News

Kigali Amendment

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

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

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

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

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

The Good News

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Owner

Price Alert

The New Year has only just begun and already we are seeing refrigerant price changes coming to the market. Earlier today one of my contacts within the refrigerant industry reached out to me to share price increases that are coming down the pipeline. While so far these changes are from one or two manufacturers, I have seen from experience that other manufacturers typically follow suit. These price increases or decreases have reasoning behind them such as raw materials costing more, a shortage on materials or refrigerant, unexpected increased demand, logistics/freight issues, or a whole host of other possible issues. The point though is that if one manufacturer is experiencing a price increase then the others will usually be close behind them.

Now when I do articles like these that go into upcoming pricing changes I make sure to leave things anonymous to not only the source of the information but also to the company that has announced the pricing increases. It is not my place to share and publish internal company documents. By doing it this way I can protect myself and my business as well as still provide you, the reader, the much needed information on upcoming price changes.

The Changes

Ok folks, without further ado let’s dive in and take a look at the changes that were announced. Yesterday, a mailer was sent out by a leading refrigerant manufacturer. This mailer stated that as of next week, January 8th, prices would be going up six percent on HFC and HCFC refrigerants. The increase targets all of the most commonly used refrigerants today including R-22, R-134a, R-410A, R-404A, R-507A, R-407A, and R-407C.

While six percent doesn’t sound like a lot it really depends on the refrigerant that you are looking at. R-134a right now is trending between eighty to ninety dollars for a thirty pound cylinder. Six percent of that would be around five dollars more a cylinder. Not too much of an increase. However, if we take that same logic and look at R-22’s price which is hovering around four-hundred to four-hundred and fifty a thirty pound cylinder we can begin to see a larger impact. Lets take the four-hundred dollar price as an example. With that base price we’re looking at around twenty-four dollars more per thirty pound cylinder. Now we can begin to see a slight impact.

One more thing folks on these increases. The announced price increase on HFCs have only been from one manufacturer. The R-22 price increase though has now come from two different and distinct refrigerant manufacturers. Just like I stated above, most manufacturers are in tandem with each other and have their ears to the ground watching the trends. The chances are R-22 is going to go up around six percent across all manufacturers.

2019 is a big year for R-22 as this is the LAST year that any quantity can be physically produced or imported into the United States. When January 1st, 2020 hits that’s the end. Fin. No more. The only way to acquire R-22 then is either purchasing from distributors who have stockpiles on hand or purchasing form a certified refrigerant reclaimer.

Because of this upcoming rule change on R-22 the market in 2019 is unpredictable. No one knows for sure what’s going to happen. Could this six percent increase be the start of a snowball effect? Will the price keep going up and up this year as more and more people buy up everything they can? There was a time in 2017 where R-22 cylinders hit seven-hundred dollars a cylinder. Will we repeat this year? Or, is this six percent increase an anomaly or correction and the price will stabilize for the upcoming spring season?

Conclusion

Refrigerant pricing is unpredictable. Sure, I have written many articles trying to predict what will happen in the next year… and sometimes I’m right and other times I am way off. One thing I am certain of though is that these winter months are the absolute best time to buy. Prices are deflated and the demand is quite low. As spring edges closer the prices will begin to rise.

I remember back in the day when I was in charge of purchasing R-134a by the trailerload. We would always wait until the first week of February to place our orders. We’d do our negotiations in the middle/end of January and then send our purchase orders over that first week in February. Most of the time this ensured that we had a competitive price throughout the entire season and we didn’t have to scramble in the hot months to try and find a source of R-134a.

If you are interested in purchasing refrigerant please don’t hesitate to reach out to me by filling out the contact information below or by visiting our bulk refrigerants page. Please remember that we only sell in pallet and trailerload quantities. A pallet typically contains around forty cylinders.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

R-134yf

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

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

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

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

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

Preparing for 1234yf

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Owner

 

As most of you know we here at RefrigerantHQ are taking the time to put together what’s known as our fact and information sheets on each specific refrigerant that is out there. So far we have touched on quite a few HFC and even HFO refrigerants. But are good friends from days past, CFCs, have been neglected. I would be amiss if we forgot one of the most influential refrigerants out there, R-12. There may be some debate to this statement, but I believe that R-12 was and is the mother of all refrigerants. It was the foundation refrigerant and gave us the building blocks to other refrigerants that we see used every day around us.

But, what is R-12? What is the history behind this influential refrigerant? What is the significance of the Freon brand name? In this article we will answer these questions and more. Like with our previous fact sheets we will start this out with a table that goes over all of the upfront facts about R-12 Freon refrigerant. Let’s dive in and take a look!

The Facts

Name:R-12
Name - Scientific:Dichlorodifluoromethane
Name (2):CFC-12
Name (3):Freon-12
Name (4):Genetron 12
Name (5):Fluorocarbon 12
Name (6):Arcton-12
Classification:CFC Refrigerant
Chemistry:CCl2F2
Status:Phased Out Across The World Due to Montreal Protocol
Why Phased Out?Due To R-12 Damaging Ozone Layer
Future:Is Already Phased Out
Application:Very Wide Range of Applications - Can't Cover Them All!
Application (2):Refrigerators, Freezers, Ice Makers, Water Coolers
Application (3):Mobile Refrigeration Including Automotive & Refrigerated Transport
Application (4): Large Centrifugal Chillers, Open Drive AC, & Process
Cooling
Application (5):Misc High, Medium, or Low Temp Refrigerant Systems
Replacement For:Previous Hydrocarbons and Natural Refrigerants
Replaced By:Various Refrigerants, But Mainly R-22 and R-134a
Ozone Depletion Potential:1.0
Global Warming Potential:10,900
Toxicity Levels:A (No Toxicity Identified.)
Flammability Levels:Class 1 -No Flame Propagation.
Flash PointN/A - Not Flammable
Lubricant Required:Mineral Oil, also known as Alkyl Benzene.
Boiling Point:-29.8° Celsius or -21.64° Fahrenheit or 243.3° Kelvin
Critical Temperature:111.97° Celsius or 233.55° Fahrenheit or 385.12° Kelvin
Critical Pressure (Absolute):4,136 (KPA)
Atmospheric Lifetime (Years)100
Molecular Mass120.90 g·mol−1
Manufacturers:Various Including: Honeywell, Chemours, Arkema, Mexichem, Chinese, etc.
Manufacturing Facilities:All Shut Down Due to Phase Out (Maybe in China Still!)
Form:Gas
Color:Colorless Liquid & Vapor
Odor:Ether Like At Very High Concentrations
EPA Certification Required:Yes, Section 608 Certification Required To Use
Require Certification to Purchase?Yes, Section 608 Certification Required To Purchase
Cylinder Color:White
Cylinder Design:Thirty Pound Cylinder
Cylinder Design (2):
Price Point:VERY HIGH - $600 Upwards to $1,000 Per Cylinder
Future Price Prediction:Price Has Been Stable Due To Phase Out
Where to Buy Can or Cylinder?EBay.com Is Your Best Bet - Click Here To View Available Product
Bulk Purchasing:CLICK FOR A QUOTE!

Thoughts on R-12

I mentioned at the beginning of this article that R-12 is the ‘mother’ of all refrigerants. This is because R-12 was the very first mainstream refrigerant that saw usage and development around the world. Before the arrival of R-12 there was a mish-mash of natural refrigerants being used with hit and miss results. Either the refrigerant being used was toxic like R-717 (Ammonia), the refrigerant operated at too high of a pressure like R-744 (Carbon Dioxide), the refrigerant had a high flammability rating like R-290 (Propane), or the refrigerant was just too expensive for widespread usage. The invention of R-12 provided an answer to the price question as well as the safety question. Because of this, it’s usage exploded. I won’t get into all of the details here, but will save the more in-depth discussion about R-12’s history in our next section.

For now folks, let’s take a look at some of the most notable facts about R-12:

  • First and foremost, you should know that R-12 has been completely phased out in the United States and across the world. This refrigerant was phased out due to it’s Ozone Depletion Potential or ODP. The short version of what happened here is that when R-12 was vented or released into the atmosphere it would not break down as it made it’s way up to the stratosphere. Instead, the Chlorine in the chemical composition would stay intact and eventually cause damage to what’s known as the Ozone layer. This layer acts as a shield from ultraviolet rays from the sun. If this layer was gone or severely weakened then the radiation would begin to come through and cases of skin cancer and other diseases would begin to surface much more frequently. That’s the tamest of the scenarios of a damaged Ozone. R-12 along with other CFC and HCFC refrigerants were banned to prevent any further damage to the Ozone and to allow the Ozone layer to heal.
  • I mentioned this earlier but R-12 was the first refrigerant that was actually safe to use. It can be traced back to the 1930’s and back then there just wasn’t a ‘good’ refrigerant to use. Sure, there were some refrigerant and air conditioning applications that could be found, but they were rare and they had a high risk of failure. In some cases this risk of failure was also a risk to your safety. R-12 came around and provided consumers and businesses with a safe and cheaper alternative refrigerant.
  • R-12 has a relatively low boiling point at only -29.8° Celsius or -21.64° Fahrenheit. If you compare this to some of the other refrigerants out there such as R-22 (-40.7° C), R-744 (-78.0° C), or R-410A (-48.5° C). You can begin to see the significant difference here between R-12’s boiling point and other refrigerants. This low boiling point was also a key factor in the varying applications that R-12 was used for. Due to the wide range of applications, the low boiling point, the low price, and the safety features R-12 exploded in growth across the globe.
  • The end of R-12’s reign began in the 1980’s and went into the early 1990’s. I mentioned the Ozone layer problem above. Well, all of this started in the early 1980’s and came to it’s conclusion in the early 1990’s when the last step of phasing out R-12 began. This last step was in automotive applications. If you were to have bought a car in 1991 or 1992 you would have most likely had R-12 refrigerant. However, if you were to purchase a vehicle in 1994 or 1995 then your vehicle would have been using the new HFC R-134a refrigerant.
  • Today, in 2019 R-12 is very difficult to find. If you do find it the chances are it is a rusted out cylinder that may have been damaged. Any R-12 cylinders left in circulation today are products that someone squirreled away twenty or thirty years ago. Now, if the refrigerant was stored properly in a climate controlled warehouse without exposure to moisture then it most likely still has virgin pure R-12 refrigerant in it. However, if it has been exposed or damaged then the quality may be compromised. Most of the time these cylinders can be found on EBay.com, but make sure that you are section 608 certified with the EPA before you purchase. You will have to provide your certification number.
  • Along with the increased rarity of R-12 you will also notice that price has gone through the roof. A thirty pound virgin cylinder in good condition may be closer to one-thousand dollars. Some of the damaged cylinders we mentioned above may be around five-hundred to six-hundred dollars. Be sure to pay attention when purchasing some of these as in most cases the cylinder has been opened and some of it has already been used. So, you may end up only getting twenty or twenty-five pounds out of your thirty pound cylinder.

    1981 Ford-F150
    1981 Ford-F150
  • The good news is that today very little people actually need R-12 Freon. Most of the applications have been retired and scrapped. The only exception that I know of in today’s world (2019) is automotive restorers. My father as an example restores classic cars as a hobby. Most of the models he works on are from 1950’s and air conditioning wasn’t as prevalent then. But, let’s pretend you’re working on my dream restoration car, a 1981 F-150. In this case you would have to make a decision on rather to use the original air conditioning system and get your hands on a few cans of R-12. Or, you could install or retrofit over to an R-134a system. Besides these exceptions, I don’t see another need for R-12 being used in the world today.
  • The last point that I want to make is that in recent years (2018-2019) we have had reports of R-11 and other CFC refrigerants being found again in the atmosphere. This is odd as all of these were phased out twenty years ago. How are they being found again? In one specific instance the R-11 traces were able to be traced to a province in China. A company in China was actively producing R-11 foam and refrigerants for use throughout the country and for exports. The Chinese Government denied any affiliation with this company and have since gone after the company.

R-12 Refrigerant History

In the early 1900’s the world was looking for a solution for refrigeration and air conditioning. There had been numerous experiments and trials on differing refrigerants ranging from Ammonia, Carbon Dioxide, Propane, Sulfur Dioxide, and Methyl Chloride. Each one of these refrigerants were able to provide cooling and refrigeration but they all had potential downsides. It could have been safety concerns through toxicity or flammability, high pressure, or an inflated price point. There needed to be a more viable refrigerant introduced into the marketplace.

It was in the 1930’s that a partnership was formed between two companies: General Motors and DuPont. This partnership organized by Charles Kettering of General Motors was geared towards solving this problem. Over the new few years Thomas Midgley Jr, along with a few other team members, pushed forward with the invention of ChloroFluroCarbons (CFCs) and HydroChloroFluroCarbons (HCFCs). Out of these inventions two primary refrigerants came: R-12 and R-22. The introduction of R-12 showed the world that a refrigerant was possible that was safe, economical, and easily adapted to various applications.

In just a few decades R-12 and R-22 were found in nearly every home and business across the world. The explosive growth of refrigerant and air conditioning continued to propel forwards for decades and decades. All of this came to a head in the 1980’s when a team of scientists based out of California realized that the Chlorine found in these ever popular refrigerants were causing damage to the Ozone layer. What would happen is a machine would either develop a leak, or the refrigerant would be vented, or the machine would be scrapped entirely and refrigerant would leak out. This leaked refrigerant would work it’s way up into the atmosphere and stagnate in the Stratosphere. There the Chlorine found in R-12 would degrade and harm the Ozone layer. All of this got so bad over the decades of CFC and HCFC use 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 today’s world R-12 is a very rare occurrence. Most machines and systems that were using it have since been retired. Like I mentioned in a previous section, the only use cases that I know of in the year 2019 are those folks who are restoring classic automobiles. Even in these cases though I believe most people are going the retrofit route and changing their systems over to R-134a. The cost of R-12 is just too expensive and we all know that a fully restored classic car is never entirely original. There are always aftermarket parts that find their way in.

Conclusion

While R-12 Freon refrigerant is a thing of the past we should always remember where we came from. In today’s world HFC refrigerants are being phased out just like their CFC and HCFC cousins. The refrigerant industry is constantly evolving and changing. In another twenty years the world may be using something completely different then we are today. The thing to keep in mind though is that we approach 2030 we should take the time and honor the R-12 invention from a one-hundred years ago that got us to this point.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

 

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Hello all. I hope everyone had a great Christmas and a good upcoming New Years. I took most of the last week off of work and working on RefrigerantHQ. Sometimes it is nice to take a step back and spend some relaxing time with the family.

During this time I was thinking about what I wanted to accomplish in 2019 for RefrigerantHQ. 2018 was a great year for the website and we saw a lot of growth. In 2017 we ended the year at three-hundred and seventy-thousand views. While there are still a few days left in 2018 I can safely say that we will end this year at five-hundred and forty-thousand views. That is nearly fifty percent year over year growth. Not a bad number if you ask me!

Breaking these same numbers down per day we find that we are averaging around fifteen-hundred views per day for the 2018 year. This was again a nearly fifty percent year over year increase. Obviously, our best month this year was in July at just over one-hundred thousand visitors and our worst month this year is this month at around twenty-thousand views.

We also saw significant growth in our mailing list subscribers. We started 2018 at just over six-hundred subscribers and we are now over sixteen-hundred. We aim to have over twenty-five hundred by the end of 2019.

Recognition

Along with the growth we mentioned above RefrigerantHQ has also begun to be noticed by those within the industry. Towards the beginning of the year we were invited to a refrigerant trade show put on by the SHECCO company. While we appreciated the invitation we were not yet in the position to began attending trade shows.

Please remember that RefrigerantHQ is a hobby of mine and I still have my full-time employment to balance as well as my wife and kids. There are times where it can be tough and I have yet to find the time to attend some of these trade shows. However, as the years progress and growth continues you may begin to see a RefrigerantHQ presence at industry trade events.

Throughout the year we have received story leads and topic ideas from various folks including some of the larger names within the industry such as Chemours and Honeywell. If you have any topic ideas feel free to reach out to me and let me know. The more the better!

This summer we had a lunch meeting with ITW Sexton, also known as Sexton Cans. Sexton, based out of Decatur, Alabama, is the company that is behind the refrigerant cans that you find in automotive stores and dealership shelves. Their products are DOT and ISO certified and they stand behind their quality.

Lastly, earlier this month we met with some folks from Harp International. Harp is a global distributor of refrigerants based out of the United Kingdom. During their visit to Americas they booked an extra flight in Kansas City to meet me for lunch. We had a few beers in downtown Kansas City and talked about the wonderful topic of refrigerants for a few hours. They were good contacts to establish and I look forward to meeting with them in the future. I occasionally travel to Brussels for my day job, so we might just have to arrange a visit!

2019 & The Future

The future of RefrigerantHQ is growth, of course. But, what kind of growth? I’ve been thinking about this for a while as I plan out how I want to grow the website. This time last year I thought adding community forums would be a good way to grow and also offer another feature for my readers. After piloting this for around six months I found that it just wasn’t worth it. The forums became overrun with spam and fake messages and then towards the end of July the forums allowed hackers to infiltrate my site. The site was down for a week while I made frantic repairs.

Looking towards next year one goal that I have in mind is to create more and more of our Refrigerant Fact Sheets. These posts focus on providing anything and everything to do with a specific refrigerant. The goal here is to have a one stop place to answer any question on a refrigerant. Eventually, we will have a fact sheet for every popular refrigerant out there… and maybe for every single refrigerant.

Along with the fact sheets we will also be keeping up with the latest refrigerant news here in the United States. This includes regulation changes, pricing changes, supply and demand, tariffs, and everything else. We want to be the place you go to for the latest news and changes within the industry. If over the next year you know of a story or article that should be written please do not hesitate to reach out to me either via e-mail, Twitter, or Facebook. Chances are we will review the story and write it up for our subscribers.

Also, if you feel like something is missing from the website or there is something that you are always looking for online and can never find please let me know. I’m always looking for that next big idea within the industry.

Conclusion

Next year our predicted view count should surpass seven-hundred thousand. My optimistic goal is to hit over eight-hundred but the seven-hundred number is more then reasonable and should be easily accomplished. This traffic will be a mix from all corners of the industry including manufacturers, distributors, contractors, technicians, and even end-users.

I’ve mentioned this earlier and in previous posts, but my goal with RefrigerantHQ is to turn it into a full fledged refrigerant magazine and for it to turn into a full time income source. Today there are multiple revenue streams that are helping me reach this goal.

I have considered offering advertising on my website as well from various sponsors throughout the industry. While I have had a few inquiries I have yet to sign with a company. At this point I am uncertain if this is the business model I want to move forward with. Time will tell.

If any of you have other ideas for potential revenue streams I am open to suggestions.

Thanks for reading and I hope you and your family have a great New Year!

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Owner

There is no better indicator or barometer within the industry then the Carrier Corporation. After all, they are one of the biggest and most stable air conditioning manufacturers out there. They are one the ‘trend setters’ within the industry. When a business decision is made everyone watches, observes, and they may even imitate. The same can be said when they choose a new refrigerant.

That is exactly what happened. The Carrier Corporation along with Chemours announced today that Carrier would be transitioning their ducted residential and commercial air conditioning products away from R-410A and over to R-454B. This new refrigerant R-454B, also known as XL41, is an HFO refrigerant from Chemours under their Opteon brand name. The transition for Carrier is scheduled to begin by the year 2023. This is a big deal folks. This could very well be the beginning of the end for R-410A. Especially if other companies began to follow suit.

As most of you know there has been a battle going on for the past few years as to what refrigerant will be the golden choice to replace R-410A. It seems like Puron has only been around for a few years but now there are already companies and countries pushing it out and wanting a better more climate friendly alternative. As I write this article today there is still not one clear and defined winner. None of this isn’t for lack of trying though. There are all sorts of 410A alternatives out there, the problem is none of them were gaining significant traction. This news from the Carrier corporation adds fuel to the fire for R-454B. Along with Carrier some other prominent companies have announced their support for XL41 including Johnson Controls and York. With Carrier coming on board I wouldn’t be surprised if we begin to see more companies announce their support in the not too distant future.

The big distinction here and the reason companies are switching to XL41 is that it has a significantly lessened Global Warming Potential then the other alternatives out there. R-454B has a GWP of only four-hundred and sixty-seven. That is nearly eighty percent less GWP then R-410A and even thirty percent less then the proposed R-32 alternative. This very low GWP gives companies and manufacturers peace of mind knowing that they will meet future climate targets today if they make the switch. I would be apt to purchase one of these machines if I knew it was going to stand the test of time and not have to go through a phase down/phase out period.

The downside though with this newer HFO refrigerant is that ASHRAE has it rated as an A2L. The 2L is what may worry some of you, as that means that the refrigerant has lower flammability rating and a lower burning velocity. While some of you may already have experience working with lower or even mildly flammable refrigerants others may not. In reality though folks, flammable refrigerants are perfectly safe as long as you follow all of the proper precautions and safety procedures.

Conclusion

For more information on R-454B please click this link to be taken to our official fact and information sheet on the refrigerant. This sheet attempts to provide any and all information you would ever need on 454B. Rather it’s the GWP, the chemistry, what’s in the blend, the temperature glide, or anything else we aim to have it in our fact sheet. If while reading you find something that isn’t accurate or if you found that we missed something please do not hesitate to reach out to me and let me know. I want RefrigerantHQ to be a great resource for those of us in the industry and I can’t do that if I have mistakes up!

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Hello ladies and gentlemen and welcome to RefrigerantHQ. Today we will be taking an in-depth look at the newer HFO refrigerant from Chemours known as R-454B or XL41. This Opteon HFO refrigerant was created as an alternative to the ever commonly used R-410A Puron. While we have only been using 410A for around ten years or so there is already a push to phase down 410A usage and replace it with a refrigerant with much lesser Global Warming Potential.

One of the top contenders to replace R-410A is this new HFO refrigerant known as R-454B. In this article we’re going to take a look at all of the facts about this refrigerant and also share our thoughts about the refrigerant. If you see anything that is missing or if anything is inaccurate please reach out to me and I will correct as soon as possible.

The Facts

Name:R-454B
Name (2):XL41 (Opteon)
BrandOpteon (Chemours)
Classification:HFOs
Chemistry:HFO Blend: R-32 (68.9%) & R-1234yf (31.1%)
Chemistry (2):Click Here for R-32 Fact Sheet
Chemistry (3):Click Here for R-1234yf Fact Sheet
Status:Active & Growing Market.
Future:Set to Replace R-410A Applications
Application:Residential & Commercial Air-Conditioning.
Application (2):Heat Pumps & Chillers
Replacement For:R-410A Puron
Retrofitting From R-410A?No, New Machines Only.
Why Can't I Retrofit?Due to 2L Flammability Rating.
Ozone Depletion Potential:0
Global Warming Potential:467 (78% Less Then R-410A)
Toxicity Levels:A (No Toxicity Identified.)
Flammability Levels:Class 2L - Lower Flammability
Lubricant Required:POE
Boiling Point (101.3 kpa):-50.9° Celsius or -59.62° Fahrenheit.
Temperature Glide-1.5 K or -462.37 Fahrenheit
Critical Temperature:77.11 Celsius or 170.60° Fahrenheit
Liquid Density (21.1 °C)996.5 kg/m3 (62.2 lb/ft3)
Auto ignition Temperature:Unknown ( Couldn't Find)
Burning Velocity (23 °C)5.2 cm/s (2.0 in/s)
Molar Mass111.8
Molecular Weight62.6 g/mol
Manufacturers:Chemours
Manufacturing Facilities:United States (Texas)
Form:Gas
Color:Colorless Liquid & Vapor
Odor:Slight, ether-like
EPA Certification Required:Yes, 608 certification required by January 1st, 2018.
Require Certification to Purchase?Yes, 608 certification required by January 1st, 2018.
Cylinder Color:Undefined by ASHRAE
Safety Data Sheet (SDS)Click here (Sourced from Climalife.co.uk)
Bulk Purchasing:CLICK FOR A QUOTE!

Thoughts on R-454B

R-454B, or XL41, was invented and designed by the Chemours company as an alternative to R-410A applications. These applications include your traditional home air conditioners, your commercial air conditioners, heat pumps, and the occasional chiller. XL41 is a blended HFO refrigerant is comprised of sixty-eight point nine percent R-32 and thirty-one point one percent R-1234yf.

One of the biggest attractions of R-454B is the savings in whats known as Global Warming Potential, or GWP. Every refrigerant out there rather it is a hundred years old or it was just invented yesterday has a GWP rating. GWP is a measurement on how potent a certain chemical is to the environment. The higher the GWP number the worse it is. Like with all scales, there needs to be a zeroing point. In this case the zero scale is Carbon Dioxide, or R-744. CO2 has a GWP number of one. As a comparison the commonly used R-410A refrigerant has a GWP of two-thousand and eighty-eight.

Looking at that number we can begin to see the problem with R-410A. It is directly contributing to Global Warming and Climate Change. The reason R-454B is being selected for newer applications is due to it’s much lower Global Warming Potential. 454B’s GWP is four-hundred and sixty-seven. That is nearly an eighty percent decrease when compared to Puron. This impressive number puts it at the lowest GWP alternative to R-410A. To give you some perspective, the other contender as an R-410A replacement, R-32, has a GWP of six-hundred and seventy-five. R-454B is an additional thirty percent lower. Along with that, 454B has a zero Ozone Depletion Potential rating so there is no risk there either. It is a very healthy refrigerant for the environment.

R-454B, or XL41, is classified as an HydroFluroOlefin refrigerant. These types of refrigerants, known as HFOs, are known for a few things. The first is that they have significantly lower Global Warming Potential then the commonly used HFC refrigerants of today. This fact right here checks a lot of boxes for business owners and manufacturers and may be enough to get them on board. However, like with any refrigerant, there is always a downside. HFO refrigerants are also known for their flammability. It seems we never can truly ‘win’ with refrigerants. There are always Pros and Cons.

In the case of R-454B it is rated by ASHRAE as an A2L. The A rating is great as it indicates that the refrigerant is not toxic. Other refrigerants with this same ratings are R-22, R-134a, and R-410A. The problem though lies in the 2L rating. This indicates a lower flammability rating for R-454B. Most of the common HFC refrigerants that we handle today are rated as a 1 by ASHRAE. A 1 rated refrigerant indicates that there is no risk of flame propagation. A 2 rated refrigerant has a lower flammability rating. Now, a 2L rated refrigerant means that along with the lower flammability we also have a lower burning velocity. This 2L sits R-454B right in the middle of the flammability refrigerant scale. While HFCs are rated as a 1 other very flammable refrigerants like Propane (R-290) are rated at a 3.

While a flammable refrigerant may sound intimidating and dangerous we should mention that they are perfectly safe and are used everyday throughout various Asian countries such as Japan and Korea. They do this daily and prevent accidents due to two major factors. The first is that they take the proper precautions when installing and handling flammable refrigerants. The second is routine maintenance. If you follow your training and ensure that everything is done by the book you’ll be fine.

Regardless though, the thought of working with flammable refrigerant deters a lot of technicians and contractors from using these newer HFO refrigerants. Lastly, since R-454B has an increased flammability rating then R-410A you are NOT able to retrofit existing 410A machines over to take R-454B. This is due to the specialized parts and components that a flammable refrigerant needs for it to work safely. If you wish to go with R-454B refrigerant you will need to purchase a whole new machine.

A few other notes worth sharing on R-454B:

  • XL41/454B is rated as five percent more efficient then R-410A Puron.
  • 454B offers the lowest GWP alternative to R-410A all without compromising on system performance.
  • While retrofitting isn’t possible, R-454B will not require major equipment modifications.

Conclusion

It is far too early to say rather or not R-454B will be the fabled R-410A killer or not. There are numerous alternatives out there that are all gaining traction. The question now though is will one of these began to gain speed over the others? Will companies around the globe began to pick one over the other? It may already be happening with R-454B. There are numerous articles and stories out there about companies moving away from R-410A and over to R-454B. Just a few of these companies are Carrier, York, and Johnson Controls. These are all huge names in the industry and may indicate a turning point.

But, as I said before folks, at this point it is still a guessing game. The true alternative for R-410A may have not even made it’s debut yet. Time will only tell.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

It was announced last week that the State of Washington would be joining four other states in having their own HFC phase down plan. The announcement came from the desk of Governor Jay Inslee. While it is still preliminary and needs to be approved by the State Congress the hopes are high that this will be the first step in reducing HFCs across the state. The proposed plan outlines over two-hundred and seventy million dollars aimed at reducing Climate Change across Washington. Out of this allotment the HFC phase down will receive just under one million dollars. The end goal here is having HFC usage across the state down to twenty-five percent below 1990 levels by the year 2035.

As I said above, Washington will now make the fifth state with a targeted HFC phase down plan. California, like in many cases, was the first state to introduce their HFC plan and then not too much after New York announced a similar plan. The very next week after New York announced Maryland and Connecticut announced their plans. (I wrote a story about this that can be found by clicking here).

As you can see, this is the beginning of a domino effect. With each state that moves forward with an HFC phase down plan there is more and more pressure applied to manufacturers and distributors throughout the country. It doesn’t matter if you are a car manufacturer based out of Louisiana. If you’re making cars you want those cars to be able to be sold throughout all fifty states. It wouldn’t make much sense to have cars specifically targeted to one set of states and then a different car targeted to another. It’s not good business sense. Manufacturers want uniformity.

This line of thinking by manufacturers is what will allow the United States to push forward with HFC phase downs even without the Kigali Amendment ratified or the EPA’s SNAP Rule 20 in place. While we have seen quite a bit of turmoil at the Federal level we are still able to see results due to individual states pushing forward. In the case of this latest article on Washington we should also note that Washington was a founding member of what’s known as the ‘Climate Alliance.’ The Climate Alliance is a collection of sixteen states that have all agreed to work towards reducing their carbon footprint and to fighting Climate Change/Global Warming. This alliance is set to grown next year when newly elected Democratic governors from Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois come to office.

This alliance is the first step in phasing down HFC’s across the country. It seems to be the only feasible strategy at this point. Everything else has failed and even if we only get twenty states on board, that should be enough. All we need is enough population and buying power on board with phasing down HFCs. The moment that happens is the moment we will begin to see manufacturers switching over to alternative refrigerants. The ones that do not make the switch will see their sales and margins drop. They may have to be dragged along kicking and screaming, but in the end we all know that money talks. If you can’t sell a R-404A system to your customer in California then you’re going to look for an alternative. It’s that simple.

The only downside here I can see by having states do this on their own is that the timeline will most likely be extended. As an example, let’s look at R-134a. In the case of 134a the EPA’s targeted phase down on new vehicles was set for 2020. (2021 model years.) That regulation date has since been removed due to court rulings.

The question now though is how close will we come to EPA’s original date? Will we be a few years past, or will it take a decade for enough states to get on board? Time will tell, but if the past few months have been any indicator then I would say we can expect many more states announcing their plans to phase down HFC refrigerants.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

A few years back there was a lot of debate between varying refrigerant manufacturers and distributors on rather there should be tariffs installed on Chinese imported refrigerant. The argument was that China was dumping very low priced, often government subsidized, HFC refrigerants into the United States. The constant supply of imports caused the prices to shrink and shrink. This price depression ended up hurting American companies.

I remember a specific instance about eight years ago where I was working on a trailer load purchase of R-134a. (Forty cylinders to a pallet and twenty pallets on a trailer.) I called around to all of the usual players looking to get the absolute best price. Often times I would leverage one distributor against the other trying to get them as low as I could. Well during this time I was receiving quotes around the sixty dollar range. Some were high sixties, some middle, and others towards the lower end. If I was lucky I could find a distributor selling at a fifty-nine or fifty-eight dollars a cylinder.

During this same time the company I worked for was experimenting with importing their own product. We hadn’t officially done any imports, but we were testing the waters. In the case of this trailer load purchase of R-134a we went ahead and requested quotes from China. The quotes I received back were astonishing. I had three to four quotes and each and everyone was hovering around forty to forty-five dollars a cylinder. Yes, we had to pay freight to get the product over the ocean… but it was negligible when looking at that forty dollar price range. In the end we ended up going with an American distributor and paid the higher price. The import process wasn’t worth the headache to us, but to many others it was.

These drastic price differences between US and China refrigerants caused the overall price to drop and drop. This dropping price began to eat into the pockets of local distributors and manufacturers. As the years passed their margins shrunk and shrunk. If the price depression kept up then it wouldn’t make business sense to continue producing and selling domestic refrigerant. In order to correct this price depression suits were filed with the United States International Trade Commission. These suits requested an anti-dumping tariff on R-134a as well as other common HFC refrigerants. The aim was to install tariffs on Chinese imported refrigerant that would inflate the cost of these refrigerants so that they would be more in line with the American market price point. In essence, it would level the playing field and put China product on equal footing with American.

There was quite a bit of debate on these suits and they took quite a while to come to fruition. I remember watching the headlines and the moment any potential ruling would come out the price on refrigerants would jump up or down overnight. Eventually, a decision was made by the Trade Commission. In the summer of 2016 the Commission agreed to install anti-dumping tariffs on HFC refrigerant blends. The big ones here are R-410A and R-404A. While having the tariff approved was great news… there was a small problem. The tariff was ONLY on the specific blended refrigerants, so only on R-410A and R-404A. (Other blends as well.) The tariff was NOT on the components of those refrigerants. In other words, if I imported Chinese R-410A refrigerant today I would pay the tariff. However, if I import Chinese R-125 and R-32 into the US then I face no tariffs. (R-125 and R-32 blended equals R-410A.) Begin to see the problem here?

Once this ruling was announced there was a change within the industry, but it was only slight. Now all of the Chinese importers moved from purchasing R-410A over to purchasing the component refrigerants and then blending the refrigerant in house. We are now back to square one due to a governmental oversight. The good news here is that R-134a is not a blend and an anti-dumping tariff was levied against it in spring of 2017.

The Future

In an effort to change the ruling from 2016 an additional suit has been filed with the International Trade Commission. This additional suit has requested tariffs be placed on imported refrigerant blend components as well. This would include your R-125, R-32, and other similar refrigerants. What’s unique about this is that manufacturers that are usually at odds with each other are working together to stop the flow of Chinese refrigerants. Arkema, Chemours, and Honeywell have all joined and pushed this suit forward to the Trade Commission.

At this point in time we are all still waiting on a ruling from the Trade Commission. It was announced last week that the Commission needs an additional two months before a decision can be made. (Link) They gave themselves the deadline of March 11th. We’ll see if that comes to fruition or not.

While we all sit patiently and wait to see what happens here I can only imagine what will happen to the prices of these refrigerants if a tariff is installed. Yes, it may be for the good of American companies but are American consumers and contractors happily going to pay the increased price? Will the price points with tariffs be perfectly in line with what the American market is? Or, will we price the Chinese product so far out of market that we consumers will buy American be default?

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

In an effort to build our refrigerant fact and information sheets further we have taken the time today to put together some details on the HFC R-32 refrigerant. Like in our previous fact sheets we will first go over all of the details about this refrigerant and then we will touch on some of the most notable points. Without further ado, let’s take a look:

The Facts

Name:R-32
Name - Scientific:Difluoromethane
Name (2):HFC-32
Classification:HFC Refrigerant
Chemistry:CH2F2
Chemistry (2):Carbon fluoride hydride
Chemistry (3):Methylene difluoride
Chemistry (4):Methylene fluoride
Status:Active & Growing Market.
Future:May be Phased Out in Next Ten-Twenty Years Due to GWP.
Application:Residential & Commercial Air-Conditioning.
Application (2):Industrial Refrigeration
Application (3):Key Ingredient in the R-410A Puron Blend.
Application (4):Key Ingredient to other refrigerant blends such as R-407A, R-407B, etc.
Replacement For:R-22 Freon & R-410A Puron
Ozone Depletion Potential:0
Global Warming Potential:675
Toxicity Levels:A (No Toxicity Identified.)
Flammability Levels:Class 2 - Lower Flammability
Lubricant Required:POE
Boiling Point:-52.5° Celsius or -62.0° Fahrenheit.
Critical Temperature:78.11 Celsius or 172.60° Fahrenheit
Critical Pressure:5.72 MPA or 829.62 pound-force per square inch.
Auto ignition Temperature:648° Celsius or 1,198° Fahrenheit
Manufacturers:Various Including: Honeywell, Chemours, Arkema, Mexichem, Chinese, etc.
Manufacturing Facilities:All Over Including: USA, Mexico, EU, China, and others.
Form:Gas
Color:Colorless Liquid & Vapor
EPA Certification Required:Yes, 608 certification required by January 1st, 2018.
Require Certification to Purchase?Yes, 608 certification required by January 1st, 2018.
Cylinder Color:Undefined by ASHRAE
Bulk Purchasing:CLICK FOR A QUOTE!

Thoughts on R-32

You may not know this but R-32 is one of the most popular refrigerants in the world. While you may not physically see it everyday I can assure you that it is riding in the back of your service van as you travel from customer to customer. Not sure what I mean? Well R-32 is one of the key ingredients to form R-410A Puron. So, while you may not be carrying around a cylinder of R-32 you are carrying around Puron that was made from R-32. In fact, R-32 is used in quite a bit of blends in today’s world. It is used to create various refrigerants such as: R-410A, R-407A, R-407B, R-407C, R-407D, R-407E, R-407F and R-410B. R-32 along with R-125 are some of the most versatile refrigerants used today.

While we are used to using R-32 as a blend it is also seeing a rise of usage in residential and commercial air conditioners. This rise started in the eastern countries like Japan, Korea, India, and now Australia. Japan alone has over ten million R-32 units installed and running. These countries are using R-32 as an alternative to the higher Global Warming Potential (GWP) R-410A Puron. In fact some of them just skipped right from R-22 over to R-32 and didn’t even bother with R-410A. While R-32 isn’t perfect with it’s six-hundred and seventy-five GWP it is significantly better then R-410A’s GWP of two-thousand and eighty-eight. That’s a nearly seventy percent decrease in GWP just by using R-32 over R-410A. This switch from R-410A over to R-32 has also begun to pick up speed over in the European Union. 

Over here in America though the move from 410A to 32 has been much slower. In fact you would be hard pressed to find a full residential or commercial R-32 air conditioning unit. This is mainly due to R-32 not being SNAP approved for larger air conditioning units. (SNAP approval list can be found by clicking here.) Now, I’ll be honest with you folks here. I was a bit confused when writing this article. When I looked through the EPA’s listing of refrigerants approved for home and light commercial air conditioning I didn’t find R-32 listed. However, I did find articles where R-32 units are being manufactured and used right here in the United States. The only difference that I could find was that these units being manufactured here are very small air conditioning units mainly for hotel rooms. The story from the CoolingPost can be found by clicking here. The distinction I can see here is that the smaller air conditioners used for hotels were approved by SNAP under a different application category.

While R-32 may not be listed in the EPA’s SNAP approved refrigerant it’s usage is spreading across the world. I have read many articles stating that R-32 is expected to be the standard refrigerant for home and commercial traditional split air conditioners. There are a lot of benefits to R-32, number one being reducing the carbon footprint and Global Warming Potential. Another point is that R-32 doesn’t require as high as a charge as 410A does. (Twenty percent less) So, you save money on efficiency and also when replacing the refrigerant in case of a leak or repair down the road. Another big pro on R-32 that not a lot of folks realize is that 32 is a single refrigerant. It is NOT a blended refrigerant. That simple fact can make a big difference when you go to recover, recycle, or even try to reclaim a blended refrigerant. I’ve been told by a few reclaimers that R-410A is nearly impossible to reclaim as a recovered cylinder may only contain eighty percent of one refrigerant. The reclaimer then has to tap into a virgin bottle of the missing refrigerant to get the blend back to the proper ratios. You will not have this problem with R-32.

It’s not all a bed of roses though folks. As with any refrigerant there are always upsides and downsides. In the case of R-32 the big downside is it’s safety rating. Unlike Ammonia R-717, it is not the toxicity that we need to worry about. No, in the case of R-32 it’s the flammability. Depending on where you look R-32 is either rated as a 2 or a 2L on the refrigerant flammability scale. (Our official ‘Refrigerant Toxicity & Flammability,’ article can be found by clicking here.) What this means folks is that there is risk of ignition when working with or using R-32. I’m not going to sugarcoat it here and try to sell you the refrigerant. If the refrigerant is handled improperly or if it is in too enclosed of a space then there is risk of ignition. It’s as simple as that. Obviously the larger the load of refrigerant you are dealing with the greater the risk there is. For more information on the risk of R-32 igniting click here to be taken to AirAH.org.au’s R-32 common questions page. The excerpt we’re looking for here is on page 2 under, ‘How easy is R-32 To Ignite?’

Tests carried out by Daikin and Suwa ,Tokyo University of Science show that even if combustion of R32 occurs (at concentrations of more than 320g/m3), it is not explosive and the possibility of fire spreading is extremely low. – Source

Over in the Asian countries this risk doesn’t seem to bother them and they more or less do just fine with R-32. Sure, there are always accidents but even these accidents can be non-events if everything is done properly and safely. Over here in America though there seems to be an aversion to dealing with flammable refrigerants such as R-32 and R-290. I’m not sure if this is just a fear of the unknown, resistance to change, or if there just no market for it. Perhaps in the future, the EPA will lift some restrictions on R-32 and techs will begin to get a feel for these flammable refrigerants.

I may have mentioned this before, but it should be brought up again. While R-32 is being marketed as a great alternative to R-410A you should know that R-32 cannot be dropped in as a replacement in an existing R-410A system. If you or your customer wants to go the R-32 route then they will need to purchase a new system specifically designed to run R-32. If you do not then you risk damaging your entire system by putting the wrong refrigerant in it. You wouldn’t put diesel in a Ford Focus would you? The same principle applies. Your 410A air conditioner is specifically made to handle 410A and your 32 system is specifically designed to handle 32. It is also worth mentioning that you should NOT attempt to retrofit a 410A unit over to 32. It is simply not safe. This is because of the 2L flammability rating. The components of an 410A machine were simply not built to safely handle flammable refrigerants. You can read more about reasons NOT to retrofit by clicking here.

The last thing I want to mention on R-32 is that it is not a miracle refrigerant. As we all know each refrigerants has it’s ups and downs. The only reason R-32 looks so sexy right now is it’s lower Global Warming Potential when compared to R-410A. But, when we are done with 410A, or when something sexier comes along, the world will drop R-32 just like it is beginning to drop R-410A. I don’t see 410A lasting another fifteen years with the ways thing are going. R-32 will be close behind it as well. While everyone is pushing for R-32 right now I am stand back from the crowd with skepticism. I predict R-32 will be gone in another twenty years. Is it worth it to the climate, the business owners, and the consumers to purchase a whole new generation of R-32 machines just to see them phased out in another ten or fifteen years?

As to what R-32 will be replaced with, I have no idea. Your guess is as good as mine. Perhaps we will see a natural refrigerant come to rise. There is always new technology being developed to accommodate these natural refrigerants and with these new technologies we are able to easily apply natural refrigerants where it was once impossible. One example off the top of my head is Daimler using R-744 Carbon Dioxide in automotive applications. Rewind ten years ago and no one had heard of such a thing. Now it is in quite a few Daimler model vehicles. Maybe instead of natural refrigerants the next generation of home and commercial air conditioners will see a refrigerant that just hasn’t been invented yet. Perhaps it is a new HFO refrigerant being developed in a lab right now by Chemours or Honeywell. Time will only tell.

Conclusion

Well folks that about covers it for R-32 refrigerant. No matter where you are in the world the chances are you or someone near you are using R-32 or they areusing an R-32 origin based blend. While it does have a much less Global Warming number then 410A I still do not see it standing the test of time. Six-hundred and seventy-five GWP is still just too much. For the foreseeable future though folks we should get used to seeing R-32.

Thanks for reading and if you found anything that was inaccurate or that was simply not stated please contact me and I will update this article.

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

What Is It?
The term or name Freon is commonly used all over the country to describe what is inside your home or vehicle’s air conditioner. While we have all heard of this term before many of us do not really know what Freon is, where it comes from, or how it works. First, let me explain that the term Freon refers to the refrigerant that is inside your air conditioner. Freon and refrigerant though are not inter-changeable. In fact, the name Freon is a brand of refrigerant.

Confused yet? Well, let’s put it this way. When you want a soda you may either say, ‘I want a soda,’ or you may say, ‘I want a Coke.’ There are two distinct differences here. The term soda is a generic name for various types of cola. The name Coke is referring to a specific brand of soda called Coca-Cola. The same logic can be applied to the term Freon and refrigerant.

The reason the Freon brand is so commonly used and referred to in today’s world is that the Freon brand was the first mainstream refrigerant that was used across the world. The Freon refrigerant was invented all the way back in the 1930’s through a partnership with the DuPont company and General Motors. Together the companies synthesized the first CFC and HCFC refrigerants known as R-12 and R-22. These new classes of refrigerants were trademarked by DuPont under the brand name Freon.

The moment these new refrigerants were invented they began to take off in popularity. That was because they checked all of the boxes of what the world was looking for in a refrigerant. Past refrigerants such as Ammonia, Carbon Dioxide, and Hydrocarbons all had their own problems associated with them. They were either dangerous to operate due to their toxicity, they operated at too high of pressures and caused constant failures, or the refrigerant was just too expensive to use in mass. The Freon branded refrigerants changed all of this and put refrigeration and air conditioning within reach of the common man.

The Fall of Freon

Fast forwarding nearly fifty years into the future into the 1980’s and Freon appliances can be found all across the globe. Air conditioning is found in all of the newest homes and refrigerators/freezers are everywhere. It was around this same time that a team of scientists discovered that there was a hole forming in what’s known as the Ozone layer. This Ozone layer protects us from ultraviolet radiation, without it skin damage and cancers would begin to skyrocket. After some research it was discovered that the primary cause of this hole was the releasing or venting of gases into the atmosphere that contain Chlorine.

Freon refrigerants such as R-12 and R-22 were under the CFC and HCFC classifications. Each of these classifications contained Chlorine. So, with the rise and popularity of refrigeration and air conditioning growing so did the problem with the Ozone layer. In an effort to fix the damage and prevent any further destruction form occurring a group of countries gathered together in Montreal and signed a treaty known as the Montreal Protocol. This treaty aimed at phasing down CFC and HCFC refrigerants and replacing them with either HFC refrigerants, Hydrocarbon refrigerants, or Natural Refrigerants. The Chlorine refrigerants had to go.

The first to be removed was the CFC R-12. R-12 was found in various applications but the most impactful was the vehicle air conditioning sector. After 1992 all vehicles had to switch away from R-12 and over to the new HFC refrigerant known as R-134a. This was the first real test of phasing down refrigerants. As the years rolled by more and more CFCs and eventually HCFC refrigerants were phased down and eventually phased out entirely. Some of these include R-11, R-502, and R-22. That last one, R-22 is a big one as well. R-22 was found in nearly every home and commercial air conditioning unit in the world. Here in America the phase down began in 2010 and will finish in 2020. Like with most phase downs it is a gradual staggered approach.

Conclusion

While the term Freon is still used all over the place today the fact of the matter is that actual Freon using systems are nearly gone. Sure, there are still some antiques out there and there are still some older R-22 machines still chugging along but as each year passes these machines age and age. After a certain amount of time they will have to be retired and then the world will have no more Freon containing systems.

But, don’t worry folks, I’m sure the name Freon will still be around for decades to come. It is one of those brand names that has just stuck in everyone’s head. However, if you are talking to an HVAC technician and you wanted to be correct in your refrigerant name then you should check your air conditioner. If it says that your unit takes R-22 refrigerant then you can get away with calling it Freon. If you find that your system is using the HFC R-410A refrigerant then the brand name for this product is actually Puron.

Either way, if you say Freon most people are going to know what you’re talking about even if it isn’t one-hundred percent correct.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

The refrigerant and air conditioning industry isn’t going away. In fact, just the opposite is happening. As more and more of the world becomes wealthier and people’s lives improve the amount of air conditioners, refrigerators, and freezers will grow. One statistic I read said that India is expected to purchase over one billion air conditioners over the next decade. That number is absolutely insane to think about. While all of these new air conditioners provide us with great comfort, they also have a negative effect on the environment.

Any of you who have been in the industry for just a short while know just what kind of effects refrigerant can have on the Earth. In the 1980’s the Montreal Protocol was introduced in an effort to phase down Ozone depleting CFC and HCFC refrigerants such as R-12, R-22, and R-502. Today the Ozone is recovering and things are beginning to look brighter. If this hadn’t have happened the amount of CFCs and HCFCs in the world would only have grown and the damage to the Ozone could have been irreversible.

While the Ozone is doing better now the next big concern is the extremely high Global Warming Potential, or GWP, of HFC refrigerants such as R-404A, R-134a, and R-410A. Each of these refrigerants comes with a high GWP and when one of these refrigerants is vented or leaked into the atmosphere they contribute and accelerate Global Warming. There have been various efforts to move away from these high GWP refrigerants. Over the past few years we have seen the new HFO class of refrigerants be introduced. We have seen various recipes of HFCs come to market all offering lower GWP alternatives. Along with that many businesses have opted for the classic refrigerants such as Ammonia, Carbon Dioxide, or Hydrocarbons. Whatever refrigerant is chosen, the end goal is the same: Reduce Global Warming Potential of refrigerants and do it as soon as possible.

The Global Warming of refrigerants is already a problem and with exponential growth predicted in the future decades it is only going to grow. The question now though is what can we do change direction? How can we provide air conditioning and refrigeration to the world without destroying the world in the process?

The Global Cooling Prize

In an effort to answer this question it was announced this month that Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Airlines/Records, will be offering a three million dollar prize to an individual or company that invents a better more climate friendly residential air conditioner. This initiative known as the ‘Global Cooling Prize,’ is aimed at incentivizing people from around the globe and get everyone’s gears turning.

The goal is have a cooling technology that has five times less impact then current air conditioning technology. This impact can be a mix of GWP and kilowatts used. So, if you shrink the GWP by a significant amount and the power consumption only slightly you’ll still be able to qualify. There’s one more catch though folks, the new air conditioner can’t be more then twice as expensive as the existing ones on the market place. After all, you don’t want to price it out of reach of the average consumer.

As I was reading all of this criteria I thought to myself… well this will be easy. Let’s just use Ammonia! Haha. There’s no GWP to worry about here and no Ozone depletion either. Top it all off, Ammonia is an extremely efficient refrigerant so your power consumption would go down as well. Something told me that it wasn’t going to be that easy and after I read a bit more I saw a some fine print about refrigerant toxicity being a consideration as well. There’s goes my three million dollars!

There are many conditions and considerations that need to be taken into account for before a submission can be entered for this contest. You can read all about the specifics and qualifications to enter by clicking here. One example that the GlobalCoolingPrize site uses is R-290 or Carbon Dioxide. See below excerpt:

A solution that uses R290 refrigerant (GWP 3) achieves a 99.9% reduction from the baseline GWP. If it also consumes 4x less electricity than the baseline, it achieves a 75% reduction from the baseline electricity. This when combined together using the assigned 80%-20% electricity refrigerant weighting would result in combined impact of 80% reduction from the baseline i.e. it achieves a 5X climate impact. Therefore, this proposed solution will receive 100 points. Similarly, if the proposed solution is powered by solar PV mounted on it without exceeding the overall unit volumetric sizing criteria and uses zero GWP, it achieves a combined impact of 100% from the baseline and will receive 200 points.

Conclusion

This isn’t going to be an easy contest by any means folks, but the real hope here is to revolutionize the air conditioning industry. Don’t let the fact that refrigerant giants like Chemours and Honeywell haven’t come up with a solution already deter you. A lot of the times these giant companies get their blinders on and only see tunnel vision. Some of the most interesting innovations come from outside of the box, or even outside the company thinking.

One great example of this is what Daimler did when the European Union was phasing down R-134a. All the EU said was that refrigerants over XYZ Global Warming Potential would no longer be allowed. So, what did everyone do? They all switched to the new HFO 1234yf. YF was the easy solution and most everyone took the easy route. Not Daimler though. No, they went their own way and pioneered the way on using R-744, Carbon Dioxide, for vehicle air conditioning.

My point is folks that with enough dedication and creativity we very well may see a solution for this and that is exactly what this contest hopes to inspire. I know I could do a lot with three million dollars. Now I just need to think of an idea…

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

 

608 & 609 EPA Certifications
Well folks we are quickly approaching the end of another year. I’ve always heard it said by those older then me that time flies and the saying holds truer with each year that passes. I’m only thirty-two today but I swear I was twenty yesterday. It was a challenging year for my family and I and we are looking forward to the new year. As we all began to prepare for 2019 and decide what goals we want to tackle we should also stop to consider the changes that we can expect within the industry.

Rather you like it or not, the refrigerant and air conditioning industry are always changing rather it be through new technology advancements or through mandatory phase outs on Ozone or high Global Warming Potential refrigerants. Some of these next year changes are coming directly to the good old Section 608 of the Clean Air Act. Yes, yes… we’re all familiar with 608 certification, but were you aware that revisions have been made and are going into effect in just over a month from now?

I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t aware of the changes. I like to think I keep a pretty good eye on the industry and what’s happening within it but yet somehow I missed this as well. The changes in question have to deal with record keeping, leak rates, and retrofit/retirement timetables in the retail food sector. Some of you may not even work with these types of systems, but it’s never a bad thing to learn something new. Those of you who do work with these types of systems though, even if it’s once and a blue moon, should continue reading.

Originally when the leak rate changes were introduced they were thought to be applied to CFC, HCFC, and HFC refrigerants. While this is still the case today, the EPA did announce last month that they were considering removing the leak regulations on HFC refrigerants. This proposed rule was able to be commented on by the public and a ruling from the EPA is expected shortly. In the interim, we are going to treat these changes to 608 like they are affecting both HFCs and CFC/HCFC refrigerants.

I had mentioned earlier that I wasn’t aware of these 608 changes coming in 2019. Well, I was made aware by a company that most of you are familiar with: Bacharach. The Bacharach brand is known for their high quality tools ranging from recovery machines, vacuums, refrigerant monitors, and most famously: Their leak detectors such as the H-10 Pro. If I’m not mistaken this is one of the highest regarded detectors in the business.

Going back to the subject at hand, a representative at Bacharach informed me of the upcoming 608 changes and also provided me with their ‘EPA Section 608
2019 Refrigerant Compliance Checklist & Guidelines,’ sheet. This sheet that Bacharach put together aims at answering any and all questions on the upcoming changes to 608 for next year as well as providing you and your business a checklist to ensure that you are prepared for next year. I was asked to share this sheet with my readers and after reading it myself I am more then comfortable in doing so. It is very well put together, provides you the needed information, and goes through each change point by point.

If you would like your own free copy of the sheet please click here to be taken to Bacharach’s official website.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Hello everyone. Hope all of you have a great Thanksgiving today! I’m sitting at my desk writing this article while my wife is in the kitchen finishing up a pie and my girls are watching the Macy’s Parade. We’ve got the big meal planned for four this afternoon. Before I enjoy all of that pie and turkey I wanted to do a short article.

It was announced yesterday from the EPA that a series of settlements had been reached with seven different companies on R-717 Ammonia non-compliance. These settlements were split between seven companies in New England and totaled nearly six-hundred thousand dollars in fines and over seven-hundred and fifty-thousand dollars in compliance. Two of these settlements were issued after an ammonia leak had already occurred and the other five were taken as preventative measures. These inspections and fines from the EPA come as part of the EPA’s National Compliance Initiative on reducing chemical accidents.The actual EPA announcement can be found by clicking here, but it looks like these companies either did not have a proper risk management plan laid out or they missed submitting an annual notification to local authorities that their company was using Ammonia as a refrigerant.

Over the years of running RefrigerantHQ I’ve had mixed feelings on using Ammonia refrigerant. Yes, it is one of the most efficient refrigerants available today, it has zero Ozone depletion potential, and it has a Global Warming Potential of zero. It seems like the perfect choice for refrigerant applications. The catch is that it is rated as B2L by ASHRAE. So, R-717 is mildly flammable but the primary concern is the toxicity. If Ammonia is not handled correctly, or maintained correctly, tragedy can occur. Last year there were three fatalities that occurred due to an Ammonia leak at an ice rink up in Canada. Along with the deaths that occurred a large area around the ice rink had to be evacuated. It can be very dangerous.

All that being said, if handled correctly and maintained properly Ammonia refrigerant can save your business money by it’s efficiency and also ensure the longevity of your refrigerant systems as there are not any future plans to phase down R-717 due to it being so environmentally friendly. The responsibilities of maintenance and proper care of Ammonia systems should be left to the business owners but there are many who are negligent or who are just not aware of the dangers. This is where the EPA’s enforcement, fines, and compliance laws come into play. The problem is the EPA can’t do it all and there will be future leak incidents. The good news is that most of these Ammonia leaks are handled rather smoothly.

Ammonia will be here for quite a while and as the years pass by and the R-22 systems age and age we may find more and more business owners transitioning over to R-717 systems over newer HFC or HFO alternatives. Say what you want about Ammonia, it has definitely stood the test of time and will be around for many more decades to come.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Kigali Amendment
Just over two years ago was the 28th meeting of the Montreal Protocol. This event was held in Kigali, Rwanda and one of the highest priority topics was tackling the phase down of HFC refrigerants such as R-134a, R-404A, and R-410A. These HFC refrigerants have an extremely high Global Warming Potential that contribute greatly to Climate Change. The objective was to come up with a treaty that would accomplish similar goals that the Montreal Protocol did with CFC and HCFC refrigerants. At the end of this meeting there was an amendment to the Montreal Protocol introduced. This amendment was known as the Kigali Amendment.

At the time the amendment was introduced all one-hundred and ninety-seven countries agreed to take steps to phase down HFC refrigerants. The first step in reducing HFCs was to be taken by the most developed countries like the United States and those within the European Union. This initial step is to take place starting January 1st, 2019. Yes, that’s right… just a little over a month away. In order for this first step to be taken a total of twenty, or more, countries had to ratify the Kigali Amendment. As I write this article today there are over fifty-three countries that have ratified. (Source from CoolingPost.com) Some of these countries include Germany, Mexico, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, France, Ireland, the European Union, and many more.

Notice someone missing from that list? Yes, that’s right. The United States has not ratified the Kigali Amendment. Over the past year or two there has been a back and forth with the Trump Administration. Some officials signaled that they were working towards ratifying in the Senate and others have stated that they would not be moving forward with the treaty. There has not been an official announcement from the Trump Administration on what will be done. This isn’t something that can be just pushed through the Senate either. From what I understand, the Executive branch has to approve this before the Senate can began ratification. Everyone is waiting on Trump to see what the future of Kigali holds for the United States.

I had suspected that Trump’s strategy on this was to just run the clock down and it appears that is what has happened. I mentioned earlier that this amendment goes into effect on January 1st, 2019. At this point I do not see it happening or that it is even on the agenda. There is a lameduck Congress now and I would imagine that they are trying to push through as much legislation as possible these next two months. Kigali is the furthest thing from politicians’ minds right now.

For the United States, the Kigali Amendment has been forgotten. The only resort we have is to rely on the power of States’ Rights. Already we have multiple States moving forward with their own HFC phase down plans including California and New York. When the Kigali Amendment gets into full swing across the world we may see other States follow suit.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

United States Climate Alliance
Back in September of this year the Environmental Protection Agency announced that they would be removing their HFC rule that went in place back in September of 2016. This rule, which can be found by clicking here, applied Section 608 CFC/HCFC leak controls and regulations to appliances using HFC refrigerants that contained over fifty pounds of refrigerant. Basically, it passed on the same regulations that we had on CFC/HCFC refrigerants over to HFCs. With the introduction of this proposed rule there was also a forty-five day comment period for individuals, companies, and yes… States to comment on. The deadline for this comment period was yesterday, the 15th. Lo and behold, a nicely written ‘comment’ was sent to the EPA on the 15th.

This comment, actually a letter, was created by what’s known as the United States Climate Alliance, or USCA. This alliance is a mixture of various States that came together when the Trump Administration announced that they were pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord. These sixteen States include New York, Washington, New Jersey, Oregon, and California. In fact, the letter was signed and sent by the Attorney General of California, Xavier Becerra. The letter, which can be found by clicking here, requests that the EPA withdraw it’s proposed rule changes and keep current regulations intact.

The argument for this withdrawal is that the EPA has not provided sufficient evidence or legal reasoning for the reversal of their 2016 rule. I’ll tell you right now that I am trying to remain neutral here but the EPA has provided reasoning as to why they are rolling back these leak regulations. The reasoning is simple. The Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocol were all designed to phase out Ozone depleting refrigerants. These are your CFCs and HCFCs such as R-12, R-22, and R-502. The Clean Air Act was not intended to phase down or regulate refrigerants that do not harm the Ozone layer. Yes, HFCs do contribute significantly to Global Warming due to their high Global Warming Potential but there is a distinction here between Global Warming and a damaged Ozone layer. This distinction is the reasoning that the EPA is using for their roll back. This reasoning though is not sufficient for the States in the Climate Alliance.

Rather you like it or not, the truth is that the initial 2016 rule should not have been issued based off of the Clean Air Act. It was a stretch and everyone knew it. It was done because it was easy, but just like building a house: If you don’t have a good foundation then your house is going to crumble. The same thing has happened again and again on HFCs. We have had Federal Courts overturning EPA HFC regulations and now the Trump controlled EPA  is looking at overturning HFC regulations based off of Ozone depleting laws. All this could have been preventable by going through Congress.

Another point that I noticed while reading this letter from California is that there are many references and out right assumptions that the Ozone will be affected if these regulations are rolled back. That is simply not the case. It looks to me like they are trying to muddy the waters here so that when a laymen reads through this they end up believing that the Ozone is in danger yet again. Please do not take my criticism here as a favor for one side of the other, instead I am just bringing forward the facts from both sides.

Conclusion

Now that the comment period is over I imagine that we will have to sit and be patient as the Environmental Protection Agency reviews any and all comments on their new rule… including this letter from the Climate Alliance. At this time what the EPA will decide is unknown, but if I was to put money on it then I would say that they are going to move forward with rescinding the leak regulations. You may not agree with it, but that is where the winds are blowing today.

On top of that, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see the refrigerant purchase restrictions on HFCs be removed soon as well. Even though this purchase restriction has only been in effect since January of this year it was a holdover from the Obama EPA and may end up on the chopping block as well.

If the EPA does decide to remove these regulations then the burden of regulation will fall to the States just like it has with the EPA’s SNAP Rule 20. There have already been a few States that have announced their own HFC phase down plans. Depending on what the EPA decides we may see many more join this Climate Alliance and work to phase down HFCs at the State level.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

 

Pricing Prediction
Earlier this morning it was snowing here in Kansas City. It wasn’t anything major like the weather forecasters would have you believe, but there was still enough to accumulate and to slow down traffic. Luckily, I didn’t have work today and was able to stay home anyways. As I sipped on some hot cocoa I stared out the living room window at the corn field across the street. I could see the snow falling and as the snow fell I began to think about refrigerant. Yes, you heard me right. Refrigerant. It is something I think about daily and today was no different. I began to think about what the refrigerant market will be doing next year in the United States. What refrigerants will be going up? What will be going down? Which ones will be remaining the same? What possible surprises are there that could be coming down the pipeline?

In this article we are going to go through each of the most popular refrigerants and what our predicted price for those refrigerants will be in 2019. We will cover R-22, R-410A, R-404A, R-134a, and R-1234yf. More often then not, if you have an air conditioner or refrigerant system the chances are you are using one of the refrigerants we just mentioned. However, if you find that there is a refrigerant that is coming up again and again and we haven’t mentioned please reach out to me so that I can research it and hopefully include in next year’s article.

I will preface this article that this will be rather long as we will be covering each of these refrigerants in depth. If you wish to skip ahead and just read on a specific refrigerant please click the below link for the refrigerant you wish to read about. Otherwise, read on my friends, read on.

R-22 Refrigerant Prediction

As most of you know next year is the last hurrah for the HCFC R-22 refrigerant. This is due to the phase out coordinated by the Environmental Protection Agency. This phase out started back in 2010 by preventing any new appliances from using R-22. Then, as the years passed the import and production restrictions set in. The January 1st, 2020 date that is quickly approaching (Only fourteen months away) is the last straw. On this date there will be NO production or importation of R-22. That’s it. Finis.

R-22 Refrigerant 30 pound jug.

What that means is there will only be two future sources of R-22 refrigerant for consumers. The first is the backlog of inventory on the market. This is all the inventory that companies bought up on in prediction of this looming 2020 deadline. The other source is whats known as refrigerant reclamation. I won’t get into it too much here but reclamation is taking previously used dirty R-22 refrigerant and putting it through a certified refurbishing process. I’m an automotive guy and I see this reclaimed R-22 just like I see a remanufactured part. You get that savings, but you also get that understanding that it was previously used in a different application. Personally, I have no problem with buying reman or buying reclaimed refrigerant. If it goes through a certified EPA process, what’s the worry?

Now, there is a third option out there that a lot of you may already be familiar with. Alternatives to R-22. There is a whole market out there dedicated to alternative refrigerants for R-22 applications. They could be a drop-in replacement or it could be retrofit. The point of these refrigerants is to give consumers a choice, and a lot of times save the customer money. There were times where the price of R-22 went through the roof and alternatives began to take off. But now that the price has begun to crash the alternative market has begun to shrink as well.

Past & Present

To fully understand the R-22 market and what we predict it will do next year we first have to look at the past and the present. No, this isn’t a Charles Dickens novel. Along with the 2010 and 2020 dates another big part of the R-22 phase out occurred in 2015. This is where production and import limits were shrunk. This sudden loss of supply caused the price to climb and climb. In the summer of 2017 the price had gone over seven-hundred dollars for a thirty pound cylinder. Seven-hundred dollars. That’s twenty-three dollars a pound.

Over these years companies and investors watched the price of R-22 go up and up. Some of the lucky ones bought up in 2014 and 2015 and held onto it when that high price hit. Others thought that the price was going to keep going higher. So, they bought. They bought with the hope of the price reaching eight-hundred, nine-hundred, maybe even over a thousand a cylinder. This wasn’t unheard of. Back in the 1990’s when R-12 was phased out there were times where it did reach one-thousand a cylinder. (Nowadays it’s about six-hundred a cylinder.) The problem is that this buy up was a gamble. No one truly knew what was going to happen. Would the price continue to climb as it did in 2016 and 2017? Or, would it began to settle back down and level off?

2018

What actually happened in 2018 was quite unexpected. Many people thought the price would go down and level off, but no one predicted that the price was going to be cut in half. Yes, in half. The price for R-22 in 2018 was slashed by fifty percent. That seven-hundred dollar price is now three-hundred and fifty. Actually, it’s even lower then that. Depending on how much you buy you could get cylinders for as low as three-hundred and twenty-five dollars.

While contractors and consumers were rejoicing at this price drop there were many distributors panicking. Those guys who thought they were making a good gamble back in 2016 and 2017 are now stuck with a high priced product in a low priced market. One extreme example of this is Hudson Technologies. Hudson is a refrigerant distribution company based out of New York and they bought up A LOT of R-22 refrigerant during 2016-2017.

The graphic below is from Google but it provides a great illustration of the rise and fall of R-22 pricing. At the peak of R-22 pricing in summer of 2017 we saw a stock price of $9.30. Now, a little over a year later and with the price of R-22 more then cut in half we now see a stock price of $0.84. That is a HUGE drop. On top of the stock value loss Hudson also wrote off fourteen million dollars of R-22 inventory in their second quarter. Keep in mind too that the fourteen million is NOT all of their R-22 inventory. No, that is a cost adjustment so that they can be more competitive in the market place.

Hudson Stock 10/16/2018
Hudson Stock 10/16/2018

The Why?

Before writing this article I talked to a few leaders in the refrigerant industry to get their thoughts on what exactly happened here. The consensus that I received was that R-22 has a price ceiling. There is only so high it can go. If it goes above that point, like it did in 2017, then the lower priced alternative refrigerants began to take over the market.

If you think about it it makes perfect sense. Would you buy a generic product if the brand name was right about the same price? Of course not. But, if that brand kept going up and up in price then that generic product begins to look more and more appealing. Along with the price going too high for R-22 due to speculation and over purchasing by distributors we also have to consider that the number of R-22 alternatives on the market today have exploded. I won’t list them all here but a few of the most popular ones are Chemour’s MO99 and Bluon’s XTD-20. Along with the amount of choices out there these alternative suppliers have also made it easy by offering drop-in or near drop-in replacement products.

The good news though for your R-22 investors is that as the price of R-22 goes back down the demand for alternatives will began to erode. It’s a balancing act that a lot of folks found out the hard way.

2019 R-22 Considerations

Ok folks, so now we’ve gone through what’s happened over the past few years when it comes to R-22. Now it’s time to take a look at what considerations I will be taking into account for my prediction for 2019. In my day job I am a software analyst. I look at the details of a program or problem and figure it out through careful analysis. I love digging into the details like that. I take the same approach here when it comes to my prediction.

My predicted price for R-22 next year is based off of these specific considerations:

  • The price was cut by fifty percent this year and many people say that it can’t go lower.
  • The ‘newest’ R-22 machine is from 2010 or earlier. So, that puts the machine at nearly nine years old. A typical home’s air conditioner lasts between ten to fifteen years. Some of these R-22 will start to be replaced with R-410A. This will shrink demand and lower price.
  • When we hit 2019 there will be less then a year before total phase out of R-22 begins. This could drive price higher due to people wanting to buy before the cut-off.
  • In my opinion the market is saturated. Too many people have bought too much R-22 and now with this price drop they are just trying to offload, take the write-off, and be done. This can keep prices low.
  • There is a refrigerant reclamation industry but I honestly don’t see this having much impact until at least 2021 or 2022. Unfortunately, most folks won’t go the reclamation route until it’s a last resort and with the over supply of R-22 on the market I don’t see reclamation making much of a dent.
  • The last factor is the alternative refrigerants. As I mentioned above these refrigerants are in a careful balancing act with the price of R-22. If R-22 goes too high then the alternatives take over and cause the R-22 price to shrink back down. I foresee these alternatives contributing to a lower R-22 price.

R-22 Prediction

From my conversations within the industry it seems to be that the ‘sweet spot’ for R-22 is right under five-hundred dollars a thirty pound cylinder. That price allows consumers to still purchase the refrigerant without everyone running towards the cheaper alternatives. If that five-hundred target doesn’t happen then I have seen others state that between four-hundred and four-hundred and fifty a cylinder is enough to deter alternatives and still make a profit. This price is what the distributors want, but what will actually happen?

As far as what will occur next year, it’s tough to say. My prediction is that we will see this very low price of around three-hundred and thirty a cylinder maintain throughout the winter months of 2018/2019. Then, as we inch closer to spring I expect to see a slow uptick in pricing. When we get into spring, say April or May, we could see R-22 prices at around three-hundred and sixty to three-hundred and seventy-five dollars a cylinder.

Moving into summer I could see prices climb upwards to four-hundred dollars. The absolute highest I see is four-hundred and twenty-five a cylinder and that would be at the peak of summer. As summer wanes and the fall begins to set in I could see price of R-22 maintaining right around that four-hundred to four-hundred and twenty-five dollar price. This price will continue onwards until we hit that January 1st, 2020 deadline. From here it’s hard to say. Will the price stay flat, or will it rise slightly? Time will tell.

R-410A Refrigerant Prediction

Most everyone’s mind has been on R-22 and what’s going to happen next year with the 2020 phase out deadline. With all of this change it is easy to forget about Puron, but the 410A market share is only growing and it’s pricing impacts can have a substantial effect on contractors and consumers. After all, R-22 is on it’s last legs and it is not going to be around much longer. Sure there are other alternative refrigerants out there but like it or not R-410A is the king right now.

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

Looking back at my prediction on R-410A from last year I have to say that I was way off. I had predicted a 2018 summer price at around two-hundred dollars per twenty-five pound cylinder. While that may have sounded crazy, we should consider what we saw in the 2017. Last year there was a shortage in the chemical known as Flurospar. Flurospar is a key ingredient in fluorinated refrigerants like R-125. (R-410A is a fifty percent mixture of R-125 and R-32.) This shortage of Flurospar created a rippled effect on the supply chain and caused the price of 410A to skyrocket over the summer season and into the fall and of 2017. Last year’s prediction was based off of that pricing trend. I assumed that the shortage would continue. That is where I came up with my two-hundred dollars a cylinder number.

What actually happened was quite different. In the early months of 2018 the price per cylinder was around ninety dollars per twenty-five pound cylinder. It had come down quite a bit from the previous summer’s price. What was surprising though was that the price kept on going down even as we got into the hotter months. Usually as the summer months come we see a slight or large increase in refrigerant pricing due to the increased demand. This year however we saw the opposite. The price for a R-410A cylinder dropped by near twenty-five dollars. It went from around ninety dollars to sixty-five. That is nearly a thirty percent dip in price. One of our distribution contacts stated that R-410A was more volatile then R-134a this year. That is quite the change as R-134a is usually all over the place.

The question now though folks is what will the pricing do next year? Will R-410A keep going lower? Will it stay put? Or, will we see it climb back to the higher priced levels that most of are used to?

Considerations

I love doing analysis. It is what I do at my day job and it is why I write these kinds of articles. It can be fun to dig into the details and all of the factors that can affect pricing. When doing a pricing analysis like this I like to first provide the reader what considerations that I took and reviewed to come up with my pricing prediction. These help the reader understand my point of view and where I am coming from. Let’s take a look at some of them now:

Flurospar Shortage

I mentioned this earlier in our previous section. If we travel back about eighteen months ago this was a HUGE deal. The majority of the world’s Flurospar comes with mines in China. During the spring and summer of 2017 there were governmental regulation changes that affected the efficiency and overall output of the mines. This lower output is what accounted for the world’s shortage. In my previous analysis I assumed this shortage would carry into 2018, but I was incorrect. Will we see a shortage though in 2019? It is impossible to say. The only thing I can point to is the overall stability of the Flurospar market over the past year.

Chinese Refrigerant Imports

Back in 2016 there was an anti-dumping tariff instigated against Chinese HFC refrigerant blends. Included in this tariff was R-410A. I won’t get into all of the details here, but essentially there was a tariff put on R-410A. (For more information on the tariff click here to be taken to TheCoolingPost.) Here’s the thing though folks, this tariff was installed on ONLY the R-410A blended refrigerant and NOT the components of the blend. In other words R-410A was taxed but R-125 and R-32 was not. Doesn’t make much sense if you ask me.

Refrigerant distributors took advantage of this loophole and began importing mass quantities of R-125 and R-32. Once imported they would then blend the refrigerants in their own facility. The dumping of cheap HFC refrigerants continued. This mass import of Chinese product has attributed to the much lower cost of R-410A that we are seeing today.

Trump & His Tariffs

Most of the country has felt the effects of the various tariffs that the Trump Administration has issued over the past year. This could either be through your employer or just paying for basic things. In my day job I had to travel to Belgium a few months back to work with our corporate office. The reason for the trip? Trump’s Tariffs and how to enact them throughout the company. Whatever your politics are, we can definitely say that these tariffs have had an impact. Refrigerant, for the most part, has been left unscathed on these tariffs. With all of these imports coming from China though, how long is it before a tariff is enacted? What if one is enforced on R-125? How will that effect the marketplace? Inevitably it will lead to higher prices, but how much?

R-410A & Reclamation

With the end of R-22 coming in just about fourteen months the industry will be relying more and more on refrigerant reclaimers. These reclamation facilities can process this used R-22 refrigerant, clean it, and then issue it back out into the world for reuse. This is the ONLY way for ‘new’ R-22 to be found after that January 1st, 2020 deadline. Remember, once the stockpiles of R-22 run out reclamation is all that is left.

Why am I talking about R-22? Well reclamation for R-22 is key for having a stable supply. With R-410A it is quite different. Reclaiming R-410A refrigerant, at least at this time, is not feasible. There is no profit in it. I was discussing this very matter with Chad Schnuelle of Refrigerant Inc just today. He stated that:

It is too cheap to sell reclaimed R-410A in the market and make a decent margin because of the fractionating factors. It’s a two component refrigerant blend of R32 and R125 with a 50/50 mix ratio. If there is a leak in a system one component bleeds off faster than the other. This means we have to add that component back in to get the 50/50 blend once we reclaim it.

So a reclaimed R-410A refrigerant actually has new refrigerant in it. This adds an extra layer of cost. Having that extra cost and then trying to compete with virgin R-410A at the rock bottom prices it is right now is nearly impossible. If the price of R-410A begins to rise, or if we get new tariffs instated like we mentioned above then the possibility of more reclaimed on R-410A market is there, but for now it remains out of reach.

Prediction

I’ve been doing these price prediction articles for a few years now and it has given me a unique opportunity to see the trend in pricing of R-410A over the years. Before I get into my prediction let’s take a quick look to see how the pricing has climbed over the years. Keep in mind that these prices are based off the standard 410A twenty-five pound cylinder. The prices are obviously lower if you are purchasing larger quantities.

  • 2015 – $90.00 – Source
  • 2016 – $100.00 – Source
  • 2017 – $150.00 – Source
  • 2018 – $90.00 (Winter)
  • 2018 – $65.00 (Summer/Fall)
  • 2018 – $80-$90 (Retail on E-Bay.)

Looking at the above numbers we can really begin to see the deep dive in pricing that occurred this year. There was a time where a price between ninety to one-hundred dollars was pretty standard no matter what season it was. Now with today’s dirt cheap price of around sixty-five dollars a cylinder it is tough to say what will happen next. In an effort to help myself with this prediction I reached out to a few refrigerant distributors before writing this article. I wanted to know what they thought of the market this year and what they thought next year would bring. Each of them said more or less the same thing. Prices will be low, but stable. In other words folks, this sixty-five dollars price per twenty-five pound cylinder is here to stay at least for 2019.

That’s right, our thoughts for 2019 R-410A pricing is the exact same price it is today. Last year I high balled it and got burnt so this year I am going to play it safe and take the advice of our distributors. Our official prediction is that the price will hover between sixty-five dollars to seventy-five dollars a cylinder. There will be some moving back and forth due to seasonality and all of that but for the most part the price will be stable. At this time the only wildcard that I know of is if Trump adds a tariff on R-410A or one of it’s components. If this happens then the pricing point is anyone’s guess.

R-134a Refrigerant Prediction

It may seem strange to have a favorite refrigerant, but I have to say folks that R-134a is it. 134a is how I got my start in the refrigerant industry back in 2007. Back then I was a corporate purchaser in charge of buying R-134a for the company’s various dealerships. My job was to figure out what dealers needed it, how much they needed, and what the market was doing on price.

R-134a Refrigerant
R-134a Refrigerant

The goal was to send a purchase order at just the right time to just the right vendor. If done right then the dealer I bought for would have an aggressively priced product in a very competitive market. If done incorrectly then my dealer could end up priced out of the market or they could end up with a surplus of inventory that sits on the shelf as the price goes down and down.

Doing this job allowed me to reach out to quite a few folks in the industry. I got to know them and I even got a few ties from Refron back when they were still a thing. (They were bought by Airgas and Airgas was bought by Hudson.) Because of all of this history I have with R-134a it is hands down my favorite refrigerant.

Last week when I was writing my R-22 pricing prediction article I had a lot of feedback and thoughts from various people within the industry on what they thought would happen. R-22 is the hot topic nowadays. I attempted to get some similar feedback for R-134a and while I got some the enthusiasm was much lighter.

In this article we’re going to take a look at what the market did this year on R-134a and what we can expect for next year. That being said, R-134a is a very volatile refrigerant and it can be difficult to predict what will happen. I remember in one year I saw the price go from sixty dollars a cylinder up to two-hundred and twenty a cylinder. You just never really know what will happen.

Considerations

As I’ve mentioned in the past I am an analyst by trade and you cannot be an analyst without the proper facts and data. I take the same approach when it comes to looking at refrigerant pricing. Because of that, I like to take into account specific considerations before we move onto the pricing prediction part of our article. Let’s take a look:

  • R-134a Pricing Volatility
    • I mentioned this briefly in our previous section but it’s worth touching on it again. The pricing on R-134a can change on a whim. I had one of my contacts within the industry even say that it’s impossible to predict. That didn’t give me much confidence in this article, but I’m still going to go through the work here and give everyone my two cents.
  • The EPA’s SNAP Rule 20 was Overturned
    • The EPA’s SNAP Rule 20 was a rule introduced back in 2015 that aimed at phasing down HFC refrigerants. R-134a’s mandatory phase down was to occur in the year 2o20. (2021 model year) This ruling was overturned in the summer of last year and there were a series of appeals. Eventually though the EPA realized that it wasn’t going to happen and they rescinded their SNAP Rule 20. That means that the 2020 year deadline for vehicles using R-134a was now gone… well sort of.
  • States With Their Own HFC Phase Downs
    • When it was realized that the EPA’s country wide phase down of HFC refrigerants wasn’t going to happen a number of States decided to take matters into their own hands. They were going to emulate the EPA’s now defunct SNAP Rule 20 and have their own State-Wide HFC phase down. California started this but we have had four other States follow suit. Many more may be joining this coalition of States soon. These States are large and account for a high amount of the Nation’s GDP. Trust me when I say that vehicle manufacturers are watching these developments closely.
  • More and More Vehicles are Using 1234yf
    • R-134a is a dying brand of refrigerant. Just like it’s predecessor R-12, R-134a is going away. Rather it is through mandatory phase out or just by companies switching to the new HFO refrigerant 1234yf. However it happens you should know that it IS happening. Vehicle manufacturers want to be on the right side of history and they want to have one process over many. Having their vehicles take 1234yf is a much easier solution. Each year that passes we have more and more cars on the road that are using 1234yf. That means less demand for R-134a which could in turn lower the pricing.
  • R-134a Added to the Refrigerant Sales Restriction
    • The biggest change this year on R-134a wasn’t all of the court cases going back and forth. No, as far as pricing wise I believe the biggest change was the introduction of R-134a to the EPA’s Refrigerant Sales Restriction. In the past anybody could buy a cylinder of R-134a from Sams or Wal-Mart. However, as of January 1st, 2018 you could no longer buy cylinders of R-134a unless you were 609 certified with the EPA. That meant that all of the do-it-yourselfers and the hoarders of automotive supplies could no longer purchase R-134a. (Well they could, but only in small pound quantities.) This decrease in demand could have lessened the price over this 2018 year.

Pricing Prediction

Ok folks so now that we have a clear picture on what’s happening with R-134a we can now begin to give a prediction on what the pricing will look like next year. First though let’s take a look at what happened this year.

Around January of last year I wrote a similar article on R-134a. At the time of writing the article R-134a was a just hair over one-hundred dollars a cylinder. Depending on where you looked at you could find a range between one-hundred to one-hundred and ten dollars a cylinder. This pricing was wholesale. What that means is that in order to obtain this price back then you had to buy around a pallet at a time. (A pallet of refrigerant is around forty cylinders.) The resale price at this time was right around one-hundred and fifty a cylinder upwards to one-hundred and seventy dollars.

The prices today, ten months later, have gone down a bit. Instead of seeing wholesale pallet prices at around one-hundred we are seeing between eighty and ninety dollars. So, about a ten percent drop. I would attribute this drop due to the Refrigerant Sales Restriction we mentioned earlier. On the retail side of things we’re looking right about the same price level as before: One-hundred and fifty dollars. If we look at Ebay.com today we can see quite a few cylinders right around that same price.

So, the question now is what’s next? What will happen for 2019? Truth be told I don’t see much changing for the next year. I feel like the popularity of 1234yf still hasn’t quite reached it’s peak yet and there are still so many vehicles on the road taking R-134a. There is talk from the Trump Administration on removing the Refrigerant Sales Restriction on R-134a. If that happens then we could see prices rise an additional ten to fifteen percent.

If I was to guess I would say we’re going to hover right around ninety to one-hundred dollars for most of next year. We will most likely see the eighty to ninety dollar price for the rest of this year and earlier winter of next year but as the season begins to warm up and the demand comes back we should see the price tick up to that ninety to one-hundred dollar range. And, if the sales restriction goes away maybe slightly over one-hundred dollars.

R-1234yf Refrigerant Prediction

1234yf is the refrigerant that is intended to replace R-134a in automotive applications. Over in the European Union R-134a has been banned from new models since 2015. Ever since then they have been moving forward with 1234yf. While things move quite a bit slower here in the United States, the market is still trending towards yf. When I wrote this article last year everyone in the industry was still expecting R-134a to be phased down by the year 2020. The EPA had issued a rule stating that any vehicles from 2021 model year could no longer use R

R-134yf
R-134yf

-134a. The likely substitute was 1234yf. So while the conversion over to yf has been slow, manufacturers wouldn’t have a choice when that 2020 year hit.

Now however, things have changed. The EPA’s rule was overturned and now there is no definite end in sight when R-134a will be discontinued. While there are a few States that have moved forward with their own HFC laws I do not know if it’s enough to incentivise car manufacturers to make the switch to yf. We are now at a crossroads when it comes to R-134a and R-1234yf. Will manufacturers switch, will more States come on board to phase down HFCs, or will the Federal Government step in and come out with a new law or a new set of regulations?

Considerations

Like with any analysis it is always wise to review certain factors that could affect the price for next year. After all, if you don’t look at the facts it’s not a prediction. It’s more of a guess. I have already mentioned one of these factors previously, but there are other factors out there and these could all affect the price on 1234yf next year. Let’s take a look:

  • I’ve read a few reports from different sources but the consensus that I received was that most cars will not need an air conditioning repair for at least five or six years after purchase. What that means is that we really haven’t seen the brunt of 1234yf demand yet. All of the cars using this new refrigerant are only a few years old. Even if we go back to some of the first models to use yf we are only going back to 2014 or 2015. The demand is still quite low just because there hasn’t been a need for repairs… yet. As these vehicles age things will break and yf will be needed for air conditioning repairs.
  • Tying right into the low demand of yf refrigerant is the situation that we mentioned earlier in the article. The EPA’s Rule 20 was overturned by the courts and now there is no definite date on when R-134a will be phased down. Many companies were expecting a large uptick in demand when that 2020 year hit due to manufacturers being forced to change, but now that mandate is gone. Will every vehicle manufacturer switch over to yf? And, if so, then when will they? Will it be by that 2020 date or could it be five or ten years down the road?
  • The overturning of this EPA Rule 20 is most likely going to keep the demand for yf down for another year or two. I found a great image from a website called, ‘VehicleServicePros,’ that lists all of the OE manufacturers that are using yf and how many models they are using it for. See below image and click here source of image from VehicleServicePros.
    • Vehicle Service Pros' 1234yf Chart
      CREDIT TO: Vehicle Service Pros’ 1234yf Chart
    • This above chart was from the spring of 2018, so while more may have changed it still gives a good representation. The good news is that based from the image there are quite a bit of OEs embracing 1234yf. GMC for example has eighty-three percent of their new models using yf and Honda is close behind with seventy-eight percent of their models.
  • Honeywell and Chemours both invested a significant amount of money into opening two new 1234yf plants, one in Texas and one in Louisiana. Both of these plants allow these companies to accommodate the increased supply of yf. These plants were also built before the EPA’s Rule 20 was overturned and now they may be a bit overkill. Either way, I see these plants satisfying demand in the near future.
  • There is talk from the EPA that they may be removing the refrigerant sales restrictions for HFCs. While this is just conjecture at this point it would be interesting to see if this does happen if 1234yf will be included in this list of refrigerants. If it is, then anyone can begin purchasing cylinders of 1234yf without a certification required. If this happens then we could see a rise in price as the demand from do-it-yourselfers grows.
  • The last point I want to make before moving to our 2019 prediction is that the price of 1234yf has been VERY stable over the past few years. For the past three years the refrigerant has hovered between six-hundred and ninety dollars to seven-hundred and ten dollars for a ten pound cylinder. I haven’t seen this swing one way or the other over the years. My contacts within the industry have stated the same, the pricing isn’t moving.

Predictions

Last year when I wrote my 2018 yf predictions I ended the article stating that the refrigerant would be priced at around six-hundred and ninety dollars for a ten pound cylinder. And, lo and behold, today it is right around that price. I’m not going to brag though folks as this was an easy prediction. Like I said before, the price has been VERY stable over the years.

As far as what will happen next year I am going to again predict a slight decrease in pricing. This is due to the R-134a being around for a while longer, vehicles with 1234yf are still too new for major repairs, and just the overall stability of the price. The biggest question mark is what will happen to R-134a. If 134a does go away soon then the price on yf will rise and rise fast as there will be no other options out there. (Maybe R-744, but that’s still in early stages.) While a plan may emerge from the EPA in 2019 or even late this year, the implementation of the plan will still be years out and I do not feel we will see a pricing impact in 2019.

Our prediction on 1234yf pricing in 2019 is about six-hundred and seventy dollars for a ten pound cylinder. That equals out to about sixty-seven dollars a pound. Time will tell if I am right, but with how this pricing has been I can’t be too far off!

R-404A Refrigerant Prediction

Last year in our 2018 prediction article we said that prices would be around one-hundred and sixty dollars a cylinder. Well folks, just like we were with R-410A… we were way off again. Today the price on a pallet of 404A is between eighty to ninety dollars a cylinder. So, the cost is about half of what I predicted it would be. This just goes to show you how much of a guessing game this all is. Again, like with R-410A, our increased cost prediction came from the shortage of Flurospar that we saw in the spring of 2017. For those that do not know, Flurospar is a key ingredient when manufacturing the refrigerant R-125 and R-125 is a key ingredient in the blended refrigerant R-404A. (R-404A is a blend of R-125, R-143a, and R-134a.) So, when Flurospar prices go up so does the cost of R-404A. Back in 2017 the shortage occurred due to environmental regulation changes in China. This was a one time change and the industry needed to adapt. For now, the market seems to have adjusted and the shortage has come to an end.

The question now though folks is what will the pricing do next year? Will R-404A keep going lower? Will it stay put? Or, will we see it climb back to the higher priced levels that most of are used to?

Considerations

I’ve mentioned this countless times before, but when I do a prediction article I like to take into consideration certain factors. I don’t like to just throw a dart on the board. No, instead I like to do an analysis and take a look at the marketplace. Once we determine these factors we can then determine what the market will do. Or, at the minimum, we can provide an educated guess. For those of you who read my R-410A prediction article you may notice that some of these considerations are the same for R-404A. That is by design folks. Remember, that R-125 is a key ingredient in both refrigerants. The key difference is that 410A is much more popular then 404A and that 404A is one of the first global targeted refrigerants to be phased down.

Let’s take a look at some of the considerations that can affect the R-404A price next year.

Repeal of EPA’s SNAP Rule 20

I’ve written about this extensively over the past few months, but in August of last year a Federal Court overturned the EPA’s planned phase down of HFC refrigerants across the country. While there were many appeals done over the past year each one of them has failed. That includes an appeal to the Supreme Court. What we are left with now is a patchwork of States putting together their own HFC phase downs. The reason I mention this as a consideration is that R-404A was one of the first targeted HFCs to be phased down. This is due to the extremely high GWP of 404A. (Three-thousand nine-hundred and twenty-two.) Most everyone was expecting the 404A phase downs to begin very soon, but now everything is in question and that can cause price instability.

Flurospar Shortage

I mentioned this earlier in our previous section. If we travel back about eighteen months ago this was a HUGE deal. The majority of the world’s Flurospar comes with mines in China. During the spring and summer of 2017 there were governmental regulation changes that affected the efficiency and overall output of the mines. This lower output is what accounted for the world’s shortage. In my previous analysis I assumed this shortage would carry into 2018, but I was incorrect. Will we see a shortage though in 2019? It is impossible to say. The only thing I can point to is the overall stability of the Flurospar market over the past year.

Chinese Refrigerant Imports

Back in 2016 there was an anti-dumping tariff instigated against Chinese HFC refrigerant blends. Included in this tariff was R-404A. I won’t get into all of the details here, but essentially there was a tariff put on R-404A. (For more information on the tariff click here to be taken to TheCoolingPost.) Here’s the thing though folks, this tariff was installed on ONLY the R-404A blended refrigerant and NOT the components of the blend. In other words R-404A was taxed but R-125, R-143a, and R-134a was not. (Well, R-134a was taxed, but through a different tariff.)

Refrigerant distributors took advantage of this loophole and began importing mass quantities of R-125. Once imported they would then blend the refrigerants in their own facility. The dumping of cheap HFC refrigerants continued. This mass import of Chinese product has attributed to the lower cost of R-404A that we are seeing today. Tom Lenz of Lenz Sales & Distribution said,

The price on 404A has been relatively stable over the past few months. Most of the time it stays right above 410A at around fifteen to twenty dollars higher. (A cylinder) Some distributors mix in house while others buy in bulk from China.

Trump & His Tariffs

Most of the country has felt the effects of the various tariffs that the Trump Administration has issued over the past year. This could either be through your employer or just paying for basic things. In my day job I had to travel to Belgium a few months back to work with our corporate office. The reason for the trip? Trump’s Tariffs and how to enact them throughout the company. Whatever your politics are, we can definitely say that these tariffs have had an impact. Refrigerant, for the most part, has been left unscathed on these tariffs. With all of these imports coming from China though, how long is it before a tariff is enacted? What if one is enforced on R-125? How will that effect the marketplace? Inevitably it will lead to higher prices, but how much?

Prediction

I’ve been doing these refrigerant pricing articles for nearly four years now and over those years I have been able to gather a historical pricing tracker on R-404A. This tracker allows us to see trends and possibly what’s to come next.

  • 2015 – $90.00 – Source
  • 2016 – $110.00 – Source
  • 2017 – $200.00 – Source
  • 2017 (Winter) – $175.00  – (Ebay.com)
  • 2018 (Fall/Winter) – $80-90 a cylinder.
  • 2018 (Fall/Winter) Retail – $150.00 – (Ebay.com)

Our previous articles had focused more on the retail side of pricing as you can see from the above historical records. However, this year I wanted to focus more on wholesale pricing. That is why I included the $80-$90 a cylinder section for 2018. The question now on everyone’s mind is what will 404A do next year? Like with my other articles I have consulted with experts and distributors within the industry for their thoughts. The consensus that I received was that the price would remain relatively stable over this winter and into the summer of next year. The only wildcard out there that I am aware of are Trump’s Tariffs. If he installs a tariff on refrigerants, say R-125, we could see price rise substantially. If no tariffs are instigated then I could see the price remain stable.

Our prediction on R-404A next year is right around the same price we have today between eighty to ninety dollars for a twenty-four pound cylinder.  The market should remain stable throughout next year, especially due to the EPA’s Rule 20 being rescinded. Chad Schnuelle of Refrigerants Inc said,

It seems that 404 has been rather stable for the past two years. I checked my purchase history and it has not moved over twenty dollars per 24lb cylinder since January of 2017. Again, I feel the Chinese market still dictates the USA market. In my opinion I feel the only factor that may change the price will be if refrigerants are added to the Trump tax.

Conclusion

I want to close this article by stating that these were predictions and that they are just that, a guess. No one knows for sure what will happen to the refrigerant market next year and if they say they do then they’re lying. It’s a complete guessing game. I can only provide my analysis on the matter and go from there. Lastly, I want to mention that this is one man’s analysis on the market. We here at RefrigerantHQ are not liable for any business losses or gains when it comes to buying and selling refrigerant. That is solely on you and your business.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Owner

Pricing Prediction
Here it is in the middle of November and we’ve already had two snow storms here in Kansas City. As I write this article this morning the snow is still coming down. Luckily, I have the day off and am able to stay inside and watch the snow fall. Over the past few weeks here at RefrigerantHQ we have been focusing on our refrigerant prediction articles for the 2019 year. Most everyone was interested in our R-22 thoughts, and a bit of you read the 410A. I know that R-404A is a smaller market, but it still has it’s uses and is still kept the back of a technician’s van… even if it’s going to be phased out soon.

Last year in our 2018 prediction article we said that prices would be around one-hundred and sixty dollars a cylinder. Well folks, just like we were with R-410A… we were way off again. Today the price on a pallet of 404A is between eighty to ninety dollars a cylinder. So, the cost is about half of what I predicted it would be. This just goes to show you how much of a guessing game this all is. Again, like with R-410A, our increased cost prediction came from the shortage of Flurospar that we saw in the spring of 2017. For those that do not know, Flurospar is a key ingredient when manufacturing the refrigerant R-125 and R-125 is a key ingredient in the blended refrigerant R-404A. (R-404A is a blend of R-125, R-143a, and R-134a.) So, when Flurospar prices go up so does the cost of R-404A. Back in 2017 the shortage occurred due to environmental regulation changes in China. This was a one time change and the industry needed to adapt. For now, the market seems to have adjusted and the shortage has come to an end.

The question now though folks is what will the pricing do next year? Will R-404A keep going lower? Will it stay put? Or, will we see it climb back to the higher priced levels that most of are used to?

Considerations

I’ve mentioned this countless times before, but when I do a prediction article I like to take into consideration certain factors. I don’t like to just throw a dart on the board. No, instead I like to do an analysis and take a look at the marketplace. Once we determine these factors we can then determine what the market will do. Or, at the minimum, we can provide an educated guess. For those of you who read my R-410A prediction article you may notice that some of these considerations are the same for R-404A. That is by design folks. Remember, that R-125 is a key ingredient in both refrigerants. The key difference is that 410A is much more popular then 404A and that 404A is one of the first global targeted refrigerants to be phased down.

Let’s take a look at some of the considerations that can affect the R-404A price next year.

Repeal of EPA’s SNAP Rule 20

I’ve written about this extensively over the past few months, but in August of last year a Federal Court overturned the EPA’s planned phase down of HFC refrigerants across the country. While there were many appeals done over the past year each one of them has failed. That includes an appeal to the Supreme Court. What we are left with now is a patchwork of States putting together their own HFC phase downs. The reason I mention this as a consideration is that R-404A was one of the first targeted HFCs to be phased down. This is due to the extremely high GWP of 404A. (Three-thousand nine-hundred and twenty-two.) Most everyone was expecting the 404A phase downs to begin very soon, but now everything is in question and that can cause price instability.

Flurospar Shortage

I mentioned this earlier in our previous section. If we travel back about eighteen months ago this was a HUGE deal. The majority of the world’s Flurospar comes with mines in China. During the spring and summer of 2017 there were governmental regulation changes that affected the efficiency and overall output of the mines. This lower output is what accounted for the world’s shortage. In my previous analysis I assumed this shortage would carry into 2018, but I was incorrect. Will we see a shortage though in 2019? It is impossible to say. The only thing I can point to is the overall stability of the Flurospar market over the past year.

Chinese Refrigerant Imports

Back in 2016 there was an anti-dumping tariff instigated against Chinese HFC refrigerant blends. Included in this tariff was R-404A. I won’t get into all of the details here, but essentially there was a tariff put on R-404A. (For more information on the tariff click here to be taken to TheCoolingPost.) Here’s the thing though folks, this tariff was installed on ONLY the R-404A blended refrigerant and NOT the components of the blend. In other words R-404A was taxed but R-125, R-143a, and R-134a was not. (Well, R-134a was taxed, but through a different tariff.)

Refrigerant distributors took advantage of this loophole and began importing mass quantities of R-125. Once imported they would then blend the refrigerants in their own facility. The dumping of cheap HFC refrigerants continued. This mass import of Chinese product has attributed to the lower cost of R-404A that we are seeing today. Tom Lenz of Lenz Sales & Distribution said,

The price on 404A has been relatively stable over the past few months. Most of the time it stays right above 410A at around fifteen to twenty dollars higher. (A cylinder) Some distributors mix in house while others buy in bulk from China.

Trump & His Tariffs

Most of the country has felt the effects of the various tariffs that the Trump Administration has issued over the past year. This could either be through your employer or just paying for basic things. In my day job I had to travel to Belgium a few months back to work with our corporate office. The reason for the trip? Trump’s Tariffs and how to enact them throughout the company. Whatever your politics are, we can definitely say that these tariffs have had an impact. Refrigerant, for the most part, has been left unscathed on these tariffs. With all of these imports coming from China though, how long is it before a tariff is enacted? What if one is enforced on R-125? How will that effect the marketplace? Inevitably it will lead to higher prices, but how much?

Prediction

I’ve been doing these refrigerant pricing articles for nearly four years now and over those years I have been able to gather a historical pricing tracker on R-404A. This tracker allows us to see trends and possibly what’s to come next.

  • 2015 – $90.00 – Source
  • 2016 – $110.00 – Source
  • 2017 – $200.00 – Source
  • 2017 (Winter) – $175.00  – (Ebay.com)
  • 2018 (Fall/Winter) – $80-90 a cylinder.
  • 2018 (Fall/Winter) Retail – $150.00 – (Ebay.com)

Our previous articles had focused more on the retail side of pricing as you can see from the above historical records. However, this year I wanted to focus more on wholesale pricing. That is why I included the $80-$90 a cylinder section for 2018. The question now on everyone’s mind is what will 404A do next year? Like with my other articles I have consulted with experts and distributors within the industry for their thoughts. The consensus that I received was that the price would remain relatively stable over this winter and into the summer of next year. The only wildcard out there that I am aware of are Trump’s Tariffs. If he installs a tariff on refrigerants, say R-125, we could see price rise substantially. If no tariffs are instigated then I could see the price remain stable.

Our prediction on R-404A next year is right around the same price we have today between eighty to ninety dollars for a twenty-four pound cylinder.  The market should remain stable throughout next year, especially due to the EPA’s Rule 20 being rescinded. Chad Schnuelle of Refrigerants Inc said,

It seems that 404 has been rather stable for the past two years. I checked my purchase history and it has not moved over twenty dollars per 24lb cylinder since January of 2017. Again, I feel the Chinese market still dictates the USA market. In my opinion I feel the only factor that may change the price will be if refrigerants are added to the Trump tax.

Conclusion

I want to close this article by stating that this was a prediction and it is just that, a guess. No one knows for sure what will happen to the R-404A market next year and if they say they do then they’re lying. It’s a complete guessing game. I can only provide my analysis on the matter and go from there. Lastly, I want to mention that this is one man’s analysis on the market. We here at RefrigerantHQ are not liable for any business losses or gains when it comes to buying and selling R-404A.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Owner

It’s a matter of human nature. If something is banned or outlawed there will be an illegal trade or black market set up. It’s the way of the world. Unfortunately, the same thing can be said when it comes to CFC and HCFC refrigerants such as R-22.

It was discovered earlier this year that traces of R-11 and R-10 were being found in the atmosphere again. After some research from various countries the origination point was found to be in eastern Asia. It was eventually pinpointed to China. Rogue companies in China had setup shop creating foams and refrigerants using the illegal refrigerants. Luckily, these were one-off companies and not the country of China behind the emissions. Once they were found and identified arrests were made. The question now though is who is buying these illegal refrigerants? How are they getting through the ports?

Last month in Pakistan we have one example. A sharp eyed customs official in Karachi received a tip stating that illegal refrigerants were being smuggled through his port. With that in mind this customs official noticed something odd about a recent refrigerant shipment. The shipment was classified as R-32 and had large stickers all of over it stating it as R-32. Along with that there were multiple labels stating that the shipment was flammable. Come to find out, this flammable label has been used in the past to deter customs officials from physically reviewing the product.

The customs official decided to open the shipment and test some of the refrigerant. The test came back, and lo and behold, it was R-22. The product was destined to a company called ‘M/S Cool Corporation.’ The shipment originated in, you guessed it, China. From China it was shipped to Dubai and then shipped over Karachi. I don’t know much about international shipping, but it seems odd to ship it to two different ports. This could have been another way to mask the origin.

Here’s the thing though folks. This wasn’t just a small shipment of R-22 that was trying to sneak through. No… this was one of the largest smuggling shipments that I’ve heard of. The total R-22 shipment weighed in at nearly forty-thousand pounds of refrigerant. (18,000 kilograms.) Now, I don’t know the typical Pakistani price on R-22 but if we go off the United States price right now of around eleven dollars per pound then we can assume that this shipment was worth around four-hundred and forty-thousand dollars. That is a huge number and could have resulted in enormous profit if it hadn’t been caught. For now, the shipment is in Pakistani custody until a determination has been made what to do with it.

Conclusion

As I mentioned in the beginning of this article refrigerant smuggling is a booming business and it seems that most of it’s origins can be traced back to China. Now, it doesn’t seem like China condones this behavior but they also don’t seem to be doing a lot to stop it either.

The good news is that even with this smuggling the Montreal Protocol is still seen as a success. Just recently there were a few articles published stating that the Ozone is making a decent recovery and that it may be completely healed in another forty to fifty years. If we want this trend to continue then the world, and China, has to become more vigilant on illegal CFC and HCFC production and trading.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Source

 

How Much Does It Cost?
Most people couldn’t care less about the pricing of refrigerant. I’m sure you didn’t care at all until your air conditioner broke down. Now you have a contractor at your home or office looking over the damage, or perhaps you have already received a quote from them and you are a little surprised by how much they are charging for refrigerant. Whatever your reason is for reading this article we are going to do our best to answer your question and to give you a fair estimate on what the going price per pound on some of the most common refrigerants on the market place today.

First and foremost, let me first explain that there are hundreds of different types of refrigerants out there. No two refrigerants are the same or work the same either. The air conditioner that you are using is designed specifically for a certain refrigerant and no others. The science of refrigeration and air conditioning all boils down to basic chemistry and understanding when a refrigerant changes states either from gas to liquid or liquid to gas. Each machine is designed to accomdate that refrigernat’s specific saturation point. If you were to add the wrong refrigerant to your air conditioner you could damage or even destroy the system. You wouldn’t put diesel into a gasoline sedan would you? The same principle applies.

In this article we are going to go over some of the most popular refrigerants out there today, their applications, and where they can be found. It will be up to you to determine exactly what refrigerant you need for your repairs.

So, What Kind of Refrigerant Do I Need?

As we mentioned above, there are hundreds of varying kinds of refrigerants out there. A lot of times this can be overwhelming and confusing to a laymen as to what kind of refrigerant they need. The good news here is that for most applications there are only a select few refrigerants that are used here in the United States. In this section below we are going to highlight the most commonly used refrigerants, what their applications are, and what their price per pound is. The price per pound section will have a link to the exact price per pound on that refrigerant.

Let’s dive in and take a look:

  • Automotive Application – Nowadays nearly every vehicle is using R-134a refrigerant for their vehicles. In recent years a new refrigerant known as HFO-1234yf is being used on newer models. If you car is a few years old or brand new then you will need to check if it takes 1234yf or not. Otherwise you are fairly safe to assume that your car is taking R-134a. For those of you who are into restoring classic cars you’ll find that you may end up needing R-12 Freon.
  • Home or Commercial Air Conditioner – These ones can be a little tricky. Depending on when you got your unit you most likely either have an R-22 unit or a R-410A unit. As I said in previous articles, R-22 was phased out in 2010 for new air conditioners. R-410A has been around since 2000, but it’s popularity didn’t really take off until the 2010 deadline hit for R-22. When it comes to cost though you better hope you have a R-410A unit rather than R-22. The difference in price between the two refrigerants is astonishing.
  • Refrigerators and Freezers (Home and Commercial) – The go to refrigerant for these applications has been R-404A. There are some other alternatives out there such as CO2 (R-744), R-502, and some other new HFO refrigerants coming out soon but today if you were having to recharge one of these you are most likely going to run into 404A.

Conclusion

I hope that this article was able to answer your questions on refrigerant pricing and to also open your eyes on the wide variety there is within the refrigerant industry. There are two things that I want you take from this post. The first is the relative price per pound of the refrigerant you need and the second is the understanding that your contractor needs to make money too. Sure, you might know his price but you should not haggle down to zero. You should negotiate to a fair price that allows profit but also prevents gouging.

Lastly, if you are unsure what type of refrigerant your system needs please check the label/sticker on the machine. Normally it will state the refrigerant that it takes. However, if you still can’t find it then you can either contact the manufacturer or you can call a HVAC professional out to take a look. This is never something that you want to guess at.

Thanks for reading and visiting my site,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ