this is good for the price of refrigerants. On top of his stance on climate change he has also stated that he will be getting rid of regulations across the board. Combining these two stances I could see Trump reversing course on the EPA’s decision to phase out 404A and 134a.

The whole reason they are being phased out is due to their Global Warming Potential and how they contribute to Global Warming. If Trump doesn’t believe in Global Warming in the first place why would he instill these hardships on businesses across the country? It just doesn’t make sense.

I don’t see this being a top priority for Trump right away but I feel as time goes on into his term and his consultants bring this to his attention that he will make the move to stop the HFC phase out before the deadline hits.

Conclusion

Having Trump is a mixed bag for the refrigerant industry. On one hand you get the Climate Change skepticism and the most likely remaining of HFC refrigerants. On the other hand though you have his hatred of China and their trade war. Over the next few years I predict we’ll see:

  • Tariffs installed not only on 134a but on other refrigerants as well. (410A and maybe even 1234YF.) These tariffs will force companies to make their product here in the US.
  • Reduction or total cancellation of HFC phase outs. (Including 404A, 134a, and 410A.)

Thanks for reading,

Alec John Johnson

Owner.

Australia to phase out HFC refrigerants by 2036.

While there still hasn’t been a formal amendment added to the Montreal Protocol to phase out HFC refrigerants across the world there are many countries that are taking pro-active steps to phase out HFC refrigerants such as R-410A, R-404A, and R-134a. The United States announced phase-out measures that they would be taking in the summer of 2015. The European Union has been even more proactive and has already completely phased out R-134a refrigerant across their various countries.

Australia has now committed to phase down their HFC refrigerant usage by eighty-five percent by the year 2036. This scheduled phasedown will begin in the year 2018 and is predicted to be completed over an eighteen year period. The Montreal Protocol’s HFC amendment is expected to pass towards the end of 2016 and implementation to begin in 2018 or 2019. Australia is just getting a head start before the mandate is pushed down to the rest of the world.

At this time the go to replacement products are HFO refrigerants such as 1234YF or Natural Refrigerants such as CO2. New HFOs are being developed to this very day by companies like Honeywell and Chemours. Using natural refrigerants, like CO2, is ironic for us as when the refrigeration market was first being developed CO2 was one of the FIRST refrigerants used in large commercial buildings like movie theatres. When refrigerant was discovered, a much cheaper alternative, CO2 began to go away and be replaced by the much cheaper R-12 and eventually R-22.

Even though it seems we just started using HFC refrigerants, and regardless what anyone thinks about them, the world powers have deemed that HFCs are bad and that they will be going away over the next decade. The question is are you, or your business, ready for the change?

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

Owner.

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What is 1234YF?

1234YF refrigerant is designed to be an alternative to the R-134a HFC refrigerant that is used today. R-134a has been discontinued in the European Union and is on it’s way to being discontinued in the United States.  134a is being phased out due to it’s high global warming potential number of over 1,300. With 134’a widespread use across the world it was having a significant impact on global warming.

1234YF was introduced as an alternative refrigerant with a MUCH lower global warming potential of 4. Yes, that’s right 4. As you can see there is quite the difference between the two refrigerants. 1234YF also does NOT contain Chlorine like it’s early R-12 predecessor. There are only two drawbacks that come to mind when dealing with 1234YF:

  • The flammability risk is higher than 134a and R-12. While this sounds dangerous, the chances of this impacting you are minimal. There have been numerous controlled tests in Germany and other countries testing 1234YF in a collision. More often than not everything is fine. There were a few tests in the early days of 1234YF that the refrigerant tank ruptured and ignited during a simulated car accident. These have not been replicated.
  • The price on 1234YF is significantly higher than what you are used to paying for 134a. The typical price for a thirty pound jug of 134a is around $70-$100 a cylinder. The price on 1234YF may be as much as six times that cost for a single cylinder. Instead of $100 you could be looking at $700.

Who’s Using 1234YF?

The demand for 1234YF is still small in the United States. In the European Union 134a was completely phased out a few years ago and was replaced by 1234YF. Demand over there is growing exponentially. The story is a bit different here as only a few OE manufacturers have begun using 1234YF. Even those manufacturers are only using it on certain models. With that being said with each year that passes the demand for 1234YF grows and more models and manufactures begin using it.

134a is predicted to be phased out entirely across the United States in the year 2021. As we approach that year the demand for 1234YF will grow year over year. There are numerous 2015 year vehicles on the road today that use 1234YF, but since the air conditioning system is a completely sealed unit the need to refill their vehicle with 1234YF only arises when the system breaks or a collision accident occurs.

Where Can I Buy?

Since this refrigerant is still fairly new to the market there aren’t a lot of places to buy it today. The easiest and best place to buy today would be on Amazon.com or by clicking on the product link below. Also, if you are looking to purchase 1234yf in bulk quantities then please visit our bulk purchasing page today to get a quote.