A packaged terminal air conditioner, or PTAC, is a ductless, self-contained air conditioning unit that heats and cools contained areas. PTACs are used as a way to cut costs and increase energy efficiency in places like hotels, hospitals, senior residential facilities, apartments and residential add-ons like sunrooms. They are most commonly seen under the windows of many of the hotels and motels across the country.
PTACs are available as electric heat or reverse cycle heat pumps. While PTAC dimensions are standardized at 42×16 inches, 36×15 inches, and 40×15 inches, they come in different cooling capacities ranging from 7,000 BTUs to 17,000 BTUs. They are made by many different manufacturers, including Amana, GE, Train, Friedrich and LG.
How it works
PTACs can both heat and cool. To cool the air, PTACs use either traditional refrigerant or fresh air intake. PTACs use an evaporator coil that faces the room to be cooled and a condensing coil, which faces the outside.
Using fresh air intake is comparable to opening a window. The PTAC pulls air directly from outside through the unit via a vent in the back. Some models also have a dehumidifier built in that removes moisture from the outside air.
The most common method, however, is recirculating inside air through a refrigerant, which is also the most efficient method. The refrigerant cools the coil, which removes the heat and humidity of the air. The air is then released through the unit through fans and a vent.
To control the air temperature on a PTAC unit, you have the option of using either controls on the PTAC itself or installing a wall thermostat. A wall thermostat opens up the possibility of installing a programmable controller with an energy management system and even WiFi compatible options.
Energy management systems can be as simple as “smart” thermostats like Nest or as complicated as an integrated smart home system that can control lights, climate, appliances and electronics. These systems are designed to optimize energy use and interact with the power grid.
All PTAC units have resistive electric heat. That involves wires that get hot and a fan that blows air across them — like a blow dryer. Many PTACs use only resistive electric heat, but some also have a reverse cycle heat pump.
A heat pump works similarly to a window unit air conditioner, except in reverse. It blows hot air into the building and cold air out the back by using a valve that changes the flow of the freon in the unit. Heat pumps draw 25-75% less wattage than other electric heat units.
How a PTAC differs from a window unit
A PTAC differs from a window unit in efficiency and commercial components. A window unit hangs outside of a wall and has vents on the side of the casing. It cools the outside coil by drawing in air from the side vents, while a PTAC has solid sides. A PTAC is also mounted flush to the wall, so from the outside you can only see the grill.
Most window units also don’t have heating capabilities.
PTACs save money on power bills by only climate controlling the rooms you need to have heated or cooled. In a commercial application like a hotel or hospital, a giant heating and cooling system that controls the climate of the whole building is very expensive because it has to be on the entire time.
With a PTAC unit, each unit is cooling only one room at a time. Additionally, each room can be set to a unique temperature, allowing occupants to stay comfortable based on their personal preference.
It’s not just commercial buildings that benefit. Homeowners often add PTAC units in areas of the house that are hard to cool, like lofts and attic spaces. Additions to houses, like sunrooms, are also great places for a PTAC. Using a PTAC in these spaces prevents homeowners from having to add new ductwork that’s connected to the existing HVAC system.
How to Get The Right Size PTAC for Your Room
A British Thermal Unit is a way to measure energy. The technical definition describes it as the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. For air conditioners, the BTUs tell how much energy it takes to remove the heat using the compressor system.
The number of BTUs tells you how powerful your unit is and describes how much energy can be produced per hour. If a PTAC unit is labeled as 5,000 BTUs, it can produce 5,000 BTUs of energy per hour.
If the BTU capacity of your PTAC is too small, your room won’t get adequately cooled. Inversely, if the BTU capacity is too large for the space, it will leave the room feeling damp and can lead to issues with mold. In addition, an oversized PTAC unit actually wastes energy.
Energy Star recommends a 5,000 BTU PTAC for a room between 100-150 square feet. For each 50 square foot increment, add 1,000 BTUs.
If the room is heavily shaded, reduce capacity by 10 percent
If the room is very sunny, increase capacity by 10 percent
If more than two people regularly occupy the room, add 600 BTUs for each additional person
If it’s used in a kitchen, increase capacity by 4,000 BTUs
A second story room may need a 10 percent increase
Using a PTAC with a BTU level higher than what you need can cause the unit to cycle on and off too frequently. That can shorten the unit’s lifespan. If you get one that is too small, the unit will run almost continuously but never get the room to your desired temperature.
Basic maintenance of a PTAC
Like HVAC units, PTACs should be cleaned once a year, typically before temperatures start to warm up. Unplug your PTAC prior to cleaning if you are working on anything inside the unit. Air filters should be cleaned with a vacuum or running water every 30 days to prevent them from getting clogged and restricting air flow.
Preventative maintenance goes a long way in preserving the lifespan of your PTAC. Most units are designed to last 15 years, but many hotels swap them out every six to seven years because they aren’t maintaining them properly.
The indoor coil, condenser coil and base pan can all be washed under low pressure, but this should be done by a professional, who will ensure that all debris and dust are cleaned out. A vacuum can also be used to suck up any dust or debris.
The front cabinet can be cleaned with a mild cleaning agent to keep it clean and dust-free.
There are a variety of reasons as to why you would purchase a dehumidifier. It could be that you have an allergy or an asthma sufferer and you need clean air circulating throughout your home. It could be that you have noticed water collecting on the inside of your windows in certain rooms of your home. Or, it could be that you have noticed a damp or somewhat musty smell emanating from your basement.
If left unchecked excess humidity in your home can cause a host of problems. This could be something as simple as that mildewy smell that we mentioned above or it could something more sinister such as mold growing on your floor, walls, and blankets. You see folks, the ideal humidity for us is between forty to sixty percent. Anything below forty percent and our skin and even our respiratory tracts begin to dry out. This can lead to sickness and painful rashes. On the other end of the spectrum if the humidity is too high then you could run into standing water as well as allergens such as dust mites, fungus, and mold.
Adding a dehumidifier to your home is a great way to treat the symptoms of a higher humidity environment. It should be known though that a dehumidifier will only treat the symptoms and will not fix the issue. So, if you have reoccurring standing water in your basement or other room then you should look into correcting that as well. A dehumidifier will get rid of the dampness and prevent mold from taking hold but you will still need to identify and correct the cause of your humidity issue.
Whatever your reason for purchasing a dehumidifier there are a variety of choices that will have to be considered. That just seems how it is in today’s world. The problem with this is that folks don’t know what to pick. Which one is best? Which one is worth your time? In this article we’re going to take an in-depth look at one of these dehumidifiers: Inofia’s thirty pint dehumidifier. Is this the right unit for you? Let’s dive in and find out!
First thing’s first folks. We need to determine if this unit is the right size for you. You see there are three main sizes of larger dehumidifiers. They come in thirty pints, fifty pints, and seventy pints. The pint sizing is a measurement on how much water these units can remove from a room during a twenty-four hour period. The Inofia dehumidifier comes in a thirty pint size. This is one of the smaller sized units.
There are two questions that you have to consider before your purchase. What is the square footage of the room you are wanting this appliance for? Secondly, how damp or wet is the room? If the room is just damp and has a musty smell and the room is under one-thousand square feet then this dehumidifier will work great for you.
However, if the room is larger or if the room is wet then you will need a larger unit like a fifty or seventy pint. A room is classified as wet if you notice water beading on the floors, walls, or windows. You could also see moisture seeping in at the edges of the room. In the extreme cases you may actually having standing water. In these cases it is best to go with a larger dehumidifier unit. The only con that there is when going with a larger unit is the price. I won’t get too much more into sizing requirements here, but if you’d like to read more then I suggest you click here to be taken to our dehumidifier sizing guide.
Ok folks, now we can dive into all of the details on this product. First let’s look at the most important feature and that is the humidity control and setting. This unit from Inofia has a humidity range between thirty to eighty percent. It can be operated in rooms with a variety of temperatures ranging from forty-one degrees to ninety-five degrees Fahrenheit. The humidity can be adjusted by clicking in the ‘Setting’ button. Each click of the button will adjust the desired humidity in five percent increments. You will also be able to see the desired humidity level in the digital display as shown on the image within this article.
Along with the humidity settings there are a few other features we should take a look at. The first is the overall fan speed of the dehumidifier. This can be adjusted from high to low. Next is what’s known as the timer feature. This setting will allow you to set the unit to run for a specific amount of time and then shut-off. It’s a set it and forget it feature. With each click of the button you add an hour to the shut-off time. This can be stacked until you reach the limit of twenty-four hours. You are also able to see via an indicator light if the timer is on or not.
Another cool feature on this unit is the auto-defrost setting. For those of you who do not know, a dehumidifier works exactly like an air conditioner does. And, just like an air conditioner, a dehumidifier can occasionally accumulate frost or ice on it’s evaporator coils. When this happens the appliance is no longer able to function as intended. Well folks this unit from Inofia has an auto-defrost feature. When frost is detected the compressor and all other sections of the machine will turn off. This prevents any more ice from accumulating. The only thing that remains on is the fan. This fan will constantly be blowing against the ice which will cause it to melt. After the ice has melted the system will turn back on and begin dehumidifying again.
All dehumidifiers come with a water tank. After all, the water that they are removing from the room has to go somewhere, right? In the case of this unit it comes with a 1.8 liter water tank. This equates to about a 3.8 capacity. So, if this unit removes thirty pints a day then you’ll have to empty the bucket seven or eight times per day. This is also where a larger unit may come in handy… or you could go with the continuous drainage route. The continuous drainage is what I would recommend, but you have to realize that the hose is gravity fed only. That means that the target drainage area HAS to be lower then the dehumidifier itself. This will work great if you are using this in a garage or basement where there is a floor drain. If there is not a drain then you may have to get creative or stick with emptying the water tank a few times each day. The good news is that if you stick with just using the water tank there is a water tank full indicator on the machine and the appliance will shut-off automatically to prevent water from spilling onto your floor. If the tank is full a flashing light on the control panel will inform you.
This appliance does come with a filter that will have to be cleaned regularly during operation. The filter can be popped out and either cleaned with a vacuum or washed with warm water. This is an easy task that won’t take more then a few minutes. The unit itself is relatively light weight and can be easily transported around your home. It comes in at only twenty-five pounds and has a handle at the top of it for easy mobility.
I seem to always do this to myself, but I ended up doing it again. You see a lot of the Pros that I wanted to mention have already been mentioned above in our ‘Product Features,’ section. That being said, I am sure that I can find some more. First, let’s take a look at the warranty on this product. There is a full one year warranty policy. This is pretty standard for most dehumidifiers but there was something that did stick out to me. This unit comes with a sixty day money-back guarantee. So, if you are not satisfied after a month of use you can return the product and get a full refund. That’s quite the benefit and it also shows you how much they back their product.
The next Pro is the overall sound of this appliance. This dehumidifier has a decibel rating of forty-four. That noise level is the equivalent of a hushed conversation within a library. That is quite a difference when compared to other dehumidifiers who range between fifty to sixty decibels. This unit would be great if you need a dehumidifier for your bedroom but you are also a light sleeper. Noise level is also one of the constant complaints that I see on other dehumidifier models. So, this is quite the Pro.
The biggest con that I can find on this unit is it’s overall size. Yes, this will get the job done for a smaller room but if you’re looking at dehumidifying an entire basement then this may not be the right unit for you. I always like to make the recommendation to go up that extra size. Yes, there is more money involved but you’re getting a nicer unit and it will resolve the humidity problem that you’re having that much faster. On top of that you’ll get a larger water tank and other extra features. But, if you’re just looking to use this unit in a small room then I would recommend it. You have to be the judge though. Do you think you need a larger unit, or will this one suffice?
Another important point of note here is that if your unit arrives to your home upside down then do NOT start it right away. As I have mentioned earlier a dehumidifier works just like an air conditioner or a refrigerator does. I’m sure that you’ve heard of not turning a refrigerator upside down, right? Well, the same principle applies. You see if the unit arrives upside down then all of the oil has most likely drained out of the compressor. With no oil this will cause a premature failure and your unit will be useless. If it has arrived upside down then put it right side up and then LEAVE it for a few days. I’d say two to three. By then the oil will have drained back to where it should be and you shouldn’t have any issues down the road. A good portion of the ‘negative’ reviews on this product is strictly because of this problem. It can be avoided though simply by doing the above instructions.
Be sure to clean your dehumidifier often. Also do not let water sit in the tank for a large amount of time. While yes, the dehumidifier removes humidity from your home, it won’t do you any good if you leave it in your dehumidifier. If water is left in there or if you do not clean your unit regularly then you’ll end up mold growing on the inside of the unit. This defeats the entire purpose of having the dehumidifier as you now have your very own mold host! Be sure to clean your unit folks.
Well folks we’ve gone through absolutely everything that I can think of when it comes to this product. We have looked at sizing requirements, all of the features, the pros, the cons, and everything else in between. The question now though is this the right dehumidifier for you? Don’t just take my word on this product though folks. There are over five-hundred reviews on Amazon on this dehumidifier from Inofia. All of these review come together for an average rating of four and a half starts out of five. I am very confident that you’ll be happy with this product as long as it fits your sizing requirements. If you are looking to purchase this product please visit our Amazon partner by clicking here.
On the other hand though, if you find that you need to do additional reading or need a different dehumidifier entirely please check out our dehumidifier buyer’s guide byclicking here.This guide will take you through everything you would ever need to know about dehumidifiers.
Thanks for reading and I hope this review was helpful,
Last week the United States Senate announced a bi-partisan bill that would give the Environmental Protection Agency the power to phase out HFC refrigerants over a fifteen year period. This bill is in response to the Trump Administration’s inaction on the Kigali Amendment. Back in 2016 the Obama Administration pledged their support of the Montreal Protocol amendment but when it came time for ratification the Trump Team sat on it and has not passed it to the Senate for review.
Over the past few years of there was a double blow to phasing out HFC refrigerants across the Untied States. Not only did Trump refuse to ratify the Kigali Amendment but we also saw the overturning of the EPA’s HFC phase down regulations. The EPA had planned a scheduled phase down and eventual phase out of popular HFC refrigerants such as R-404A and R-134a. This plan was announced back in 2015 but it was challenged in the courts by the MexiChem corporation.
The premise was that the EPA was using the Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocol for their authority. The Clean Air Act was designed to phase out CFC and HCFC refrigerants due to the Chlorine that they contained. There was not a mention of HFC refrigerants in the law, only Chlorine Ozone damaging substances. The EPA’s SNAP Rule 20 was overturned by the courts and the proposed HFC phase down laws were erased.
The bill introduced last week is known as the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act. It was introduced by Democrat Senator Tom Carper of Delaware and Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana. Fourteen other senators announced their support for the bill as well.
The bill itself aims at phasing down and eventually out HFC refrigerants over a fifteen period. The bill was written with the consultation of various industry experts so that a fair timeline could be established for businesses for the phase down.
I feel like this new bill is déjà vu. We’ve seen this before. In fact, back in February of 2018 a bill was introduced by the same two Senators with the exact same name. (Source) They even referenced the same job report and economic numbers as they did previously. With this new bill Senators are promising an addition of one-hundred and fifty-thousand jobs and thirty-nine billion dollars of growth for our economy.
I just don’t see it folks. First of all, this bill isn’t going anywhere. It’s going to die in the Senate. Even if it did get to the House and by some miracle they passed it then Trump would veto it and we would be back where we started. Secondly, I am very skeptical of those job numbers economic growth.
What are these jobs? Manufacturing and plant workers? HVAC installations and retrofits? Is there going to be that much more demand for these new refrigerants? If so, what is happening to the existing systems? Is this new economic growth number the result of business owners and home owners being forced to upgrade or retrofit their systems? If this is the case then I wouldn’t call a government mandated purchase ‘economic growth.’ Instead, it is forcing business owners into compliance and causing a burden, especially on small business owners. This ‘growth’ has to come from somewhere.
Don’t get me wrong folks, I am not entirely against phasing out HFC refrigerants… but I’m not a fan of the way they are selling this to the legislators and to the people. They already tried this once with the EPA through a loophole, they got caught, and now they are trying to push a bill through with false/hopeful promises. It’s left a bad taste in my mouth.
Getting back to the topic on hand though, I do not see this bill going anywhere. The only chance that there is to pass a full scale HFC phase down law is to wait until after the 2020 election and see what the new incoming Congress and President are like. If things stay the same then there will not be a Federal HFC phase down for quite a while within the United States.
Instead, we will be left with a spattering of States adopting their own HFC phase downs with each one being just a little bit different. If this trend continues I might have to get into consulting…
For more information on the bill check out our ‘Sources’ section below.
Dehumidifiers are not an appliance that a lot of folks think about. Well, they don’t think about it until they have a problem. The same can be said for air conditioners or furnaces. No one gives them much thought until a problem occurs. While a problem with an air conditioner is obvious – your house getting warmer – a problem with humidity is sometimes not as obvious. The good news is that there are early warning signs when it comes to high humidity in your home. These could include water droplets or beads forming on the inside of your windows in a specific room or rooms. It could be a damp or somewhat musty smell when you are in your basement. In some extreme cases you could even begin to see mold growing in certain areas.
You see if an area is left with too much humidity a large amount of allergens can begin to take root and grow. The ideal humidity for us is between forty to fifty percent. Anything lower then forty results in very dry skin and respiratory problems. Anything over sixty percent and you begin to get those allergen issues. To some it may be an inconvenience but to others, especially asthma sufferers, mold can have a significant impact on their quality of life.
Adding a dehumidifier to your basement, room, or entire home can help alleviate this excess humidity and get you back to that ideal range. Once the humidity has been stabilized and any possible mold has been removed you should notice a significant improvement in the quality of your air. In this article we’re going to take an in-depth look at the seventy pint ‘PuriCare’ dehumidifier from the LG Corporation. We’ll find out if this is the right unit for you or if you should be looking elsewhere.
Now before I get into the actual details, Pros, and Cons of a product I always like to take some time and look at the company behind the product. After all, the manufacturing company can say a lot about the quality of the product. Brand names have power. Don’t believe me? Just ask Coca-Cola or Toyota. These names mean something to people when they hear them. While a dehumidifier brand may not mean anything to you I can assure you that the same differences can still apply.
I’m sure most of you have heard of the company LG before. But, if you haven’t then let’s do a quick introduction. LG is a South Korean company that can be traced all the way back to 1958 under the name of Goldstar. (Just after the Korean War!) In 1995 they reorganized and became the company we know today as LG Electronics. Today, LG is a huge multi-national company spanning multiple countries and employing over eighty-thousand people. Their income is in the billions. I like to think of them as the General Electric of South Korea.
While this product may not be American made I can assure you that the quality is second to none and you also get the LG Electronics company standing behind your purchase. As I said before LG is a huge company and companies do not get to be giants unless they are providing a quality service or product. I would have no problems recommending an LG product to my readers.
In the next section we are going to take a look at all of the various product features that these dehumidifiers have. This can range from the various controls and customization all the way to the overall weight of the appliance. I try to cover everything I possibly can here so that you get a good picture of what you’re getting into.
First things first though, before we start talking about the various features this product has we need to determine if this is the right dehumidifier for you. This is a seventy pint unit. This is one of the larger sizes of dehumidifiers on the market today. Typically you’ll find them in thirty pint, fifty pint, and seventy pint. The seventy pint model is rated to work in rooms up to two-thousand square feet. This would be more then enough for an entire basement or floor of your home. It could also work in an office environment.
Now, while there isn’t a problem going bigger then you need with dehumidifiers you could end up saving yourself some money by buying a smaller appliance if you are only going to be using it for a room or two. On the other hand though, you should also keep in mind how humid or wet the room is. If there is standing water in the room then you are definitely going to want to get a seventy pint model. Even though it’s a small room your dehumidifier will have to work harder due to the excessive moisture.
Basically, it boils down to you do you want to save some money and go with a smaller sized unit? Or, would you rather invest a bit more and get something that will handle the problem no matter what?
Ok, so now that we’ve got sizing understood let’s take a look at the various other features that this products has. When looking at features I first like to take an in-depth look at the display control panel. This is where all of your alerts and customization takes place.
When it comes to features available we find most of the standard options that you see with other dehumidifiers. These include a digital display that allows you to set your desired humidity level. The numbers can easily be changed by pressing up or down arrows that will allow you to set a range between thirty to eighty percent. (Remember that between fifty to sixty percent is ideal.) The adjustments are done in five percent increments. This unit will work in temperatures as low as forty-one degrees as well so you can end up using it throughout most of the year.
Along with the humidity controls you’re also able to set the fan speed to high or low. There is a timer setting that will allow you to set the dehumidifier to run for a certain amount of time and then automatically shut-off. The time can be increased by one hour increments up to twelve hours. This is helpful if you’re not looking to run the appliance constantly. It’s a set and forget feature. There is an LED indicator that the timer is on as well so you know that you’ve set it correctly.
Dehumidifiers come with a drainage bucket. After all, that water they are removing from the room has to go somewhere, right? Well after some time of running that bucket will fill up with water and will have to be emptied eventually. There is an indicator on the control panel that tells you when the bucket needs emptied. There is also a shut-off on the dehumidifier to prevent it from overflowing the bucket with water and having it spill all over your floor. If you’re not a fan of constantly emptying water buckets there is a drainage hose that can be purchased as well. This hose, once installed, will constantly drain the water collected from the dehumidifier to a nearby drain. This works great if the dehumidifier is setup in your basement as your central air conditioner already has a drain for it’s excess water.
There is an auto-defrost indicator on the control panel as well. This is a good feature to have on the unit as there are instances where the evaporator coils inside the dehumidifier can freeze over and stop the machine from working. This is the same problem that can happen on air conditioners. (After all, air conditioners and dehumidifiers work the same way.) If ice or frost does begin to build on the coils inside your machine this auto-defrost feature will stop dehumidifier process and instead run the heater and fan to eventually melt the ice off of the coils. Once the ice is melted the machine will turn back on and start to work again.
Besides that, the last feature on this control panel, excluding the power button, is the clean filter alert. This isn’t necessarily a button, but an LED light will come up alerting you that you need to clean the filter of your machine. This light will come on after three-hundred and fifty hours of operation. You will need to remove the filter, clean, reinsert the filter, and then click on the ‘Filter Reset Button’ for three seconds to reset.
Lastly, these units come caster wheels that make for easy transportation. But, if for whatever reason you aren’t able to use the wheels these dehumidifiers aren’t that heavy. The largest seventy pint model comes in at only fifty pounds. Most of us should be able to move this around when we need to.
One feature that I like on this particular product is what’s known as the ‘Safety Standby.’ I’ve been reviewing and researching dehumidifiers like crazy the past couple weeks and this is the first time that I have come across this feature. Basically, it is a safety feature that prevents the appliance from overheating and causing a potential fire risk. What it does is if your dehumidifier has been running constantly for twenty-three hours the safety standby feature will turn the unit off for one hour. This one hour gap time gives the appliance a chance to cool down and prevent any overheating. Pretty clever, huh?
This product is Energy Star certified with the Environmental Protection Agency. The Energy Star program is designed to evaluate various appliances and determine if they meet the EPA’s efficiency standards. An Energy Star appliances is on average about fifteen percent more efficient then a competing machine. What this means is that it will end up costing you less per month then a competing dehumidifier that is not Energy Start certified.
Along with the Energy Star rating you also get a one year full warranty from LG. Per their instruction manual:
“LG Electronics U.S.A., Inc. (“LG”) warrants your LG Dehumidifier (“product”) against defect in materials or workmanship under normal household use, during the warranty period set forth below, LG will, at its option, repair or replace the product.”
Every product, no matter who makes it, will have drawbacks. That’s just how it is. That being said, it was difficult to find specific cons on these products. Instead, nearly all of the complaints that I read through were towards the delivery of the product. Remember before how we stated that dehumidifiers are very similar to air conditioners and refrigerators? Well, just like with refrigerators you cannot turn or ship a dehumidifier upside down.
Just yesterday I was helping my father move a refrigerator and we were very careful not to tilt it too far. The reason for this is if the refrigerator or dehumidifier is upside down or tilted too far then the oil can drain out of the compressor. Without proper lubrication your compressor will fail and the compressor is by far one of the most important components of your air conditioner, refrigerator, or dehumidifier. Many folks have reported premature failures of their dehumidifiers… but this is most likely due to them turning on the product right away after it being upside down. If the product did arrive upside down then turn it right side up and then wait for quite a while, maybe even a day. Then, start your dehumidifier up and you shouldn’t have any issues.
It also may be best practice to wait a day or two before turning on your new dehumidifier. The product may come to your home right side up, but who is to know if it was like that earlier that day. Always better to be safe then sorry. The good news here though is that if your dehumidifier does end up not working after a few weeks or months Frigidaire offers a one year warranty. Through my research I had found cases where Frigidaire offered a complete replacement product. It’s good to know you’ll be protected here.
One of the main objectives of a dehumidifier is to lessen the possibility of mold growing within your home. But, what happens if the very thing that is supposed to be preventing the mold starts to grow mold itself? Well, this problem has happened to a lot of folks. Some may argue that this is a manufacturing defect and others would say that the consumers who had this problem didn’t take care of their dehumidifier in the first place.
A dehumidifier needs to be cleaned regularly. That means checking and cleaning the filter. The filter is located at the back of these machines as shown in our previous screenshot. Again, I couldn’t find this information to be one-hundred percent sure, but most of these dehumidifier filters come with what’s known as an anti-bacterial mesh. This mesh aims at preventing bacteria. If you attempt to clean the filter with water then you risk washing away this protective coating. Instead you should either try to shake it out or use a low powered vacuum with a hose attachment. This will clean the filter and still protect your coating. It’s not just the filter though that needs to be cleaned. Ensure that the machine itself is as clean as can be and if you began to suspect mold growing within it then take it apart and try to identify the culprit area. When dealing with water day in and day out there is always a chance that some could spill and get isolated within the machine only to stay there and become stagnant. This is a prime candidate for mold growth. This is why you need to stay vigilant and ensure the unit is as clean as it can be.
Well folks I believe we have covered absolutely everything that there is to cover when it comes to this dehumidifier. You have read through the product features, the pros, and even the cons. We can also view on Amazon.com that this product has a four out of five stars rating with over two-hundred reviews. I can assure you that with the research that I have put into this product that it would make a good addition to your home.
The question now though is this the right dehumidifier for you? If you are looking to purchase this product please visit our Amazon partner by clicking here. On the other hand though, if you find that you need to do additional reading or need a different dehumidifier entirely please check out our dehumidifier buyer’s guide by clicking here.This guide will take you through everything you would ever need to know about dehumidifiers.
Thanks for reading and I hope this review was helpful,
Over the past few years the biggest concern when it came to refrigerants has been their Global Warming Potential. The higher the number the more damage that refrigerant could do to the environment. The Ozone problem has been fixed, more or less, due to the Montreal Protocol. In fact, just this month scientists announced that the Ozone hole is at the smallest it has ever been recorded. The problem today though is Global Warming or Climate Change. It seems that ALL of the popular HFC refrigerants used today have a GWP problem. Alternatives needed to be developed.
As we all know, there is no perfect refrigerant. There are always sacrifices that have to be made when selecting a refrigerant rather this be safety, environment, performance, or cost. Because of all of the press and news coverage that Climate Change has been receiving the world has been focused on reducing all of these refrigerants’ environmental impact. The smaller the GWP number the more friendly the refrigerant is to the environment.
The problem here is that the alternatives on the marketplace today that have a lower GWP number also come with a higher flammability rating. The HFCs that we all know and love today are mostly all rated as a ‘1’ on ASHRAE’s flammability scale. These refrigerants show no sign of flame propagation when tested in air at 21° Celsius (69.8° Fahrenheit) and 101 KPA. (14.6488 pounds of force per square inch.) These refrigerants are also non-toxic and are rated as an A1 on ASHRAE’s scale. They are very safe to technicians and to end-users.
The alternative refrigerants that are now being used in place of R-410A, R-404A, R-134a, and other HFCs are NOT rated as a ‘Class 1’ on the flammability scale. Depending on the refrigerant you will most likely see them rated as a ‘Class 2’ or a ‘Class 2L.’ These refrigerants are slightly flammable, or have a lower flammability rating. In some cases HFC alternatives, like Hydrocarbons, are rated as a ‘Class 3’ on the flammability rating scale. These refrigerants are in the higher flammability risk zone, some examples of them are R-290 Propane and R-600a Isobutane.
While some of these replacement refrigerants have been around for decades, others are being developed in laboratories as we speak. Honeywell and Chemours both have their own newer product lines known as Solstice and Opteon. These lines mainly focus on HFO refrigerants but also have some HFC releases as well. In both instances though these new refrigerants are classified as lower flammability. Some examples of these are the ever-popular automotive application known as R-1234yf and then Honeywell’s R-452B (Solstice L41y.)
In the past the United States has been hesitant to use refrigerants with flammability risk. Safety was the priority for us. If the choice was between environmental harm or worker/end-user safety we seemed to choose safety most of the time. This isn’t as true for the rest of the world. Countries in eastern Asia have been working with hydrocarbons and other flammable refrigerants for decades without any major issues. But, there is a lot more training and precautions that have to be taken in order to work on a propane system correctly.
The question that I have in my head, and what caused me to write this article today, is that is the United States ready to adopt these flammable refrigerants? I’m not just talking about in vending machines or super market coolers folks. No, are we ready to accept flammable refrigerants in a traditional home or office split system? R-32 is looking to do just that. Over in Europe and Asia it has become one of the leading refrigerant for split system applications and is widely seen as the replacement for R-410A. R-32 is rated as 2L, so it is only slightly flammable, but the risk is still there.
Looking at the Environmental Protection Agency’s SNAP approved refrigerants list I do see R-32 on there as an approved refrigerant for home and office air conditioning. The catch is that it has to be “for use in self-contained room air conditioning; see rule for detailed conditions.” (Source). So, the applications are still limited for now, but that may change in the near future. Mini-split R-32s have become quite popular as well. I believe it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing R-32 in split systems.
I am curious, what my readers think of this. Do any of you see problems with flammable refrigerants? What are your thoughts on the refrigerant pendulum swinging away from safety and over to environmental? Will you feel comfortable working on systems with these types of refrigerants? I’m anxious to hear your thoughts on the matter as all I see on the topic are others who have written articles. Please feel free to e-mail me your thoughts!
The basement is a key part in your home. It could be where all of your things are stored away. It could be a home gym. Perhaps you have it finished and use it as a recreational room. (We use it as a toy room for the kids) Whatever you use your basement for there is one thing that all homeowners fear and that is a wet or damp basement. A basement with an excess of moisture can cause a whole host of problems including damaging the finished walls or carpet to creating a breeding ground for allergens such as dust mites, fungus, and mold. If left unchecked these allergens and damage can get worse overtime. The effects can especially be felt if someone in your family has severe allergies or asthma. In some cases the mold growth can get so bad that it can begin to grow on the walls, floor, and even on blankets or clothes.
Adding a dehumidifier for your basement is a great way to minimize the moisture. Let me be clear though folks, a dehumidifier is not a cure all. If you are seeing excess water pooling in your basement again and again then you have a much larger problem that will need to be looked into. This could be a number of things including improper water drainage, faulty windows, cracks in your foundation, or other more severe issues. The purpose of a dehumidifier is to treat the symptoms but it is not a cure. All that being said, if you find your basement occasionally gets water in it or if you have a damp or musty smell upon entering it then a dehumidifier may be the right fit for you.
A dehumidifier does exactly what it sounds like. It removes the excess humidity from the room that you have it set in. Dehumidifiers are actually just very small air conditioners. They have the same components and more or less work the same way as well. They even contain refrigerant just like your air conditioner does. The only difference here is that the dehumidifier has a warming element before the air is pushed back out into your home. Have you ever noticed that in your basement next to your central air conditioner there is a drainage pipe that leads to an in-floor drain? This is the water being removed from the air by your air conditioner. Your dehumidifier works the exact same way.
What Dehumidifier do I Need?
After reading the above you may have decided that you do in fact need a dehumidifier. If you’re not sure take a walk around your basement. Look for any signs of water either on the windows, walls or floors. In most cases if there is excess humidity there will be water droplets forming on the inside of your windows. In other instances you may begin to see water form on the walls or some of the paint starting to bubble along the walls. If there are no signs of water anywhere then the next test is to use that nose of yours and see if you can notice a difference in smell from the main level of your home to the basement. Does the air in the basement smell stale? Perhaps mildewy? If so, this is a sign that you need a dehumidifier.
The problem in today’s world folks is that there are too many choices. Think about it. If you were to go buy a car today there are dozens of makes and models to choose from. This wide selection of choices can cause an overload and in most cases will cause us to get overwhelmed. The same can be said when it comes to choosing a dehumidifier for your home’s basement. There are dozens of choices out there, but which one is the best?
I am a big believer of the Good, Better, Best approach. This was taught to me years ago by a former supervisor. Basically, it removes the sheer amount of choice that we are faced with nowadays and presents the consumer with three simple choices. There is a Good, Better, and Best product recommended. Obviously, the good product is still a viable appliance that will get the job done but it is not the best of the best. Better is that next level up and Best of course is the top of the line model.
By giving the consumer a choice between these three they can then decide what type of product they want between the three choices. This makes the choice of buying a dehumidifier, or any other thing, a much easier process. In the next segment we will get into our recommended Good, Better, Best dehumidifiers. Before we do that though, I want to first spend some time on determining the right size of dehumidifier that you will need.
Dehumidifier’s size are measured in pints. The larger the pint number the more powerful the machine is. The pint sizing is a measurement of how much water a dehumidifier can remove in a twenty-four hour period. There are two factors that need to be considered when selecting the pint size of your dehumidifier. The first is the square footage of the room or rooms that you are attempting to dehumidify. You will need to measure the overall square footage of the area that you need this appliance for. This can be done by simply multiplying the length and width of the room together. This will be your overall square footage.
These square footage measurements will aid you in picking a portable dehumidifier. However, if you are looking to dehumidify your entire home then you may look at a whole home dehumidifier. These units can actually be attached to your central air conditioner and be routed through your central duct work. While the cost may be expensive at first you will end up seeing monthly savings on your energy bill and a longer life from your central air conditioner due to the dehumidifier taking some of the work off of the AC. These whole system dehumidifiers can work on homes up to three-thousand square feet.
Before you purchase you should keep in mind that once you determine the minimum capacity you need for your room that you should always go up slightly. By going up in capacity, say from a twelve pint to a twenty pint, you are able to increase the overall efficiency of your dehumidifier. This is because the larger unit will not have to work as hard as a unit that was right at the minimum level. Also, while there are all different varying pint sizes required the most common dehumidifier sizes are twenty, thirty, and fifty pints.
When you have your square footage determined you next need to figure out how damp the room is that you are trying to dehumidify. There are a few different dampness ratings that we can assign to your room. Knowing these will allow us to guide you on what kind of dehumidifier to purchase.
Moderately Damp – When you enter the room you may notice that the air feels clammy or even damp. There may also be a musty odor when the weather is humid outside. This may be a lot of your basements. The recommend capacity for a moderately damp room is between ten to twenty-six pints, or between five to twelve liters.
Very Damp – When you enter this room you may notice that it always smells musty and the air feels clammy or damp. You may even notice damp spots on the floor, walls, or windows. The recommend capacity for a very damp area is between twelve to thirty-two pints, or between five point seven to fifteen point one liters.
Wet – When you enter this room you may notice that it always smells musty and the air feels clammy or damp. You will also notice water beading on the floors, walls, windows, or elsewhere. You may also see moisture seeping at the edges of the room. The recommend capacity for a wet area is between fourteen to thirty-eight pints, or between six point six to eighteen liters.
Very Wet – When you enter this room you may notice that it always smells musty and the air feels clammy or damp. You will also notice water beading on the floors, walls, windows, or elsewhere. You may also see moisture seeping at the edges of the room. The difference here though between wet and very wet is that with the very wet section you will notice actual standing water on the floor. The recommend capacity for a very wet area is between sixteen to forty-four pints, or between seven point six to twenty point eight liters.
Our Recommended Products
Alright folks so now you should be fairly versed into what sized dehumidifier that you need. Now the question is what model do you purchase? Which one is the best of the best and which one is a budget model that will get the job done for you? This is where our ‘Good, Better, and Best,’ approach will come in handy. The three products below we have weighed against the others on the market and determined these are the top in their class.
Now keep in mind that this article is focused on specific dehumidifiers for your basement. We are not looking at or recommending smaller dehumidifiers that are meant for bathrooms or other applications. There are many of these types of models out there but they will not have the power needed to fix humidity problems in your basement. Ok, with all that out of the way let’s take a look at our product picks:
First on our list and in the ‘Good’ category is the twenty-two pint dehumidifier from hOmeLabs. This is our price point model and will work in open rooms up to fifteen-hundred square feet. In most cases this will handle the size of most basements. Consideration does have to be made though if you are experiencing a lot of moisture issues in your basement.
Remember earlier in the sizing section we stated that you would need more power if there is routinely standing water in the area? Well, this is what I meant. A twenty-two pint will get the job done if you’re trying to get rid of that musty smell or other minor problems but if you are needing something more then I recommend you move on to the ‘Better’ section of this article.
The good news here though is that this ‘Good’ selection is under two-hundred dollars on Amazon as I write this article. (Prices can change at any time.) The other models will end up costing you more but will grant you more power. Ultimately, the choice is yours but if it were me I would choose the ‘Better’ section as you get more power and longevity out of the product. Yes, you’ll pay more upfront but I believe it’s worth it.
Our ‘Better’ category product is the Vremi fifty pint dehumidifier. This product works in rooms up to forty-five hundred square feet. It can remove fifty pints of water per day and is ideal for larger rooms such as office spaces and large basements. Even if your basement isn’t that large though this product will still work great for smaller areas. This is especially true if those smaller areas have a significant dampness problem. By having such a powerful dehumidifier in the room your problems will be resolved very quickly.
This is the product I would use if you have standing water in your basement. This is the product I would use if you have mold growing in the area. In just a few days you will notice a significant difference. This product is also only slight more expensive then the ‘Good’ selection. For about forty or fifty dollars more you get a more powerful system. As I said previously, this is the product that I would go for.
Alright folks we are now on to the best of the best. This product is going to cost you quite a bit more then the others but you are also going to be receiving a premium product that will last you quite a while. Before I recommend this product to you I first want to understand why you need a dehumidifier. You see there are a few reasons for one to purchase a product like this. The first is that you are having problems with moisture and are seeing signs of it on your windows, walls, floor, and in the extreme cases standing water in your basement or rooms. This is the most common reason to purchase a dehumidifier.
That being said though, there are other reasons for someone to want to purchase an appliance like this. That reason is allergies. You see when there is excessive moisture in a room there are side effects that come along with it. For example, in a room with too much humidity dust mites, fungus, and other allergens will begin to form. In some cases mold will begin to grow either on your floors, walls, curtains, blankets, and even on your clothes.
While no one is a fan of mold it can be much more impactful for those of us with allergies and those with asthma. My father is an asthmatic and it sometimes only takes the littlest thing to trigger an episode. My mother has to vacuum the house right after he leaves in the morning. If he’s there during vacuuming then the stirred up dust will set him off. Everything has to be as clean as possible. Installing a dehumidifier was one of the steps they took to clean the air in their home. The dehumidifier will make it less hospitable for mold and other allergens to get a foothold in your home. It should be noted though that if mold already exists that you will have to remove it yourself. The dehumidifier will prevent more from growing but it will not clean up the existing mess.
This ‘Best’ product DeLongshi is actually approved by the Asthma Foundation of America and the Allergy Foundation of America. They’re not playing around with this one folks. As I said before, it’s the best of the best. It is the only dehumidifier that I could find that was endorsed by these two organizations. This unit can also dehumidify up to forty-five hundred square feet, just like the product we mentioned previously in our ‘Better’ category.
The downside here is, you guessed it, price. The cost on this product is nearly four-hundred dollars. (Prices can change at any time.) While that may seem like quite an investment to make it will be worth it if you or your family member are suffering from allergies or asthma. I would only recommend this product though if you are looking to relieve allergy/asthma sufferers. If you are just look to dehumidify then you should go with the ‘Better’ category.
Before I close this article I wanted to take a moment here and let you know that when dehumidifying in your basement it is best to use a drainage hose that leads to your air conditioner’s drain grate. This will allow you to run the dehumidifier constantly and not have to worry about emptying the water container every few days. If your basement doesn’t have a drainage area then you are most likely out of luck as the hose needed are gravity fed. Also, note that the room you are looking to dehumidify doesn’t have to be completely open. In other words, if your basement is finished and you have two to three bedrooms down there then I would place it in the largest room out of the three. The other rooms will have a lessened effect, but they will still be dehumidified.
Well ladies and gentlemen, this concludes our best dehumidifier for your basement article. If you would like more information on dehumidifiers please check out our dehumidifier section by clicking here. If you find that I’ve missed something or if you have additional questions please do not hesitate to reach out to me.
This may be seen as a tired subject by now but over the past few months additional counties have come forward and ratified the Kigali Amendment. So far this month New Zealand and Mauritius have both ratified the document. The month before in September we saw Vietnam and Bhutan commit to the amendment.
For those of you who do not know, the Kigali Amendment is an addendum to the original Montreal Protocol that we all know so well. While the goal of the Montreal Protocol was to phase out Ozone damaging substances such as CFC and HCFCs the Kigali Amendment focuses instead on HFC refrigerants. This would include your R-404A, R-410A, R-134a, and others. Instead of the focus being on Ozone depletion we now look at Global Warming Potential.
There are a lot of nuances that come with this new amendment that I won’t get into here, but the end goal is to reduce HFC refrigerant usage significantly across the world. The thinking is that we have already done it once with CFC/HCFC refrigerants why not do it again with HFCs?
Each month that passes we have seen a steady stream of countries ratifying the amendment. As I write this article there are over eighty countries that have agreed to it. You can see the complete list of countries who have ratified the document by clicking here.
Notice anything after reviewing that list? Some of the biggest and most powerful countries in the world have not ratified the document. Some of these are India, Russia, China, and the United States. These countries are some of your biggest polluters in the world. (Mainly China and India.)
It is not a surprise that these other countries have not moved forward with the amendment. The real surprise is that the United States has not moved forward. Now, before I get further into this, I want to make a point that I do not get into politics on this website. It’s in poor taste and can alienate readers. That being said, prior to the 2016 election the United States was heading towards adoption of this amendment.
The Obama Administration was in Kigali, Rwanda at the time of the signing and had pledged to move forward with the amendment. However, since Trump was elected the status of the amendment has stalled. From what I understand, all that needs to be done is for the State Department to send the amendment to the Senate where the Senate will then ratify. But, Trump’s State Department has sat on the treaty and has no intention of sending it to the Senate. Even if the Trump Administration sent the amendment to the Senate there is still little hope of it being ratified by a Republican controlled majority.
The amendment itself was effective on January 1st, 2019 and now as we approach the end of 2019 I do not foresee this amendment showing up at the Federal level in the near future. It is just not on the top of anyone’s list. If the world wants to see the Kigali Amendment adopted by the United States then they will have to wait until the 2020 election and see how the American people vote.
If an alternative voice to Trump is elected then chances are the Kigali Amendment will move forward. But, if Trump is re-elected then the United States will be one of the few countries that haven’t signed the treaty.
At the time of the signing of the Kigali Amendment back in 2016 the United States had restrictive rules already on the books for HFC refrigerants. These rules were issued by the Environmental Protection Agency using their authority given to them by the Clean Air Act. However, shortly after Trump was elected a Federal Judge overturned these EPA rules stating that the EPA had overstepped it’s authority. The HFC rules were now null and void.
At the time of the signing the Kigali Amendment was seen as a similar step to the already existing EPA rules. There wasn’t much that would change between Kigali and the EPA’s rules. It was a logical next move. But in today’s world with the Kigali in limbo and the EPA’s rules overturned there is very little hope for a Federal plan on phasing down HFC refrigerants.
Without a change at the White House the only way to move forward now is through individual state mandates. Some states have already taken the imitative and proposed and passed their own HFC phase down rules. California was the first and New York wasn’t too far behind. There are now around a dozen states that either have passed HFC phase down laws or are currently working through their own documents within their state houses.
The downside here is that we get a mish mash of rules and regulations that vary from state to state. This can make it very difficult for manufacturers and even contractors/technicians from servicing multiple states. The other side of this who knows how long these state HFC phase downs will last. There was a story in the news a few weeks ago on how the Environmental Protection Agency had voided California’s automotive mileage per gallon rules.
California has their own version of the EPA known as the California Air Resource Board (CARB). CARB had created their own rules when it comes to automotive mileage per gallon. Recently though Trump’s EPA announced that those rules were voided and that the EPA had precedent over California’s CARB. This was a hostile move seen by California but frankly, there’s not much they can do about it. They may challenge it in court and we may see a ruling down the road, but my money is on the Federal Government winning. The Federal Government has even threatened to withhold Federal highway dollars to California if they do not comply with EPA authority. California is definitely in a tight spot here and it will interesting to watch this fight in the future.
All of this leads me to question all of these states that are passing individual HFC phase down laws. Do they have authority to do this? Will the EPA come after them for overstepping their bounds? Will we see ALL of these regulations tossed out? Will the United States ever phase out HFC refrigerants, or will we be using them the same way we are now in ten or twenty years from now? Time will only tell.
The Environmental Protection Agency has announced that the grocery chain Aldi has received a GreenChill certification excellence award. The reward was given due to Aldi’s tireless efforts of converting their stores to become more climate friendly.
In 2018 there were no other grocery chains that received as many GreenChill store certifications then Aldi. For those of you who do not know, the GreenChill program was created by the EPA and focuses on food retailers throughout the country. This includes your supermarkets, supercenters, and wholesale outlets. The aim of the program is to reduce Ozone depleting refrigerants and to also reduce the carbon footprint of these various companies by switching to more climate friendly refrigeration systems such as HFOs or natural refrigerants such as hydrocarbons or R-744.
In order for a store to qualify for a GreenChill certification award it must meet specific requirements such as what type of refrigerant it is using, the charge of the various units at the store, and the overall emissions generated from the systems. Stores can qualify for silver, gold, and platinum certification. As of this summer Aldi had two-hundred and thirty-eight GreenChill certified stores. All of these certified stores are at the platinum level. They have been moving away from R-22 and in some cases away from HFC refrigerants. Their refrigerant of choice has been R-744.
It’s not just refrigerant that Aldi is concentrating on though. They have allocated five billion dollars over the next five years to remodel and update their existing stores to become more environmentally friendly. This includes various types of energy savings ranging from LED lighting, energy efficient building supplies, and more efficient refrigeration equipment and air conditioners.
Over the past ten years or so the use of R-744 has grown substantially. A large portion of these grocery store chains used the HCFC R-22 or HFC R-404A for their refrigeration systems. As you all know, R-22 will be entirely phased out in just a few months and there is already immense pressure on phasing out R-404A as well due to it’s extremely high Global Warming Potential (GWP).
There are lower Global Warming Potential alternative HFC and HFO refrigerants available but the problem with these is that they still contain a relatively high GWP. Sure, you’re reducing your GWP footprint by fifty percent but you’re still stuck with a refrigerant that has a mildly high GWP. There is risk that this new refrigerant that you’re investing all of your money into could be phased out ten years later. Why take the risk if there is an alternative that has a GWP of one? This is exactly why we are seeing so many businesses choose R-744 over some of the other refrigerants on the market.
In the past CO2 systems just weren’t reliable. CO2 operates at an extremely high pressure and because of this the components have a high risk of failure and could also cost substantially more then traditional components. Over the decades though the technology for Carbon Dioxide refrigeration systems has improved. Along with this improving technology comes a cheaper price tag resulting in more installations.
These new R-744 systems are a mixture of either stand alone transcritical systems or various types of cascade systems such as a R-290/R-744 split. In Aldi’s case they have opted for the transcritical system for their hundreds of stores. Other stores, such as Whole Foods, have opted for the split/cascade systems.
The acceptable and unacceptable list of refrigerants seems to grow day in and day out. Here in the United States the rules are now being made at a State level as well as Federal level. This causes business owners a great amount of uncertainty that their machines may be next on the chopping block.
Installing a natural refrigerant at their location is a great way to future proof themselves from any potential phase outs down the road. Sure, a CO2 system may still be more expensive then a standard HFC but remember that upfront cost is paying towards your future. After all, CO2 as a refrigerant has been around for over one-hundred years. It is not going anywhere.
With the phase out of R-22 looming only a few months away many businesses have either begun looking for alternatives or have already set a plan in motion. One such example can be found at the Taft Coliseum in Columbus, Ohio. This coliseum seats up to seven-thousand people and is used for basketball and hockey during the winter season. It was built all the way back in 1918 and has been a staple within the Columbus community for decades. I lived in Columbus back in the early nineties and may have even visited this arena. May have…
Because of this arena’s age, and also the phase out of R-22, a four million dollar renovation has been approved. While not all of this money will be going towards converting the refrigerant system a large portion assuredly will. I could not find the exact age of their current R-22 system but with these approved funds the city has agreed to convert the arena over to an ammonia (R-717) system. It is unknown rather it will be an absorption or a vapor compression system. My assumption would be the latter.
This project is still in the preliminary stages at this point as the city has not yet chosen a contractor. They are accepting bids up until October 4th so if you are in the area you should throw your hat in the ring!
I am curious why they ended up choosing ammonia. Don’t get me wrong, ammonia has been used in ice rinks for decades across the world. It is however a rather rare to see it in the United States. In most cases the United States and our Environmental Protection Agency has stayed clear of potentially ‘unsafe’ refrigerants such as ones with flammability and toxicity potential. But, now, with the push to phase out of not only HCFCs but also HFCs there are very few alternative refrigerants left out there to choose from.
In terms of longevity, business owners have two choices. The first is that they can go with the newer HFO refrigerants. These refrigerants are being developed by Honeywell and Chemours. In most cases they are relatively safe, but they do have a somewhat high global warming potential. Nowhere near as high as a standard HFC but still a rather high number when compared to natural refrigerants. Four of these new HFO refrigerants were approved for use in ice rinks by the EPA almost exactly a year ago in October of 2018. These included Opteon’s XP-10 (R-513A) and Opteon’s XP-40 (R-449A). As well as the Solstice N-13 (R-450A) and the Solstice N-40 (R-448A). I have seen quite a few stories across the US and even globally where arenas have begun adopting these new refrigerants in either retrofits or in entirely new systems.
That leads us to the second choice: natural refrigerants. Natural refrigerants include some of the oldest refrigerants on the market such as hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide, and ammonia. In this example in Ohio they chose to go with Ammonia. (R-717 has been approved for ice rink use though by the EPA’s SNAP program since 2010.) Ammonia is a good choice for ice rinks due to it’s extremely high efficiency but I am still hesitant about the safety concerns. If the system is not properly maintained or an accident occurs it is not just the technician that could be in danger.
If it was me I would have most likely chosen the carbon dioxide (R-744) option. CO2 has been approved for ice rink use since May of 2016 and can provide arena owners a safe, relatively efficient, and a refrigerant that will never be phased out. There is no global warming potential concern with CO2 as it is literally the zero fro the GWP scale. This refrigerant, just like ammonia, has been around for over a century and won’t be going anywhere.
Just remember folks, that there are no ‘wrong’ choices when it comes to selecting a new refrigerant for your arena. Just ensure that the refrigerant that you have chosen is in the SNAP approved listing and will also stand the test of time.
Hello all. It’s been a while since I’ve written on RefrigerantHQ. I’ve still been watching the industry but as of recent the news has been rather slow and my time has been rather hectic. In the past two months I’ve changed jobs, purchased a new home, and am in the process of selling our old home. All the while my daughters started school and my son has started walking. It has been difficult to carve out time to write for this site.
The good news is that things have begun to settle back down. I am getting into a groove at the new job and all of the housing changes are nearly wrapped up. Today I found that I had some extra time so I wrote an article on R-22 and the wrapping up of the summer season. As you all know, this was the last season before the R-22 phase out goes into place in January. If you’d like to read the article please click here.
As the next month goes by I should have more time to work on the site and start continual updates again. I’m anxious for the weather to get colder again so that I am forced to spend more time indoors working on the website! If any of you have article ideas please feel free to reach out to me. The more the better.
At the beginning of this year many folks thought that the price of R-22 would rise and rise. Some were predicting prices at five-hundred or even six-hundred dollars for a thirty pound cylinder. After all, this was the last true summer for R-22. At the end of this year on January 1st, 2020 the Environmental Protection Agency’s phase out of R-22 will be complete.
After that date imports or production of the HCFC R-22 refrigerant will be banned. The only way for a contractor to get a hold of R-22 will be through the backlog of product that refrigerant distributors are sitting on or through an EPA certified refrigerant reclaimer.
This phaseout has been ten years in the making and over those years the price of R-22 was expected to rise. In 2010 there was a restriction imposed on imports and production. In 2015 that restriction was ratcheted up. In each of these occurrences the price of R-22 climbed.
It reached it’s highest point during the summer of 2017. At one point it hit seven-hundred dollars for a thirty pound cylinder. In most cases though it averaged around six-hundred dollars a cylinder. There was a time where folks thought this was the new normal. That this six-hundred dollar price would be the baseline and that it would only go up from here as the 2020 date slowly approached.
Instead, the opposite occurred. It was towards the end of 2017 that the price began to fall. The price decline seemed like the typical winter price drop but as we moved into 2018 the price decline continued. There was some bounce back here and there but the overall trend was decline.
Why though? Why was the price dropping? There were two primary drivers. The first was the amount of product that was sitting on hand. Many refrigerant distributors had begun buying R-22 in larger quantities in anticipation of the price going even higher. Once the market adjusted to the higher price these distributors would then sell at just below market value and make a ton of profit. Or, so they hoped.
This extra inventory flooded the market and caused the prices to drop. As the prices dropped the distributors who were holding onto their product began to unload theirs as with each price drop they were losing more and more money. It was a snowball effect that led to the price falling downwards.
The other part of the equation was the R-22 alternatives and the R-22 reclaimers. During the ten years of the R-22 phase out it seemed like everyone was coming out with their own R-22 alternative refrigerant. There are dozens and dozens of them out there. Each one is it’s own unique refrigerant with it’s own unique requirements. Some of these alternatives required very little retrofitting as well. A contractor could buy an alternative refrigerant and do the retrofit on the customer’s unit all for under the cost of recharging their system with genuine R-22.
When R-22 hit that peak price point of six-hundred dollars a cylinder the alternative market began to grow. Along with the alternatives came the certified reclaimers. Throughout my research and talks with those within the industry the supposed ‘sweet spot’ for alternatives and reclamation is about four-hundred to five-hundred dollars a cylinder. If R-22 falls below that four-hundred dollar price then alternatives/reclaimed product doesn’t make sense. After all, why buy a knock-off version if you can get the real thing for the same price?
So, here we are folks. It’s the middle of September of 2019 and the summer has passed us by. If there was going to be a price increase on R-22 it would have been this summer. Instead, the pricing didn’t move at all. No, today folks we’re seeing a thirty pound cylinder of R-22 going between two-hundred and fifty to three-hundred dollars a cylinder.
Yes, you heard me right. We are at rock bottom prices here. Remember what I said about alternatives just a bit ago? That four-hundred dollar sweet spot? Well, we’re not even close. Alternatives and reclamation are no longer competitive. There is just too much product out there. The market has been flooded and it’s a race to the bottom as everyone keeps lowering their prices to offload their product before the deadline comes.
Now, don’t get me wrong. After 2020 distributors can still sell R-22… but a lot of folks are wanting to get out now. The reason for that is all of these R-22 machines out there are from 2010 or earlier. At the beginning of the phase out the EPA stated that no NEW R-22 machines could be manufactured within the United States.
So, if you have an R-22 unit running at your location that unit is nearly ten years old already. Even before the phase out began in 2010 manufacturers were switching to R-410A models in anticipation. So, your R-22 unit may even be closer to fifteen years. They say that an average home air conditioner will last between fifteen to twenty years. These units are on borrowed time.
Herein lies the problem. The demand for R-22 is going to drop soon and it will drop quickly. With each year that passes more and more R-22 air conditioners are being retired and replaced with R-410A. This decline in demand will also lead to an even lower price point of the product.
These distributors are walking a fine line. If they hold onto their R-22 product until after the 2020 phase out there is a chance that the price could rise again. However, the demand is going to start dying down soon as well. When is the right time for them to unload their product?
During this summer there were quite a few times where the price dipped down five or ten dollars a cylinder. In most cases when this occurred it was due to a distributor unloading their backlogged product and removing themselves from the R-22 game.
The question now is what will happen over the next few months. Will prices remain flat until January hits? Will we see an increase in January? If so, how much? Over the years of writing articles on refrigerant I have learned one important thing. Do not try to predict. The market is anything but stable and it is very difficult to say what will happen.
The key point I will make here in this article though is if you are a contractor and are needing R-22 refrigerant NOW is the time to buy. Heck, now is the time to stock up. I do not say this in anticipation of higher prices, as I just don’t know what the market will do, but I say this due to rock bottom prices.
I’ve been running this blog for about five years now and this is the lowest I’ve seen R-22. It may or may not go up in 2020 but I’d rather have the peace of mind now and get a hold of that low priced product.
It was announced last Friday that an agreement had been made between the Federal Government’s EPA/Justice Department and the company Southeastern Grocers (SEG). Southeastern Grocers is a large grocery store chain that operates nearly six-hundred stores across the southern United States. They operate under various supermarket chains including BI-Lo, Winn-Dixie, Fresco y Mas, and Harveys Supermarket. They have over forty-five thousand employees and over eight billion in revenue.
The court case emerged from the Environmental Protection Agency accusing SEG of not following the Clean Air Act. Specifically, on the refrigerators within their stores. These refrigerated units use HCFC refrigerants and were not being actively monitored for leaks. Along with that, there was not proper record keeping on what maintenance had actually been done.
The agreement states that SEG will work to solve their issues over the next three years. Part of that is investing four point two million dollars to reduce SEG’s dependency on Ozone depleting systems. SEG will also pay a three-hundred thousand dollar fine. But wait, there’s more! It’s not just fines and investment that SEG will have to go through. Along with all of that they will also have to put in place a corporate policy when it comes to refrigerant management. This will include a bi-monthly leak monitoring program to ensure leaks no longer go undetected and if they do then they get repaired in a timely manner.
Most grocery stores/supermarkets have an average leak rate of twenty-five percent. SEG will now be expected to maintain a twenty-one percent leak rate in the first year, a nineteen percent in the second, and a seventeen percent by the third year (2022). They also are mandated to use non-Ozone depleting advanced refrigerants in all of their new stores as well as in fifteen existing stores. (These would be any of the SNAP approved refrigerants for commercial refrigeration.) If any of these requirements are not met over the next few years then SEG could face additional, possibly harsher, fines and penalties.
The Clean Air Act states that owners of commercial refrigeration equipment that contain fifty pounds or more of refrigerant must regularly be checked for leaks and if a leak is occurring to have that leak repaired within thirty days of detection. It should be noted that there is a threshold here, not EVERY leak has to be repaired right away. A determination needs to be made as to how large the leak actually is. I won’t get into all of the details in this article, but the EPA states that for commercial refrigeration the leak cannot exceed a rate of twenty percent. (This used to be thirty-five percent, but was changed at the beginning of this year.) If you’d like to view the EPA article on this topic click here.
While this fine and mandated investment may seem like a lot it is just a blimp in the radar for a company like Southeastern. They bring in billions a year, this won’t have much impact on them. Don’t let that fool you though folks, the EPA doesn’t discriminate when it comes to company size. If the Clean Air Act isn’t being followed then your business could be at risk as well. It’s just that SEG was a much bigger target for an investigation. This initial agreement is subject to a thirty day public comment period and then final approval from the court.
If you walk away with one thing from this article know that proper record keeping is essential. Even if you have regularly scheduled maintenance if you don’t have the records showing so it is all for not. Be sure to cross your Ts and dot your i’s in these matters to prevent any future risk of EPA investigations. Use these companies that are going through the EPA headaches as warnings to others out there.
Over the past few months I have seen a rash of articles from all over the web stating that the price of Freon is going through the roof in anticipation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s planned phase out that hits January 1st, 2020. The frustrating part about all of these articles is that nearly all of them have it wrong. Or, if they don’t have it wrong, they are misstating the facts. In this article I aim to educate you, the homeowner, on what exactly is happening on January 1st, 2020 and if you should worry.
Before we dive too deep into this article I first want to explain the term Freon. When you hear Freon you most likely think of any refrigerant that is found in refrigerators, cars, home air conditioners, etc. Here’s the thing though, Freon is actually a very rare find nowadays. You see Freon is a brand name of refrigerant. It is just like how Coca-Cola is a brand name of soda. If you want a soda you don’t say you want a Coke, instead you say you’d like a soda. The same thing can be said with Freon. When you hear the term Freon nowadays it really only applies to one type of refrigerant known as HCFC R-22.
R-22 dates all the way back to the 1930s and falls under the HCFC classification of refrigerants. HCFCs along with their sister refrigerant class CFCs actively damage the Ozone Layer. Way back int he 1980’s there was an international treaty passed called the Montreal Protocol. This treaty aimed at phasing out all of the Ozone damaging refrigerants. Freon was included in this. Over the years there have been various Ozone damaging refrigerants phased out.
The last refrigerant on this thirty year phase out list was R-22 Freon. This product’s phase out began in 2010 and has had a staggered approach every few years. The final end date of the R-22 phase out is January 1st, 2020. After this date no new imports or manufacturing of R-22 will be allowed into the United States. The only way to purchase R-22 refrigerant from then on will be from distributors who stock piled it or through refrigerant reclaimers. (Think of refrigerant reclaimers as companies who recycle and clean used refrigerant.)
Do You Have a Freon R-22 System?
Here’s the good new folks. In most cases homes will be using a Puron refrigerant system. This is also known as R-410A. Puron systems started to become popular in the late 2000’s and once the initial phase down of R-22 hit in 2010 Puron as the go to alternative for new air conditioners. So, if your air conditioner is from 2010 or newer then chances are you have a R-410A Puron system.
However, if your air conditioner predates 2010 then you should check to see exactly what refrigerant your system takes. It is most likely R-22 but it is always good to physically check. You can do this by locating your outside air conditioning unit and looking at the sides for a white labeled sticker. In some cases there are a few stickers so be sure to look them both over carefully. The text may be small but you should see either a ‘R-22’ or a ‘R-410A’ marking on the system. This alerts you to what kind of system you have.
If you find a R-410A marking on your air conditioner then you have nothing to worry about. Remember, the only refrigerant being phased out in 2020 is R-22. Your HFC R-410A is perfectly safe and will be around for a quite a while longer. If you find that you do have an R-22 unit then be prepared for potentially expensive repairs.
Obviously, with the impending phase out we would all expect the price on R-22 to go up and up. Well, it did… sort of. You see when the phase out started in 2010 we had a jump in price. It was about three-hundred and fifty to four-hundred dollars per thirty pound cylinder. Then as the years went by the price stabilized and maintained the price point we mentioned earlier. It was then in 2015 that a tightening of the EPA’s phase out took hold and the market’s supply was constricted.
This caused the price to start to climb again. It was in 2017 though that we saw the dangers of price speculation. At one point in 2017 the price for a thirty pound cylinder climbed all the way up to over seven-hundred dollars. Everyone thought that the price was only going to go higher so they all bought up as much as they could. This was it. Every year after 2017 was going to be worse and worse.
Well folks, that just wasn’t the case. After the extreme prices of 2017 the price on R-22 began a downward trend. With each passing season the price kept moving downward. Now, as I write this article in August of 2019 the price is now under three-hundred dollars a cylinder. That is an amazingly low price and we are only a few months away from total phase out of the product.
At this point it is anyone’s guess as to what will happen to R-22 pricing as we get closer to that impending January 1st, 2020 date. We could see prices remain flat at around three-hundred dollars or we could see it climb again and soar over five-hundred dollars a cylinder.
Even before you have a contractor come to your home and look at your air conditioner you should be aware that air conditioners are what’s known as closed systems. What that means is that the refrigerant in your air conditioner moves back and forth between different cycles and it, in theory, never runs out or needs refrigerant refilled.
If you find that your unit is low on refrigerant or is completely out do NOT just refill your machine with a new refrigerant. I repeat do NOT do this. Your system does not need a top off. It does not need just a little bit more refrigerant to get by. No. If you are running out of refrigerant that means that somewhere in the refrigerant cycle there is a leak. Your unit is leaking refrigerant and will continue to leak refrigerant until a repair is made. If you dump more refrigerant into it without fixing the leak you are literally throwing money down the drain. Potentially a lot of money too if yours is an R-22 unit.
I like to think of it as a above ground pool. If you get a puncture in the pool lining water will leak out. Sure you can always add more water but it’s not fixing the problem. Adding more refrigerant doesn’t fix the problem either. It’s just prolong the inevitable and wasting money.
Repair or Replace?
Alright, so let’s say you have an R-22 unit at your home and it breaks down over the summer… or the fall. What do you do? There are a few things to weigh here before making a decision. First, call out a contractor and determine exactly what has gone wrong and how expensive the actual repair will be. In most cases if a major component broke on your air conditioner then you will need a refrigerant recharge after the system has been repaired. These refrigerant recharges are where things can get expensive on R-22 units.
The typical rule of thumb is between two to four pounds of refrigerant per ton of your air conditioner. (You should always check the exact specifications of your machine, but most of the time the two to four pound guideline will be sufficient.) Most home air conditioners are between one ton and five tons. (Anything over five tons is considered a commercial grade unit.) So, as an example let’s say you have a four ton R-22 system that needs recharged. Let’s do some math here to determine exactly how much you’d pay for a refrigerant recharge.
3 pounds of refrigerant * 4 tons = 12 pounds of refrigerant.
$400 per 30 pound cylinder of refrigerant = $13.33 per pound of R-22
$13.33 * 12 pounds of refrigerant = $160 for a recharge.
Now that we have figured out an R-22 recharge let’s take a look at the new counterpart refrigerant known as R-410A. 410A typically costs about ninety dollars per twenty-five pound cylinder. So, let’s do the same scenario above but this time substitute the $13.33 R-22 per pound with the $3.60 per pound of R-410A.
$3.60 * 12 pounds of refrigerant = $43.20 for a recharge.
While the amounts mentioned above may not seem that bad, keep in mind that you also have to pay for the actual repair as well. The repair could be a couple hundred as well. You also need to consider what the price per pound on R-22 would be if the price went up significantly when the 2020 deadline hit. Let’s say it rose to six-hundred dollars a cylinder. That one-hundred and sixty recharge bill now just jumped to two-hundred and forty dollars.
The decision to repair or replace is going to have to be a judgement call. If this is the first repair for your R-22 unit then it may make sense to throw four or five-hundred dollars at it. But, if you are having to repair the unit multiple times a season then your best choice would be to scrap it and purchase an entirely new R-410A system instead.
I read an article earlier this week on counterfeit 1234yf refrigerant being caught at a port in Poland. This refrigerant was no doubt bound for the Western European market. Polish authorities, in co-ordination with Honeywell, seized the counterfeit shipment and had it destroyed at the purchaser’s expense. As most of you know R-134a was phased out entirely in new vehicles within the European Union. While there was not a specific refrigerant chosen as a replacement most of the market moved towards this new HFO known as R-1234yf. It had a low Global Warming Potential, it had no Ozone Depletion Potential, and it was only slightly flammable. It seemed like the perfect solution.
This was great news to the big refrigerant manufacturers Honeywell and Chemours (DuPont). These two companies hold patents on 1234yf. This patent is not expiring anytime soon. In essence, these two companies have a monopoly on the automotive market within the European Union. There is an alternative refrigerant, CO2/R-744, that was developed by the German company Daimler… but it is still in it’s infancy stages and is not widely used in new models yet.
After writing this article I was informed that I was mistaken when it comes to the patents on 1234yf. There are various patents that are held on 1234yf and they fall into two categories. The first is known as the process patent and the other is known as the application patent.
The process patent is a patent on the recipe that is used to create HFO 1234yf. Honeywell holds a patent here, but there are other ways to create 1234yf. So, outside companies can produce 1234yf legally and hopefully come in at a competitive price point.
The application patents are just that. They are patents on the certain applications that 1234yf can be used in. Honeywell for example holds patents using 1234yf in automotive applications. So, while other companies can produce 1234yf we are still at a bottleneck with the application patents. The good news is that these may expire earlier then the 2030 date that I had mentioned earlier.
The price on R-1234yf is a whole other story. Typically, you could get a pound of R-134a for around three-dollars. This is what folks were used to and what they expected to pay if they needed an air conditioning repair. R-1234yf however is in a whole other ballpark. Your typical price per pound on this product could range from fifty to seventy dollars a pound. That is nearly a two-thousand percent increase in price to businesses and customers.
So, now let’s look at this critically. We have a very high priced product, a product that is produced by a select few companies, and it is a product that EVERY vehicle within the European Union needs. I’m sorry folks, but these three points means that this is a prime candidate for counterfeit or fraudulent product to hit the market. This is just human nature. Yeah, there is a risk if these folks get caught but there is also a huge reward: profit. Think if this counterfeit product hits the market at twenty percent less then the genuine Honeywell/Chemours product. Customer gets a significant savings and the business behind it makes a killing.
In order to stop this fraudulent product Honeywell has been working with various governments within the European Union and even with China. There was a publicized incident last year in the Czech Republic where fraudulent 1234yf was found at a port. The year before Honeywell and the Chinese government prosecuted a person involved in the production and sale of counterfeit 1234yf. This individual received nine months in jail. There was another incident reported by the CoolingPost last month. This time a shipment was seized at a Polish port.
Most of this product either comes in to a Eastern European country’s port or it travels by road from China, into Turkey, into Bulgaria, and then to whatever western country they wish. Just like with previous counterfeit refrigerant, the product is coming from China. These are most likely the same guys who were producing counterfeit R-22 a few years back when R-22’s price had hit record highs. It was also the Chinese that was found to be violating the Montreal Protocol by still widely producing and using R-11. It is not a surprise that they are diving into the fraudulent HFO market.
Honeywell states that they are going after these fraudulent 1234yf products to protect consumers and to protect their equipment. They may very well have the interests of protecting consumers but, in my opinion, all this is is Honeywell protecting their monopoly and aggressively going after anyone tries to infringe on their market. Whatever their motivations are they are going to have one hell of a game of whack-a-mole on their hands. The Chinese have been very lackadaisical when it comes to enforcing regulations and preventing illegal products from being manufactured and sold. For every company that Honeywell goes after another one will pop right back up.
Who knows folks, maybe this product is one-hundred percent clean and is made to the same specifications that Honeywell/Chemours have set forward. Even if it was though it would still be targeted and destroyed for patent infringement. I won’t make a lot of friends by saying this, but I am not a fan of this monopoly. No two companies should control the entire automotive refrigerant market.
While we haven’t felt the pressure of this high priced HFO product here in the United States I can assure you folks that it is coming and it is coming sooner then you think. Earlier this year I did an article on the number of cars using 1234yf. The numbers were staggering. In 2019 nearly sixty percent of new vehicles use R-1234yf. In just a few years that number is expected to climb to ninety percent. R-134a is being phased out here in the United States as well and the only real alternative at this time is 1234yf.
This trend only really started to hit US automotive manufacturers back in 2015. Most automotive companies state that it takes an average of five to six years for a vehicle to need an HVAC repair. Next year is when we may really start to see that sticker shock when folks begin bringing in their vehicles for an air conditioning repair. We could have a simple compressor replacement and recharge price increase by hundreds of dollars.
Don’t get me wrong folks, I am not advocating for any illegal product. Frankly, it is not safe and you never truly know what you are getting. That being said, there definitely needs to be more competition introduced into the 1234yf marketplace.
7-Eleven, the world’s largest convenience store with sixty-eight thousand stores, has announced a partnership with Honeywell and their Solstice refrigerant line. Specifically, 7-Eleven has announced that they will be switching their condensers away from R-404A and over to the Solstice N40 refrigerant in the United States and Canadian markets. That is nearly twelve-thousand stores. This was the next logical step for 7-Eleven as last year they began a similar transition in their Japanese market. This switch was mandated by law, but it must have gave 7-Eleven the encouragement to switch additional stores over in North America.
I’m not an expert on supermarket or gas station coolers, but I noticed that when I was reading about this that they only intend to replace the condensers and not the rest of the machine. I am assuming that these are cascade systems that are being replaced and that the other refrigerant used is more climate friendly such as R-744. If any of you know of a different approach that they could be using feel free to let me know. It is always good to learn something new!
The replacement refrigerant known as Solstice N40, or R-448A, is a newer refrigerant from the Honeywell corporation. This refrigerant is a zeotropic blend between numerous refrigerants and is classified as an HFC/HFO mixture. It contains twenty-six percent of HFC R-32, twenty-six percent of HFC R-125, twenty-one percent of HFC R-134a, seven percent of HFO R-1234ze, and twenty percent of HFO R-1234yf. Just by the numbers I would call R-448A an HFC refrigerant rather then an HFO.
R-448A is designed as a replacement for R-404A in supermarket systems and can be used as a retrofit as well as on newer models. The retrofit is fairly simple and has been described as a near drop in replacement for R-404A. Notice I said ‘near.’ There are still some slight adjustments that have to be made before it can be used in an 404A system. 448A is meant for low and medium applications commonly found in super-markets, gas stations, vending machines, and other smaller systems.
It has a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of one-thousand two-hundred and seventy-three. While that is still quite a high GWP it is nowhere near it’s predecessor. R-404A has a GWP of three-thousand nine-hundred and twenty-two. By making the switch to R-448A 7-Eleven will see a nearly sixty percent reduction of GWP. It is also more efficient then R-404A. In the lower temperature applications users can expect to see five percent in energy savings. With the medium temperature systems users can see up to fifteen percent in energy savings.
Lastly, it is safe as well with an A1 rating from ASHRAE. That means it is non-flammable and non-toxic. The flammability rating is a big deal as so many newer refrigerants nowadays seem to sacrifice safety for environment. Take R-1234yf for example, it’s predecessor R-134a was not flammable at all. 1234yf on the other hand is rated as 2L or slightly flammable. It is good to see that a next generation refrigerant is able to tackle both GWP and public/technician safety.
While 7-Eleven moves forward with this new refrigerant the question that I have on my mind is how long will this refrigerant last? Yes, it is a definite improvement over the HFC R-404A but it still has a GWP of over one-thousand. This refrigerant may last for a while and companies can all give themselves a pat on the back for becoming more environmentally friendly, but chances are that they will have to be switching refrigerants again in another five to ten years due to the pressure of getting rid of high GWP refrigerants.
If it was me I would either hold off on replacing/updating my HFC equipment, or if I had to update then I would opt for a natural or hydrocarbon refrigerant such as R-744 or R-290. At least with these you know that you do not have the risk of phase down looming around the corner. If there is one thing business owners can’t stand it is uncertainty.
The past few weeks have been rather crazy on my side of the world. I started a new job a few weeks ago, put a contract down on a house, and the kids start school in just a month. Time is definitely flying by. I’m hoping here in a few months things will begin to calm down… but we will see.
Overall the news has been rather slow in the refrigerant industry the past few weeks. One story I did come across today though was that United Airlines has announced that they will be spending twenty million dollars to replace their aging air conditioners. These aren’t the air conditioners on the plane though. No, these are mobile units that are used while the plane is parked at the gateway to keep the plane nice and cool for when passengers leave or board the plane.
Truth be told, I didn’t even know these existed. I had assumed that the planes had their built in air conditioners running while on the tarmac through an auxiliary power unit. (Similar to what we do with heavy duty semi trucks.) Instead, airlines have these units called Air Conditioning Units for Aircraft (ACUs) and Pre-Conditioned Air Units (PCAs). They are a heating and cooling unit that can be moved to any plane on the tarmac. It makes perfect sense and is most likely more cost efficient then having APUs installed on each plane.
The ACUs and PCAS that United Airlines have are aging and use the HCFC R-22. As we all know, R-22 is completely phased out here in just a few months. (January 2020) While this is good news I will say that United Airlines isn’t doing this out of the goodness of their hearts or to protect the climate. No, it is a business decision. These older units are not performing where they should be and in some cases are not able to fully cool the plane. Along with that they are also breaking down more and more frequently. This is not only costing in repairs but it is resulting in downtime for United Airlines. Downtime means money lost.
The plan is to invest twenty million dollars in replacing sixty-seven GPUs and eighty-five PCAs across their network. While that may seem like a large number, it is only a dent when compared to their total of five-hundred GPUs and four-hundred and sixty-four PCAs. Everyone has to start somewhere though. Along with replacing older R-22 units they will also be making the switch away from diesel/gasoline models and over to all electric. While electric models in the end cost more to operate United Airlines is seeking government grants to help offset the extra expense. So, I do have to give them credit here. They are making an effort at being green with these new units.
There doesn’t seem to be an end to the versatility of R-22. I swear, it’s everywhere. For most of us when we hear R-22 we picture a home or office building’s air conditioner. It’s the most popular and widely used R-22 application. But, since I’ve been doing this site I have seen R-22 ice rinks, R-22 fishing boats, R-22 shrimp boats, R-22 refrigerated transport, R-22 supermarket freezers/refrigerators, and now R-22 airline air conditioning.
The business owners who operate these machines are a whole other animal. These aren’t your residential customers who have an air conditioning unit that’s ten or fifteen years old that needs replaced. No, for the most part these business owners hold on to these R-22 air conditioners for as long as they can, sometimes longer then they should. This is all due to the investment needed to either retrofit their systems or to purchase a whole new HFC, HFO, or natural refrigerant system.
Sure, a homeowner may spend five or ten-thousand dollars on a new R-410A air conditioner. But, what about United Airline’s spending twenty million dollars on new portable air conditioners? That number is staggering and it is only about fifteen percent of their air conditioners. This is from a huge conglomerate like United Airlines. Now imagine a small town having to replace an R-22 ice rink. Or, a fishing company have to replace their refrigeration system on five or ten boats. The costs can be staggering and in some cases unaffordable. Many folks just kick the can down the road and hope their situation will improve a year or two later.
I don’t know if this constitutes as good news or not, but R-22 is at record low prices right now. This was unexpected in the market place and the assumption is that there is just a massive oversupply in the market place right now. Everyone has bought up and is holding onto what product they can. In some cases I have seen reports of small business owners buying pallets of R-22 just in case their aging system breaks.
The end is coming for these R-22 machines. We can bury our heads in the sand and ignore the problem, or we can come up with solutions. Is a retrofit possible? Is there an alternative refrigerant available for the application? Could the conversion be done in baby steps like what United Airlines is doing? Whatever way is decided, these R-22 systems need to be retired.
Hello all, hope everyone had a great Fourth of July. I took my girls out to my city’s gathering for the night while the wife stayed home with my son. It turned out to be a good night and just a few minutes after the show thunderstorms rolled in. It was perfect timing and the girls fell asleep on the way back to the house. Memories in the making.
I’ve been keeping an eye on the refrigerant industry over the past few weeks and I have to say it has been rather slow when it comes to news stories. I’ve been looking for something exciting to write about and it just hasn’t shown up. The only promising lead I have seen come across my alerts is that the state of Delaware has announced they will begin phasing out HFC refrigerants as well. In this case instead of going through the State Congress the governor of Delaware has given the responsibility over to the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. (DNREC – The equivalent of the EPA for the state of Delaware.) The DNREC has until March of 2020 to propose HFC phase down regulations.
This now brings the total up to seven states that have passed laws or are working on regulations that will phase out HFC refrigerants. Many more states that are part of the Climate Alliance are expected their own plans to phase down HFCs as well. I hate writing smaller news stories so I didn’t feel like this one warranted it’s own update. If you want to read more on this topic though you can click here and be taken to the hydrocarbons21.com website. They did a story on this a few days ago.
One thing that I did want to mention to everyone is that I will be starting a new full-time job on Monday the 8th. For those of you who do not know, RefrigerantHQ is a hobby of mine that I work on during the evenings and weekends. I had a great opportunity fall into my lap that will allow my expanding family to purchase a larger home. My new job will be in the same field that I work today, software and website development.
As always with a new job the first few months can be rather hectic as you try to learn and absorb everything that you can. I have every intention to make time for RefrigerantHQ over these next few months, but if you notice the updates have slowed a bit this is why. Once I get acclimated and have become accustomed to things I foresee the usual updates that you have all seen over the past years.
Thank you all for reading and as always, if you have any article ideas please do not hesitate to reach out to me.
It was announced today that the 2022 Olympics that will be held in Beijing will be using a combination of R-744 Carbon Dioxide refrigerant and an HFO refrigerant known as R-449A. In both instances this will be the first time that China has used these alternative more environmentally friendly refrigerants. R-744 will be used for the speed skating, figure skating, short track venues, and ice hockey training areas. The HFO refrigerant R-449A from Chemours will be used in the ice hockey and curling arenas.
This decision was made due to careful collaboration between the city of Beijing, the International Sports Federations, and the International Olympic Committee. Along with this decision Beijing has also announced that they will be joining the United Nation Sports for Climate Action Framework. This organization was launched by the United Nations in December of 2018 and aims to set a clear set of goals for sports communities around the world to follow.
While other sports organizations have signed up like the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024, it is a great achievement to have China on board with using these climate friendly refrigerants. In the past China has been reluctant to change. This may be the first step towards progress.
As you all know, R-744 has a Global Warming Potential of one and zero Ozone Depletion Potential. It is in essence a climate neutral refrigerant. The HFO refrigerant, also known as Opteon XP40, is a blended HFO refrigerant comprised of HF R-32, HFC R-125, HFC R-134a, and HFO R-1234yf. It is far from a climate neutral refrigerant as it has a Global Warming Potential of fourteen-hundred. While yes, this number seems high, it is substantially lower GWP then some of the HFC alternatives out there like R-404A and R-507.For example, the HFC R-404A has a GWP of nearly four-thousand. Just by making this switch there is a significant savings to the climate.
Many folks are excited about this news as it shows some of the first steps towards the Chinese market moving away from climate damaging HFC refrigerants. China, just like the United States, has NOT ratified the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol. This amendment aimed at phasing down HFC refrigerants over a staggered year period. It is very similar to the original Montreal Protocol steps that were used to phase out CFC and HCFC refrigerants. So far there have been seventy-three countries that have ratified the Kigali agreement.
An optimist may claim that this could be a sign that China will be ratifying the Kigali Amendment soon. If you were to ask me though I would say that it is not likely to happen for quite some time. Even if China does ratify the Kigali would they even honor the agreement?
Late last year and this year it was found that China was in defiance of the original Montreal Protocol. China had been found to be producing R-11, a CFC, in large quantities. Their government denied knowledge of the events and stated that it was rogue companies creating and distributing these refrigerants.
If the Kigali Amendment gets ratified would we see these behind the scenes tactics arise again? It could be that this gesture towards the Olympic Committee is being made for temporary appeasement just so that China can host the games. Or, it could be genuine. There is just no good way to tell.
As we all know, when January hits in 2020 R-22 production and importing will no longer be allowed within the United States. The only way to receive R-22 will be through purchasing virgin product from those distributors who have stockpiled or by purchasing reclaimed refrigerant. This simple fact is causing a lot of concern for ice rink owners, managers, and local governments. In most cases their ice rinks are decades old and need repairs every other year or so. In the United States R-22 was the primary refrigerant used for ice rink applications.
The problem occurs with the R-22 ice rinks that are aging. These business owners and government leaders are left with two choices. They can continue with their R-22 systems and hope that the cost of the refrigerant doesn’t climb when the phase out hits. Or, they can bite the bullet and invest in a completely new refrigeration system for their arena. Yes, there is a third option of retrofitting but in many cases retrofitting to a new refrigerant simply isn’t possible. A retrofit is very dependent on what refrigerant you are using and what refrigerant you will be moving towards.
A new refrigeration system for ice rinks can cost multiple millions of dollars. It this reason alone why many managers have decided to kick the can down the road and go with the first option we listed. The prospect of stockpiling R-22 is much cheaper than replacing their old R-22 system with Ammonia or an HFO refrigerant.
One arena out of East Grand Forks, Minnesota is doing exactly that. In an article I read this morning they stated that they are purchasing nearly three-thousand pounds of R-22 in anticipation of the January 2020 phase out. While this may sound like a lot of refrigerant a standard ice rink can use several thousands of pounds of R-22. So, this stockpile may only be able to handle one or two full recharges. When their stockpile runs out, they will be in the same boat again only this time facing a higher priced R-22.
The prospect of spending millions on replacing an outdated system is simply just not possible for many of these ice rink owners. In most cases they have to get grants from their local city or county government in order to pay for the replacement. Often times these grants are difficult to get pushed through.
This is why we see many arenas stock piling R-22. There is no better time to buy R-22 then right now as the prices are at rock bottom. I haven’t seen prices this low in years. Depending on where you look a thirty pound cylinder can cost less than three-hundred dollars. That’s less than ten dollars per pound. No one knows for sure what’s going to happen to the price as we get closer to January, so if you are looking to stockpile then now is the time.
This problem is rather unique to the United States. Outside of the US most ice rinks use R-717 ammonia. Ammonia is cheap and is one of the most efficient refrigerants in the world. The downside though is the toxicity risk if a leak occurs. There are specific safety regulations and procedures taken when working with Ammonia systems though that helps to mitigate the risk of exposure.
The US though has always been apprehensive to refrigerants that come with safety concerns such as hydrocarbons or ammonia. However, in recent years though this has begun to change. When these arena owners do finally decide to bite the bullet and pay for a new system ammonia is a viable option.
Along with ammonia there are other options out there as well. Last year, I wrote an article on the future of ice rinks. The article went into all of the possible refrigerants that could be used in ice rinks today. Click hereif you’d like to review it.
All of the above being said, this is assuming that these ice rinks can actually get the money to replace their existing system. In many cases the money is just not obtainable and when their existing R-22 system finally breaks down beyond repair these arenas may have to shut their doors for good.
On April 4th, 2019 a suit was filed by the HFC Coalition to the International Trade Commission (ITC). This suit aimed at stopping the dumping of HFC blended refrigerants such as R-410A, R-404A, and R-407C. The ITC’s decision on rather or not to review the suit was set for a deadline in May, but it was then pushed back to July. We were all expecting a decision to come next month but it was announced at the tail end of this week that the ITC has decided to accept the case and began the inquiry.
There have already been anti-dumping tariffs on HFC blends for a few years now, but the ITC’s ruling back then stated that only the blended refrigerant could be subject to the tariff. The components of these blends were not subject to the tax. So, businesses could import R-32 and R-125 refrigerants from China and face no penalties. These same businesses would then blend the refrigerant here in the States and then circumvent the tariff.
This oversight by the International Trade Commission has led to what we have today. Dirt cheap prices on some of the most common HFC refrigerants used. In essence, the initial levying of tariffs on blended refrigerants had very little impact. Everyone was getting around the tariff by importing components. It was like nothing had changed.
This is where the new suit filed in April comes into play. This case targeted the components of these blended refrigerants. On the original announcement of the suit prices on HFC blends went up nearly forty to fifty percent. As the dust began to settle prices slowly sank back down to pre-suit levels. Now though, the ITC has announced that they will hear this new case.
As I said previously, the Department of Commerce has decided to began an inquiry on HFC refrigerant components. Originally, everyone had thought that the inquiry would be solely focused the blending process of the components. So, if you imported the components and then blended them into an HFC blend that is tariffed then you would be subject to the tax.
To my surprise though there were four inquiries announced this week. Let’s take a look:
The first inquiry is what we just mentioned above. This is the blending of the components within the United States and circumventing the tariff. If the ITC agrees then a tariff would be installed on the blending process if the components are sourced from China.
The next is what’s known as unfinished blends. I’ll be upfront with you here, I don’t know one-hundred percent what this is but my educated guess is that this is Chinese refrigerant companies blending the refrigerants but NOT to the exact levels to meet the anti-dumping blended requirements. In other words, they get it close to R-410A… but not all the way. This process would also be taxed if the ITC approves.
The next inquiry is similar to our first point. This has to deal with importing components and blending them in a different country. The difference here though is that this is referencing India in particular. In this scenario, China exports the refrigerant components to India and then India blends them to create the blended HFC. This was yet another work around that companies found as the country of origin is India… even though the goods came from China. If approved anti-dumping would be installed in this scenario as well. While the initial inquiry only states India that does not mean that other countries are exempt. Say for example, China imports components into Vietnam and they blend there. If a decision is made here let’s hope it applies to all countries.
The last change is on the blended refrigerant R-421A. This refrigerant blend actually doesn’t have a tariff on it because the product is patented. Patented refrigerants were excluded from the previous anti-dumping order. R-421A is quite similar to the more popular blended refrigerant known as R-407C. So, folks were importing the non-tariff R-421A and then finishing the blend to create R-407C. To give an example here, R-421A is comprised of R-125 (58%) and R-134a (42%). R-407C is comprised of R-32 (23%), R-125 (25%), and R-134a (52%). The only thing missing between these two refrigerants is R-32 and that is easily enough imported in without a tariff. If the ITC rules in favor then these patented blends will see tariffs installed on them as well.
Call these work around what you want. Maybe they are clever loopholes found by hard working businessmen. Or, maybe, they are skirting the edge of the law and they should all be stopped. However you feel, it is all coming to a head now. Now that this inquiry has begun there is a great amount of uncertainty in the market. What will happen? Will they rule in favor of all four? Just some, or none at all?
The official inquiry by the Department of Commerce will be hitting the public register on Monday. From that date onwards, June 17th, there will be a three-hundred day period for the ITC to make their decision. Here’s the scary thing though folks. If the ITC decides to impose tariffs in any of the ways we described above then those tariffs could be retroactive. This is huge and this is the main reason we are seeing prices go haywire.
Look at this way. Let’s say I am a business owner and I am going to import a trailerload of R-32 and R-125 into the United States next week. The product comes in, I blend it to R-410A, and then sell all of the product a few months later. I could face a tariff on ALL of that imported product nearly a year after I had imported and sold it. The ITC has the power to make this ruling retroactive and because of that the importing of HFCs has become a lot less attractive. Business owners could be looking at an over one-hundred percent tax on product they already sold.
Everyone who saw this coming bought up on as much product as they could and now that the inquiry has begun prices have begun to rise. A few major manufacturers have already announced their price increases. The question now though is will these manufacturers put limits on what quantities businesses can buy as well? Or, will the high prices be enough?
If you were smart enough to buy ahead you can now make a killing since the import market has all but dried up. Let’s take a look at some of the pricing trends we’re seeing now since this inquiry began just a few days ago:
R-410A – Twenty-Five Pound Cylinder Pricing:
Fall 2017 – $140
Fall 2018 – $65
Jan 2019 – $68
Feb 2019 – $56
Mar 2019 – $49
Apr 2019 – $100 – News of possible tariffs
May 2019 – $78
June 2019 – $65 – Before Inquiry
June 2019 – $100 – After Inquiry
I will state that the $100 is with some vendors. I have seen some say one-hundred and fifty and even some at one-hundred and eighty dollars a cylinder.
R-404A – Twenty-Four Pound Cylinder Pricing:
Fall 2017 – $175
Fall 2018 – $80
Jan 2019 – $70
Feb 2019 – $58
Mar 2019 – $50
Apr 2019 – $105 – News of possible tariffs
May 2019 – $89
June 2019 – $60 – Before Inquiry
June 2019 – $105 – After Inquiry
R-407C – Twenty-Five Pound Cylinder Pricing:
I don’t have as much pricing information on this product but I can still show you the pricing swing that took place this month:
June 2019 – $85 – Before Inquiry
June 2019 – $105 – After Inquiry
With the announcement of these inquiries this week there is now a lot of uncertainty introduced within the market place. It is difficult to say what will happen with pricing now. In the earlier announcements there was still hope that the ITC wouldn’t take up the case, but now that it is official we may see prices stay at these levels, or even go higher. It could go as crazy as two-hundred dollars plus a cylinder late this summer for some of the more popular HFC blends. But, we just don’t know for sure.
After all, it’s been an unseasonably colder summer for most of the country. I just took a bike ride earlier today in seventy-four degree weather. That is unheard of in Kansas in the middle of June. It should be close to one-hundred degrees. I know New England and other areas are experiencing the same thing. This colder weather may act as a buffer to this pending inquiry and help insulate the pricing situation until a decision is made next year.
If you are looking to purchase refrigerant please check out our bulk purchasing page by clicking here. In many cases we can get you the best and most aggressive priced product on the market.
Thanks for reading,
Also, check out our other earlier articles on this same topic:
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