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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

R-134a Refrigerant

R-134a is the most commonly used refrigerant for automotive applications rather it be your twenty year old Toyota Camry or your Kenworth T-200 semi-truck. Ever since 1993 R-134a has been the staple refrigerant for automotive applications. Before 93 we used R-12 for our vehicles and now, as I write this article in 2018, there is a push to phase down R-134a and replace it with the new HFO refrigerant known as R-1234yf.

This article is going to into the facts of R-134a, some of the most common questions asked about this refrigerant, and some of the most important points of note on the refrigerant, as well as the history of the refrigerant. Let’s dive in and take a look:

The Facts

Name:R-134a
Name - Scientific:Tetrafluoroethane
Name (2):Norflurane
Name (3):Freon 134a
Name (4):Forane 134a
Name (5):Genetron 134a
Name (6):Florasol 134a
Name (7)HFC-R134a
Name (8)Suva 134a
Classification:HFC Refrigerant
Chemistry:Haloalkane Refrigerant
Chemistry (2):
Chemistry (3):The lower case 'a' indicates an Isomer, or different composition from R-134.
Chemistry:Production by reacting Trichloroethylene with Hydrogen Fluoride.
Status:Shrinking & Phasing Out
Future:Will be phased out across the world soon. (Prediction of 2030)
Application:Automotive: Light duty, medium duty and heavy duty.
Application (2):Heat Pumps, Chillers, Transport Refrigeration, and Commercial Cooling
Replacement For:CFC R-12 Freon
Ozone Depletion Potential:0
Global Warming Potential:1,430
Toxicity Levels:A (No Toxicity Identified.)
Flammability Levels:Class 1 -No Flame Propagation.
Lubricant Required:POE & PAG Oil Lubricants
Boiling Point:-26.3° Celsius or -15.3° Fahrenheit.
Critical Temperature:101.06° Celsius or 213.91° Fahrenheit
Critical Pressure:4059 KPA or 588.71 pound-force per square inch.
Auto ignition Temperature:770° Celsius or 1,418° Fahrenheit
Manufacturers:Various Including: Honeywell, Chemours, Arkema, Mexichem, Chinese, etc.
Manufacturing Facilities:All Over Including: USA, Mexico, EU, China, and others.
Form:Gas/Liquid
Color: Colorless Liquid & Vapor
Odor:None, if you do smell something it is most likely the oil.
EPA Certification Required:Yes, 609 certification required by January 1st, 2018.
Require Certification to Purchase?Yes, 609 certification required by January 1st, 2018.
Cylinder Color:Light Sky Blue
Cylinder Design:
R-134a Refrigerant
R-134a Refrigerant
Cylinder Design (2):Thirty Pound Tank
Price Point:Medium $-90-$160 a Cylinder Depending on Conditions.
Where to Buy Can or Cylinder?From Our Amazon Partner
Bulk Purchasing:CLICK FOR A QUOTE!

Points of Note

Alright folks so we’ve gone over some of the basic facts about R-134a but now let’s take a look at some of the more interesting points about this refrigerant:

  • I mentioned this briefly above but R-134a was designed and began to see use as an alternative product to R-12 Freon, or Dichlorodifluoromethane. R-12 has been around since the 1930’s and was being used in automotive applications for decades until it was discovered that it harmed the Ozone layer. As a replacement product R-134a was introduced into the automotive market in 1993.
  • Like it’s predecessor, R-12, R-134a was and is used across a wide array of applications in the automotive world. You can find R-134a in your Ford Focus or you could find it in your gigantic Semi-Trucks or in your Gray-hound Bus. Back in the early 2000’s one of my responsibilities was to purchase R-134 by the pallet or the trailerload and co-ordinate delivery to the company’s various dealerships. It is amazing  just how much R-134a a dealership  can go through.
  • Along with the automotive industry you can find R-134a in various heat pump applications and other commercial refrigeration needs.
  • R-134a is also used in quite a few refrigerant blends as well as a key ingredient. Some of these include: R-416A, R-420A, R-423A.
  • While R-134a does not have an Ozone Depletion Potential it does have a high Global Warming Potential. (GWP) The higher a GWP number the more damage the  product can do towards Global Warming. These high GWP chemicals are known as Greenhouse Gases. Across the world there has been a push to phase down our phase out entirely these high GWP HFC refrigerants.
  • Most refrigerants and refrigerant applications are left to professionals. Sure, there are some do-it-yourselfers out there, but for the most part technicians handle the repairs. The exception to this is R-134a and automotive applications. Many people enjoy working on their vehicle and buying a few cans of R-134a and repairing your air conditioning system is no big deal to them. This is a rare exception within the refrigerant industry.
  • Building off of my point above, this is why we saw such resistance and upset from the Environmental Protection Agency’s new law  that started in 2018. This regulation prevented R-134a cylinder sales to people who are NOT 609 certified. Do-it-yourselfers can still buy individual pound cans but they are restricted are larger purchases. So, they can still do their own repairs, they just can’t hoard cylinders of R-134a in their garage. You can go down to the local auto parts store today or on Amazon.com and purchase some cans without any issues.
  • The European Union has already phased out R-134a on any new vehicle models. Most car manufacturers have switched to the alternative HFO refrigerant known as 1234yf. The plan for the United States was to phase out 134a on new vehicles by  the year 2021, but this regulation was delayed due to Federal court rulings. Don’t let this fool you though. R-134a is ending and ending soon even here in the United States.
  • A few years back a law-suit was started with the International Trade Commission. The suit claimed that China was dumping low-priced R-134a into the US market which locally based companies were not able to compete with. In order to resolve this issue anti-dumping tariffs were issued against Chinese R-134a. The issuing of these tariffs caused the national price of R-134a to jump nearly twenty dollars for a thirty pound cylinder.
  • Since these tariffs were issued the  price point for R-134a has stayed relatively stable over the past few years. (I write this in summer of 2018.)
  • In another ten or fifteen years R-134a applications will be a rarity  or seen as an antique. While the new HFO-12134yf may  not be the perfect solution it IS the refrigerant that all  of the vehicle manufacturers are running to.  Another possible alternative to look at is Daimler’s experiments with CO2 or R-744 in their vehicles.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What Happened to R-12?
    • As you know, R-12 was the default for automotive air conditioning for decades but in the 1980s it was discovered that R-12 was harming the Ozone layer. Because of this, R-12 was phased out across the world and was replaced by R-134a.
  • What is R-134a?
    • R-134a is an HFC refrigerant that is intended to be used in automotive applications. It was designed to replace R-12. It has no Ozone Depletion Potential but has a high Global Warming Potential.
  • Can I Buy R-134a Without a EPA 609 License?
    • No, as of January 1st, 2018 you can no longer purchase cylinders of R-134a without a proper 609 Environmental Protection License. This is due to what’s called the ‘Refrigerant Sales Restriction.’ The good news here though is that without a license you are still able to purchase cans of refrigerant that contain less then two pounds of product.
  • What Kind of Certification Do I Need to Work With R-134?
    • As I mentioned above,  you will need what’s called a 609 certification. 609 comes into play when you are working on an automotive air conditioning application and ONLY when you are working on an automotive application. If you wish to work on other AC units you will need to obtain your 608 certification as well. Once you have 609 certification you can purchase, handle, and install refrigerants into automotive applications.
  • Is R-134a Toxic or Flammable?
    • No, R-134a is rated as an A1 on the ASHRAE ‘s safety rating scale. The A stands for the product not being toxic or harmful. The 1 stands for no hint of flame propagation. This is a very safe refrigerant.
  • What Kind of Oil do I Use for R-134a Systems?
    • In most cases you are going to be using what’s known as PAG Oil. PAG oil, or Polyalkylene Glycol, is a fully synthetic hygroscopic oil specifically designed for automotive air conditioner compressors. It is used in R-134a air conditioning systems to lubricate the compressor. When looking at PAG oil you will notice various numbers such as PAG46 or PAG100. These numbers refer to the viscosity of the oil, similar to 10W30 oil. In order to determine the correct PAG viscosity for your vehicle you will need to look up the specifications of your make and model of your vehicle either online or in the instruction manual.
  • Is R-134a Being Phased Out in the United States?
    • Well, at one time it was. Way back in the summer of 2015 the EPA announced that R-134a was NOT to be used in new vehicles starting with the model year 2021. Since this regulation came out though there was a court ruling that overturned the proposed rules. Since then the EPA has retracted it’s regulations and as of today there is not a set phase out date.
  • What Countries Are Using R-134a?
    • Nearly every country in the world today is using R-134a. Yes, some countries have phased it out on newer vehicles, but there are still very many cars out there that are still  using 134a. We won’t see a total vanishing of R-134a usage for at least another twenty or thirty years. Remember, we have to wait for all of these old vehicles to die.
  • Can I Mix R-134a With  R-12 or 1234yf?
    • No, it is never a good idea to mix refrigerants. Refrigerants are designed to work in specific conditions and specific pressures. Mixing refrigerants together will cause it not to change states and will prevent your system from working correctly.
  • How do I Store R-134a?
    • Storage requirements for R-410A are the same as other refrigerants. Cylinders should be stored in a clean, dry area, and out of direct sunlight. If you have cylinders in the back of your work van ensure that the temperature does not rise above one-hundred and twenty-five degrees Fahrenheit. Keep valves tightly closed and caps in place when cylinders are not in use. This will prevent any damage to your product, to your facility, or to your vehicle.
  • What Sized Containers Does R-134a Come In?
    • R-134a can come in a variety of container sizes. The most common that we see today are your one to two pound cans or your standard thirty pound light-blue cylinder.

History of R-134a

In order to understand the full history of R-134a we first have to look at it’s predecessor. Before R-134a there was R-12. R-12 was one of first mainstream refrigerants used throughout the world. In fact, R-12 is where the brand name of Freon comes from. In order to trace back it’s origins we have to go all the way back to the 1930’s and a partnership between General Motors and the DuPont company. Through this partnership the two companies were able to invent a safe, reliable, and cost efficient class of refrigerants known as CFCs and HCFCs.

These new classifications of refrigerants were revolutionary. Before these came to the marketplace the world only had access to basic refrigerants such as Hydrocarbons and Carbon Dioxide. These previous refrigerants were either not very efficient,  operated at too high of pressure (Like CO2), or they were just not safe. One of the most popular refrigerants back then was R-717, or Ammonia. Ammonia is toxic when we are exposed to it and having an Ammonia operated refrigerator was a not something consumers wanted inside their home.

Because of the revolution CFC and HCFC refrigerants caused R-12 along with R-11, R-22, and R-502 were found all over the world in various applications. By the time we got into the 1970’s the product was everywhere ranging from automobiles, refrigerators, freezers, ice machines, vending machines, industrial plants, refrigerated trucks, and on and on. 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 were 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. The next refrigerant to go was the CFC refrigerant known as R-502 in the mid 1990’s. As time went by there were other CFC and HCFC refrigerants phased out but the big change didn’t happen until 2010.

R-134a

As I mentioned above 1993 was the beginning of R-134a usage. Since then it has ballooned and grew so that every vehicle around the globe was using it. It was a rare occurrence to find something other than R-134a or R-12 used in vehicles. The only exceptions that you would find were with refrigerated transport trucks such as ice cream trucks. In these instances you would either see a mixture of R-134a and R-404A or a straight R-404A system. Along with R-134a there were many other HFC refrigerants that began to take root. Some of these were R-404A and R-410A. (404A was used for supermarket freezers, ice machines, vending machines, and refrigerated transport. R-410A was used for home and commercial air conditioning.)

It was in the early 2000’s that a new problem was discovered with the currently used HFC refrigerants. Instead of refrigerants harming the Ozone layer the concern became the refrigerants impact on Global Warming. You see refrigerants are seen as a Greenhouse Gas. A Greenhouse Gas is a gas that can be released and get trapped in the atmosphere. These trapped gases cause Global Warming to accelerate. In order to measure a chemical or products risk for Global Warming a new scale was created called Global Warming Potential. The baseline measurement for this scale was Carbon Dioxide, or R-744. CO2’s GWP is one.

The downside of HFC refrigerants is their very high Global Warming Potential. As an example, R-404A has a GWP of three-thousand nine-hundred and twenty-two times that of Carbon Dioxide. Can you begin to see why these are seen as a problem? It was around 2010 when the push to begin phasing down HFC refrigerants began. Everyone’s first target was R-404A as it had the absolute highest GWP of them all. Depending on the applications 404A was to be replaced with Hydrocarbons, lower GWP HFC refrigerants, or the new HFO refrigerant line from Chemours and Honeywell.

Next in everyone’s sights was R-134a. While 134a didn’t have near as high as a GWP of 404A it still had a large number coming in at one-thousand four-hundred and thirty. At first the push to phase out 134a was stalled as there wasn’t a good substitute out there. After some time the two main refrigerant innovators Honeywell and Chemours came out with a new refrigerant under their HFO line known as R-1234yf. This new refrigerant worked very similar to R-134a but had a GWP of only four. That’s a heck of a difference! The only concern with this new refrigerant was that it was rated as an A2L refrigerant. What that means is that it is slightly flammable. (Remember, R-134a isn’t flammable at all.)

The European Union jumped at the chance for a 134a alternative. They enacted legislation called the ‘MAC Directive,’ to prevent R-134a from being used in new vehicles as of the 2013 model year. While this directive didn’t come out and mention R-134a by name it did state that no refrigerants with a GWP greater then one-hundred and fifty could be used in new automobiles. Europe switched over to 1234yf and the demand for R-134a began to die down. One thing to mention here though is that because 1234yf is slightly flammable there was some debate on rather or not it was a safe product to use. The German car company Daimler ran test after test to ensure it’s safety. In one of these tests Daimler claimed that when the refrigerant tank ruptured during an accident 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 on test. Daimler claimed 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.  Since these first tests there have been numerous court battles and fines issued by the European Union but still Germany persisted against 1234yf. Here is the neat part, Daimler began to pursue a different alternative refrigerant for their automobiles, R-744. Yes, that’s right CO2 for vehicles. Over the years Daimler has been testing and innovating with CO2 and as I write this article today they even have some vehicles on the road with it.

Here in the United States we began going through the same route as Europe, just a little bit behind schedule. In the summer of 2015 the Environmental Protection Agency issued a new rule to their SNAP program. This rule called ‘Rule 20,‘ was aimed at phasing down and out HFC refrigerants including R-134a. This regulation aimed at preventing vehicle manufacturers from using R-134a in new vehicles as of model year 2021. These regulations were on the books until August of 2017. At that time a court overturned the EPA’s regulations stating that they had overreached their authority. Since then in the United States there is not a formal R-134a phase out date. This has caused a lot of confusion and unknowns within the automotive refrigerant industry.

1234yf is the future and there isn’t much we can do to get away from it. Auto manufacturers all over the world have begun to switch their new models over to 1234yf. In fact since 2015 the pace of vehicles beings switched over has grown and grown. The chances are high that if you buy a new vehicle today that it’s going to contain 1234yf refrigerant. The question now is when will 134a be phased down within the United States?

Conclusion

Regardless of what happens with these phase outs and phase downs I can be sure of one thing. R-134a is going to be around for a long time. Even if we switch over our new vehicles today there will still be vehicles manufactured last year that will be on the road twenty or thirty years from now. After all, there are still R-12 vehicles out there, right? In closing, R-134a has served it’s purpose. Now it’s time has come and gone. We now need to move towards alternative refrigerants like 1234yf or R-744.

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

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

 

This time last year folks we were seeing the price for a thirty pound cylinder of R-22 hover around six-hundred dollars a cylinder. This price increase didn’t come to a surprise to a lot of people within the industry. We all knew that R-22 was being phased out and a price increase was inevitable. The only people who were shocked by this were the customers and end users!

The price climbed so high so fast that a lot of folks ended up buying up on R-22 just in case the price rose even further. It was an investment and a matter or protecting their profit margins. They figured if they could purchase at five or six-hundred dollars a cylinder before it climbed to seven or even eight-hundred dollars they would save themselves the extra cost and also allow themselves to make a bit more margin on their R-22 recharges. After all, if it was this bad in 2017, it could only get worse in 2018… right?

Wrong, unfortunately. Since late 2017 and all of 2018 the price of R-22 has come down and down. While this time last year we were at that six-hundred dollar price by the time the new year rolled around we were hovering between three-hundred and fifty to four-hundred dollars a cylinder. Initially, this price decrease wasn’t too concerning as we were in Winter and the price of refrigerant usually crashes during the cold season. Most people predicted that R-22 would ratchet back up in price as we headed closer towards Spring and Summer.

In fact, yet again, the opposite happened. Instead of seeing the price climb from the four-hundred price point we are now seeing prices hovering between three-hundred and three-hundred and twenty-five dollars per thirty pound cylinder. So, we are HALF the price on R-22 then what we saw this time last year. Those purchases that everyone made back in 2017 are looking pretty poor nowadays. Imagine trying to sell R-22 to a customer when you purchasing it back at the six-hundred dollar price. You’re either going to take a loss or take the criticism from your customer for gouging.

The question now on everyone’s mind is what is causing this decrease? Especially when R-22 is on the way out. Remember, there are only about eighteen months left before that looming 2020 deadline hits and no more imports or production on R-22 is allowed within the United States.

Alternatives

The main reason why R-22 pricing has begun to decrease this year is the large available options for R-22 alternatives. In the beginning back in 2010 when the R-22 phase down began there weren’t that many alternatives on the market. Now, over the years since the phase out occurred there are now numerous alternatives out there for R-22 machines. I won’t get into every one out there in this article but I will say that the R-22 market is hungry for low priced cheaper alternatives that require little retrofitting. A few of these are:

Now, most of these alternative refrigerants can be easily retrofitted to work in an existing R-22 machine. What that means is that your customers who want to hang onto their ‘dinosaur,’ R-22 units can get a cheaper refrigerant alternative for a small retrofit fee. Last year, when we were at that six-hundred dollar price per cylinder these alternatives looked pretty good. This year the alternatives have taken more of the market-share and the demand from existing R-22 units along with it. Because of this the demand for virgin R-22 has begun to shrink. Now, some of this shrink may just be due to older R-22 machines retiring and being replaced but another good portion of it is due to these alternative refrigerants.

Reclamation

Some people within the industry may say that reclamation industry on R-22 has caused a decrease in price this year, but I would have to take issue with that. For whatever reason, there is a stigma attached to reclaimed refrigerants. A lot of technicians and contractors just do not want to use them. They are seen as ‘dirty’ or unreliable. This attitude will need to be combated. I used to work in the auto industry and we saw the exact same mentality when it comes to remanufactured parts. Sure, the transmission is remanufactured, but I can assure you mister customer that it is still a quality product. Unfortunately, when it comes to reclaimed refrigerants I fear that we will have to sell each tech or contractor. A lot of times this can be done just by touring a reclaiming facility and seeing all of the processes and work that goes into cleaning a used refrigerant. This isn’t half-cocked product. It is done right and regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

While reclamation hasn’t caused a decrease in price on R-22 it is still a great source to get a bargain price on R-22. Most of the time you can get reclaimed refrigerants for ten to twenty percent lower then the standard price on an virgin R-22 cylinder. This may not mean much right now, but I can assure you folks that if the price rises again that ten percent may look pretty inviting.

Conclusion

What will the next eighteen months bring when it comes to R-22? As most of you know on January 1st, 2020 R-22 can no longer be imported or manufactured within the United States. That means that there are three solutions for a customer looking to repair their R-22 machine.

  1. Repair and recharge with virgin or reclaimed R-22
  2. Repair and retrofit an existing R-22 machine to accept an alternative R-22 product such as MO99.
  3. Replace the aging R-22 machine with a newer R-410A application.

What will this 2020 deadline do to R-22’s price? At this point folks it is very hard to tell or predict. We could see this three-hundred to four-hundred price last this year and throughout most of next year’s summer season. However, as we creep closer to Fall in 2019 I could see the price slowly starting to rise. When 2020 hits and the production is cut off we’re either going to have a panic that causes the price to sky-rocket back up to six-hundred or more dollars per cylinder or we’re going to see the price slowly creep up and level off around four or five-hundred dollars a cylinder. It is all a matter of how many people are using alternatives, reclaimed R-22, or who are just sick of their old unit and are replacing with a 410A model. Regardless of what happens remember that R-22 is dying and will soon be extinct. While the price may go high in 2020 it will not be sustainable as the demand for R-22 will decline with each passing year.

Also, if you’re interested in purchasing R-22 please visit our Bulk Purchasing page to receive a quote!

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Supreme Court To Rule on HFC Refrigerants

Well ladies and gentlemen the fight to phase down HFC refrigerants in the United States continued today with the announcement that Chemours, Honeywell,  and the National Resource Defense Council are petitioning the United States’ Supreme Court to review the Federal Court of Appeal’s decision to repeal the Environmental Protection Agency’s SNAP Rule 20 regulations. (That was a mouthful to say.) All of this can be traced back to two important dates. The first is the summer of 2015 when the EPA released a new rule for their Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP).

This rule, known as Rule 20, was intended to begin the phase down and eventual phase out of HFC refrigerants such as R-134a, R-404A, and R-410A. The original rule can be found by clicking here. The EPA referenced their authority for this new regulation under Chapter VI, 6, of the Clean Air Act. This section is what was used to phase out CFC and HCFC refrigerants due to the harm they were causing to the Ozone layer.

When this rule was introduced most everyone in the industry had already been expecting it. HFCs were on the way out and were already in the process of being phased out across the European Union and other countries. As the months, and eventual years, went by the new regulation was accepted as law and companies, businesses, and government began to prepare for it’s arrival. Refrigerant manufacturers Honeywell and Chemours began to invest into their new HFO refrigerant line known as Solstice and Opteon. They opened new plants abroad and here in the United States. They invested in multiple new refrigerants and innovations. HFOs were the refrigerant of the future and Honeywell and Chemours held all the keys.

The Ruling

The second important date was in the summer of 2017. To be more precise, in August something unexpected happened. A Federal Court of Appeals ruled against the Environmental Protection Agency’s SNAP Rule 20 regulation. This lawsuit filing and ruling were brought forward by Mexichem and Arkema. These two companies are two very large refrigerant manufacturers that have had a rivalry over the past couple years with Honeywell and Chemours. While Honeywell/Chemours have been working closer and closer over the years formulating their new HFO line the other companies like Mexichem and Arkema have been left out in the cold. I see this lawsuit from Mexichem and Arkema as a stalling tactic. By having the EPA’s rule overturned these two companies now have more time to develop alternative refrigerants to compete with the HFO and Hydrocarbons that will be taking place of HFCs.

The court’s ruling shook the industry throughout the country, and a good part of the western world. Everyone had assumed that the United States would be phasing down HFC refrigerants like the rest of the world. In fact, a year after the EPA announced their Rule 20 the US also announced that it was to sign the Kigali Amendment in November of 2016. The Kigali Amendment was an addendum to the now famous Montreal Protocol. The Montreal Protocol was the treaty signed in the 1980’s that began the phase out of CFC and HCFC refrigerants. This treaty was also the basis of the law and regulation that the EPA used to phase out these refrigerants here in the United States. Here’s the problem though folks, the Montreal Protocol was designed to combat Ozone harming pollutants such as CFC and HCFC refrigerants. The same can be said about the Clean Air Act.

The EPA tried using Chapter VI, 6, of the Clean Air Act to phase-out HFC refrigerants. The name of this chapter is called: “Stratospheric Ozone Protection” See a problem here? I do. HFC refrigerants do NOT harm the Ozone layer. While, yes, they do harm the environment through Global Warming, they cannot harm the Ozone as they do not contain Chlorine. Yes, one could argue that it is a matter of technicality, but the argument is still there and is valid. If we go inside this chapter of the Clean Air Act using the government’s official website we can see that all of the substances that were to be banned. There is no mention of HFC refrigerants anywhere. Funny, how they tried to just throw those in there. The Appeals Court saw this and agreed with Mexichem and Arkema.

Aftermath

The immediate aftermath of the ruling was silence, at least for a while. No one was really expecting a ruling against the EPA. After the dust settled though Honeywell and Chemours partnered up again and filed an appeal on the Appeals Court’s ruling. These two companies had two main arguments for while the court’s ruling should be overturned:

  1. First, they argued that the SNAP Rule 20 was well-founded and that the federal court’s ruling exceeded it’s jurisdiction as well as ignoring the original intent of the SNAP Program. (To replace Ozone depleting refrigerants with the safest alternatives.) This argument bothers me. They know they didn’t go through Congress and they know that they didn’t do it the correct way. But none of that matters. No. Their intent was good.
  2. The second argument and just as ludicrous in my book is that these two companies invested two much money to have these regulations end. Chemours noted that they had invested more then one billion dollars to research, develop, and commercializing their new HFO refrigerants. All of this development was done under the guise of HFC refrigerants being phased out. What they don’t tell you here is that Chemours and Honeywell, have been investing money into HFOs long before the EPA made it’s decision to phase out HFC refrigerants in 2015. This argument seems like a moot point. In business their a thing called risk as all of you know.

The appeal was filed in September of 2017. While there was some back and forth there wasn’t an official ruling until early 2018. On January 26th, 2018 the United States Court of Appeals out of District of Columbia ruled against the appeal on phasing down HFC refrigerants. I wrote an article about this that can be found by clicking here. Again, this appeal ruling caught everyone off guard. Everyone assumed that the court would rule in favor of Chemours and Honeywell.

It was announced today that Honeywell and Chemours will now be taking their appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States. This is their last hope and frankly I do not know what to expect here. The court has been changing since Trump has been elected. While he has only replaced one seat we may see another seat change by the time this HFC case gets to the court. That being said, I honestly don’t know what way the court would go on this. I would imagine that it would be a tight ruling 5-4 going in either direction.

Conclusion

This has definitely been a turbulent year when it comes to HFCs in the United States. At this point no one can say for sure what’s going to happen. The Supreme Court could rule in favor of the EPA and we could be right back where we were a year ago. But, if that doesn’t happen then we have many other options available such as the Kigali Amendment, new laws in Congress, or even States’ Rights such as California implementing their own HFC policy. Even if all of these fail or do not gain traction I can assure you that HFCs will be going away, it just may take a little bit longer. Manufacturers out there know that HFCs are on the way out and they have already started making plans with the newer alternative refrigerants. This may end up just being a game of attrition.

Thanks for  reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

 

R-22 refrigerant, or Freon, was and still is one of the most popular refrigerants used in the world. R-22 is an HCFC refrigerant and can harm the Ozone layer. It was originally invented by a partnership with General Motors and the DuPont company all the way back in the 1930’s. These new CFC and HCFC refrigerants were known under the DuPont brand name Freon.

R-22, along with it’s sister product R-12, were one of the first mainstream refrigerants to be used across the country and the globe. It was found in varying applications including your home air conditioner, your supermarket freezers, all the way to your local hockey team’s ice rink. R-22’s efficiency, safety, and overall low cost caused an explosion of growth in the refrigeration and cooling industry.

It wasn’t until the late 1970’s and 1980’s when we found that all of this excessive  R-22 and R-12 usage was causing damage to the Ozone layer. The world reacted by having over one-hundred countries sign the Montreal Protocol treaty. Since then, we have all been working towards phasing out CFC and HCFC refrigerants entirely. As I write this article, in the Summer of 2018, we are quickly approaching the end of R-22.

The Facts

Name:R-22
Name - Scientific:Chlorodifluoromethane
Name (2):Difluoromonochloromethane
Name (3):HCFC-22
Name (4):Freon-22
Name (5):Genetron 22
Classification:HCFC Refrigerant
Chemistry:
Status:Phasing Down
Future:Phased Out Across US By 2020 Year.
Application:Residential & Commercial Air-Conditioning.
Application (2):Industrial Refrigeration, Chillers, and Centrifugal Compressors
Application (3):Commercial Refrigeration (Supermarkets), and Transport Refrigeration.
Replacement For:CFC R-12 Freon
Ozone Depletion Potential:0.055
Global Warming Potential:1,810
Toxicity Levels:A (No Toxicity Identified.)
Flammability Levels:Class 1 -No Flame Propagation.
Lubricant Required:Mineral Oil, also known as Alkyl Benzene.
Boiling Point:-40.7° Celsius or -41.3° Fahrenheit
Critical Temperature:96.14° Celsius or 205.05° Fahrenheit
Critical Pressure (Absolute):4,990 kPa
Manufacturers:Various Including: Honeywell, Chemours, Arkema, Mexichem, Chinese, etc.
Manufacturing Facilities:All Over Including: USA, Mexico, EU, China, and others.
Manufacturers (2):After 2020 No Imports or Manufacturing Allowed on R-22.
Form:Gas
Color:Colorless Liquid & Vapor
Odor:Sweetish
EPA Certification Required:Yes, 608 certification required.
Require Certification to Purchase?Yes, 608 certification required.
Cylinder Color:Light Green
Cylinder Design:
R-22 30 Pound Refrigerant Cylinder
R-22 30 Pound Refrigerant Cylinder
Cylinder Design (2):Thirty Pound Tank
Price Point:HIGH - $450-$550 Per Cylinder
Future Price Prediction:Very High -$600 And Up Per Cylinder
Where to Buy Can or Cylinder?Individual Cylinders Limited Due to EPA's 608 Certification.
Bulk Purchasing:CLICK FOR A QUOTE!

Points of Note

Alright folks so we’ve gone over some of the basic facts about R-22 but now let’s take a look at some of the more interesting points about this refrigerant:

  • R-22 along with R-12 were one of the fathers of the modern refrigeration industry. Sure, there were other refrigerants used before them, but these CFC and HCFC refrigerants were the true pioneers. Before they came we were either using Ammonia (R-717) or Carbon Dioxide (R-744) for most of our refrigeration needs. While these refrigerants did cool there were fundamental problems with them. Ammonia was toxic and very deadly if exposed to. So, you did not want to have an Ammonia refrigerator or an Ammonia home air conditioner. If a leak was to occur you could be putting your whole family in danger. While Carbon Dioxide is perfectly safe there was another problem that early engineers ran into. R-744 operated at a VERY high pressure. This high pressure caused components such as compressors, evaporators, and condensers to fail and fail again and again. That’s not even mentioning the hoses, seals, and o-rings constantly failing due to the high pressure. R-12 and R-22 provided a safe, cheap, low-pressure, and a cheap alternative to current refrigerants on the marketplace.
  • R-22 is a very diverse refrigerant and it can be found in numerous applications. During it’s peak time it could be found in your home air conditioner, your office air conditioner, your super market refrigerator and freezers, your local ice rink, even your local industrial plant. It’s versatility was amazing but the cost to the environment and the climate were too much.
  • I mentioned it briefly above but R-22 is being phased down and being phased out across the world. In fact, the United States is somewhat behind the ball when you compare us to other countries like the European Union. (They’ve had R-22 phased out for years.) R-22 contains Chlorine and Chlorine was found to damage the Ozone layer. Basically, what happens is an R-22 unit develops a leak in the system. This leak allows refrigerant to be vented out and into the environment where it slowly drifts upwards to the atmosphere and the Ozone layer. The Chlorine in these refrigerants do not break down and begin to corrode the Ozone layer. Venting can occur either through a natural system leak, or by accidentally venting of a refrigerant cylinder. This is why you have to be 608 certified in order to purchase and handle refrigerant. The EPA figures if you are 608 certified you at least know what you are doing and you have gone through the training to prevent venting. Regardless if you are certified or not there are very harsh consequences if you are found to be intentionally venting R-22 refrigerant into the environment.
  • R-22 is one of the longest serving refrigerants. It began to see use in the 1930’s and we still use it today. While the numbers are dwindling due to the phase out there are still millions of units out there as I write this article.
  • Please see below table for the R-22 United States’ Phase Out Schedule. (All credit goes to the EPA.gov website for the below table, Click here for the official source.)
    • 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%
    • As you can see folks by the above chart we are quickly approaching the end of R-22 here in the United States. I’m writing this article in the summer of 2018 and that means we only have about eighteen months before all imports and production of R-22 ceases.
  • Please be aware that due to these phase outs the cost of R-22 has gone up and up. The highest I’ve seen it was around seven-hundred dollars for a thirty pound cylinder. In the summer of 2018 the price has begun to fall again and is hovering around three-hundred and fifty to four-hundred dollars a cylinder. No one knows for sure what the market will do next year though. It could stay flat at this three-hundred and fifty price or it could jump on up to seven-hundred again.
  • While after 2020 you won’t be able to purchase ‘new’ virgin R-22 cylinders you will have a couple of options. A lot of vendors and distributors right now are going through the ‘R-22 Gamble.’ What I mean by that is there are businesses buying up R-22 by the pallet(s), or trailer loads, and then having the product sit in their warehouses. The hope here is that when 2020 rolls around the price of R-22 skyrockets and these companies can make a hell of a profit on their aged inventory. So, when 2020 hits you will have the option to buy virgin R-22 cylinders but you’ll be paying a pretty penny for them.
  • The other option for finding R-22 in post 2020 is what’s called refrigerant reclamation. Refrigerant Reclaimers are certified by the Environmental Protection Agency to clean used R-22 refrigerant so that it can be used again in a new machine. I’m hesitating to use the word ‘recycle,’ here as it means something different in the refrigerant world, but in essence that is what they are doing. They are recycling older used refrigerant that a technician recovered from an aging unit. The tech then takes this recovered refrigerant back to his office, dumps it in a tank, and then the bulk tank is sent to a refrigerant reclaimer to be cleaned and be made ready to use again. The good news here is that reclaimed R-22 will be cheaper then virgin bottles. The bad news is that to some people reclaimed refrigerant has a stigma attached to it. Two of the biggest reclaimers in the country are Hudson Technologies and A-Gas Americas.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How Do I Know If My Unit Takes R-22 Refrigerant?
    • On the outside of your home air conditioner (The unit that sits outside) you should see a white tag with a bunch of information on it. Here is where you will find exactly what type of refrigerant your unit takes. Chances are though folks if your unit is from before 2010 that it is taking R-22 and if it is after 2010 then it is an R-410A unit.
  • Can I buy R-22 today without an Environmental Protection Agency license?
    • No, in order to purchase ANY quantity of R-22 you need to be 608 certified with the EPA. The only other way around this is by providing an intent to resale certificate. This certificate states that you will not actually use the product but that you are instead selling it to another end user. It will then be on you to collect the 608 certification of the person or business that you will be selling to.
  • Why is R-22 so expensive?
    • R-22’s extreme cost can be tied to the global phase-down and phase-out. It is already banned from being manufactured or imported in the European Union and here in the United States we only have until 2020 before it is also banned here. This upcoming ban has caused a shortage across the industry which has raised price. I do not see the price going down anytime soon.
  • When did the R-22 Phase-Down Begin?
    • The official phase-down began back in 2010. The phase-down was a tiered process and with each passing the year the belt tightens until we hit that 2020 deadline where no more imports or production can occur. Please refer to the phase out table that we provided in our ‘Points of Note’ section of this article.
  • Why was R-22 Phased Out?
    • R-22 was phased out due to the Chlorine that it contained. It was found that when R-22 was vented into the air either through a leak or venting that the Chlorine would float up and into the Ozone layer where it would not break down. The Chlorine then caused damage to the Ozone layer that alerted scientists.
  • Where Can I Get R-22 After 2020?
    • As I said above, R-22 will no longer be able to be imported or manufactured in the United States. Once this law is in effect there will be only two ways for you to obtain a cylinder:
      1. Purchase a ‘virgin,’ cylinder from someone who still has excess R-22 inventory in stock.
      2. Purchase ‘reclaimed’ R-22 refrigerant from a certified reclaimer. Reclaimed R-22 is refrigerant that was used previously and has since gone through a cleaning process so that it can be used again in a different machine.
  • What is the Alternative to R-22?
    • There are many alternative options to R-22. Some of these require you to retrofit your entire system in order to take the new refrigerant. While others, like DuPont’s MO99, require little action. I won’t get into too much detail here but I have written a couple articles on this topic which can be found by clicking below:
  • What Took R-22’s Place?
    • The HFC refrigerant known as R-410A was the selected R-22 replacement. As I write this article in 2018, R-410A is by far the fastest growing refrigerant market out there. While 410A does not harm the O-zone layer it does have a very high Global Warming Potential, or GWP. Because of this high GWP I do not see R-410A lasting more then ten or fifteen years. After that, a new, more climate friendly, alternative will appear in the marketplace.
  • If I Have An R-22 Unit Do I Need To Switch To An R-410A Machine?
    • You are not obligated to switch by any means. If you want to be more environmentally conscious, then by all means switch to a R-410A unit. If it was me I would hang onto my R-22 unit until something major breaks and you have a costly repair on your hands.
  • Should I Repair My R-22 Machine?
    • This is a tough decision. As the years go by and we get further and further away from 2010 the machines that are out there get older and older. So, if you repair your unit today and recharge with R-22 you could be facing the very same problem six months or a year down the road. Older machines tend to break more often and you could be upside down on your machine after only a couple of repairs. It may make sense to switch to a newer R-410A unit.
  • Can I Convert My R-22 Unit To Take R-410A?
    • No! R-410A, or Puron, operates at a MUCH higher pressure then R-22. If you were to put 410A into your existing R-22 system you could cause permanent damage.
  • Can I put R-22 Into My R-410A Machine?
    • No! Same thing goes. Your 410A machine is meant for just that, 410A. It is not meant for anything else.

History of R-22

Most of you may not read this section of the article but I have always been fascinated by history rather it’s world history or if it’s just the history on a refrigerant like R-22. Everything has a story and it is always fun to learn something new.

The Beginning

R-22 can trace it’s roots back all the way to the 1920’s and 1930’s. It, along with R-12 and R-11, were one of the very first ‘modern’ refrigerants. These refrigerants known under the classifications CFC and HCFC were a first of their kind. They were non-flammable, non-toxic, and were efficient. They answered all of the requirements for the ‘perfect’ refrigerant. These new classes of refrigerants were registered under the now famous DuPont brand name known as Freon.

These refrigerants were originally invented by a joint partnership of General Motors and the DuPont corporation in the late 1920’s.  The mass production of R-22 began in the mid 1930’s and exploded from there. When the 1950’s and 1960’s R-22 was found in nearly every home, office, super-market, and industrial area. technicians started and end their whole careers just dealing with R-22 refrigerant. That’s nothing like it is in today’s world. Nowadays you have a new refrigerant coming out every few months.

The Ozone

All was not perfect with this explosive growth of CFC and HCFC usage across the world. As the decades wore on and the growth continued scientists began to notice a startling effect of these refrigerants. 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 were 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. The next refrigerant to go was the CFC refrigerant known as R-502 in the mid 1990’s. As time went by there were other CFC and HCFC refrigerants phased out but the big change didn’t happen until 2010.

In 2010 is when the phase out of the ever popular HCFC R-22 refrigerant was to begin. At that date no new machines could be manufactured that took R-22 as a refrigerant. This was the line in the sand saying that there would be no more Chlorine containing refrigerants used. While 2010 was the beginning there was a schedule of set dates every five years that would slowly phase out R-22 entirely from the United States. A picture of this phase out schedule can be found below.

R-22 Phase Out Schedule - Courtney of EPA.gov
All Credit for this picture goes to the EPA’s Official Website

Enter HFCs

It seemed that the end of R-22 was near. But, what would replace this so widely diverse refrigerant? In 1991 the new HFC refrigerant R-410A was invented by the Honeywell Corporation. (Back then they were known by Allied Signal.) After invention Honeywell licensed production and manufacturing rights of 410A to other companies but even today Honeywell still continues to lead production and sales of 410A.

410A saw it’s first use in a residential air conditioning system all the way back in the year 1996. (Hard to believe that was over twenty years ago!)  The Carrier Corporation was the first company to introduce 410A into the residential marketplace and during that time they trademarked 410A as their brand name known as Puron.

While 410A could be found at homes in the early 2000’s it was sporadic. It wasn’t until we got closer and closer to the announced phase out date of R-22 that things began to pick up. Even though we were only a few years away from the phase out date there were still companies who had their heads buried in the sand and hadn’t bothered to train themselves or their technicians on the new technology. You can’t blame them really it’s human nature. The change was down the road and they would worry about it then.

In 2010 when the change did come into play and no new R-22 machines could be manufactured things began to get real for people. R-410A was the new refrigerant and it wasn’t going away, at least for a while. A lot of the old-timers out there got fed up with it all and decided to retire right around 2010. The younger guys or mid-career guys stuck around and got through the turbulent years. Today, in October of 2017, R-410A is one of the most widely used refrigerants in the world. It is used in the United States, the European Union, Japan, and many other countries. But what is it’s future? How long will it be around?

Conclusion

As I am writing this we are only about eighteen months away before the 2020 deadline hits for R-22. I write this article knowing that in a few years this will be a historical post used only as reference. There will so very few R-22 units out on the marketplace that new technicians will rarely come across them.

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

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Daikin, one of the largest air-conditioning manufacturing companies in the world, has launched an air-cooled scroll R-32 chiller. This is a world first and has caught the attention of many other manufacturers and distributors. The model, known as EWAT-B, has a cooling capacity range between eighty to seven-hundred kW, provides consumers with two efficiency choices (Gold/Silver), has three sound configurations, along with a whole host of other customization options. While Daikin is a Japanese based company the EWAT-B models are compliant with the European Union efficiency standards and will most likely be seen across Europe in the near future.

The reason this is such a big deal within the industry is due to the fact that this R-32 unit will be replacing currently existing R-410A applications. As you all know, across the globe there is an effort to reduce the Global Warming Potential, or GWP. Products with a high GWP, like refrigerants, directly contribute to Global Warming by trapping Greenhouse Gases in the atmosphere. Over the years alternatives have been invented and found for some of the most common HFC refrigerants on the market today. R-134a has R-1234yf and R-404A has R-452A. (Yes, there are other alternatives out there too.) The big question on everyone’s mind though is what will be doing with R-410A? It’s the elephant in the room so to speak.

Here in the United States we’ve only been really using R-410A for about ten years now and there are so many customers still using their older R-22 systems. The thought of switching everything over again is a headache most people don’t want to deal with. Over in Europe they have been dealing with R-410A for decades and they are now looking for a more environmentally friendly alternative refrigerant.

R-32

While there isn’t a preferred R-410A alternative, R-32 is quickly becoming the band-aid or patch for the short term solutions. A lot of you may already be familiar with R-32, or have at least heard of it. That is because R-32 is actually one part of the blended refrigerant known as R-410A. Yes, that’s right we’re going back to basics and away from blends, at least with this application.

R-32, also known by it’s chemical name of Difluromethane, is a HFC refrigerant very similar to the other refrigerants that we deal with day to day. The big reason that R-32 has been chosen as a proposed successor to 410A is due to it’s Global Warming Potential. R-410A has a GWP of two-thousand and eighty-eight. R-32 has a GWP of only six-hundred and seventy-five. That is a THIRD of the GWP that 410A has. So, by switching to an R-32 unit you are right away cutting your GWP emissions by two thirds. Along with the lower GWP R-32 is slightly more efficient then R-22 and R-410A. (Around ten percent)

Like with any refrigerant there are Pros and Cons. With R-32 the big con is that it’s safety rating set by ASRAE is A2. The A is no problem as it means that the refrigerant is non-toxic. What we need to look at though is the 2. This number stands for flammability and in this the 2 means ‘mildly flammable.’ In comparison, R-410A is rated at ‘No Flame Propagation Risk.’ So there’s the kicker. You get the lower impact to the environment but you also get to deal with a flammable refrigerant. Something slightly funny that I found when researching this article was that the European Union actually relaxes standards on charge limits for flammable refrigerants so that more R-32 usage could occur.

We believe that the timely relaxation of building codes and EN standards will be effective to remove the barriers for the transition to low-GWP refrigerants (such as R32) for residential air conditioners in the EU. – Source

One big thing to mention here folks. Yes, this is a flammable refrigerant, but like with anything if we are smart about it, go through proper training, and install correctly then there is nothing to worry about. All it takes is doing the job right. There is a reason R-290 (Propane) is used as a refrigerant. It’s very efficient and inexpensive. Yes, there is risk involved, but how is that Japan, Korea, and other countries are doing just fine with it?

The last con, and somewhat big, is that since R-32 is flammable it cannot be retrofitted into an existing R-410A application. R-32 is meant for a new machine. Also, please remember that R-32 is a not a long term solution when it comes to phasing down/phase out R-410A. With R-32 we cut the GWP number but we still have a very high GWP number. R-32 will be a bump in the road as we move no further towards more advanced, cleaner, and safer future refrigerants.

Conclusion

It seems that more and more we are leaning towards our neighbors in Asia for alternative refrigerant solutions. Hydrocarbons are used widespread in Japan, Korea, and China. These countries have been dealing with flammable refrigerants for a long time now and know what they are doing. It was no surprise to see Daikin come out with this new chiller. Daikin was one of the very first companies to come out with R-32 split systems back in 2012 and they also offer R-32 window and portable units within the United States. Since December of 2017 the Daikin company has sold around twelve million R-32 units across fifty countries. Maybe you’ve installed one of them already!

Daikin is leading the way into the future, the question now is who will follow? Will the United States began seeing more widespread R-32 usage? Or, will we hold onto our R-410A for as long as we can?

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Last month I wrote an article about a study that was done on the effects the Kigali Amendment would have within the United States. The study which was called the ‘Economic Impacts of US Ratification of the Kigali Amendment,’ was funded and sponsored by two groups: The Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy and the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI).

This report was another attempt to convince the Trump Administration to send the Kigali Amendment to the Senate so that it could be ratified and turned into law. What was unique about this report is that it specifically focused on the number of jobs and and ancillary jobs that would be created if the US adopted the amendment. This report was geared towards Trump’s jobs jobs jobs push that he has been doing since last year. I am assuming that they figure by showing Trump that this treaty will actually increase jobs within the US that Trump would push it down to the Senate for ratification.

Well, this report came out a little over thirty days ago and there has been no news. It’s been crickets from the Trump Administration. They either do not believe the study, have not had time to review, or they did not plan to move forward with Kigali in the first place. In a new development, last week a grouping of thirteen Senators sent a letter to Trump advocating for the passage of the amendment. What was unique about this letter is that it was thirteen Republican Senators that signed. This amendment has bi-partisan support within the Senate and will pass without a problem if it ever gets there.

It’s funny almost. The letter, which can be found by clicking here, reads like a plug for all of Trump’s campaign promises. I’m not going to get to political here or get into politics in general but the letter is an obvious attempt at pandering. There are references to the Reagan Administration, hundreds of thousands of jobs created, billions in exports increased, balancing the trade deficit in the HVAC industry, and even the dumping of refrigerants from China. All of it reads like one of Trump’s campaign commercials.

The question now though folks is will this letter work? Has the Trump Team even read through the initial report from last month? Did they have a plan to kill this amendment from day one? Or, are they just slow walking this to death without a real answer? At this point it is very difficult to tell what will happen next. It’s unpredictable. If you were to ask me for my opinion at this point in time I do not see Trump moving forward with this. To be honest, I don’t even think it is on his radar. That’s why there hasn’t even been a firm yes or no answer yet. I do however feel that if they keep pushing him on this that he will get frustrated and may just reject it outright without diving into the facts of the matter.

Getting back to the letter, the Republican Senators that signed this letter that was sent to Trump are:

  • John Kennedy – Louisana
  • Johnny Isakson – Georgia
  • John Boozman – Arkansas
  • Susan Collins – Maine
  • Lisa Murkowski – Alaska
  • Todd Young – Pennsylvania
  • Lindsey Graham – South Carolina
  • Bill Cassidy – Louisana
  • Roy Blunt – Missouri
  • Jerry Moran – Kansas (The best state, in case you weren’t sure)
  • Marco Rubio – Florida
  • Lamar Alexander – Tennessee

Conclusion

The good news here though is that even if we do not pass the Kigali Amendment the Environmental Protection Agency is actively working on rewriting their HFC rules and future phase-downs. These re-writes will be in compliance with the Federal Court ruling and will still hopefully accomplish similar goals as to what their SNAP Rule 20 was aimed to do. There is not an exact timeline on when these rewrites will be done but I hope to see something relatively soon. While we wait for the EPA we also have another line of defense against HFCs: States’ Rights. California is a prime example as they have already enacted their own version of the EPA’s former SNAP Rule 20. While I am not aware of another state passing new regulations/laws I know that there are some looking at Californias’ changes as a template or baseline for their own.

I’ve said it again, and I’ll say it now as well. Whatever happens over this year and next I can assure you all that HFCs are going away. It is just a matter of time and HOW they are phased down across the country.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

It’s another hot one today folks. Over here in Kansas City the temperatures reached over ninety degrees. It was over one-hundred degrees if you were walking through a parking lot. The heat made my walk from the office to my car uncomfortable, but once I had my car on and the air conditioner going I was fine for the drive home. When I got home and stepped out of my car to walk to my front door I was blasted again with the heat.

For those of you who don’t live in a hotter climate let me describe it for you. You open your door and step outside and it feels like you’ve stepped into an oven and that’s not even factoring in the humidity. I swear there are times where it feels like you can swim through the air. I’m serious folks. It is not fun and the worst of the summer hasn’t even hit Kansas yet. We still have July and August slowly creeping up on us. I’m already anxious for Fall to get here.

Most of us deal with this heat through our car’s air conditioner and through our home air conditioner. The majority of homes nowadays come with a built in central air system. These are your standard split units that sit outside of your home and route through your duct work. (You know, the units that you barely realize are there until something goes wrong with it!) The problem though is that these wonderful central air conditioning systems just aren’t affordable for some people, or these peole may be living in an apartment with no air conditioning available. Over here in Kansas the thing I see the most are the old farmhouses that have no duct work routed at all. It’s too expensive to retrofit the home with duct work. These folks can’t go the traditional route. So, what does that leave them with?

Well, they have a few choices. Some of these alternative options are portable air conditioners and window air conditioners. Now, I’m not going to get into every one of these options and their features at least not in this article. No, instead in this post we’re going to focus our attention on one of these products: Frigidaire’s FFRE0533S1 5,000 BTU Window Air Conditioner. In this review we are going to take an in-depth look at the FFRE0533S1 and make the determination if this product is really right for you or if you should be looking for something else. Without further adieu, let’s dive in and take a look!

Frigidaire

Now before I began really looking at a product and all of the features that it offers I always like to take a look at the brand and company behind the product. I don’t do this for everything, but if I find that the product is going to be over one-hundred dollars or more I find that it makes sense to investigate and to do your research. After all, a brand name can be a very powerful thing. Don’t believe me? Just think of the most famous brands out there today. Would you rather have a Lexus or a Ford? I know, if I had the choice I would choose the Lexus. Sure, the Ford is great, but everyone knows that when they hear Lexus they think quality. That is directly because of the brand name and the recognition that has been built with it over the years. Lexus is a premium brand.

The Frigidaire company is behind the FFRE0533S1 and this is great news. Why you may ask? Well folks the Frigidaire company is by far one of the best and the brightest companies when it comes to appliances manufacturing. In fact, I bet that if you were to go into your kitchen right now that you would find at least one appliance from the Frigidaire company. It could be your oven, dishwasher, microwave, toaster, or even your refrigerator.

Speaking of refrigerators, did you know that the Frigidaire company was one of the very first inventors of the self-contained refrigerator? Not only did they invent it but they were also one of the first ones to commercially sell a refrigerator.  All of this was done over one-hundred years ago in 1916. Ever since that date Frigidaire has been growing, innovating, and inventing. I can safely say that their window air conditioners are of top quality and upon purchasing one you get the quality Frigidaire brand name as well.

Product Features

Frigidaire FFRE0533S1 5,000 BTU
Frigidaire FFRE0533S1 5,000 BTU

The first thing that needs to be taken into consideration when purchasing a window air conditioner is the size of the unit. For those of you who do not know window air conditioners are measured by the amount of BTUs, or British Thermal Units, that they contain. An entry level BTU unit would be around five-thousand BTUs whereas a very large unit would be over twenty-four thousand BTUs. BTUs are the standard way of measuring the cooling capacity of your air conditioner. The more BTUs, the more power that you will have.  Don’t be fooled though, more power isn’t always better. No, instead you want to find the perfect fitted unit for the room or area that you want to cool.

If you find yourself going to a much larger unit then necessary then you will be running up your electrical bills and you may also end up running into hot and cold spots due to the size of the air conditioner. On the inverse if you purchase a unit that is too small then the product will be running constantly. This will raise your energy bills and your room won’t even be fully cooled. To find the perfect sized unit the rule of thumb that most people use is the thirty BTUs per square foot of room. So, let’s say we have a twelve by twelve foot bedroom that we want to cool. Twelve times twelve equals out to one-hundred and forty-four square feet. In this example the five-thousand BTU would be rated to cool rooms around one-hundred and forty to one-hundred and sixty square feet. So, this Frigidaire unit would be perfect for bedrooms or small offices. If you find yourself needing a larger unit feel free to check out our window air conditioner buyer’s guide by clicking here.

While this Frigidaire unit is considered an introductory unit due to it’s BTU size I will have to say that I am pleasantly surprised by the amount of features and display options that this product has. Most of the time when you see a five-thousand BTU unit you see the typical turn-dial knobs with no real temperature control. Instead you just turn the knobs from high to low. This is not the case with the FFRE0533S1. With this product you get a digital temperature display that can be adjusted up and down by hand or with the fully functional remote control. Along with that you get extra features like sleep mode, energy saver mode, and a twenty-four hour on/off timer that allows you to program your unit to cool while you are home or while you are sleeping. (This is my favorite feature just for the customization. I like the idea of setting a colder temperature for sleeping and a warmer temperature through out the day.)

Frigidaire FFRE0533S1 5,000 BTU
Frigidaire FFRE0533S1 5,000 BTU

I remember as a teenager laying irrigation piping for my dad’s landscaping business. It was tough work. Something he always always always said was to ‘measure twice, cut once.’ (He didn’t want to waste any of that piping, it was expensive!) Now, I know this isn’t some wisdom that just my father came up with. I’m sure you’ve heard this expression before but my point still stands and still applies to window air conditioners. What are you measuring you may ask? Well, it’s your window! Before you purchase anything you need to make sure that your window is going to be big enough, or not too big, to support the air conditioner. The absolute worst thing you can do is to purchase the unit and then go to install only to realize that your window is too small. Luckily, we’re here to help! This Frigidaire unit can fit in windows with a width between twenty-three inches to thirty-six inches. That’s a pretty wide range but just make sure that you fall into it. Another measurement, which isn’t as important, is the height. Most of the time your window will be tall enough but just to be sure you will need an opening of thirteen inches.

This next feature may not even be seen as a feature but I would be amiss if I didn’t mention it. This Frigidaire product comes with a one-hundred and fifteen volt plug-in. This type of plug-in is your standard outlet that you can find all over your house. I only mention this as some of the medium or larger window air conditioners comes with a two-hundred and twenty volt plug-in instead of your traditional one-hundred and fifteen. An example two-hundred and twenty volt plug in your home is most likely your clothes dryer or your oven plug-ins. In this case with this Frigidaire product there is nothing to worry about, but I wanted to make sure you were informed in case you decide on a different air conditioner. Lastly on this section, the cord for this unit extends to six and a half feet. That should be more then enough to reach the nearest outlet.

The FFRE0533S1 comes with the HydroFluroCarbon R-410A refrigerant. 410A, or Puron, is one of the most commonly used refrigerants within the United States. Today it is used widely in residential and commercial cooling rather they be window units or traditional split systems. The good news here though is that because this refrigerant is so common the price is fairly low so if you need a recharge down the road you won’t be out too much money.

The last thing to mention in Product Features is the overall weight and size of this unit. As we mentioned above this is a smaller overall window air conditioner and with a smaller unit comes a smaller weight. Some of the bigger air conditioners out there can weigh as much or over one-hundred pounds. These heavier units can be very difficult to install as you have to not only insert the unit into your window, hold it in place, and then try to screw in the supports to ensure it is stable. Try doing that by yourself with a heavier unit! The good news here is that this Frigidaire unit only weighs forty-two pounds. While you may still want some help installing the overall install will be much easier with a lighter weight unit.

Pros

The biggest and most obvious Pro with this Frigidaire product is the price. Yes, I realize that this unit is only rated at five-thousand BTUs but the price point is worth taking a second glance at. It is not very often that you can find relief from the heat for around this price. (The exact price may vary, click here to get the latest price from Amazon.com.) Don’t forget that you also get the digital displays, extra features like sleep/energy saver, and a remote control to go along with it.

Frigidaire FFRE0533S1 Energy Guide
Frigidaire FFRE0533S1 Energy Guide

Also, please remember that this product is only rated to cool rooms or areas up to one-hundred and fifty square feet, so if you have a room bigger then that you may consider going up a size.

Something that I always look for when doing air conditioner reviews is if the product is Energy Star Certified with the Environmental Protection Agency. An Energy Star machine means that the product has gone through the EPA’s rigorous approval process and has come out on top. The EPA measures most units based off of their Energy Efficiency Ratio, or EER. The higher the EER the more efficient a machine is and the less it will cost you in energy cost. In order to qualify for Energy Star the unit must be at or exceed 10.0 EER. The Frigidaire FFRE0533S1 has an EER of 12.2. That is a HUGE number and greatly exceeds the EPA’s required 10.0. This unit is only rated to cost you around thirty-seven dollars a year. That’s just over three dollars a month for a nice cool room to sleep in. I’d pay that much for comfort, what about you?

The last point that I’ll make before moving onto the Cons section is the warranty. This product comes with a one year manufacturer warranty from the Frigidaire company. While one year isn’t an extraordinary amount of time it is still a very nice benefit to insure you that in case your unit does fail you can get your money back or your unit replaced.

Cons

There aren’t a lot of cons on this product but there are a few points that I want to cover and emphasize again before you purchase. The first is that the Frigidaire FFRE0533S1 is rated at five-thousand BTUs and can only cool rooms up to one-hundred and sixty square feet. If your room is larger then that then it will make sense to increase your BTUs to accommodate the larger space. If you’re not sure exactly what size of unit to get please check out our window air conditioner buyer’s guide by clicking here. This guide will walk you through the selection process ensuring you get the exact right unit for you.

When you purchase something online there is always the risk of it arriving to your home damaged. That risk increases with the bigger and heavier the package. On top of that, the risk increases even more when dealing with a machine like an air conditioner. Now, I’m not going to lie to you here. The chances of your unit arriving damaged is rare, but there is a chance folks. The good news though is that if this does happen you can always file a claim with Amazon.com and they will take care of the return process. Something that you’ll notice is that some of the ‘bad reviews,’ on this product are a direct result of the product arriving damaged to the consumer’s home. This is not Frigidaire’s fault and frankly shouldn’t be attributed to them.

The last Con to mention before we move onto our Conclusion is that in some cases after extended use the air conditioner’s fan can become loosened. While this doesn’t affect performance or overall safety of the unit it can lead to an increase noise or volume when the air conditioner is running. If it was me, I probably wouldn’t notice it, but there are others out there who are very sensitive to noise and may find that the extra noise of the fan slightly moving around can drive them crazy. Just be aware of this. It doesn’t happen to every unit so it may not even happen to you. These noise complaints made up the last of the negative reviews.

Conclusion

Well folks that about covers it for Frigidaire’s FFRE0533S1. I’m hoping that this review was able to answer any and all questions that you may have had. My goal here was to provide a step by step review showing you each and every feature imaginable. The question now though is will you be buying this product from Frigidaire? If so, then I recommend visiting our Amazon.com partner by clicking here.

However, if you are looking for something slightly different in this BTU range let me suggest to you two alternatives:

  • Friedrich’s Chill CP05G10B.
    • The Friedrich brand name is known to be top quality in the window air conditioner world. If you want the best of the best then this is your unit. Be prepared to pay a bit more though. Quality isn’t cheap!
  • hOmeLabs Window Unit
    • This is the cheapest of the cheap out there today on Amazon.com. It will get the job done. It will cool your room but it is going to come with the most basic of settings. If you’re looking to save a buck or two then this is the unit for you.

I hope this review was helpful and thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Important Links

 

Well folks, it seems that we’re having the opposite problem that we had last year. Around this time last year 410A was going for around two-hundred dollars a cylinder depending on who you were buying from. Many consumers and business owners alike were having sticker shock upon seeing the price on a cylinder of 410A. After all, 410A was supposed to be the ‘cheaper’ refrigerant when compared to R-22, right?

The large increase in price we saw last year was attributed to the shortage of the R-125 refrigerant. R-125 is one of the two refrigerants needed to make R-410A. The mineral Flurospar is a main ingredient when creating R-125 and unfortunately most of world’s Flurospar is mined in China. Just like how we used to be reliant on oil from the Middle East we are reliant on Flurospar from China. Towards the beginning of 2017 Flurospar saw a forty percent price increase and as a trickle down effect R-125 saw price increase of one-hundred and thirty percent. The cause of these price increase had to do with China enacting new environmental regulations on the Flurospar mining industry. These regulations caused a slow down which resulted in the price increase and the trickle down effect across the industry. All of these price increases were eventually passed down to contractors and consumers during last year’s summer.

This year we seem to be having the opposite problem, if you could call it a problem. I guess that depends on what side of the industry you are on. If you’re distributing refrigerant at a higher price point that means more margin for you, but if you’re a customer needing to pay for a repair you’re going to gladly take that lower refrigerant price. As I write this article you can buy a pallet of R-410A (Around 40-50 cylinders) for around seventy dollars per cylinder. Yes, seventy dollars. That is a HUGE decrease from last summer’s two-hundred dollar price. This price point is one of the lowest on R-410A that we’ve seen in years.

The European Union

While there were a couple surprises this year like the EPA’s SNAP Rule 20 being overturned I do not believe that the court’s ruling is what caused the price decrease. Instead, I believe these price decreases can be attributed to the European Union and their F-Gas Regulation. Most of you are aware of this already, but the EU is phasing down and in some cases phasing out HFCs entirely across all of their countries. The goal, like with most phase downs, is to slowly reduce the quantity allowed to be manufactured or imported into the European Union. While the start of these reductions began in 2015 the first real significant phase down was the beginning of this year, in 2018.

The first really big cut in HFC supply comes in 2018 – when there will be a cut of around 40%. It is likely that HFC refrigerant prices will rise sharply in 2017 / 2018 as there is potential for a significant refrigerant shortage. – Source: FDF.ORG.UK 

Because of this phase down in the EU the prices over there have been rising and rising. If you thought the price of 410A or 404A was bad here last summer then you should check out how much it goes for in France!  There has been a scrambled over there to retrofit existing applications away from the high GWP refrigerants and over to alternatives like R-32.  This cut in 2018 of nearly forty percent was huge and it’s going to be cut again significantly in just a few years in 2021. The demand in the European Union shrunk overnight once January 1st, 2018 hit.

Conclusion

Here is my theory. The low price here in the United States can be directly contributed to a mass amount of imported product from overseas. (China, mostly.) Now, why has this extra 410A been flowing into the US? Well, it goes right back to the European Union. I believe that the refrigerant producers in China didn’t properly forecast the upcoming cut across the EU. Because of this they now have a surplus of inventory that they are trying to unload and like with any supply and demand scenario the price has dropped and dropped until we get to that seventy dollar a cylinder price we are now at today.

The good news though is that if you are a contractor or a business owner there isn’t going to be a much better time to buy then now. As I said earlier this seventy dollar price is very rare, especially in the past few years. It is a great time to buy as no one knows for sure how long this price is going to last. If you are interested in purchasing please reach out to me via our bulk purchasing page or you can e-mail me directly at johnsonaelc41@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

I saw this news story come across my e-mail this morning and needless to say, I was surprised. It’s not everyday you see that Chemours and Arkema partnering up with one another. In fact, in the recent past they have been fairly bitter rivals going back and forth in HFC court battles. Arkema was one of the plaintiffs in the law-suit against the Environmental Protection Agency and their proposed HFC phase outs. (Chemours was on the losing side.) This back and forth battle all had to do with the new HFO refrigerant line. Arkema was trying to delay the transition away from HFCs while Chemours was pushing ahead as fast as possible.

Over the recent years Chemours and Honeywell have been very protective of their HFO brands Opteon and Solstice. In fact, they have patents on most of their newer HFO refrigerants which prevent the other larger manufacturers like MexiChem and Arkema from manufacturing their own versions. It makes perfect sense and it’s a good business decision, but it does pose a problem of too little competition in the market. More or less, Chemours and Honeywell have a monopoly on the developing HFO refrigerant market. They control the price and the marketplace.

There was a step forward announced yesterday between Chemours and Arkema on Chemour’s Opteon XP40 refrigerant. (R-449A) The two companies both sent out a press release stating that Arkema is now a certified distributor within the European Union. (For those who don’t know Arkema is a French based company.) This step allows Chemours to enter the European Union market with their newer XP40 refrigerant at a pivotal time. Across the EU companies are looking for alternative lower GWP refrigerants to be compliant with the F-Gas Regulations and that’s not even mentioning the sky-high prices that R-404A hit in the European Union last year.

Opteon XP40 was seen as a perfect fit as it is a near drop-in replacement product for R-404A and R-507A. This also gives Arkema a viable alternative option to all of their customers. They will be able to market this Chemours product under their own Forane brand name (Forane 449A), so many customers may not even know that it is a Chemours’ product. In most cases it will be seamless, but I do have to wonder if it is a bit awkward for Arkema. After all, they are used to being a manufacturer, not a distributor.

About Arkema

When I think of refrigerant manufacturers four names pop right into my head. Chemours, Honeywell, MexiChem, and Arkema. Now, obviously, the first two Chemours and Honeywell are the biggest. I like to think of these guys as our ‘gold’ manufacturers. We see a lot of innovation and new technologies from these companies and they have plants and factories across the globe. Chemours’ revenue in 2017 was over six billion dollars. Honeywell was forty billion.

Our ‘Silver’ refrigerant manufacturers are MexiChem and Arkema. These companies are very large producers as well and have very recognizable brand names across the industry. While they are not the size of Chemours or Honeywell they are nothing to sneeze at. MexiChem’s 2017 revenue was just shy of six billion dollars. (Keep in mind that includes plastics and other manufacturing.) Arkema’s revenue from 2015 was over seven billion dollars. (Again, more products then just refrigerants.)

Arkema is a French based company headquartered just outside of Paris. They are a fairly ‘new’ company having been founded in 2004. I say ‘new’ in quotations as Arkema is as new as Chemours was. (Chemours was just an off-shoot of DuPont.) Arkema was an off-shoot of the French oil company known as Total. Total is one of the largest oil and gas companies in the world.

Arkema has three main divisions: Coating Solutions, Industrial Chemicals, and Performance Products. They are one of the world’s largest producers of fluorinated chemicals under their brand name Forane. Their refrigerants and their Forane brand name can be found across the globe and are recognizable to most folks within the industry. Forty percent of their total sales take place within the European Union. Another thirty percent take place Americas. In fact, their operation sounds very similar to a Belgian based company that I work for during the day.

What is XP40?

R-449A, or Opteon XP40, is a new HFO refrigerant blend comprised of R-32, R-125, R-1234yf, and R-134a. This refrigerant, like Honeywell’s R-407F, was designed as a replacement product for R-22, R-404A, and R-507A. The difference here is that this an HFO refrigerant rather than an HFC. The XP40 is non Ozone depleting and has a GWP number of one-thousand two-hundred and eighty-two. That’s about five-hundred less then R-22 and two-thousand six-hundred and forty less than R-404A. That is a HUGE reduction in GWP on 404A applications. XP40 is non-toxic and non-flammable so safety is not an issue either. Along with that the Opteon XP40 is actually more energy efficient then CO2.

The best thing about XP40 though is that it is designed as a more or less drop-in replacement to R-404A. What that means is very little retrofitting work for the customer and for the contractor. XP40 can be used in supermarkets (Racks, walk-in coolers/freezers), food service, cold storage, food processing, chemical processing, and even in your local ice rink. I’ve written about XP40 in the past and it’s potential applications in ice rinks.

While I don’t see XP40 sticking around forever as it still does have a GWP of over one-thousand I can safely say that it is a definite stand-by and a step in the right direction. Once we move all of the higher GWP R-404A and R-22 systems over to a lesser GWP refrigerant like XP40 we can then begin looking at future refrigerants with even less Global Warming impact.

Conclusion

As I said in the beginning of this article I was surprised to see Chemours and Arkema partner together. I’m very anxious to see how this partnership works between them. Will Arkema welcome their new role as just a refrigerant distributor? Will Chemours also go through other channels to distribute their HFO line within the European Union, or will they stay loyal to Arkema? How does Honeywell view this arrangement? This will definitely be an interesting arrangement.

Oh, and I hope you liked the featured picture for this article. I took this last year when I was in Paris for work. You can see the Eiffel back there if you look hard enough!

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

 

Greetings ladies and gentlemen! It’s Memorial Day weekend  and the official beginning of the summer season. Over here in Kansas City the weather has pushed over ninety degrees for nearly a week. That’s nothing though folks as the real fun begins in the July and August months. We routinely have weeks straight of one-hundred plus degree heat. It’s brutal and makes me thankful that I have an office job. If you’ve ever had to work in this type of heat you know just how miserable it can be. As my father likes to say, “It’s DAMN Hot!” With such encroaching temperatures everyone is looking for a way to get relief.

Now most people end up going into their office or their home and enjoying their traditional central air conditioning system. They don’t even really think about it. It works and that’s all they know. But what happens if you live in a place where a central air conditioner just isn’t an option? Or, what if it’s just not affordable? There are many examples of older apartments or older homes that just don’t have the duct work routed in order to accommodate a central system. The cost of adding and retrofitting duct work to an existing house is astronomical and that isn’t even taking into consideration the actual cost of the unit. For so many people these expenses are just not an option. I know I couldn’t afford it.

The best option that people are left with are window air conditioners. These miracle workers allow people from all walks of life to enjoy a nice cool breeze in the dead heat of summer. The beauty of window units is that you can get one and get your bedroom cooled for only a couple hundred dollars. Compare that with a central system where you’ll end up spending thousands. The question now though folks is what brand of window air conditioners should you be getting? Should you be looking at Koldfront or somewhere else? On top of that what sized window unit do you need? What features?

In this article we’re going to go over all of those questions and more. Our goal here at RefrigerantHQ is to provide you with the knowledge to make an educated decision on your new window air conditioner. After all, the worst thing you can do is impulsively buy something and then find out once you’ve installed it that it is not what you were looking for or that it simply won’t work for you.  (Trust me folks, I’ve done this before and it’s not fun to admit you made a mistake… especially in front of your wife!) Let’s dive in and take a look:

Koldfront Brand Name

Before you get into a product it is best to know the brand name, but not only to know it but to understand it and it’s history. After all, the brand name is a very powerful thing. If you think about it would you rather have a Coca-Cola or a Sam’s Choice Cola? I’m betting that most of you would pick the Coke. I know I would. That’s the power of a brand name. You know quality and you know what to expect. This same relationship between brand and quality is no different when it comes to window air conditioners.

The Koldfront name is a brand from the Livingdirect company. (Think of it like how Pepsi owns the Mountain Dew brand name.) Koldfront was originally founded back in 1999 by Rick Lundbom. While that may not sound like a lot of years of experience Rick and his company have made it their mission to provide new and innovative appliances and they have not relented over the years. Think about this for a second: Koldfront is competing with the names out there such as Frigidaire and General Electric. Two gigantic companies that have been around for over one-hundred years but yet Koldfront has thrived and grown since their 1999 beginning. That says a lot about the company right there.

While their brand name can be found on portable dishwashers, wine coolers, and other appliances their main focus and drive are window, wall, and portable air conditioners. With a Koldfront air conditioner you can count on three key factors: High-quality craftsman ship, affordability, and durability. Along with that you get their innovations and ingenuity. Remember, most of the time the big changes come from the little guy who’s hungry for business. The question to you now is do you want a new and upcoming business to make your product or do you want to stay with the tested and true names like Frigidaire or Friedrich?

Buying Considerations

Like with anything you purchase it is always best to weigh and consider all possible options and features before you purchase. This is even more so when looking at window air conditioners. If you buy the wrong sized unit you could end up with your unit overworking and costing you more energy, or you could end up with the unit running constantly resulting in a much higher energy bill and not having a fully cooled room. Along with that you need to make sure that the unit will fit in your window, will have the right outlet, and so much more.

BTU Size

Displacing Heat
Displacing Heat

In order to fully understand what kind and what size of window air conditioner that you need you first need to understand British Thermal Units, or BTUs. BTUs are the traditional measurement of heat. When looking at air conditioners BTUs are used to measure the cooling capacity of your window or portable air conditioners. The higher the BTU number the more powerful and the more cooling capacity your unit has.

Most people use a measurement of around thirty BTUs for each square foot of living space that you wish to cool in your home or office. If we use that same measurement we can do some math based on a seven-thousand BTU air conditioner. If we take that seven-thousand number and divide it by thirty we get an approximated square footage of two-hundred and thirty. So, in this case seven-thousand BTUs would have enough power to cool a larger bedroom or office. (Remember that square footage is just a calculation that can be done by measuring the width of bedroom and the length of a bedroom. Once you have that you multiply the numbers together and presto, you now have your square footage.)

Remember though folks that bigger isn’t always better. You want to ensure that you get the proper sized unit for the room that you are trying to cool. If you purchase something with too few BTUs then your unit is going to be working overtime trying to cool the room. If you purchase something that has too much BTUs then your unit is going to be costing you extra on your electric bills and you will also develop warm and cold spots throughout the room due to the larger sized unit.

Lastly, I will emphasize this one more time. BTUs are one of the most important decision you can make when purchasing a window air conditioner. Getting this number wrong or right will determine exactly how well your new window unit will perform.

Window Size

We all know that old adage, measure twice and cut once. Well the same rule applies to air conditioners. Always always always be sure to measure the width and the height of your window to ensure that the air conditioner that you will be buying will fit and will fit correctly. To get even more specific you may even take into consideration the depth of your new AC unit and see if there are any trees, shrubs, or anything else that could obstruct exhaust flow of your unit. Remember folks, that heat has to go somewhere and if there is something obstructing your exhaust your air conditioner isn’t going to have a good time.

As I said before it is best for you to measure the window so you know exactly what you are dealing with but I will give you this bit of advice. Most windows found in homes today range between twenty-four to thirty inches wide and forty-eight to fifty-six inches high. If you are unsure of the dimensions of the air conditioner you are wishing to buy either on Amazon or the manufacturer’s official product page will have the full details for you.

EPA’s Energy Star

The United States’ Environmental Protection Agency has a rating for window air conditioners. This rating is called Energy Star. The Energy Star program was founded back in 1991 and was originally designed to regulate and improve the energy usage of lighting in larger commercial buildings. (Think large office buildings or warehouses.) Since it’s found in 1991 the Energy Star program has changed and adapted over the years. Today it is one of the leading sources on finding out exactly how energy efficient a product is.

Koldfront WAC12001W Energy Saver
Koldfront WAC12001W Energy Saver

On the window air conditioning side of the world the Energy Star is measured by whats called Energy Efficiency Ratio, or EER. For a window unit to qualify for the Energy Star program the unit must have an EER rating of 10.0 or higher. Now, I won’t say that every Frigidaire unit is Energy Star certified what I can say is that a good portion of them are.  Remember, that if your unit is Energy Star certified that means less costly monthly energy bills.

115 Volts VS 220 Volts

Most of the time this won’t apply to you but if you are going to be purchasing a larger window air conditioner then you should definitely stop and think before you purchase. What kind of plug-in does this air conditioner have? Does it come with a standard one-hundred and fifteen volt plug, or does it comes with a two-hundred and twenty volt plug?

I’ve seen this trip a lot of people up. The worst thing you can do is order a unit, have it come, get it installed, and then when you go to plug it in you realize that you don’t have the right outlet for it. I can just see myself doing this with my wife standing over my shoulder telling me I should have checked before I ordered. (I can’t be the only one, right?)

Koldfront Window Air Conditioner Products

Ok folks so now that we have reviewed the Koldfront brand name and what considerations that should be taken into account we can now begin to look at some of the Koldfront products that are out there. Now, when I shop I have to ask myself one question. Do I need the product right away, or can I wait a few days? Most of the time my answer to that question is that I can wait a few days. In that case I like to shop on Amazon.com. The reason that I do this is two fold. The first is that their website allows me to easily research the product. I can see reviews, questions and answers, and even product dimensions/weight. The other is that most of the time Amazon has a very competitive price that lines up with most of the other retailers out there. The best part about it is that I don’t have to leave the house and drive for a ways just to pick something up. (I live out in the country and driving to a store isn’t an easy venture.) Instead, I opt for having the product delivered to me.

Ok, enough about me. Let’s take a look at some of the Koldfront window air conditioning units and what they have to offer:

Koldfront WAC8002WCO 8,000 BTU
Koldfront WAC8002WCO 8,000 BTU
  • Koldfront WAC8002WCO 8,000 BTU
    • While most models from other brands start at around five-thousand or six-thousand BTUs the Koldfront model WAC8002WCO starts out at eight-thousand BTUs. It is rated to cool rooms up to three-hundred and fifty square feet. Depending on your home this could be your master bedroom or perhaps even your living room. This product is Energy Star rated by the EPA , comes with a remote control that works as far as sixteen feet away, and comes with energy saver modes such as sleep and dry mode.
  • Koldfront WAC8001W 8,000 BTU
    • The Koldfront WAC8001W is the sister product to the unit we mentioned above. The WAC8001W however has additional features such as a digital display and a built in electric heater as well as an air conditioner. It should be noted though that while this unit has a heater the BTUs on the heater are only rated at thirty-five hundred whereas the air conditioner is rated at eight-thousand. This heater is meant as a supplement to other heat sources. Like the WAC8002WCO this unit is rated to cool rooms up to three-hundred and fifty square feet.
    • If it were me I would choose the WAC8002WCO over this model and buy an infrared unit instead. The infrared will you give you sufficient heat and then you don’t have to pay the extra premium for the air conditioner/heater combination.

      Infrared Space Heater
      Infrared Space Heater
  • Koldfront WAC10002WCO 10,000 BTU
    • The Koldfront WAC10002WCO is the next step up coming in at ten-thousand BTUs. It is rated to cool rooms upwards to four-hundred and fifty square feet. This could be a living room or a two bedroom combination at the end of your hallway. Like other Koldfront models this unit is Energy Star certified by the EPA, it has a energy/economy saver mode, a twenty-four hour programmable timer, as well as a sleep and dry mode. This unit is still relatively light weight as well only coming in at around sixty pounds. Installation shouldn’t be too difficult.
  • Koldfront WAC12002WCO 12,000 BTU
    • The Koldfront WAC12002WCO comes in at twelve-thousand BTUs and can cool rooms or areas up to five-hundred and fifty square feet. This type of cooling power can be used to cool the majority of a second floor, a decent sized apartment, or a large living room. The product is Energy Star certified with the EPA, comes with an energy saver mode, a sleep and dry mode, and a twenty-four hour on/off programmable timer. Again, this is still a lighter weight unit only coming in at around seventy pounds.
  • Koldfront WAC12001W 12,000 BTU
    • Ok folks, if you are truly looking for a solid air conditioner and heater combination then the Koldfront WAC12001W is the unit for you. With this product you get twelve-thousand BTUs of cooling power and eleven-thousand BTUs of electric heating power. The WAC12001W is rated to heat/cool rooms up to five-hundred and fifty square feet. As I mentioned earlier, this sized room could be a large living room, a few bedrooms in your upstairs, or a decent sized apartment. One thing to mention here is that this unit DOES require a different plug-in then what you may be used to. Most units take a one-hundred and fifteen volt plug-in but this unit requires a two-hundred and thirty volt outlet. (Think of your clothes dryer and your oven plug-ins.) Lastly, this unit comes with a two year warranty ensuring you that your purchase and investment is secure.
  • Koldfront WAC18001W 18,500 BTU
    • The Koldfront WAC18001W is in fact very similar to the WAC12001W that we mentioned above. The WAC18001W is both an air conditioner and a heater the only difference here is that it is bigger! With this unit we get a total eighteen-thousand BTUs of cooling power and sixteen-thousand BTUs of electric heating power. The unit is rated to cool rooms or areas up to one-thousand square feet. I would highly recommend this product for cooling/heating an entire floor of your home or for cooling your entire apartment/condominium. This unit is NOT Energy Star certified with the EPA, but usually when you get this big in size an Energy Star product is hard to find. The Energy Efficiency Ratio is measured at 10.7, so still relatively efficient. Like the unit above this product requires a two-hundred and thirty volt outlet. Please be aware of this before purchasing.

      Koldfront WAC25001W 25,000 BTU
      Koldfront WAC25001W 25,000 BTU
  • Koldfront WAC25001W 25,000 BTU
    • Alrighty folks, we’ve saved the biggest for last. What’s that old ‘Home Improvement,’ motto? More Power? Well the Koldfront WAC25001W definitely has more power. It comes in at twenty-five thousand BTUs and is rated to cool rooms or areas up to fifteen-hundred square feet. That is the size of a medium sized home. Like the other units above this product also has a built in electric heater as well. The heater is rated at sixteen-thousand BTUs, so while it doesn’t have as much power as the air conditioner it will still keep your room warm. This unit like the other requires a two-hundred and thirty volt outlet. Also, this unit is very heavy coming in at one-hundred and thirty pounds. While that may not seem to heavy I want you to realize that you are balancing this thing on your window during installation. Can you balance one-hundred and thirty pounds all the while securing it to the frame? I know I couldn’t. You will need help to install this.
    • The last thing I want to mention on this unit is, are you sure this is the one you want? If it was me I would opt for a smaller BTU unit and buying a couple of them. That way you get your cool/heated air coming from multiple points of the house instead of one central point. This will allow the air to circulate more and to more evenly cool your home.

Other Brands

While we briefly touched on other brands in our Koldfront section I wanted to take some time to go over them again here. We are now familiar with the Koldfront name and how they have been doing business for nearly twenty years. They are a growing company and I am sure will be around for a while. First let me say this, Koldfront products have great quality and will accomplish exactly what you are trying to do, cool your home. You will not regret purchasing a Koldfront unit. The question now though is do you want to buy from a twenty year old company that is making innovations, or do you want to purchase from a century old company? Don’t discount the little guy, remember that Amazon.com is only twenty-five years old. These ‘little guys’ can topple giants.

As far as the other brands out there I want to mention two. The first is Frigidaire. Frigidaire has been around for over one-hundred years and was in fact one of the first inventors of self-contained refrigerator. Since this great initial product launch they have been innovating on refrigerators, window air conditioners, and many other appliances over the decades. Today they are a house hold name and if you look around your kitchen you will most likely find a Frigidaire appliance. It could be a dishwasher, microwave, refrigerator, or even an oven. My point here is that they’ve been around the block and they know what they are doing. To read about Frigidaire Window Air Conditioners please click here to be taken to our Frigidaire article.

Friedrich Window Air Conditioners
Friedrich Window Air Conditioners

The other brand that I wanted to recognize is the Friedrich Window Air Conditioners. Friedrich, like Frigidaire, is a one-hundred year old company. The difference here is that since the 1950’s Friedrich has been specializing in air conditioners and only air conditioners. What that means is that their sole and only focus is on their air conditioners. That means great attention to detail and production value. On top of that Friedrich uses commercial grade parts and equipment when constructing their window units to ensure that only the top quality is received. In my opinion the Friedrich brand name is the undisputed King of window air conditioners. They are top quality and have top features. The downside here is that you’re going to pay a pretty penny to purchase one of these products. For more information on Friedrich window air conditioners please click here to be taken to our article.

Conclusion

The decision is now up to you folks. Between all three brands that we have mentioned here which one will you choose? Will you go for the new up and coming under-dog, or will you settle on a century old company like Frigidaire or Friedrich?

If you decide on Koldfront I can assure you that you will receive a great product. However, if you do choose to go with a more experienced company will you opt for the top quality and high price of Friedrich, or will you go with the tried and true Frigidaire brand name? It all depends on you and your budget. If it was me though folks I would end up purchasing the Koldfront unit as the reviews are great and I like the idea of supporting a smaller business.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

 

Many homeowners heavily rely on their HVAC systems to regulate the temperatures of their properties for maximum comfort throughout all four seasons of the year. A good quality HVAC system can last anywhere from ten to  twenty years, but like everything else, the time comes around when they become aged, worn and start to fail. At this point, naturally many people start the hunt for a new HVAC system, but the reality is that this isn’t always a straight forward process, especially not for the layman. With this in mind, here are some of the most important questions to answer before you choose a new system for your property.

What is an HVAC System?

First things first, it’s important to be aware of what is meant by the term HVAC and from there you can understand what might be involved for your particular scenario. HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning and as a multi-component system it aims to control and regulate the temperature, humidity and air quality of your property to make it a more comfortable environment to live in.

The different components of the system are designed to work in relation to one another in order to respond to the fluctuations of temperature and humidity in a room, keeping it stable and controlling the airflow. The exact configuration of your HVAC system will depend on a variety of different factors including property size, local climate, seasonal fluctuations and budget. Typically, a complete system includes a heating component such as a furnace, an air conditioning system, a programmable thermostat and ductwork.

With that said, here are some of the most important factors to consider when choosing the components for your HVAC system:

System Size

The first thing you need to consider when hunting for a new HVAC system is the size you’ll require to meet the demands of your property.

The main thing that will dictate this is the dimensions of your home and the frequency of the systems use.

  • If you select a system that is too big for your property you will end up having to frequently turn it on and off, resulting in you wasting more energy and exhausting the system before it’s time.
  • On the other hand, if you choose a HVAC system that is not large enough to meet your demands, it will result in the system being overused, resulting in increased energy costs and a system that requires maintenance and repairs much sooner than intended.

Heating

When determining which heating system is right for your property, two key measurements are used. The first is referred to as the heating capacity and it is measured in BTU (British Thermal Units), which in simple terms is defined as the heat required in order to increase the temperature of a pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. The second metric is called cubic feet per minute (CFM) and is a measurement of the how much air (in feet) can pass a certain point per minute. In combination, these two factors are used to determine the correct sized heating appliance for your particular property.

Cooling

The cooling capacity of air conditioning units are typically measured in tons and not BTU’s, with each ton being equivalent to 12,000 British Thermal Unit Per Hour (BTUh). The reason for this is an entire subject its own right and if you are interested you can read more about it here.

Just like the heating appliance you choose for your property, it’s important to choose a cooling appliance that will be the right size to meet your needs. A HVAC technician will be able to advise you on the types of appliances to best meet the demands of your property.

Noise Levels

Although in recent years many new systems have been released that are much quieter than those from yesteryear, it’s important you check the noise levels before you make a purchase. There’s probably nothing worse than installing your new system only to discover it’s creating a considerable disturbance to your sleep, study or ambience.

To ensure you secure a HVAC system that doesn’t create a disturbance make sure to ask a HVAC technician all of the necessary questions and ideally opt for a system with noise levels below 60 decibels (db).

Check the Ratings

If you are not familiar with the HVAC industry and haven’t had your system replaced in years, it’s likely that you haven’t kept yourself up to date with the latest innovations and industry ratings.

The thing to remember is that things move fast in the HVAC industry and to ensure you secure a system that is most efficient and therefore offers the best performance and energy savings, it’s a wise idea to opt for a system boasting the latest technology.

By checking the ratings you can be sure what the performance of the system is going to be like and how efficient it will be. The most common rating systems used include SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) for air conditioners; HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) for Heat Pumps and AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency), for Furnaces and typically the higher the rating the better.

For instance, in 2015, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) increased their minimum SEER requirement from 13 to 14. However, a rating from 14 o 22 is considered a system within the energy-efficient window, so try to at least acquire a system with a SEER rating above 14.

Consider Pairing a New HVAC System with a Thermostat

A programmable thermostat can really help you create a comfortable environment without having to lift a finger. All you have to do is set your HVAC system to start operating at a certain temperature and you’re done, you can also set it to only operate when you’re actually at home too. This means you will only be using energy when you actually need it, helping you to save money on your energy bills and live a greener lifestyle.

Even better is that there are smart thermostats available that allow you to make modifications from the comfort of your smart phone or other device. Although not essential, thermostats can help you run your home more efficiently, helping to save energy and money and lead a more convenient life.

Brand Reputation

With so many new brands releasing cheaper HVAC systems, it can be tempting to opt for these instead of those offered by more reputable brands that have been around for much longer. The major issue with this however, is that often new brands don’t stick around and in the event that your system faces issues or needs parts replacing, there is the potential for a lack of assistance and a real struggle to source replacement parts. This can mean having to replace the complete system, obviously not a great investment in the long term.

In terms of performance, trusted brands are often much better as they have something to prove to their customers and want their brand to be trusted well into the future.  Its well worth checking the user reviews and ratings of the most popular systems and you will soon discover the contrast between them.

Ductwork

If you are replacing an old system or you live in an old style home it’s likely that your ductwork will also need replacing, or at least checking over by a HVAC technician. This is because over the years, ductwork can experience serious wear and tear as a result of heat exposure and humidity.

Not many people realise this, but the condition and type of ductwork is actually responsible for much of the efficiency of the system overall. Poorly insulated ductwork and those with gaps and holes can result in a considerable amount of heat loss. Therefore, by ensuring your ductwork is in good health you will be ensuring your system is operating at maximum efficiency.

Conclusion

Selecting a new HVAC system doesn’t have to be a difficult process, you simply need to ask the right questions. A HVAC technician will gladly advise you to the best solution to meet your specific requirements and be happy to answer any questions you may have. A good technician will also help carry out necessary checks to ascertain the energy requirements of your property and make recommendations based on these findings. The bottom line is that there are numerous factors involved, so it’s essential to consider all of them before drawing a conclusion and making a purchase.

This is a guest post by Dave Miller, a HVAC tech who now dedicates himself to sharing knowledge on his website HeatTalk.com. Dave has worked for over twenty years in the industry and for the last five has run his own contracting business. Dave can be found on Twitter with the handle @heattalkcom and you can also find him on Facebook.

Thanks for reading folks,

RefrigerantHQ

Frigidaire Window Air Conditioners

As I write this article it is Memorial Day Weekend and here in Kansas City the temperature is going to be stuck in the high nineties for most of my three day weekend. In fact, I spent a better part of my morning setting up a pool for my girls to play in. But, here’s the thing, after my family was done with the pool we came inside to a nice seventy-two degree home. All of that is thanks to our window units that we have installed on each side of our home. These products can be a lifesaver especially if you are in a warmer climate like Kansas.

If you find that you are needing a window air conditioner either because yours finally died on you or it’s your first time purchasing one the same questions will arise in your head. What kind of window unit do I need? What brand do I need? What size do I need? In this article I aim to answer those questions and more. My aim is to guide you through the buying and decision making process.

Frigidaire Brand Name

Chances are you already recognize the Frigidaire brand name. In fact there is a pretty good chance that you could already find one of their appliances already in your home. It could be your refrigerator, your microwave, your dish washer, or even your oven. My point here is that Frigidaire is an appliance company and an appliance company that has withstood the test of time. In fact, the Frigidaire brand name has been around for over one-hundred years.

If we go back in time all the way back to 1916 we can find the Frigidaire brand name and it’s origin. During that year the Frigidaire company invented and began selling the first self-contained refrigerator. While a refrigerator and a window air conditioner may seem different to you I can assure you that they are in fact very similar. Think about it for a moment. They both cool and they both use refrigerant. The only difference here is that the window unit is cooling your room while your refrigerator is cooling the cabin. Besides that, the principals are the same.

Over the past century the Frigidaire company and brand has been innovating and improving their appliances. Today they are a respected brand name throughout the country and the world. If you see a Frigidaire name on your appliance you can rest assured that you are getting a quality and durable product. The same can be said with their window air conditioners.

Buying Considerations

Now before you decide to purchase a window air conditioner there are some considerations and other notes to go over. The worst thing you can do is ‘guess’ as to what kind of unit you need. Depending on the size of window air conditioner you purchase they can be quite expensive. When you purchase you want to make sure that you have the perfect unit for you. Let’s take a look at some of the buying considerations below:

BTU Size

Displacing Heat
Displacing Heat

In order to fully understand what kind and what size of window air conditioner that you need you first need to understand British Thermal Units, or BTUs. BTUs are the traditional measurement of heat. When looking at air conditioners BTUs are used to measure the cooling capacity of your window or portable air conditioners. The higher the BTU number the more powerful and the more cooling capacity your unit has.

Most people use a measurement of around thirty BTUs for each square foot of living space that you wish to cool in your home or office. If we use that same measurement we can do some math based on a seven-thousand BTU air conditioner. If we take that seven-thousand number and divide it by thirty we get an approximated square footage of two-hundred and thirty. So, in this case seven-thousand BTUs would have enough power to cool a larger bedroom or office. (Remember that square footage is just a calculation that can be done by measuring the width of bedroom and the length of a bedroom. Once you have that you multiply the numbers together and presto, you now have your square footage.)

Remember though folks that bigger isn’t always better. You want to ensure that you get the proper sized unit for the room that you are trying to cool. If you purchase something with too few BTUs then your unit is going to be working overtime trying to cool the room. If you purchase something that has too much BTUs then your unit is going to be costing you extra on your electric bills and you will also develop warm and cold spots throughout the room due to the larger sized unit.

Lastly, I will emphasize this one more time. BTUs are one of the most important decision you can make when purchasing a window air conditioner. Getting this number wrong or right will determine exactly how well your new window unit will perform.

Window Size

We all know that old adage, measure twice and cut once. Well the same rule applies to air conditioners. Always always always be sure to measure the width and the height of your window to ensure that the air conditioner that you will be buying will fit and will fit correctly. To get even more specific you may even take into consideration the depth of your new AC unit and see if there are any trees, shrubs, or anything else that could obstruct exhaust flow of your unit. Remember folks, that heat has to go somewhere and if there is something obstructing your exhaust your air conditioner isn’t going to have a good time.

As I said before it is best for you to measure the window so you know exactly what you are dealing with but I will give you this bit of advice. Most windows found in homes today range between twenty-four to thirty inches wide and forty-eight to fifty-six inches high. If you are unsure of the dimensions of the air conditioner you are wishing to buy either on Amazon or the manufacturer’s official product page will have the full details for you.

EPA’s Energy Star

The United States’ Environmental Protection Agency has a rating for window air conditioners. This rating is called Energy Star. The Energy Star program was founded back in 1991 and was originally designed to regulate and improve the energy usage of lighting in larger commercial buildings. (Think large office buildings or warehouses.) Since it’s found in 1991 the Energy Star program has changed and adapted over the years. Today it is one of the leading sources on finding out exactly how energy efficient a product is.Frigidaire FFRA0511R1 5, 000 BTU Energy Guide

On the window air conditioning side of the world the Energy Star is measured by whats called Energy Efficiency Ratio, or EER. For a window unit to qualify for the Energy Star program the unit must have an EER rating of 10.0 or higher. Now, I won’t say that every Frigidaire unit is Energy Star certified what I can say is that a good portion of them are.  Remember, that if your unit is Energy Star certified that means less costly monthly energy bills.

115 Volts VS 220 Volts

Most of the time this won’t apply to you but if you are going to be purchasing a larger window air conditioner then you should definitely stop and think before you purchase. What kind of plug-in does this air conditioner have? Does it come with a standard one-hundred and fifteen volt plug, or does it comes with a two-hundred and twenty volt plug?

I’ve seen this trip a lot of people up. The worst thing you can do is order a unit, have it come, get it installed, and then when you go to plug it in you realize that you don’t have the right outlet for it. I can just see myself doing this with my wife standing over my shoulder telling me I should have checked before I ordered. (I can’t be the only one, right?)

Frigidaire Window Air Conditioner Products

Alright folks so we’ve now gone over the Frigidaire brand name and the various options that you need to consider before purchasing a window unit. Now that that is out of the way we can begin to look at the various window units that are on the market today. Personally, I buy everything online nowadays including the big things. In the section below I am going to provide a link to our Amazon partner’s web-page that shows you the product that we have discussed. These products are our top rated Frigidaire window units. Let’s take a look:

  • Frigidaire FFRA0511R1 5,000 BTU
    • The FFRA0511R1 is your very basic bare bones unit. This product will do exactly what it’s designed to do. It will cool your room. You may have noticed that the BTUs on this unit are only at 5,000. That is because this is a very small window unit only rated to cool rooms at one-hundred and fifty square feet. That square footage is about the size of a large bedroom. This Frigidaire unit is by FAR one of the most popular window units on the market today. That is mostly due to the Frigidaire name and the dirt cheap price. Go ahead, try and find a cheaper unit out there!
  • Frigidaire FFRE0633S1 6,000 BTU
    • The FFRE0633S1 from Frigidaire is the next step up from the previous model we looked at. This model not only goes up one-thousand BTUs but it also swaps out the turn-knob controls with a digital display and a fully functional remote control. The FFRE0633S1 is rated to cool up to two-hundred and fifty square feet, is Energy Star certified at 12.2 EER, and is still considered a ‘mini’ unit which means it only comes in forty-four pounds. If you were to ask me my opinion I would suggest this unit over the 5,000 BTU product we looked at earlier. You get better features on this product and you also get covered if you have a larger closet, bathroom, or other small additional square footage that you are wishing to cool.

      FFRA1011R1 With Turn Dial Knobs
      FFRA1011R1 With Turn Dial Knobs
  • Frigidaire FFRE0833S1 8,000 BTU
    • The FFRE0833S1 is rated to cool rooms up to three-hundred and fifty square feet. Depending on the lay out of your home this could be a large master bedroom, a living room, or kitchen. (Please note that if you are looking for a unit for your kitchen that you should always add at least one-thousand BTUs due to the extra heat coming from the kitchen oven.) This unit comes with a digital display and a fully functional remote control. The FFRE0833S1 is also Energy Star certified with the EPA coming in at a 12.0 Energy Efficiency Ratio rating. (Keep in mind that the baseline for this is 10.0.)
  • Frigidaire FFRA1011R1 10,000 BTU
    • The FFRA1011R1 is rated as ten-thousand BTUs and can cool rooms upwards to four-hundred and fifty square feet. Again, like before, this could be a very large master bedroom but most likely it could be a living room/dining room combination. Now, the FFRA1011R1 is the baseline model for ten-thousand BTUs. In other words, it is cheaper then the product I’m going to list below but that is because it does not have a digital display, it does not have a remote control, and it is not Energy Star certified. While this unit will work great I would still recommend the FFRE1033S1 over this. You still get ten-thousand BTUs but you also get the extra features and Energy Star qualifications.
  • Frigidaire FFRE1033S1 10,000 BTU
    • Just like the FFRA1011R1 above the FFRE1033S1 is also rated at ten-thousand BTUs and cool rooms upwards to four-hundred and fifty square feet. The big difference here though between the two products is that you get all of the ‘bonuses,’ with the FFRE1033S1. You get Energy Star EPA certification, you get, you get a digital display, and you get a remote control. All of these extras for not much more in price. If it was me I would purchase this one over the other ten-thousand unit.

      Frigidaire FFRE1033S1 With Digital Display
      Frigidaire FFRE1033S1 With Digital Display
  • Frigidaire FFRA1211R1 12,000 BTU
    • The Frigidaire FFRA1211R1 is similar to what we looked at with the ten-thousand BTU models. This unit comes in at twelve-thousand BTUs and is rated to cool rooms up to five-hundred and fifty square feet. When we get this to square footage I am thinking primarily of apartments or condominiums. Yes, this can still be used in your home, especially if you have a large open floor plan area. Just keep in mind that you don’t want to go too high or too low on your BTUs. As an example, let’s say your open floor plan is eight-hundred square feet. In that case this window unit will not work for you. You would be best moving up to a much higher BTU requirement. Now the FFRA1211R1 is a bare bones model like we discussed before. You get a turn-knob dial adjustment and no digital display or remote. But, the price is cheaper then on it’s sister product FFRA1222U1. If it was me though, I’d pay the extra price and get the FFRA1222U1.
  • Frigidaire FFRA1222U1 12,000 BTU
    • The FFRA1222U1 the sister product to the FFRA1211R1. They are both rated at ten-thousand BTUs and can cool rooms upwards to five-hundred and fifty square feet. The difference here is that with the FFRA1222U1 you get the extra features that the FFRA1211R1 simply doesn’t have. Some of these are the digital display and the remote control. While the remote control may not sound like a big deal to you now I can assure you that if you wake up in the middle of the night and find that the room is too warm would you rather reach over to your nightstand and grab the remote, or would you rather get up and walk across the room? I know what I would rather do folks.
  • Frigidaire FFRE1533S1 15,100 BTU
    • Ok folks now we are getting into the much larger sizes. The Frigidaire FFRE1533S1 is rated at just over fifteen-thousand BTUs and can cool rooms up to eight-hundred and fifty square feet. I remember my first apartment and it was just around eight-hundred square feet. This unit could cool the entire apartment without an issue. The other option is an entire floor. In some houses they have their bedrooms all upstairs. This unit would work great to cool the upstairs floor if you kept your doors open and had it installed in one of the bedroom windows. The FFRE1533S1 is EPA Energy Star certified at 11.8 EER. It has the digital display that I love and the remote control so you don’t have to get up to change the temperature.
  • Frigidaire FFRE1833S2 18,000 BTU
    • The Frigidaire FFRE1833S2 is the next step and gets us up to eighteen-thousand BTUs. It is rated to cool rooms upwards to one-thousand and twenty square feet. Again, this could be a larger apartment or condo. It could also be an entire floor rather it be your upstairs or main living area. One very important thing that I want to point out to you now is that as we get into these higher BTU window units that the electrical outlet requirements change. Everything before this product could use the standard one-hundred and fifteen volt plug-in. (These are your standard outlets you find all over your house.) However, as get into these larger units the amount of power changes and you need to actually go up to a two-hundred and thirty volt plug-in. (Think of your oven or dryer plug-ins.) This can deter a lot of people and can also upset some as they weren’t expecting this ‘surprise,’ when the product arrives and they go to plug it in. Alright, so now that that is out of the way let’s take a look at the Frigidaire FFRE1833S2. It is Energy Star Certified with the EPA at 11.8 EER, has the standard digital display that we’ve come to know, and comes with a remote control. This is a great unit but just be aware that the price point goes up quite a bit on these larger sized products.
  • Frigidaire FFRH1822R2 18,500 BTU
    • The FFRH1822R2 is in a class of it’s own. Yes, it has a very similar BTU as the previous model we just reviewed. Here’s the difference though, this unit comes with a supplemental heat-pump that is rated at sixteen-thousand BTUs. That means that not only you do you get your air conditioner but you also get a heater as well. (Please note, that the heater is a heat-pump and will not work when temperatures fall below forty-degrees.) The FFRH1822R2 is rated to cool rooms up to one-thousand square feet, has the digital display, remote control, energy saver mode, sleep mode, and many more options. This is a great product to purchase if you are looking to cool your entire condominium or apartment.
  • Frigidaire FFRE2233S2 22,000 BTUs
    • Alright folks onwards and upwards. The Frigidaire FFRE2233S2 is rated at twenty-two thousand BTUs and can cool rooms up to thirteen-hundred square feet. Think about that for a moment. That is the size of a small house or a large apartment. This product can cool your whole home without an issue! As I mentioned earlier this unit will require a two-hundred and thirty volt plug-in, so please be aware of that. Besides that, the product comes with your standard features such as digital display, remote control, and it is Energy Star certified with the EPA. (10.3 EER) One other thing to mention is that as you get into these larger units the weight and the difficulty of installation increases. This unit is over double the weight of the five-thousand BTU units that we looked at earlier. Please be careful when installing and gather as much help as you need to ensure the job is done right and no injury to you or your new air conditioner occurs.
  • Frigidaire FFRE2533S2 25,000 BTU
    • Well folks I honestly don’t know if you would ever need an air conditioner of this size but hey, I’m going to do a write up on it regardless. The Frigidaire FFRE2533S2 is rated at twenty-five thousand BTUs and can cool area up to sixteen-hundred square feet. That area is bigger then my last house, so rest assured you should be able to cool what you’re looking for. Please do keep in mind though that you don’t want to go to big for your room. If you do you could run into higher energy bills and hot and cold spots throughout the room due to humidification issues. The FFRE2533S2 is Energy Star certified with the EPA and is rated at 10.3 Energy Efficiency Ratio. Like with the other units, it comes with a digital display and a remote control. Lastly, remember two things: The first is that this unit requires a two-hundred and thirty volt plug-in. Second, this unit weighs nearly one-hundred and fifty pounds and may be difficult to install.

      Frigidaire FFRA2822R2 28000 BTU
      Frigidaire FFRA2822R2 28000 BTU
  • Frigidaire FFRA2822R2 28,000 BTU
    • But wait, there’s more! Ha! Seriously though, the Frigidaire FFRA2822SR2 is a beast coming in at twenty-eight thousand BTUs and it can cool areas up to nineteen-hundred square feet. This thing is a monster and should easily meet your cooling needs. It does require a two-hundred and thirty volt plug-in and it is heavy at nearly one-hundred and fifty pounds. It does come with the digital display and remote control but this unit is NOT Energy Star certified as it only has an EER rating of 8.5. Lastly, keep in mind that when purchasing a unit this big that the cold air is only coming from one point. If you are trying to cool your whole home with this unit I would recommend instead getting two or three of the smaller BTU units and place them sporadically throughout your home. This will allow you to have cold air coming from two or three points in the home instead of one central point. That way your cold air will be more evenly distributed.

Other Brands

While there are always other brands out there I can assure you folks that by going with a Frigidaire product you are not only getting a high quality product but also one that has an aggressive price point and that stays right in line with the competition. As a consumer I always like to look at my choices through the Good, Better, and Best approach.

What that means is that I do my research to narrow down my selection to three main products. I then determine which one of these products are a ‘Good,’ which ones are ‘Better,’ and which ones are ‘Best.’ Now a ‘Good’ product means that the unit does exactly what it is intended for. In this case, to cool your room. It may not have all the bells and whistles as a ‘Better,’ or a ‘Best,’ but it gets the job done and will not let you down. The ‘Better’ is similar to the ‘Good,’ but only with additional features, extended warranties, or something else that has caused it to stick out to me. Lastly, the ‘Best,’ is the top of the line unit. Nothing else out there beats it and you are getting absolute quality.

Friedrich Window Air Conditioners
Friedrich Window Air Conditioners

If I was to put the Frigidaire brand name up against this scale I would rate Frigidaire as a ‘Better.’ The Frigidaire names brings quality and effectiveness with their brand but there is another brand out there that outranks Frigidaire in the ‘Best’ category. That brand is Friedrich. Now, I won’t spend too much time here on this brand but the Friedrich brand is top quality. They ONLY make window air conditioners and use commercial grade parts to ensure a long lasting unit. You can read my write up on Friedrich’s air conditioners by clicking here. I will warn you right now that the Friedrich name is a premium name and with a premium name comes a premium cost.

Conclusion

The decision is now up to you folks. Do you want the ‘Better,’ or the ‘Best?’ If ‘Better,’ then I would suggest purchasing one of the recommended Frigidaire products we mentioned above. If ‘Best,’ then check out the Friedrich link that we provided above as well. Lastly, if you are looking for just a bare bones air conditioner, or a ‘Good,’ then you may want to move over to Amazon and purchase either a hOme or an LG unit.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

For those of you who do not know, I am originally from Michigan. While I haven’t lived there for twenty or more years the state has always had a fond place in my heart. My extended family still live up there and I occasionally visit. It only makes sense for me to be a Red Wings fan. (If you couldn’t tell by the featured image!) After all, they are the only true hockey team out there…right?

Hockey, along with ice skating and curling, all depend on ice rinks. In the past ice rinks were rather isolated to colder climates due to the limits in technology but now over the years we can now find ice rinks as far south as Texas and Florida. The number of ice rinks have exploded, but what kind of refrigerants are they using today?

Depending on where you go in the world you will most likely find an ice rink using either R-717 (Ammonia) or R-22 (Freon). Here in the United States R-22 is most common and as all of you know it is being phased down and will be phased out in just over a year and a half. (2020 production/imports will stop.) The question now is what will all of these ice rink owners do if they need a repair or maintenance on their systems?

Most of the rinks out there today are older, some even as old as twenty or more years. In the past when a repair was needed they would pay for the parts and then a recharge but now with the rising price of R-22 even the smallest of repair can become a huge burden to the owner rather it be a businessman or a city. A lot of us cringe when trying to quote a homeowner for a few pounds of R-22. Now think about charging a customer for thousands of pounds of R-22. The price is just not feasible in today’s world and even if your customer could afford the recharge whose to say that they might not have a different problem months down the road and have to pay again for another recharge?

NHL & Chemours

The National Hockey League has launched a new initiate known as ‘Greener Rinks.’ The goal with this project is to provide more climate friendly ice rinks across North America. Today there are approximately forty-eight hundred rinks between the United States and Canada. The NHL’s initiative looks to tackle a variety of issues to ensure that their rinks are as climate friendly as possible. Some of these include replacing diesel run ice resurfacers with electric, replacing high intensity lights with LEDs, improvements to ice monitoring to ensure the proper thickness is met, and lastly refrigerants and refrigerant equipment.

It was announced today through a press release that the Chemours company (Formerly DuPont Refrigerants) is partnering with the National Hockey League in their Greener Rinks Initiative. This partnership isn’t just dedicated to the NHL’s arenas but instead to all aspects of hockey rather they be in community ice rinks or in large scale arenas like the Red Wings! The hope is to push these conversions and switches to all aspects of the country, not just to the big cities.

Chemours brings to the table eighty-five years of experience in the refrigerant industry. Some of you may not be as familiar with the Chemours name but I am sure you will recognize DuPont. Chemours is a split off from the original DuPont company and a lot of the same people that were at DuPont migrated over to the new Chemours Company. In fact it was often called the ‘Billion Dollar Startup.’

The goal of this partnership is to provide ice rink owners and cities the education and the possible alternatives to the expensive and dying R-22 refrigerant. When looking for alternatives business owners have a few key features that they are looking at:

  1. No Ozone depletion potential.
    1. Ozone depletion is the exact reason why we are phasing out R-22. Any replacement refrigerant would HAVE to have no Ozone depletion potential.
  2. Low Global Warming Potential or GWP.
    1. GWP is the new Ozone. In other words, now that the worry on the Ozone is gone there is a new concern about the GWP on all of these commonly used HFC refrigerants like R-404A. Any refrigerants with a high GWP are already being phased out or they are on the chopping block.
  3. Safety
    1. This is a big one as well as there are alternative refrigerants out there that may provide a great solution but may be either flammable or toxic. A great example here is R-717, or Ammonia. While R-717 is one of the most efficient refrigerants on the market it is also highly toxic and if a leak occurred things could get very messy and costly.
  4. Cost
    1. While we would all like to believe that these ice rink owners want to convert to alternative refrigerants out of the goodness of their hearts a lot of the time it’s going to boil down to cost. That’s exactly why there are so many R-22 rinks out there still today. Owners aren’t going to replace these expensive machines until they absolutely have to. Having a lower cost alternative refrigerant, especially one that can retrofit, is the perfect way to get these old units switched over to a more climate friendly refrigerant.

Chemours has committed to helping ice rink owners to finding the perfect alternative refrigerant for their needs. There are so many variables that have to be considered before selecting the proper refrigerant. How old is the equipment on sight? What safety standards are required? What performance or energy cost? I could sit here and try to go through everyone of these scenarios but it would serve you better to contact Chemours direct by clicking here. You can then be consulted by an expert who will guide you through exactly what kind of refrigerant you need.

Chemours’ Opteon XP40

One of the most popular alternative refrigerants to R-22 in ice rinks is the Opteon XP40. (R-449A) The reason for that is that older R-22 systems can be retrofitted over to accept XP40. That means significantly less cost to the business owner. I know if it was me, I would like to extend my current equipment as long as I could instead of having to pay millions for a completely new system.

R-449A, or Opteon XP40, is a new HFO refrigerant blend comprised of R-32, R-125, R-1234yf, and R-134a. This refrigerant, like Honeywell’s R-407F, was designed as a replacement product for R-22, R-404A, and R-507. The difference here is that this an HFO refrigerant rather than an HFC. HFO’s are the new lines of refrigerant being developed by Honeywell and Chemours.

The XP40 is non Ozone depleting and has a GWP number of one-thousand two-hundred and eighty-two. That’s about five-hundred less then R-22 and four-hundred less then Honeywell’s R-407F HFC. It is non-toxic and non-flammable so safety is not an issue. Along with that the Opteon XP40 is actually more energy efficient then CO2. The savings aganist CO2 is a big deal as that is one of the competing alternative refrigerants for ice rinks. While the popularity of CO2 ice rinks has not taken off yet the technology for Co2 refrigerant systems is evolving rapidly. (It has already been adapted for usages in automobiles in Germany.)

While XP40 checks most of the boxes that we mentioned earlier there is one downside that I want to point out. It’s the high GWP number. While, yes, it is lower then R-22 and other HFC refrigerants out there it is still relatively high. A high GWP number means that the refrigerant very well may be targeted for phase down or phase out.

Conclusion

Chemours’ partnership with the National Hockey League will benefit both companies greatly. Chemours will get their Opteon brand promoted across the NHL and the NHL will move closer to achieving their greener ice rinks initiative.

Converting all of the ice rinks over to climate friendly refrigerants is going to be a large endeavor. In the short term, especially as R-22 rises in price, I could see retrofits dominating the market. It is the ‘easy’ solution. Chemours is in a great position here with their XP40 product. But, as these current units age and eventually get to expensive to repair a new more permanent refrigerant solution will be needed. What will it be? Opteon? Solstice? Ammonia? Carbon Dioxide? Time will tell.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

 

Anyone who’s been in the refrigerant industry rather it be through home, commercial, or automotive applications are familiar with the ever famous Montreal Protocol. The passage of this treaty across the globe has had a profound effect on the industry. No longer could companies use CFC and HCFC refrigerants. We all said goodbye to some of the most popular refrigerants ever used such as R-12, R-502, R-22, and R-11 in an effort to reduce Ozone depletion and to allow the Earth to heal.

While the most recent enactment of the Montreal Protocol is still being put in place today with HCFC refrigerants like R-22 the first phase of this treaty was passed and enacted in the early 1990’s. This first step targeted refrigerants with a ‘Class One,’ Ozone depletion potential. In other words, these refrigerants were doing the most damage to the Ozone and had to be phased out right away. The HCFCs could wait until the CFCs were out of the picture.

The CFC phase out was very aggressive. It started in 1994 and finished with a total phase out in 1996. Just two years! Compare that to how long this R-22 phase down/phase out is taking. While the United States met this aggressive goal the rest of the world was a bit behind. They committed to total phase out of CFCs by 2010 but most of the countries met their goal by 2006.

One of these CFC refrigerants that was phased out was known as Trichlorofluromethane, or R-11. R-11 was one of the first widely used refrigerants and is part of the refrigerants known under the DuPont Freon brand name. It was popular due to it’s high boiling point which meant that it could be used in machines with a low operating pressure. That meant less complexity for the machine and that meant less cost to build and less cost to do repairs.  It is also a non-flammable refrigerant and non-toxic which was hard to find in the early days of refrigeration. R-11’s use could be found small commercial buildings, factories/plants, department stores, and movie theaters.

CFC Emissions Mystery

With the phase out of CFC refrigerants complete scientists began to measure the emissions of CFCs in the Ozone layer over the years. The goal here was to watch for the emissions to steadily go down and if they weren’t going down then to sound the alarm. In the case of R-11 scientists saw a measurable drop each year between the years 2002 through 2012. Here is where things get a bit strange. After 2012 scientists noticed that the dropping emissions of R-11 began to slow down. This shouldn’t be the case at all as all production from across the world had been stopped. Yes, there would still be some emissions due to old units still out there but as those units aged and were put out of commission the amount of R-11 should shrink. This worrisome slow down of emission reduction continued through 2015 and into 2017.

At first glance of the data scientists began to look for logical explanations. Perhaps it was a natural phenomenon. Or, perhaps a larger weather pattern moved the R-11 emissions upwards to the Ozone. Through out all of these scenarios though they all came to the same conclusion. There were more emissions being generated. The question now was where and why. Where were these mysterious, and banned, R-11 emissions coming from?

In the past the bulk of R-11 emissions had come from the Northern Hemisphere. This was due to the Northern Hemisphere being more developed and having more first world nations. Over the most recent years the discrepancy between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres have increased. So, that means that somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere more R-11 emissions are being generated.

The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has reported that they believe the source of these increased R-11 emissions are originating somewhere in Eastern Asia. Now, I’ll warn you folks, but here is where I’m going to speculate. No one knows for sure where these increased emissions are coming from but I’m going to take a guess. I’m looking at my map right now and when I see Eastern Asia I see one country that pops out to me. North Korea.

Think about it. They are already quite a bit behind the times from the rest of the world. They don’t honor the world’s treaties or agreements. They are a hostile nation to nearly everyone. It would only make sense for them to manufacture, distribute, and use R-11. Remember what I said earlier folks, R-11 has a high boiling point which means a low pressure requirement and a low complexity for the machines. It makes perfect sense, at least to me.

“The findings of Montzka and his team of researchers from CIRESoffsite link, the UK, and the Netherlands, represent the first time that emissions of one of the three most abundant, long-lived CFCs have increased for a sustained period since production controls took effect in the late 1980s.” – Source

Conclusion

This is a big deal folks. Whomever is causing these increased levels in R-11 emissions is directly harming the Ozone layer and is actively resetting all of the work that was done in the past thirty years. The worst of it is that R-11 is the second most abundant Ozone depleting gas in the atmosphere. In other words, they couldn’t have picked a worse refrigerant to start manufacturing again.

The race is now on to find the source of these new emissions but it is tough to say what will happen if the perpetrators are found. Is it a rogue company that is operating behind their government’s back? If so, will the government take appropriate action? Or, is it a rogue state like I think it is? If it is, then how will the world handle?  If these new emissions aren’t put into check over the next few years then real and additional damage could be done to the Ozone layer.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

 

There is a very common misconception out there when it comes it air conditioners. I don’t care if it is an air conditioner at your home, your car, or even your office. A lot of people think that air conditioners need to be routinely recharged with refrigerant. I believe they see it almost like oil on a vehicle or tractor. Sure, on my tractor I have to check the oil a few times a month to make sure I’m not running low. Refrigerant in an air conditioning system is different.

Before your purchase any refrigerant either for yourself or from a contractor you need to realize that the refrigerant in your air conditioning unit is in a closed system. What that means is that the refrigerant is an endless cycle from gas to liquid from liquid to gas. This cycle repeats forever as shown in the below picture. It is a cycle. That means that there should be no leaks or draining of refrigerant.

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

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. Potentially a lot of money too if yours is an R-22 unit.

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 prolonging the inevitable and wasting money.

Reccomendations

Ok, folks so now that we got that part out of the way let’s take a moment and look at the two main applications where you will run into an air conditioner needing to be recharged. The first, and most common, is an automotive application. Right now, as I write this article, it is May and the temperatures here in Kansas City have been hovering around ninety degrees. If you car air conditioner is on the fritz then you’re not going to be having a good time. There are two solutions here to fix your car’s system. You can take it into the shop or dealership and have a repair done, but this may end up being very costly. The other option is to purchase an automotive air conditioner recharge kit.

Now, I know that I mentioned above that just putting in more refrigerant isn’t the best solution but when you are dealing with a car and a hot season a lot of people opt for these recharge kits. The reason that is is because they are cheap, especially when compared to a mechanic’s bill. The hope here is that the leak in your ac system is small enough that a simple recharge will get your vehicle through the hottest months without having to do a costly repair. However, if the leak is large and you are losing refrigerant like crazy then these recharge kits won’t do you much good. I will say that they are a great ‘test’ to see how bad your system is and if you should go to the shop or not. If you are not sure which recharge kit to buy I would highly recommend you visit our ‘Best AC Recharge Kits,’ article from earlier this year by clicking here.

The other side of the coin is dealing with a home air conditioner that is low on refrigerant. This is where things get quite a bit more tricky and where I would recommend consulting with a professional HVAC technician. Home air conditioning systems are much more involved and much more expensive if you were to make a mistake on recharging the unit yourself. (Not to mention the refrigerant is restricted for resale to laymen.) The good news here is if you pay for professional service from an HVAC professional that they will identify and find the leak of refrigerant, patch it, and then recharge your system. That means that the problem is solved and you won’t have to call them back in a few months to recharge it again.

Well folks, I hope this article was helpful and if you have any questions please let me know.

Thanks,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Well folks it’s been another few months into 2018 and there still has been no update or news on rather or not the United States will be adopting the Kigali Amendment. For those of you who don’t know, the Kigali Amendment was an addendum to the ever famous Montreal Protocol. While the Montreal Protocol focused on phasing out HCFCs and CFC refrigerants like R-12 and R-22 the Kigali Amendment has set it’s sights on the very popular HFC refrigerants such as R-410A, R-404A, R-125, R-134a, and many more. While the amendment was signed back in October of 2016 there are still some countries who have not ratified it yet, the United States being one of them.

At the time of the signing there were over one-hundred countries present in Kigali, Rwanda. As I write this article today there have been thirty-one countries that have ratified the amendment and begun to move forward with the phase downs and phase outs of HFC refrigerants. The latest of these countries to ratify was France back in March of this year. Just before them we had Ireland and the Netherlands.

The question now is will the United States move forward with this amendment? In order for this amendment to become law it has to be ratified by the United States’ Senate but before it can even get to the Senate the Trump Administration has to hand it off. At this time no action has been taken by the Trump Team. They are sitting on it for lack of a better term. Towards the end of 2017 an official stated that Trump was in support of Kigali but then a few months later into 2018 these remarks were walked back by another spokesperson. At this point no one knows for sure.

There is uncertainty in the air though folks. In the summer of last year the Environmental Protection Agency’s own HFC regulations were overturned by a Federal Court. Just a few weeks back the EPA announced that they were withdrawing their SNAP Rule 20 regulations. (I wrote an article about this which can be found by clicking here.) On top of that the Trump Administration announced a withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. The rumor around DC is that Trump will approve or deny something based on rather or not it will create jobs. The question is will the Kigali Amendment create jobs, or will it’s regulations hurt the industry?

Jobs Jobs Jobs!

There has been a big push from all over the industry to enact the Kigali Amendment here in the States. In fact the intensity of the push has only increased since the EPA lost their battle against Mexichem and Arkema and their SNAP Rule 20 program. Two groups that have been lobbying for the Kigali Amendment are the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy and the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute. (AHRI.)

Just last week these two groups published a study titled, The ‘Economic Impacts of US Ratification of the Kigali Amendment.’ Now before I get into what this study said lets first understand why this article came about. Everyone knows that Trump is for jobs rather they be coal, oil, or whatever. If it creates jobs then he’s for it. That is what got him elected. So, the people behind this study took this mindset to heart and set forth with the report.

The report states that the Kigali Amendment and all that comes with it will lead to job creation. It is said to strengthen our exports and weaken the imports. I take from this that they mean we will be importing less and less HFC refrigerants from countries like China and we will be exporting more and more refrigerant alternatives like the new HFO refrigerants from Chemours/Honeywell.

The other pro-job argument here is that by mandating the phase down of HFCs companies and leaders will have to adapt and innovate to more climate friendly alternatives. This innovation and discovery period will cause job growth. Within this report an estimated number of thirty-three thousand jobs are to be created by 2027 if the Kigali Amendment was adopted. If you count the indirect and ancillary effects of the amendment then the number of estimated jobs balloons up to one-hundred and fifty-thousand. On top of that there is an estimated twenty-billion increase in value added and over a ten billion increase in labor income. That’s a lot of numbers, but will they come to fruition?

Conclusion

Now we all know why this report came out. It is another attempt to get the Trump Administration to ‘see the light.’ The question now though is will this latest tactic work, or will Trump see it as a ploy to get him to move the Kigali Amendment forward? The report is still fairly new as it only came out towards the end of April. At this point it’s too early to tell if it will have any affect on Trump’s opinion or not.

If we do not end up ratifying the Kigali Amendment there are always alternatives out there. The EPA announced a bit ago that they were reforming their current HFC rules so that they would be in compliance with the court’s ruling. On top of that you have California, and soon other states, that have decided to move forward with their own HFC phase down plans. Regardless if we get the Kigali I can safely say that HFCs will be phase down soon either through a treaty, a law, a EPA regulation, or through States’ rights.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

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It was announced late last month that A-Gas had made a new acquisition. This time they purchased a German based company known as Arthur Friedrichs Kaeltemittel GmbH. The company, headquartered out of Seevetal, has been supplying refrigerant and supplies since 1955. Arthur Friedrichs is a key player in the automotive market in both the aftermarket side and the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) side.

It seems that the automotive side of the business is kind of the forgotten brother to other refrigerant/air conditioning applications. When most people think of refrigerant or air conditioning their minds immediately go to home or commercial cooling. There is a whole other side of the industry on the automotive side. Heck, you even need your own certification to work on automotive applications. (609 Cert.)

A-Gas has already announced that they plan to open a new refrigerant reclamation facility at Arthur Friedrich’s Seevetal’s headquarters.  These acquisitions are becoming a tend. A-Gas also purchased a refrigerant company based out of the Netherlands late last summer. The company, known as BTC, is a specialist when it comes to refrigerant reclamation as well as disposal of refrigerant gases. This acquisition and the recent acquisition in Germany adds to the distribution power, but more importantly, the reclamation power and network of A-Gas. A-Gas is quickly becoming a dominant player in the global refrigerant distribution marketplace.

Over here in America they do have competition. Their biggest rival is Hudson Technologies who just recently purchased AirGas (Now Aspen) Refrigerants. These two giants are nearly neck and neck when it comes to revenue. Hudson ended 2017 with around one-hundred and forty million in revenue and A-Gas ended 2016 with one-hundred and sixty million. Both of these companies have been purchasing and expanding like crazy over the past few years. Time will only tell how much the market will consolidate in the future and who will come out on top.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

 

Sources

Most of us know and are familiar with the common refrigerant distributors rather it be Hudson, A-Gas, Aspen, Weitron, or whomever else. These names are seen everywhere within the industry and you’re most likely buying from one of them already. That being said, another question that I see quite a bit that isn’t as covered is who are the manufacturers behind these distributors? After all, these distributors have to get their products from somewhere.

What companies are out there and producing refrigerants? Which are the ones that are coming up with new classes of refrigerants or innovating existing refrigerants? A really big market right now, and one that will only be growing over the next few years, is safe and climate friendly alternatives to R-22. With the phase out coming in just a year and half these manufacturers and innovators will be playing a larger and larger role.

Let’s take a look at some of the companies out there manufacturing refrigerants in 2018.

Larger Manufacturers

To start this article off I am going to be focusing on the larger refrigerant manufacturers. These are your giant corporations that have a very large percentage of the refrigerant market share. On top of that, these are the companies that you see coming out with new refrigerants or even whole new refrigerant classifications. They have a full research and development department and are always looking for newer and better alternative refrigerants.

Honeywell International

  • Speaking of gigantic corporations, number one on our list is Honeywell International. This company was founded over one-hundred years ago in Wabash, Indiana. They originally made their start by creating one of the first thermostats all the way back in 1888. Today they have a global workforce of one-hundred and thirty-thousand employees.
  • They are one of the largest manufacturers of refrigerant across the globe with factories and plants in the United States as well as other countries. Their brand names are known as Genetron and Solstice. Genetron covers your most common refrigerants such as HFCs 134a, 404A, and 410A. Solstice is the newer classification of refrigerants known as HFOs and includes 1234yf, N40, and N13.
  • Honeywell and Chemours combined take up a huge chunk of the market share when it comes to refrigerant sales. In fact, these two behemoth companies have teamed up with each other to further advance their new HFO product lines.

Chemours (Formerly DuPont)

  • Chemours is a rather newcomer to the refrigerant market. Well, sort of. Chemours was founded only three years ago and in that short amount of time they have exceeded over six billion dollars in revenue. They are often called the ‘Billion Dollar Start Up.’ How can that be? Well folks, Chemours is an independent off shoot of the DuPont Corporation. I know you’ve all heard of DuPont. They’re just like Honeywell. They’ve been around for over a hundred years.
  • Chemours is one of the largest refrigerant manufacturers across the globe with plants in the United States as well as other countries. In fact, the term ‘Freon’ which is used so generically these days comes from the DuPont/Chemours refrigerant brand name. Yes, they own the trademark to Freon. Their other brand is known as Opteon and it paired with Honeywell’s Solstice line make up the new HFO refrigerant classification.

Arkema

  • Arkema is a refrigerant manufacturing company out of Colombes, France. (Just northwest of Paris.) They were founded in 2004 and have been growing ever since. Today, they are in fifty countries and have nineteen-thousand employees. Their total revenue from 2015 was 7.7 billion Euros. While they are not as big as Honeywell or Chemours they provide healthy competition to the two behemoths and help to keep them in check.
  • Arkema’s most famous refrigerant brand name is known as Forane. They offer a wide variety of refrigerants including the most popular HFC refrigerants that we use today such as R-134a, R-410A, and R-404A.

MexiChem

  • MexiChem is our last ‘big player’ when it comes to refrigerant manufacturing. They were founded back in 1953 in Tlalnepantla, Mexico. They are a versatile chemical company and as of last year their total revenue was nearly 6 billion dollars.
  • They are also one of the largest Flurospar mining companies in the world. (Around twenty percent of the Flurospar.) Instead of selling this Flurospar they take it through the entire process and manufacture it right into some of the most common refrigerants used today. (For those who don’t know Flurospar is as key ingredient in refrigerant manufacturing.)
  • MexiChem has two brand names that I have found. The first, Arcton, is their branded R-22 product. Their other brand name known as Klea is covers everything else including your most common refrigerants.
  • Just as Honeywell and Chemours sometimes partner up we have the same type of relationship with MexiChem and Arkema. In fact, these two companies are directly responsible for overturning the EPA’s HFC phase down rules through the SNAP Rule 20 program. They filed suit stating that the EPA had overstepped it’s limits with the HFC phase down and in August of 2017 MexiChem and Arkema won that lawsuit.

Mid-Sized Manufacturers

Ok folks, so we now have the big guys out of the way. Let’s take a look at some of the up and comers to the market. While these companies may not be as big we have to realize that sometimes that’s a good thing. When a company is small and hungry you can find unusual processes and innovations.

Bluon Energy

  • Bluon Energy is a relatively new comer to the refrigerant market. Headquartered out of McClelland, California their goal is to create refrigerants that will allow users to increase efficiency and to also have a low carbon footprint.
  • Their biggest selling point right now is their refrigerant known as Bluon TDX 20. (R-458A) This refrigerant is designed to be a near drop-in replacement to existing R-22 systems. TDX20 will allow users to prolong their R-22 equipment without having to pay an absorbent cost on recharging with R-22.

ICOR International

  • ICOR International was originally known as Indianapolis Refrigeration and in 1995 they incorporated and changed their name to ICOR International. They got their start at around the time the R-12 phase out had begun. When the R-12 phase down began in the early 1990’s all of this was new. It was the first major phase down of a refrigerant and there just weren’t a lot of solutions or alternative options out there. Around this same time ICOR developed their own R-12 refrigerant known as ‘Hot Shot.’ This new refrigerant nearly duplicated the characteristics of R-12. This gave consumers and business owners another option which was needed, especially when being faced with the ever increasing cost of R-12. This ‘Hot Shot’ brand of ICORs can also be used to replace other common refrigerants such as R-134a, 401A, 401B, along with many more.
  • History repeated itself when the R-22 phase down began. A lot of you may have already heard of ICOR’s R-22 alternative known as NU-22, or a newer version known as NU-22B. Again, ICOR’s goal here was to establish a solid alternative refrigerant to the HCFC R-22. Like with most R-22 alternatives out there their product offers a near drop-in replacement, larger capacity, and improved efficiency. I would have to say that this brand was a solid success within the marketplace.
  • In fact folks, ICOR was so successful that they were bought out by Chemours just last month. So, while Chemours now owns the ICOR name I can assure you that the quality and the products will remain the same.

Navin Fluorine International

  • Navin Fluorine International, or NFIL, is an Indian based company that can be traced back to 1967. Their initial plant was in Surat, Gujarat (Western India) and since then they have grown and grown. Their brand name, Mafron, has become synonyms with quality refrigerants in eastern part of the world.

China

Normally, I wouldn’t include this category in my articles but in today’s world I feel that I would be neglectful if I did not. A good portion of the refrigerants that we use in the Untied States and across the world comes from China. If not the straight refrigerant such as R-22 coming then it’s the blends. A lot of the times you’ll see distributors importing in refrigerants needed in say, R-410A, and then they will mix the imported refrigerants at their facility to come up with the R-410A blend. While there is nothing wrong with this technique there are some companies out there who call this type of refrigerant ‘Domestic Product.’ This label gives the impression that the consumers are purchasing American made product, which in fact they are not.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am not as educated on refrigerant Chinese manufacturers as I should be. Buying from China is a gamble if you don’t know which companies to go through. I did my best below to assemble a list of Chinese refrigerant manufacturers but I do not know which ones are reputable and which ones will provide you with shoddy product. If you are looking for a Chinese manufacturer then take the below names with a grain of salt and be sure to do your research before committing to a large purchase order.

Conclusion

Well folks, that covers it for my list of refrigerant manufacturers. Now I know I must have missed some companies here. In fact, I’m sure of. If you know of a company that was not included on this listing please do not hesitate to reach out to me by clicking here. I will be updating this list based on your feedback.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Every time I see a story like this I find my stances on Ammonia and R-717 use shifting and shifting. If you were to ask me a few years back what I thought about Ammonia being used in refrigerant applications I would have said that I’m all for it. After all, it is one of the most energy efficient refrigerants out there. But now, as I have come across story after story about Ammonia leaking due to an accident, a fire, or poor maintenance my faith in the proper use of this has waned.

When Ammonia refrigerant does leak it is a big deal. It is not like an R-22 leak. Sure, with R-22 you’re releasing Chlorine into the atmosphere and potentially damaging the Ozone but no one around is in immediate danger. (As long as you are in a ventilated area.) Ammonia, or R-717, is toxic. That means if breathed in it can be deadly. The repercussions of mistakes or poor maintenance can affect a lot of people.

On April 18th, 2018 in the city of Dawson, Georgia there was yet another refrigerant Ammonia leak. This time it occurred at the Tyson Chicken processing plant. While it is difficult to find the exact specifics as to what happened what I have gathered is that somehow the Ammonia leaked and ignited not only causing it to be air born but also causing a fire. Firefighters were able to contain the fire and the leak. The Tyson plant is shutdown all of this week and some of next while the cause can be investigated and the damage can be repaired.

In this instance luckily, there were no fatalities or injuries were reported. However, just like with other Ammonia leaks many buildings were evacuated and nearby schools didn’t even hold classes on the 19th due to precautions. I’m always puzzled how this happens. How are their schools this close to an industrial plant? Take a look at the picture below to see just how close they are. Who is in charge of city planning there? One of these buildings had to come first.

Tyson Food Plant: Dawson, Georgia
Tyson Food Plant: Dawson, Georgia

Ammonia Leaks in the Past Six Months

As I mentioned above my confidence in Ammonia refrigeration has lessened as of late. My concern is not about the performance or cost of R-717 but over the safety to those working at the facilities and those living around them. Let’s take a quick look at some of the Ammonia refrigerant events that have happened within just the past six months. I’m sure this isn’t all of them but this should give us an idea of the actual danger that comes with using Ammonia.

  • Last fall in a small town in British Columbia, Canada an Ammonia leak occurred at a local Ice Rink. This leak did not go well and at the end of it there were three fatalities. Since this happened there has been a lot of pressure and oversight on Ammonia refrigeration systems. Inspections have stepped up and some business owners have begun looking at alternative refrigerants so that they can move away from R-717. This story can be found by clicking here.
  • Another incident that occurred less than a month ago was at a meat processing plant in South Carolina. In this example there were no injuries or fatalities but nearby citizens were awoken by police alerts at two in the morning. Not a fun way to wake up. This story can be found by clicking here.

Conclusion

I’ve said it before in other articles and I’ll say it again here folks. I believe we need to stop using hazardous or toxic refrigerants such as R-717. Yes, I know that it is one of the most energy efficient refrigerants out there but let me ask you is it really worth it? Or, should we begin moving towards alternative refrigerants that are still climate friendly but that do not have the risk that comes with toxic refrigerants such as Ammonia.  If the argument is climate over safety then I’m going to side with safety.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources