News

Over the past few years there have been a number of anti-dumping cases within our industry. In fact, there are a few cases open right now that are expected to come to conclusion in the next few months. Most of these cases focus on Chinese product that is being subsidized by the Chinese government and brought into the United States at unfair market prices. This dumping practice prevents the companies who are manufacturing within the United States from competing with the cheaper mass imported Chinese refrigerant.

In most cases within our industry these anti-dumping suits are approved by the Trade Commission. When a ruling is made in favor the Trade Commission initiates a tariff on the goods in question. The tariff itself can have a number of conditions and amounts associated to it, but the idea is to artificially raise the price of the imported product so that US companies can compete. Over recent years we have seen anti-dumping tariffs installed on R-134a, R-410A, R-404A, R-407C, R-507A, and many other refrigerates. There is also a pending anti-dumping suit on the popular HFC R-32 refrigerant and another one on the actual blending components used to create popular HFC refrigerants.

The one that was filed most recently though was something I had not seen before. Yesterday, March 27th, Worthington Industries filed an anti-dumping and countervailing duties case with the International Trade Commission. Their target was not refrigerants but instead the cylinders that they come in. These are the cylinders that all of our refrigerants come in. (Harmonized codes 7311.00.0060, 7311.00.0090, and 7310.29.0025.) More information on what types of cylinders:

“The merchandise covered by these petitions is certain non-refillable steel cylinders meeting the requirements of, or produced to meet the requirements of, U.S. Department of Transportation (“USDOT”) Specifications 39, TransportCanada Specification 39M, or United Nations pressure receptacle standard ISO 11118 and otherwise meeting the description provided below (“non- refillable steel cylinders”). The subject non-refillable steel cylinders are portable and range from 300-cubic inch (4.9 liter) water capacity to 1,526-cubic inch (25 liter) water capacity. Subject non-refillable steel cylinders may be imported with or without a valve and/or pressure release device and may be filled or unfilled at the time of importation.”

Worthington Industries is the last remaining United States company manufacturing non-refillable steel cylinders. Yes, they are it folks. If they stop producing cylinders then ALL of it is imported in. They are asking for a sixty-one percent duty to be imposed on the Chinese imports. I am sure most of you within the industry have heard of Worthington Industries before. They are a Columbus, Ohio based metals manufacturing company that had revenues exceeding three billion dollars last year. While three billion dollars is a lot of money… this is a business and if a certain product line is no longer profitable they will no longer pursue it. If this anti-dumping duty is not passed then Worthington may have to give up their cylinder manufacturing.

In yesterday’s filing there is a list of ALL nineteen companies that are importing these Chinese cylinders as well as the fifteen Chinese companies that are supplying them. The country of China would be targeted on these anti-dumping duties but we could also see the specific companies listed treated more harshly. This is pure speculation my part as the Trade Commission still needs time to review and even determine if they will be accepting the case.

This initial review on rather or not the Commission will begin an investigation is expected to conclude on April 16th, 2020. If they agree to move forward during this review they will then make a preliminary determination if damages were incurred on Worthington by May 11th, 2020. If the investigation moves forward it is expected to take around a year with a final decision to be made around April 21st, 2021.

I am quite curious on how this case will move forward. With the other refrigerant anti-dumping filings I had a pretty good idea on where the Trade Commission would settle. There has been a track record over the years that indicates that they will be voting in favor of refrigerant anti-dumping tariffs. But, this is the first time I have seen such a filing on the actual cylinders. The good news here is that the cylinders themselves are relatively cheap when compared to the actual cost of refrigerant. So, if a tariff does get put on the Chinese cylinders I do not believe it will raise the overall cost of refrigerants by very much.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Counterfeit Refrigerant is a growing problem throughout the world.

The other day I was notified by one of my contacts that there has been a rash of counterfeit R-421A refrigerant within the United States marketplace. I always try to cover these stories as counterfeit product can end up hurting not only the original manufacturers but also the end-users. 421A is a patented refrigerant made under the brand name of Choice Refrigerants. It is an R-22 alternative that is designed for an easy retrofit/conversion away from R-22.

421A is an HFC blended refrigerant that consists of R-125 (58%) and R-134a (42%). Its pressures are nearly identical to that of R-22 which makes for ease of retrofitting. The temperature glide is quite low due to the blend only containing two relatively similar refrigerants. There is also no oil change required so you can continue using the existing mineral oil within the system. All those benefits aside, R-421A does have a significant Global Warming Potential number of  two-thousand six-hundred and thirty-one. So, it is not a perfect refrigerant – there never is one, but it is a very good choice when converting a system away from R-22.

As I had mentioned earlier, R-421 is patented and can only be distributed and supplied by Choice Refrigerants or an approved Choice Refrigerants distributor. Today there is counterfeit 421A product being distributed within the market. I will not get into what company is doing this, but the impact of this counterfeit product was significant enough to get Choice’s attention. This counterfeit product is not only infringing on the existing patent but it is also not the exact same formulation. This slightly different refrigerant can result in poor system performance and could even lead to damage to the system itself. Along with that, since it is counterfeit and slightly modified it is NOT approved by the Environmental Protection Agency’s SNAP program. That means that it is illegal to use or sell the counterfeit product.

R-421A Refrigerant
R-421A Refrigerant

Legal action is being taken against the companies that are distributing this counterfeit product. In the meantime though you can tell that it is genuine R-421A refrigerant product through a few ways. The first is actually asking for the specific brand name of Choice Refrigerants. This product is patented and cannot be sold under any other brand name. Another way to identify if the product is legitimate is by reviewing the packaging. The package should show the ‘Choice’ brand name as well as their tag line stating, ‘The Easy Choice.’ Lastly, every cylinder made by Choice Refrigerants comes with a QR code printed on it. This code can be scanned by your phone or computer and will take you to a product information page from Choice.

We at RefrigerantHQ are partnered with a certified distributor and if you are interested in purchasing or trying out the product please reach out to me by following this link to our contact page.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

 

It is amazing how quickly things can change in the course of a week or two. I was brought up to always follow the news and goings on within the country and around the world. I have been following the news on this virus since it first started making headlines in China. Like most folks I didn’t pay it much heed as I did not believe that it could come to the United States, or if it did then it wouldn’t have any impact on us.

When it started making headlines in Seattle it surprised me. My brother and his family are located just a few miles away from that unfortunate nursing home. I spoke with him the other day and his kids are out of school, his work has shutdown entirely, and his wife is working from home. For such a populated area it now feels like a ghost town. It has been this way for a few weeks but we still had seen no impact or change in things here in Kansas City. It wasn’t until the past couple days that things began to pick up here.

There were a few cases announced in the county where I work and a few additional in a neighboring county. I believe it was on Thursday where Kansas had its first reported death from the virus. My wife and son went to the grocery store on Friday to stock up on the essentials and it was a madhouse. Many people were panicking, for some reason. It seemed they had lost all respect for their fellow men. Businesses have already begun to shut down and I believe it is only a matter of time before they shutter the schools here as well.

This virus, along with the economic instability that comes with it, is now impacting everyone across our country and the world. At this point there is no telling just how long this panic will last. I am not worried about the virus itself. I am not a medical professional, but I believe this has been hyped up by the media to an extreme level. I can only hope that we will all begin to come to our senses. In the meantime all of us have to deal with the impacts of shuttered businesses and so called social distancing.

From what I understand there has been minimal impact on the pricing and supply side of refrigerants. This is good news, but the question is what impact will we see in HVAC industry overall? I was thinking about this yesterday and I do not believe there will be too much downturn. For an example, let’s look at grocery stores. The demand for food, toiletries, and supplies have been through the roof. So, that would mean the necessity of having running refrigerators and freezers at the supermarkets would be even higher then normal. The supply chain of reefer trucks to move the product between warehouses and stores will still have to flow. The warehouses will still need to store the product. The plants will still need to manufacture the product. The good news is that a lot of these businesses are operating at overload capacity. When that happens systems will break or fail sooner. This means repair bills, refrigerant recharging, and perhaps whole new installs.

As of now the supply chain looks to be intact. If that starts to crumble then things will get much worse for everyone and we will see all of this demand fall. Assuming the supply chain stays up and everything is fine on that front the other avenue I was thinking about is the air conditioning sector. If businesses are closed down then that means far less demand and far less chance of failure of commercial units. This could be in office buildings, department stores, or restaurants and bars. The demand from these customers on HVAC repair may dry up rather quickly.

The opposite side of the coin is with all of these folks staying home there is going to be much more demand on your traditional split systems. If this social distancing and working from home continues for months then we could see a sort of boom of air conditioner repairs at home. It is not yet hot here in Kansas City, but if we look at Miami I can see they are already in the eighties. Give it another month and folks will be turning on their air conditioners if they are not already. Imagine the impact of running air conditioners all day and night due to self quarantines. No more turning the AC up before you leave for work. This increased demand will no doubt cause an increase in failures.

Conclusion

In closing folks I think it is important to remember that so far this Coronavirus is very similar to previous timelines. If we go back to 2009 when the Swine Flu was in full swing there was not near as much panic. This is odd because if you look at the overall numbers of the Swine Flu they are very surprising. According to Wikipedia nearly seven-hundred million people were infected with the H1N1 Swine Flu from 2009. Out of those seven-hundred million there was an estimated three-hundred-thousand fatalities. (Some estimates as high as five-hundred-thousand.)

So far with this Coronavirus there have been around six-thousand deaths. It has been making headlines now for about ten weeks. Six-thousand deaths divided by ten and then multiplied by fifty-two gives us an estimated fatality rate for the year. This equals out to about thirty-one-thousand fatalities. For argument’s sake lets times that number by ten to account for compound growth since the virus is still relatively new. That puts us at around three-hundred-thousand deaths across the world.

Now, please don’t take this the wrong way. I am not trying to minimize anyone’s death to this virus. Each death is a tragedy. The point I am trying to make here is that this Coronavirus may not even surpass the Swine Flu pandemic that we had back in 2009. I honestly don’t even remember the Swine Flu from 2009… so I am hoping that this Coronavirus goes the same route and in a few months time we would have all but forgotten about it.

Thanks for reading folks,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

The trend of recent years continues folks. Just a few days ago on February 26th Andrew Wheeler, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, signed a rule on 608 refrigerant management regulations known as ‘Protection of Stratospheric Ozone: Revisions to the Refrigerant Management Program’s Extension to Substitutes.’

This version signed by Wheeler is not the final version, but there is little expected to change. It was sent to the Federal Register for final verification and once verified will be published for all to see. The draft rule can be found in our ‘Sources’ section at the bottom of this article. This announced change is not instantaneous. The leak detection and record keeping rules will change thirty days after the final version is published by the Federal Register.

The initial rule for leak detection on HFCs was announced by the Obama Administration’s EPA back in 2016. In essence, they copied the rules that were already on file for CFC and HCFC refrigerants such as R-12, R-502, and R-22. These new HFC rules applied mostly to commercial applications or businesses such as super markets, plants/factories, large refrigerated warehousing, ice rinks, and any other large scale operations.

With the repeal of this rule businesses across the country are estimated to save around twenty-four million dollars per year. (Source) That is a significant amount but another factor, that is very difficult to measure, is the overall peace of mind of these business owners and managers. They no longer have to worry about compliance or the threat of the EPA breathing down their neck. Let’s take a look at exactly what will change once the Federal Register has published the final rule:

Today, the following rules have to be followed for any appliance that holds fifty or more pounds of HFC refrigerants (Source from Hydrocarbons21.com):

      • Conduct leak rate calculations when refrigerant is added to an appliance.
      • Repair an appliance that leaks above a threshold leak rate.
      • Conduct verification leak tests on repairs.
      • Conduct periodic leak inspections on appliances that exceed the threshold leak rate.
      • Report to Environmental Protection Agency on chronically leaking appliances.
      • Retrofit or retire appliances that are not repaired.
      • Maintain related records.

Reading the above requirements can really illustrate just how many hoops and regulations that these business owners had to go through to stay compliant. Don’t get me wrong folks, I am not entirely against having these regulations. What I am against though is how they came about. Any of you who have read my posts in the past know exactly how I feel about this. But, for those who aren’t as familiar with what I am talking about let us review.

The EPA and the Obama Administration used the Clean Air Act as their basis for authority when it came to phasing down and the regulation HFC refrigerants. Herein lies the problem though. The Clean Air Act sections that they were referencing strictly refers to Ozone Depleting Substances. These are your CFC and HCFC refrigerants such as R-12, R-22, R-502 that we all saw get phased out over the past thirty years.

Here’s the thing though… HFC refrigerants do not harm the Ozone. Not in the slightest. HFCs do harm the environment though, just in a different way. HFC refrigerants are known as super-pollutants or greenhouse gases. They directly contribute to Global Warming when they are vented or released into the atmosphere. So, they do cause a problem… but they do not cause any problem to the Ozone.

This reasoning is what the current EPA used when repealing the Obama era regulations. They claimed that the EPA overstepped its authority when introducing these HFC laws. I agree with them. While their intention was good back in 2016 it was NOT the right way to go about it. It was an overreach of the government. Just like with everything though, there is an opposing argument. This argument comes from those who are in support of the 2016 leak regulations. Their argument is that the Clean Air Act authorized them to regulation Ozone depleting substances AND their replacements. Those last two words are where the debate comes from.

I am not going to get into who is right here and what side should win. Let us instead just look at the facts. The EPA is entirely biased depending on what administration is in control. It was biased for Obama and now it is again for Trump. So, the real question is will we see all of this change again after this year’s election cycle? Who knows…

Purchase Restrictions?

When the EPA originally announced last year that they would be looking at rescinding the HFC leak regulations there was also talk that they may rescind the Obama era purchase restriction on HFC refrigerants. I am sure everyone remembers when anyone could go out and buy a cylinder of R-134a or R-410A and keep them on hand for those just in case situations. On January 1st, of 2018 the option to purchase HFC refrigerants without being either 608/609 certified with the EPA went away.

No longer could anyone purchase refrigerant cylinders. They could still purchase smaller quantities like cans, but the option to purchase those large cylinders was gone. This was again an example of the EPA moving the original regulations on CFCs and HCFCs over to HFCs. Overall, I think this had a positive effect on the industry itself. Yes, there was less demand but the contractors who were selling refrigerant to their customers could enjoy that extra mark-up without the risk of the customer purchasing their own cylinder.

I am in favor of removing the purchase restriction. It opens the market back up and, to be honest with you, before the restriction I was selling quite a bit individual cylinders on this website. It’d be nice to have that revenue stream open back up again! Regardless of my opinion though, it is looking like the purchase restriction may be rescinded as well. After all, if they removed the leak detection requirements why not remove purchasing as well?

Conclusion

The announcement of this rule change by the EPA is only going to fuel the United States Climate Alliance. The Climate Alliance is a grouping of states across the country that was formed a few years ago when the Trump Administration announced that the US would be pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord. This alliance is dedicated to all forms of climate protection but one that has seen recent activity are regulations on HFC refrigerants.

With the removal of the EPA’s SNAP Rules 20 and 21 the Climate Alliance stepped up to the plate and began announcing their own HFC phase down laws. California, as usual, was the first of these states. It all began a domino effect though and we are seeing more and more states either pass HFC phase down legislation or announce that they are working on their own version. Just a week or so ago it was announced that Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island are all working on their own version of regulations. In most cases the phase down laws closely mimic the original EPA’s SNAP Rules 20 and 21 but there are some states, like California, who went for a stricter approach.

One thing is certain, the Federal Government and the States are heading towards very different goals. If we keep seeing these EPA regulations repealed then we will begin to see more and more states announce their own plans and all of these Federal changes won’t mean squat. But hey, at least the states are going about this the right way and not trying to circumvent the law by using the Clean Air Act as a cover.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Update

During the summer of last year I wrote an article on the most recent anti-dumping petitions to be filed on HFC refrigerants. Anti-dumping petitions are nothing new to the refrigerant world. In fact there have been a slew of petitions filed over the past ten years. These range from R-134a, R-410A, R-404A, and other common refrigerants. Last year’s petition focused on the actual blending process on tariffed refrigerants. Most recently, just last month, another petition was filed this time on the HFC R-32.

There are now three major anti-dumping petitions out there. The first is a potential duty being installed on the blending process of common HFC refrigerants such as R-410A and R-404A. The duty would apply if the required refrigerants were imported from China and then blended within the United States. This would prevent the circumvention of already established duties on completed HFC blended refrigerants. A final ruling is expected on this petition by April 7th, 2020. I would highly expect the Trade Commission to rule in favor of anti-dumping duties on this. It is the logical decision based on their previous rulings.

Unfinished Blends

The second petition is similar to the first only it targets ‘unfinished blends’ being imported in from China. The term unfinished blends is rather ambiguous, but it basically means HFC blended refrigerants that are either already fully blended or are partially blended. This can get rather shady. What classifies a blended refrigerant as unfinished or finished?

There was a refrigerant distribution company that was importing blended refrigerant from China but labeling it as ‘unfinished blends.’ (I will not state this company’s name within this article.) It was unclear exactly what this company was doing to the product once it had reached the United States. How did it go from an unfinished blend to a finished blend? Was there a process involved at all, or was this just a clever way of skirting around the previously ruled anti-dumping duties on blended refrigerants?

The other refrigerant distributors out there were importing R-32, R-125, R-134a, R-143a refrigerants into the United States. Once there they would blend the refrigerants themselves to come up with R-410A, R-404A, R-407A, R-407C, etc. While this was still using a loophole from the previous rulings it was not a flat out deceit such as importing unfinished blends was.

The company involved in this petition declined to comment on a questionnaire that was sent to them. Because there was no reply the International Trade Commission announced a preliminary ruling on the case last week. Their ruling stated that:

“The Department of Commerce (Commerce) preliminarily determines that imports of unfinished blends of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) components R-32 and R-125 from the People’s Republic of China (China) are circumventing the antidumping duty (AD) order on HFC blends from China. As a result, imports of blends of HFC components R-32 and R-125 from China will be subject to suspension of liquidation effective June 18, 2019. We invite interested parties to comment on this preliminary determination.”

“For the reasons described below, we preliminarily determine, pursuant to section 781(a) of the Act, that imports of unfinished blends of HFC components R-32 and R-125 from China are circumventing the Order.”

The final ruling on this case is expected in April as well, but at this time it looks like the International Trade Commission will be ruling against these unfinished HFC blends. Hopefully this is the last of the ‘unfinished HFC blends’ being imported into the United States.

R-32 Petition

Finally, the last and third petition is the most recent one. I touched on this one earlier but this petition was announced just last month and it focuses on the HFC refrigerant R-32. R-32 is a critical component when it comes to some of the most popular HFC refrigerant blends. As an example, R-410A is fifty percent R-32. If this petition is ruled in favor of we can expect to see a significant impact to the cost of refrigerant throughout the US market.

Within the petition it was stated that in the year 2018 there was an estimated twenty-one and a half million dollars worth of R-32 imports brought into the United States. I would say that nearly all of that imported refrigerant is being blended into HFC refrigerants that have duties assigned to them. (There is little stand alone R-32 applications in our market at this time.) This R-32 petition does seem a tad redundant though considering there is already a petition out there on the actual blending process. Who knows though, this latest petition from Arkema could be an insurance policy in case their petitions from last year fall through.

I am not sure how this one will go. If the ITC rules in favor of the blending petition then why would they bother with this one as well?  We may see this one tossed out if the blended petition goes through. On the other hand, like I said earlier, if the blended petition falls through then Arkema has a fall black plan. I can only imagine what would happen to the price if both petitions were approved.

The International Trade Commission is expected to make a market injury determination on March 6th, 2020. If injury is found then the ITC can expect to make a preliminary determination on July 2nd, 2020. Lastly, if everything goes how it should a final ruling will be scheduled for October 5th of this year. If the ITC rules in favor of anti-dumping duties on R-32 then they could take effect on November 5th. The expected duty is 87.98 percent.

Conclusion

Ok, so I went through all of that and now my mind is spinning. There is a lot to these petitions and I have read through a number of documents that folks have sent my way. I believe I have a pretty firm grasp on the matters, but if I missed something or misstated something in this article please let me know! I intend for this to be accurate and do not like to  have errors within the article. Feel free to contact me via e-mail.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

I apologize for two e-mails in just a couple of days but  it has been a busy week in refrigerants! Last week on the 23rd the Arkema Corporation filed a new petition with the United States’ International Trade Commission. For those of you who have followed this saga over the past few years you won’t be surprised that this was yet another anti-dumping petition.

This time the petition focuses on the HFC R-32. Arkema is stating that R-32 imported from China is being brought in at an unfair price and is causing the market and prices to crash. This mass import prevents domestic manufacturers, like Arkema, from selling their product… and if they are able to sell it is at very low margins. From what I have ready while doing research on this article it appears that Arkema is the ONLY domestic manufacturer of R-32 within the United States. (They have a plant in Calvert City, Kentucky.) If you know otherwise please let me know.

In this latest petition Arkema asks for a ninety percent anti-dumping levy put against Chinese R-32 imports. That is a hell of an increase, but some of you may be wondering why are they focusing on R-32? Why aren’t they focusing on the more popular HFC refrigerants like 410A? Well folks to understand that we have to travel back in time to 2016. Back then there was a similar case sent to the United States Trade Commission. This case was anti-dumping on R-410A. Arkema and others won this petition and anti-dumping levies were issued against Chinese R-410A .

The problem here though was that these levies were issued only against the fully blended R-410A refrigerants. The levy did NOT apply to the components of these blended refrigerants. What that meant was that you could import Chinese R-32 or R-125 into the United States without any levies or tariffs applied. So, what happened was that we had distributors and importers shipping in these components in mass and then blending them at their facilities within the United States. This got around the anti-dumping levies entirely and kept the market at rock bottom prices.

In 2018 the mistake was realized and the interested parties began to form a new plan. In April of 2019 a new case was filed by the HFC Coalition  with the International Trade Commission. This one was slightly different. This time it aimed to add the levies to any imported refrigerants that were then used as components for blended refrigerants.  An excerpt from the filing reads as follows (Source):

COMMERCE SHOULD INCLUDE HFC COMPONENTS, “COMPLETED OR ASSEMBLED” IN THE UNITED STATES INTO HFC BLENDS, WITHIN THE SCOPE OF THE ANTIDUMPING ORDER PURSUANT TO SECTION 781(A) OF THE ACT.

So this time folks they got a bit smarter and went after the actual components of refrigerants. The outcome of this case is still pending and a ruling is expected sometime this spring. Meanwhile, this new petition was filed just last week. As we said earlier, this one doesn’t focus on the blending process but instead solely on R-32. R-32 is the key ingredient when it comes to blending R-410A. So, if this does pass then we can all expect a hefty increase when it comes to pricing.

Conclusion

The question is will these new petitions work? If you ask me I say they will. I believe that the initial ruling back in 2016 was an oversight by the courts and by those who filed it. When they ruled for levies on R-410A I am sure that it was meant for the components as well… but that’s not how the law works. There are loopholes.

If they had ruled in the past that Chinese imports were damaging the market why would they not rule that way again on a more specific matter? If these rulings do come through what will be next? Can we expect to see a new petition filed on R-125 as well? And, even if all of these petitions work are businesses and consumers ready to pay those higher costs for the American made product? Time will tell…

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

New Jersey

Last Friday, the 26th of January, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed into law Senate Bill 3919. This law mimics the Environmental Protection Agency’s SNAP Rules twenty and twenty-one. The New Jersey bill does have not specific dates set yet for each of the proposed phase downs. These will be released at a later time and will have to be modified from the EPA’s original dates.

This now brings the total up to five states who have now signed into law various HFC phase down measures. These include California, Washington, New York, Vermont, and now New Jersey. There are many more to come though folks as all of these states belong to what’s called the Climate Alliance. This Climate Alliance was formed in the summer of 2017 shortly after the Trump Administration pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord.

The states that joined this alliance disagreed with the Trump Administration and announced that they would be taking their own individual state action. Their goal would be to honor the pledges made in the Paris Climate Accord as well as other climate treaties and regulations. As of today there are now twenty-three states in this Climate Alliance. This is important because all of the states that have moved forward on phasing down HFCs were part of this alliance and that the other states within this alliance have announced that they are looking towards HFC phase downs as well. It is just a matter of time before another state announces their HFC phase down plan.

We are beginning to see the domino effect here folks. But why? Why hasn’t the Federal Government or the EPA’s rules gone into effect? Well, to answer that I’ll have to give a bit of a history lesson. The infamous EPA SNAP Rules twenty and twenty-one were introduced in 2015. These rules were the initial HFC phase down regulations. They mainly targeted R-134a and R-404A. 404A wouldn’t be acceptable in new applications as of a certain date and R-134a wouldn’t be acceptable in automobiles as of a certain date.

When these new regulations were introduced it was taken as the law of the land and the industry moved forward. It wasn’t until the summer of 2017 that everything changed. You see there was a lawsuit brought against the EPA and their new SNAP rules. The suit stated that the EPA had overreached its authority when it came to phasing down HFC refrigerants. The EPA had cited authority from the Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocol Treaty but both of these documents only referred to Ozone damaging substances. There was no mention of Greenhouse Gases or refrigerants with a high Global Warming Potential (GWP).

The EPA had truly stretched their authority here and the federal courts saw it this way too. The EPA’s SNAP rules twenty and twenty-one were overturned and the national HFC phase down was gone in a blink of an eye. Now on one knew what to do or what to expect. The industry had operated for the past two years on the knowledge that HFCs would be phased down shortly and now all of that was gone.

There were multiple appeals on this federal court ruling but they were all rejected. One such appeal went all the way to the Supreme Court but the court refused to hear it… probably because it was so cut and dry that the EPA overreached its authority. The other chance to phase down HFC refrigerants came from what’s known as the Kigali Amendment. This was an amendment to the Montreal Protocol that aimed at phasing down HFC refrigerants on a global scale… just like we did with the Montreal Protocol back in the 1990’s and 2000’s. The problem with the Kigali though is that it has never been sent to the United States Senate to ratify. The Trump administration has sat on it for years and they have shown no intention to send it to the Senate.

But wait folks, there’s more! As I write this article there are now two separate HFC phase down bills in the United States Senate and the United States House. Both of these bills more or less aim to accomplish the same thing: Give the EPA the power to phase down and phase out HFC refrigerants. So far these bills have stalled and do not look to be going anywhere. Even if they do pass both houses and a joint bill is reached chances are Trump will veto it and then we will be back to where we were earlier.

So, we are now left with states’ rights. Politically, I am a big states’ rights guy anyways. This is why we are seeing individual states come out with their own laws. As more time passes additional states will come aboard with their own HFC phase down plan. As more states join manufacturers will be forced to adapt to these states’ new requirements and regulations. What that means is that we will eventually get a national phase down rather we like it or not.

This will be a battle of convenience to the manufacturers out there. Is it easier and cheaper to comply with the strictest regulations and be able to sell in all fifty states? Or, do you stick with the status quo and only be able to sell your product in forty states? How many manufacturers are willing to write off the California and New York market? Not very many I’m guessing. This is why we will see these manufacturers actively start moving away from HFCs even without a federal program.

So, in closing folks… there is no need for a federal or EPA plan. Let’s just keep this going with States’ Rights and eventually over time HFCs will be a thing of the past… rather you like it or not.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Anhydrous Ammonia Leak

R-717, or Anhydrous Ammonia, is widely regarded as one of the most efficient refrigerants in the world. Not only is it efficient it also has zero Ozone Depletion Potential and has a Global Warming Potential of zero. So, you have a highly efficient refrigerant with no impact on the climate. It is these two reasons why we have begun to see more and more companies and countries use Anhydrous Ammonia.

In fact Ammonia was one of the very first refrigerants to be discovered and used. This can be said for a lot of the natural refrigerants such as Ammonia, Carbon Dioxide, and the various Hydrocarbons like Propane or Isobutane. All of these were the grandfathers of refrigerants. It was in the 1930’s that CFCs and HCFC were introduced and we began to see the demand for these natural refrigerants start to dwindle.

After all, these newer CFC/HCFC refrigerants didn’t have any downsides. Natural refrigerants did. Carbon Dioxide operated at very high pressures which caused premature failures. Hydrocarbons were flammable. Ammonia was toxic and flammable. Yes folks, Ammonia is rated as a B2L from ASHRAE. This B signifies refrigerants for which there is evidence of toxicity at concentrations below four hundred parts per million. Refrigerants in the 2L sub-classification are slightly flammable and have a burning velocities less than or equal to 10 cm/s (3.9 in./s)

It is directly because of the downsides on natural refrigerants that I mentioned above that we saw the rise of CFCs and HCFC refrigerants such as R-11, R-12, R-502, R-22, etc. When these refrigerants were phased out due to their effect on the Ozone a new king of artificial refrigerants was announced, HFCs. Some of your most common HFCs out there are your R-125, R-32, R-410A, R-404A, and R-134a. These reigned supreme for about twenty years until we realized what impact that they were having on Climate Change and Global Warming.

The world had realized that we substituted one wrong for another. There had to be a better solution then these climate damaging refrigerants, right? Well folks, that is where the age old debate between natural refrigerants and artificial refrigerants come into play. Honeywell and Chemours (Formerly DuPont) have spent countless hours and money on developing a new classification of artificial refrigerants known as HFOs. These refrigerants are said to have very low Global Warming Potential while also being relatively safe. An HFO might be a 2L, but at least it is not toxic as well.

But, the problem is a lot of folks have felt they have been suckered too many times. First it was CFCs, then HCFCs, then HFCs, and now it’s HFOs? Whose to say that HFOs won’t be gone in another ten years? Why invest money into a machine that could be obsolete in a decade, or worse yet, illegal? I swear the ink wasn’t dry on the 2010 phase out of R-22 and we had already started to hear about phasing down R-410A. This constant changing can wear people out.

The appeal of natural refrigerants is enticing. They have been around for centuries. They are not damaging to the climate. These two facts alone ensure that you will never run into a phase down or phase out situation with these refrigerants. The question though is are they worth the risk? Now, when I say risk I’m not talking about Carbon Dioxide, or even Hydrocarbons for that matter. My focal point here is Ammonia.

As I mentioned earlier Ammonia is both toxic and flammable. Now many companies will minimize this and state that it is perfectly fine and safe if the proper precautions, maintenance, and regulations are followed. This very well may be true, but what happens when a mistake is made? If you’re just dealing with a smaller charged application then it’s not too big of a deal. However, if you are using Ammonia refrigerant in large quantities then disaster can strike.

Before I go further I want to preface this with that I am going to get a lot e-mails on this article. It seems that whenever I bring up Ammonia I get a lot of feedback. Some folks for it and some folks against it. Most of the time though it is folks arguing for it. So, in this article I am going to go against the grain here and try to paint you a picture of what can happen when Ammonia leaks or spills can occur and why we should be looking at alternative refrigerants.

A few years back I wrote an article about an unfortunate event in Canada. An Ammonia leak had occurred at a small town’s ice rink. Three workers, who were trying to repair the leak, died due to Ammonia exposure. An entire city block was evacuated by the local fire department. It was a tragedy for the small town. This one event, while extreme, shows you what kind of damage Ammonia can do.

To give you an even clearer picture I searched around Google and pulled Ammonia leak related stories over the past eighteen months. While fatalities are rare, they can still occur. The common theme throughout these leaks is evacuations and injuries. The sheer amount of incidents below should give you an idea of why I am not for Ammonia refrigerant use. (In large charge applications.)

Conclusion

If you are looking at a new system for your plant, factory, ice rink, or whatever else please consider something other then Ammonia. Review the latest HFO refrigerants out there. Or, if you want to stay with natural refrigerants then take a good hard look at Carbon Dioxide R-744. CO2 has made great strides over the past decades and is quickly becoming one of the major players within the refrigerant industry.

If you do end up going with Ammonia though just know that there is a chance of any one of the events I listed above happening at your location. It could be a small leak that is handled right away or it could be a catastrophe like what happened in Canada. Be absolutely sure you schedule proper maintenance and take any and all precautions you can so that you can give your employees and your customers a safe place to work and visit.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

RefrigerantHQ's Pressure Charts

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

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

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

R-502 Pressure Chart

R-502 is one of those refrigerants you just do not see around much anymore. R-502 is a CFC refrigerant just like its cousin refrigerant R-12 and R-11. All of these refrigerants were found to be damaging the Ozone layer when they were released into the atmosphere. Because of this, these refrigerants were phased out across the world through a global treaty known as the Montreal Protocol. R-12 was one of the first ones to go but R-502 wasn’t far behind. It’s complete phase out occurred in 1995.

Originally, R-502 was designed to operate in a low temperature refrigerant applications. It was meant as an alternative to the very popular HCFC known as R-22. R-502 had an overall lower discharge temperature and an improved capacity allowance when compared to R-22. This made it a great alternative… until the phase outs began. Nowadays it is a rare feat to find a functioning R-502 system. Most of these have been retired due to old age or they have been retrofitted to accept a new refrigerant. The most common replacement refrigerant was the HFC R-404A, but now even 404A is being phased out due to it’s high Global Warming Potential.

In the off chance that you do come across a R-502 application then you will need to know the pressures. Let’s take a look at our pressure chart below:

Temp (F)Temp (C)Pressure (PSIG)
-40-404.1
-34.96-37.26.5
-29.92-34.49.2
-25.06-31.712.1
-20.02-28.915.3
-14.98-26.118.8
-9.94-23.322.6
-5.08-20.626.7
-0.04-17.831.1
5-1535.9
10.04-12.241
15.08-9.446.5
19.94-6.752.4
24.98-3.958.8
30.02-1.165.6
35.061.772.8
39.924.480.5
44.967.288.7
501097.4
55.0412.8107
60.0815.6116
64.9418.3127
69.9821.1138
75.0223.9149
80.0626.7161
84.9229.4174
89.9632.2187
9535201
100.0437.8216
105.0840.6232
109.9443.3248
114.9846.1265
120.0248.9283
125.0651.7301
129.9254.4321
134.9657.2341
14060363

RefrigerantHQ's Pressure Charts

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

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

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

R-717 Ammonia Pressure Chart

Ammonia, also known as R-717, is one of the oldest refrigerants. It’s origins as a refrigerant can be traced all the way back to the 1800’s and it was one of the first refrigerants used in a variety of applications. It is also widely considered one of the most efficient refrigerants available. The downside though is that ammonia is toxic in small quantities and can be deadly when released in larger quantities.

When the first artificial refrigerants were invented in the 1930’s the world began to move away from the natural refrigerants including ammonia. These artificial refrigerants like R-12 and R-22 were becoming the refrigerant used in nearly every application.  It wasn’t until the 1980’s and 1990’s, when these artificial refrigerants began to be phased out, that we saw natural refrigerants began to rise again.

In today’s world R-717 has made an amazing comeback. It can be found in varying ranges of applications. Because it is so efficient it is often used in very large applications such as meat packing/processing plants, refrigerated warehousing, and even ice rinks. Unfortunately, these large quantities of ammonia can also lead to disaster if a leak occurs. In some extreme cases deaths have occurred due to large ammonia refrigerant leaks. It is always best practice to maintenance and take proper care of your system to ensure that no leaks can occur and if they do that they are minimal.

Let’s take a look at our pressure chart on ammonia:

Temp (F)Temp (C)Pressure (PSIG)
15870-13.1
-90.4-68-12.85
-86.8-66-12.58
-83.2-64-12.26
-79.6-62-11.91
-76-60-11.51
-72.4-58-11.07
-68.8-56-10.58
-65.2-54-10.04
-61.6-52-9.43
-58-50-8.77
-54.4-48-8.03
-50.8-46-7.22
-47.2-44-6.33
-43.6-42-5.36
-40-40-4.29
-36.4-38-3.13
-32.8-36-1.86
-29.2-34-0.49
-25.6-321.01
-22-302.63
-18.4-284.38
-14.8-266.27
-11.2-248.31
-7.6-2210.51
-4-2012.87
-0.4-1815.41
3.2-1618.13
6.8-1421.04
10.4-1224.15
14-1027.46
17.6-831.01
21.2-634.78
24.8-438.79
28.4-243.05
32047.57
35.6252.37
39.2457.45
42.8662.82
46.4868.5
501074.49
53.61280.82
57.21487.48
60.81694.5
64.418101.88
6820109.65
71.622117.8
75.224126.35
78.826135.31
82.428144.71
8630154.56
89.632164.85
93.234175.61
96.836186.86
100.438198.59
10440210.84
107.642223.62
111.244236.93
114.846250.81
118.448265.23
12250280.24
125.652295.86
129.254312.08
132.856328.93
136.458346.42
14060364.57
143.662383.39
147.264402.91
150.866423.14
154.468444.08
15870465.77

RefrigerantHQ's Pressure Charts

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

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

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

R-407C Pressure Chart

R-407C is one of the many replacement products for the now phased out R-22. R-22’s official phase down started in 2010 and the final phase out began on January 1st, 2020. Over that ten year period there were hundreds, and I really mean hundreds, of R-22 alternatives created. One of these replacement products was the hydroflurocarbon blend known as R-407C.

R-407C is a zeotropic blend of R-32 (Difluromethane), R-125, and R-134a (Tetrafluoroethane). It is not a drop in replacement on R-22 machines. If you wish to use this product you will need to vacate all of the old R-22 out of the system. This is due to the R-22 systems using mineral oil and this HFC blend using POE oil. You will also need to replace the compressor as well. If this is not done then you risk destroying your air conditioner.

It is difficult to say exactly how long R-407C will be around. With each year that passes the R-22 machines grow older and older. By the year 2030 there will be very few of them left. Before then though, R-407C will still be needed.

Let’s take a look at our pressure chart:

Temp (F)Temp (C)Liquid Pressure (PSIG)Vapor Pressure (PSIG)
-94-70-11.28-12.63
-90.4-68-10.82-12.32
-86.8-66-10.31-11.97
-83.2-64-9.75-11.59
-79.6-62-9.14-11.15
-76-60-8.46-10.67
-72.4-58-7.71-10.14
-68.8-56-6.9-9.55
-65.2-54-6.01-8.9
-61.6-52-5.04-8.19
-58-50-3.98-7.41
-54.4-48-2.84-6.55
-50.8-46-1.6-5.61
-47.2-44-0.26-4.59
-43.6-421.19-3.48
-40-402.75-2.27
-36.4-384.43-0.96
-32.8-366.230.46
-29.2-348.161.99
-25.6-3210.233.64
-22-3012.455.42
-18.4-2814.817.33
-14.8-2617.339.38
-11.2-2420.0111.58
-7.6-2222.8713.93
-4-2025.916.44
-0.4-1829.1219.12
3.2-1632.5321.98
6.8-1436.1425.02
10.4-1239.9628.25
14-1043.9931.68
17.6-848.2535.32
21.2-652.7339.17
24.8-457.4643.25
28.4-262.4347.56
32067.6552.11
35.6273.1456.92
39.2478.961.98
42.8684.9467.31
46.4891.2772.92
501097.8978.82
53.612104.8285.01
57.214112.0691.51
60.816119.6398.33
64.418127.53105.48
6820135.76112.96
71.622144.35120.79
75.224153.29128.98
78.826162.62137.55
82.428172.3146.48
8630182.38155.82
89.632192.86165.56
93.234203.74175.71
96.836215.04186.3
100.438226.77197.32
10440238.92208.8
107.642251.53220.75
111.244264.6233.19
114.846278.12246.12
118.448292.13259.56
12250306.63273.54
125.652321.62288.06
129.254337.14303.14
132.856353.18318.81
136.458369.74335.08
14060386.85351.97
143.662404.52369.52
147.264422.78387.73
150.866441.6406.65
154.468461.03426.31
15870481.05446.75

A few months ago I had written an article on a newly introduced bill in the United States Senate. This bill known as the, ‘American Innovation and Manufacturing Act,’ aimed at phasing down the usage of HFC refrigerants over the next fifteen years. This same bill was actually introduced back in February of 2018 as well, but it ended up going nowhere. Now, in January of 2020, this bill has thirty-two backers from both parties.

It is still quite a long stretch if this bill gains further traction, but there was a sign of hope this week. A few days ago the United States House introduced their own version of the proposed HFC refrigerant phase down bill. The House bill was introduced into a subcommittee by two Democrats and two Republicans from New York, Texas, and California. The bill itself was very similar to the Senate bill. This House bill will phase down usage of HFC refrigerants by eighty-five percent over a fifteen year period.

Both bills aim to accomplish this by giving the phase down and phase out authority to the Environmental Protection Agency. It would then be up to the EPA to determine which refrigerants are phased down, phased out, and what timeline they would follow. You could think of this as the Montreal Protocol/Clean Air Act part two. It is the same thing that we saw in the 1990’s and 2000’s when the EPA began phasing out CFC and HCFC refrigerants such as R-12, R-502, and most recently R-22.

These bills are not only being backed by both Republicans and Democrats but they are also seeing outside support from such affiliations like the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI); the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC); the US Chamber of Commerce; and the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy (ARAP). You will also see large refrigerant manufacturers like Chemours or Honeywell backing these bills. There is a lot of lobbying money involved with these bills.

All of these supporting parties claim that by phasing out HFC refrigerants the United States will see a tremendous growth in jobs and our economy. The numbers cited for the Senate bill state that over one-hundred and fifty-thousand jobs would be created and that we would see thirty-nine billion dollars in economic growth from the passing of this bill. On top of all that we would be introducing climate friendly polices.

History

What you read above was the official selling point for these bills. Jobs, growth, and climate. I’m sorry to say though folks, I just don’t buy it. These interested parties have been trying to phase down HFC refrigerants for the past five years and with each passing year they have been met with failure. I’m just glad that they are trying this the legal way now instead of trying to circumvent the system.

This all started back in the summer of 2015. It was then that the EPA introduced a new rule for their SNAP program. This rule, known as rule 20, was the first step at the EPA trying to phase down HFC refrigerants. Here’s the thing though, the EPA cited their authority to phase down HFC refrigerants from the Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocol. The problem with this is that these laws/treaties were only meant for Ozone depleting substances such as CFC and HCFC refrigerants. These refrigerants contained chlorine and when that chlorine made its way into the Stratosphere it chipped away at the Ozone.

HFC refrigerants such as the ever popular ones like R-134a, R-404A, and R-410A do NOT damage the Ozone. Not in the slightest. These refrigerants do not contain chlorine and therefore cannot harm the Ozone. The problem with these refrigerants is what’s known as their Global Warming Potential (GWP). These refrigerants have a very high GWP number. This in turn means they are super Greenhouse Gases. The higher the GWP number the more impact the refrigerant has on Global Warming.

So, the EPA tried to extend their authority on Ozone depleting substances over to non-Ozone depleting substances. The sad part was that this was taken as the law of the land for a few years. After the new rule was introduced the industry and country just accepted it as the new status quo. It wasn’t until 2017 that a federal court ruled against the EPA citing that they overextended their authority and that they did NOT have the power to phase out HFC refrigerants as well. If they wanted to do this then they needed new legislation that would give them such powers.

This ruling caught everyone by surprise. Everyone had just assumed that the EPA’s overreach would just be accepted. Larger refrigerant manufacturers, who had a vested interest in phasing down HFC refrigerants, appealed the ruling hoping to get a different result in favor of the EPA. But, the results ended up being the same. The EPA’s plans for HFC phase down had been nixed. There was now no set plan within the US to phase down these climate damaging refrigerant gases.

It was a bit later that what’s known as the Kigali Amendment was moving forward. This amendment was an addendum to the now famous Montreal Protocol. The amendment was to phase down HFC refrigerants across the world. It was very similar to the EPA’s proposed HFC phase down plan. The United States, under the Obama Administration, signed the treaty amendment. All that needed to be done was to ratify the amendment in the Senate for it to become law within the United States. However, after Donald Trump came to power the Senate never received the chance to ratify the Kigali Amendment. There has been no indication from the Trump Administration that they will send the amendment to the Senate to ratify. It will instead sit in purgatory.

Conclusion

It was after the failed EPA ruling and the stagnation on the Kigali Amendment that lobbyists began working on creating the bills we now have within the Senate and the House. This seems to be the only chance left to phase down HFC refrigerants across the country. I am still very skeptical of this working though folks. Yes, while the chances have improved now that there are two bills in both Houses there is still on very large obstacle in the way… Donald Trump.

I mean think about it for a moment. If Trump hasn’t backed Kigali and has instead sat on it for years… why in the world would he sign these HFC bills coming from the Houses? It doesn’t make sense. Perhaps their hope here is that by the time the bills have left the lower committees and are ready to began being voted on the Election would have occurred and a new President could be coming to the White House.

Otherwise, if Trump is elected again then there is no chance that this bill misses the veto… and that is if it even clears both Houses. If we want an HFC phase down in the near future within the United States then there are two possible ways. The first is through attrition. Pressure the manufacturers to switch to newer more climate friendly refrigerants. Then, over time, the HFCs will slowly fade away. We are already seeing this with R-134a in automobile applications. Ninety percent of the vehicles made in 2020 are using the climate friendly 1234yf. R-134a is dying slowly.

The other option, which is admittedly more messy, is having states come up with their own individual phase down policies. There are quite a few states that have already done this such as California, New York, and Washington. If enough states get on board then you will have that war of attrition again as manufacturers will be forced to switch to more climate friendly options. The downside here is you get a mish-mash of laws and regulations that vary by state. This can make it very difficult for businesses and manufacturers to operate in multiple states.

All that being said folks, I don’t have much hope in these bills moving forward. Even if they gather the votes they have that almighty veto to contend with. I’ve been wrong before though, so who knows for sure. If nothing happens this year then watch the election and see whom gets elected. If it’s a Democrat then we may yet see HFCs being phased down sometime in 2021.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources:

MRCOOL DIY Series Ductless Mini Split Air Conditioner & Heat Pump

A friend of mine is approaching retirement. He has just a few years left and he is already making plans. One of these plans of his was to purchase a small cottage in the Ozarks. For those of you who aren’t from Kansas City, the Ozarks are a few hours south of here and are very similar to Appalachia. There are lots of forests, rivers, and hunting to be had. The place he purchased came with over thirty acres to play around with. The home though was rather small at only around twelve-hundred square feet. The home was also very old and did not have a central air conditioning system. There was an old window unit in the living room that did a mediocre job of cooling the home but it didn’t help for the winter months, it didn’t reach the bedrooms, and it needed to be replaced anyways.

He brought this up a few weeks ago when we were having a few and I told him to look into getting a ductless system. You see a ductless system can give you significantly more power then a standard window or mobile air conditioner. Along with the additional power it is much less of an eye sore. I didn’t see the old window unit that he had at his home but I can only imagine what it looked like. You’ve all seen them. Those old rusted looking units that look like they could fall at any moment. A ductless system mounts to your interior wall and to the outside of your home. You don’t lose a window. You don’t have to cut a huge hole in your wall to fit the wall unit. All you need is a three to four inch hole to fit the refrigerant lines through and you are good to go!

Personally, I am a big fan of ductless systems. Obviously, I am going to go with a central unit first if it’s possible, but if it’s not then I am going for the ductless. Yes they are more expensive but you are getting a better product too. In this article we are going to take an in-depth look at one of these ductless systems, MRCool Do-It-Yourself Smart Air Conditioner and Heater.

Please note that this will be a comprehensive review. I will try and cover everything including sizing requirements, installation, product features, the pros, and the cons. You can expect a lot of reading on your part but at the end you will definitely know what you are getting into and if this is the right product for you and your family.

Before You Buy

Ok folks so before we get into the features and the pros/cons of these air conditioners from MRCOOL I want to cover a few topics: Sizing and Installation. These sections are key for when you are shopping for a ductless system. The sizing allows you to accurately predict exactly what size air conditioner that you need and the install section will give you an idea of what to expect when the air conditioner arrives at your home.

Sizing

Before you buy we need to understand how sizing in air conditioning system works. It is not as simple as just picking the biggest and baddest model on the market. If you purchase a unit that is rated to cool one-thousand square feet and you put it in your one-hundred and fifty square feet office your air conditioner is going to have difficulty extracting the humidity from the air as well as evenly distributing the cooler air. The end result will be hot and cool spots throughout the room. That isn’t even mentioning the increased monthly cost to run a much larger machine then you needed in the first place. This will leave you feeling frustrated due to the hot and cool spots as well as paying more money per month then you should be.

Now, if we do the inverse of this scenario and buy a smaller air conditioner for a much larger area your unit will be running constantly all day and night just trying to keep up by cooling the larger square footage. This will result in the room not being as cold as it should be as well as significantly increasing the energy bills for running your AC non-stop. Remember folks, air conditioners are supposed to hit a desired temperature, turn off, and then turn back on when the temperature begins to rise. If they are running constantly that means higher bills as well as quicker parts failure on the unit.

To understand air conditioner sizing you need to understand British Thermal Units, or BTUs. If you have already been looking online or in stores you have probably noticed that window air conditioners always have a BTU number in their description. BTUs are the traditional measurement unit of heat.  In the air conditioning world BTUs are a measurement of the cooling capacity of your window air conditioner. The bigger the number of BTUs the more powerful and the higher cooling capacity of your A/C unit.  As a standard measurement an air conditioner needs around thirty BTUs for each square foot of living space that you wish to cool. Using that standard measurement let’s do some match based off of the 24,000 BTU rating example we pulled from earlier.

24,000 / 30 = 800 square feet

To ensure that you are buying the right sized air conditioner for your room it is best to measure it. To get the square footage of your room measure the width and depth of your room and then multiply the numbers together to get your square footage. As an example if you have a ten foot by eleven foot room you have one-hundred and ten square foot.

There are also other considerations when looking at your room. Yes, the size of the room definitely matters but these other scenarios could have a play into what kind of air conditioner you should purchase such as is the room sunny all day? How many people will be in the room at a time? How tall is the ceiling? Is the room in the kitchen or other hot appliance? All of these are signs that you need to increase the BTUs for your air conditioner.

The MRCOOL Ductless Systems come in a variety of sizes. To give you a better idea of what square footage they all fall under we’ve broken it down for you below. Just keep in mind folks that if you have some of the exceptions we mentioned above that you will need to increase the BTUs required.

Install

This product is marketed as a do-it-yourself project. While that is great and doing it yourself can save you a bundle when it comes to hiring a professional HVAC technician, you should know exactly what you are getting into before you purchase. Doing it yourself doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy and if you guess your way through it then you not only risk voiding your warranty but you could also end up harming yourself or others when it comes to the electrical work. If you do wish to install the unit yourself then please continue reading on exactly what will need to be done.

First, the good news is that everything is included in the kit including a detailed installation manual. This manual can also be found at the bottom of this article under our ‘Important Link’s section if you wish to view an online copy. It should be noted that this kit does NOT come with exterior mounting brackets and superficial coverings. If you wish to go this route you will have to purchase these extra. The right brackets and coverings though can easily be found on Amazon by clicking here for the brackets and here for the coverings. The coverings are more aesthetic then anything, but they can provide an extra bit of protection to your lines. It is up to you if you want the extra expense or not.MRCOOL DIY Series Ductless Mini Split Air Conditioner & Heat Pump1

Now, for the install there are four main sections that will have to be done. The first two are the easiest. When you order this product you will receive an indoor section and an outdoor section. The outside section can either be mounted against your home using support brackets or it can be installed at ground level as long as you create a completely level floor pad. Most folks opt for the floor pad option as it is overall easier to install this way and if you have to do maintenance on the unit down the road you will have much easier access. Creating the floor pad can be done with bricks, cinder blocks, or even your own concrete pad.

The inside unit will need to be mounted up against an exterior wall. Some folks have done interior walls, and while yes it is possible… I would not recommend it. Remember, that once the interior section is mounted you will need to connect the refrigerant pipes and the condensation line to the outside unit. This is why it makes sense to have them on the other side of the wall.

When mounting the interior unit be sure to mount it high up against the wall, close to the ceiling. This is done for two main reasons. The first is that the fan or blower is located at the bottom of the unit. So, the higher the unit is mounted in the room the more easily the air can be distributed. If you have it towards the bottom of the room then all your cold air is blowing up against the floor. The other reason is the condensation line. This is where the water will drain through when excess humidity is removed from your home. This line is gravity fed so if your unit is floor level that water will have nowhere to go.

Alright folks so now we have the easy parts covered. The next point, and a tricky point for a lot of folks, is feeding the refrigerant and condensation lines through your home and connecting them to the exterior section. In order to do this you will need to cut a three and a half inch hole in the wall nearby where you have chosen to mount your interior unit. This is where you will feed the lines. When planning this out you should note that the MRCOOL unit comes with twenty-five feet of refrigerant line. To some this amount of piping is a blessing and to others a cruse. If you only have about ten feet needed then you have to be creative and find a way to ‘hide’ the other fifteen feet.

This unit from MRCOOL comes precharged with refrigerant. What that means is that the system is ready to go and no vacuuming or charging of the system is required. While this is a great pro it can also be a detriment as you have to be extra careful when routing these refrigerant lines through the hole and to the outside unit. Make no mistake, this is the hardest part of the install. You can NOT bend the lines. You can NOT cut or modify the tubing. If any of this occurs and a crack or leak forms in the tubing then all of the refrigerant will leak out and you will have a useless machine. If this does happen then you need to identify the source of the leak, patch it, and then charge your system again with refrigerant. You will most likely need a HVAC professional’s help in this scenario. But, hopefully it doesn’t come to this and you are very careful with the piping.

Once the tubing has been routed through the hole and both sections have been mounted you are now ready to seal the three and a half inch hole we made earlier. A lot of folks used weather proof insulation. I like the spray foam that expands. Either way, you need to seal this hole up to prevent drafts, water, and anything else from getting in there.

Alright folks, the last section of the install is the electrical portion. The twelve-thousand BTU unit requires a one-hundred and ten connection whereas the larger sizes require a two-hundred and twenty volt connection. Please note that regardless of what size of ductless system you choose it will have to be hardwired to your circuit box either through a one-hundred and ten or a two-hundred and twenty volt connection. Now, I’ll be completely honest with you here folks, I do not have much electrical expertise and it would be wrong for me to steer you a certain way for the install. From my research though I have found that you need a fifteen amp breaker for the smaller twelve-thousand unit and a twenty amp breaker for the larger sizes. Now, as to how to install these and connect them I am not knowledgeable enough to guide you. If you are not familiar with how to do this then I would recommend reaching out to an electrician once you have the unit itself setup and ready to go. It is best not to guess with electrical work and if you do it wrong then you risk voiding your warranty… not to mention harming yourself. Electricity is no joke.

Once you have finished the electrical work and everything else is done it is recommended by the manufacturer to run the air conditioner for ten to fifteen minutes and monitor the system for leaks. If the air conditioner passes then run the heater for ten to fifteen minutes as well. Note that the heater may take longer for it to truly start up so it may be best to let it run for a half-hour or so just to ensure everything is working as it should be. For any further questions or concerns when it comes to installation please click here to be taken to the official Mr Cool’s installation instructions. This should answer any questions that you have BEFORE you purchase.

Product Features

Now that we have the sizing and installation sections covered we can begin to look at exactly what these products from MRCOOL have to offer. The first and most important point here is to recognize the various modes that these units come with. Each mode is important and can help you in making your purchasing decision. These units come with an Auto mode, a Cool mode, a Fan mode, and a Dry mode (Dehumidifier). Let’s take a look at these:

  • Cool – This is your air conditioning mode and can cool your home all the way down to sixty-two degrees. Although most folks prefer temperatures between sixty-eight to seventy degrees. This cool mode will work to cool your home even when outside temperatures range from five degrees to one-hundred and twenty-two degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Heat – These units from MRCOOL also come with a full heating mode. What is most exciting about this feature though is that the heater’s BTUs are mostly aligned with the air conditioners BTUs. What I mean by this is that in other air conditioners/heater combos you see the air conditioner has a significantly higher BTU number then the heater. This results in a far less powerful heater and requires you to have supplemental heat in your home along with this heater. But, with these units from MRCOOL the heater is very close the air conditioner BTUs. This heater will also work at maximum capacity with temperatures as low as five degrees Fahrenheit. Anything below five degrees then the heater will work but it will see diminished capacity.
  • Auto – The auto mode is pretty self explanatory. This is similar to most homes with a central system that have an auto mode. All this does is determine if the heater or air conditioner needs to be on. It will actively monitor the temperature in the room and turn one of these on to reach your desired temperature level. This is more of a hands off approach. I’ve never been a fan of auto myself. I like to have ‘heat’ mode in the winter and ‘cool’ mode in the summer, but that’s just my personal preference.
  • Dry Mode – Dry mode is actually just a dehumidifier mode. This allows you to dehumidify your home without cooling your home. I’m not sure how often you would use this as the air conditioner itself is a dehumidifier as well and most of the time if you are trying to dehumidify then you needing to cool as well. This dehumidifier will work between the inside temperature range of fifty to ninety degrees Fahrenheit. Outside temperature range between thirty-two to one-hundred and twenty-two degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Fan – The fan mode is just that. It is a fan without any cooling or heating effects. This is just the blower of the interior running and circulating air. This may be great to have if you have a fire in the fireplace and don’t necessarily want the heater on as well. The fan will help circulate the warm air without kicking that heater on.

Other Features

Along with your other basic modes that we mentioned above there are some other ancillary features that come with these Mr Cool air conditioners. These aren’t huge features but still good to know. The first is what’s known as the auto-restart. Let’s say for example it’s in the middle of summer and a bad storm rolls through the neighborhood and cuts power from your home. When power is restored at your home then your MRCOOL unit will turn back on and at the same settings it was at before. This is one less thing that you have to worry about resetting when your power comes back on.MRCOOL DIY Series Ductless Mini Split Air Conditioner & Heat Pump1

Another neat feature is what’s known as ‘louver angle memory.’ What this means is that when your appliance is turned off and then turned back on it will automatically remember the angle of the louvers from when it was last shut off. This is similar to the power loss feature we mentioned above. It ensures consistency when powering on your air conditioner.

This next one will be very important for those of you who elect to install this product yourself. Remember how I said earlier that you had to be very careful with the refrigerant lines and that you were not to bend them? If worse comes to worse and you do get a leak in your system the MRCOOL unit will actually alert you of said leak. If a refrigerant leak is occurring you will get an ‘EC’ error message come up on the inside unit. As to how to find the leak that is a whole other story. I did an article on this topic a few years ago which can be found by clicking here.

This product from MRCOOL comes with a remote and built in WiFi. The WiFi allows you to connect your phone to the appliance through the MRCOOL application. From here you have your own personal remote on your phone that will allow you to adjust temperatures, modes, and any other settings you require. The remote gives you the same functions as the phone app does but is overall easier to operate.

There are two extra features though on the remote though that I want to point out. The first is what is known as the ‘Follow Me’ function. This option will actually have the MRCOOL appliance read the temperature in the room where the remote is. So, if you have the inside unit setup in your living room but the remote is in your kitchen then it will keep running until the desired temperature is reached within the kitchen. This is a handy feature as it will give you a degree of separation between the cold air blowing and the thermostat itself. Otherwise, you will have the thermostat right next to where the cold air is coming out.

The last feature I’ll mention here is what is known as ‘Sleep Mode.’ This sleep mode is only accessible through the remote. When this is turned on the product will slowly adjust the temperature up or down every hour depending on if it’s in cool or heat mode. It will hold these temperature for seven hours and when the time is up it will revert back to it’s previous programmed temperature. This is a great function for you folks who want to save on your energy bills.

Pros

A lot of the pros on this product we have already covered in our product feature section, so there may be some repetition here. The biggest pro on these MRCOOL products are the various modes and the capacity of these modes. What I mean by that is you have a fully functioning air conditioner and a fully functioning heater that can work in temperatures as low as five degrees and up to temperatures of one-hundred and twenty-two degrees. This product has you covered. The only exception I would say is that if  you live in the far north and experience temperatures way below zero routinely throughout the year. Otherwise, this unit can handle whatever you throw at it.

The other big pro here is the warranty on the unit. These products come with a five year parts replacement warranty. Along with this you also get a seven year replacement warranty on the compressor. This keeps you covered in case of any your parts fail. The extra two years on the compressor is great as well as compressors are some of the most commonly failed parts when it comes to air conditioning. This warranty is much better then the competition. If you look at the Pioneer ductless system you will only find a two year parts warranty. Quite the difference if you ask me.

This warranty is NOT voided if you install this unit yourself. Remember folks, this is a do-it-yourself product. The only caveat here is that if you guess you way through the electrical work then you could void the warranty. If you are unsure on how to do the electrical connection then I would hire a professional to ensure you warranty stays in tact. For more on MRCOOL’s warranty click here to be taken to their official warranty page.MRCOOL DIY Series Ductless Mini Split Air Conditioner & Heat Pump1

The last pro I want to mention here is the overall volume of the unit. For those of you who have experience with window units you will know just how loud they can get during operation. You will not have this problem with this ductless system. No, these units are extremely quiet. In fact many folks don’t even realize the machine is on. It is that quiet.

Cons

We are now ready for the cons of this ductless system. Before I get into this though I first want to state that overall this is a great product and the cons I mention below are similar to what you find with other ductless systems. The big con here, especially on this MRCOOL system, is the expense. These units are very expensive, especially compared to some of the competing lines like the Pioneer model we mentioned in our pros section. The difference though is that with the MRCOOL brand you are getting a fully functioning heater whereas with the Pioneer you don’t get that same function. You also have less heater operating temperature range with the Pioneer unit. So, while this is more expensive you are getting more product and a higher quality product.

The other big con here is the install. Now this can be said with any ductless system. Do not be fooled, these are not an easy install. You have to mount both units. You have to feed the lines through… and you have to create a three and a half inch hole in your exterior wall. On top of all of that you have to connect it directly to your circuit breaker. Do you feel comfortable with all of that? If so, then this won’t be a big deal at all. But, if you are not then you either may want to hire a professional to help with the install or purchase a window or mobile unit that is much easier to just plug-in and go. The problem with the window/mobile units though is that their capacity is much lower and they are an eyesore.

The last few cons I want to mention are somewhat minor but still deserve to be mentioned. Some folks have stated problems with leaking refrigerant. While this can be a huge problem and will cause your unit not to work… it is most likely caused by poor install. They most likely bent the pipes or did something else to cause a fracture in the pipes which caused the refrigerant to leak out. Just be careful during install and follow the directions carefully. If you do this then you shouldn’t have this problem.

Remember the ‘follow me’ function we mentioned earlier? There were a few reviews that stated this wasn’t working properly. I only saw this a few times during my research, but the complaint was that the follow me function would try to reach the desired temperature through heat and cool in a back and forth fashion. In other words, if the temperature was set to seventy-two then cool would kick on to get it down to seventy-two… but then it accidentally goes down to seventy-one, so then the heater kicks on to get it back to seventy-two and then that accidentally goes to seventy-three. And so on and so on. This didn’t seem to be a prevalent complaint though so I don’t know much stock I would put into this.

The last con here is that some of the ductless systems are what’s known as a multi-zone system. This means that you can have one outdoor unit and multiple indoor units to cool your home in different rooms. These MRCOOL systems are NOT multi-zone. You only have one indoor unit and that is all you can have. If you need more then one then you will have to purchase the entire machine again.

Conclusion

Alright folks so we have gone through sizing, installation, features, pros, cons, and everything else there is to possibly know about this product. Bottom line is that this is a great product and will definitely do its job of cooling your home, garage, loft, workshop, or whatever other area you are looking at this for. But, don’t just take my word for it. If we look at Amazon.com we can see that this MRCOOL product has over two-hundred reviews on it all with an average rating of four and a half stars. That is the equivalent of a ninety percent approval rating. It is a solid product. If you’d like to purchase this unit please click here to be taken to our Amazon partner.

One last point of note here is that we here at RefrigerantHQ are not responsible for the install of this unit. If you purchase this product the installation process will be solely on you or a hired professional. If you are unsure on what to do rather it be through routing the refrigerant lines or doing electrical work then it is always best practice to contact a professional. You know what they say, it is always better to be safe then sorry.

Thanks for reading and I hope this review was helpful,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Important Links

Christmas is next week and then the week after is New Years. That leaves us with less then two weeks until the Environmental Protection Agency’s phaseout of R-22 goes into effect. The phaseout, effective January 1st, 2020, prevents any new manufacturing or importing of R-22 into the United States. The only way to purchase R-22 from then on will be through certified EPA refrigerant reclaimers or through refrigerant distributors who have stock piled R-22 in anticipation of the phaseout.

As you all know, this phaseout has been ten years in the making. It all started back in 2010 with the initial launch. There was a second wave of more restrictions that hit in 2015 and now it all comes to a head in a few weeks. In this article I’m going to review the past on R-22, the present, and the future. Why not… I mean it is around Christmas! I promise though, that the ghost of R-22 future won’t be frightening.

R-22 Past

The news of an impending phaseout even if it is ten years in the future can do a lot of strange things to the product’s price. In the first few years after the staggered phaseout began in 2010 there wasn’t too much of an impact on price, but as the years wore on the price of R-22 began to climb. This was due to the phaseout coming closer but it was mainly due to speculators.

Speculators or investors are folks who are either in the industry, or from outside the industry. Whatever their background is, they saw an opportunity from the R-22 phaseout. In the early stages of the phaseout R-22 was used everywhere in a variety of applications. You could find them in offices, homes, factories, and even ice rinks. It had been one of the most common refrigerants in the world. So, if this ever popular refrigerant is going to be phased out in a couple of years… why not try to grab a piece of that pie? After all, if you can get in while the price is still low and then hold onto your inventory you should be able to make a decent profit once the price climbs.

In the initial stages we saw pricing on R-22 average between two-hundred to three-hundred dollars for a thirty pound cylinder. This price more or less stayed the same from 2010-2015. There were some ups and downs here and there but it typically stabilized once the season was over. It was in 2015 that we really began to see the prices rise. This was due to the new import and manufacturing restrictions that went effect but also due to the speculation. At this point we were only five years away and a lot of folks who were sitting on their hands decided to jump in and get some inventory for themselves.

That price of two-hundred to three-hundred slithered away. Instead we saw the price averaging between three-hundred to four-hundred dollars for a thirty pound cylinder. When the summer of 2015 ended folks were hoping that the price would gradually lower during the off season, but the demand kept up even during the winter months. When 2016 hit we saw the prices rise even higher to an average range of four-hundred to five-hundred dollars.

That wasn’t the worst of it though folks. No, 2017 is when we really began to see the prices on R-22 grow to astronomical proportions. The prices ranged between seven-hundred to eight-hundred dollars a cylinder. These were the prices that all of these prospectors were hoping for. This is where true profit could be made. All those folks who bought up at that three or four-hundred dollar range could now sell for double what they bought it for.

Many companies saw this high price and thought that it could only go higher. One such example, Hudson Technologies, bought up millions of dollars worth of R-22 in anticipation of an even steeper price climb. There was a problem though folks. Just like with any market, if the price of the genuine product is too high then alternatives will be developed. The R-22 market was no different. Homeowners and business owners did not want to pay this extraordinary high price just to recharge their systems.R-22 Pricing Chart

While the speculators were buying up R-22 and hoping for the increase there was another group of business folks working to provide cheaper alternatives to R-22. As I am writing this article there are now over one-hundred R-22 alternatives out there. All of them have their own pros and cons. Some of them require a full retrofit of the system and others barely require any changes. The main goal of all of these alternatives though was to be cheaper then the standard R-22.  With the high R-22 prices in 2017 alternatives flourished.

“As the inventory of R-22 diminishes in the future, it is logical to expect that prices will increase.  Fortunately, R-22 retrofit products, such as MO99 and NU22B, have been working very well in existing equipment for more than 10 years.” – Chuck Allgood Refrigerants Technology Leader at The Chemours Company

Pairing the huge amount of stock speculators were sitting on with the mass of alternatives available the price began to trend downwards. It started towards the end of 2017. Many folks thought that the off season would cause prices to drop but that it would rebound right back up when 2018’s spring started. Boy were they wrong. The 2018 year saw an average price range between four-hundred and five-hundred dollars. The price kept on crashing. There was so much stock on hand and now that the price was going down people panicked and started selling all of their inventory to unload their burden. This caused the pricing to go even lower. For a real life example of this look up the stock prices of Hudson Technologies over the past five years. You can definitely see when R-22 hit it’s peak in 2017 and when the market crashed shortly there after.

In 2019 we saw a price range of two-hundred to three-hundred dollars. This was back to 2014 levels! You can really see this illustration in the chart that I’ve attached for this section. It definitely paints a picture of just how fast the prices rose and how fast they fell. I also did my best here to give you a prediction of what we will see in the coming years on R-22 pricing. The 2020, 2021, and 2022 numbers are predictions though, so take them with a grain of salt.

R-22 Present

Alright folks, so now that the past is in the past let’s take a look at what the R-22 market looks like today. This section won’t be as near as big as the others but it’s worth looking into to understand exactly where we are at today. The first thing I want to mention is the current market price. I had touched on this earlier, but today if you were to purchase R-22 you can expect to pay between two-hundred to three-hundred dollars a cylinder. It all depends on who you buy from. During my research this week I’ve seen prices ranging as low as two-hundred and twenty-five dollars a cylinder upwards to two-hundred and ninety-five dollars a cylinder. A typical HVAC contractor can expect to pay right around that three-hundred dollar mark, but don’t be surprised if some are paying around three-hundred and fifty dollars.

The other point to make here is that overall demand for R-22 is down compared to previous years. This is mainly due to the aging of the machines that are out there. Since no new machines could be manufactured at or after 2010 the age of an R-22 machine is at least ten years old. In some cases manufacturers saw this phase out coming and stopped using R-22 before 2010. So, your R-22 unit could even be twelve years or older. The point here is that these machines are starting to die. A typical traditional split system will last anywhere between fifteen to twenty years. We are already quickly approaching the lifespan of these R-22 units… so as to be expected, the demand is down.

Since this is a losing battle and the demand is going to be shrinking with each passing year we are already seeing major companies remove themselves from the R-22 market. A major manufacturer of refrigerants, which I won’t name here, has already removed themselves from the R-22 market. It’s not just them though folks, in the past six months multiple wholesalers have removed themselves from selling R-22. The demand isn’t there and it just isn’t worth their time to stock the product.

So, in just a few weeks we have a product that is phased out across the United States. (You can still purchase it as long as you can find a distributor or a reclaimer.) You also have the demand for this product shrinking and shrinking with each passing year. This R-22 product also has reclaimed cylinders available as well as over a hundred different alternatives. The question now though, is what does the future hold for R-22?

R-22 Future

For this section I reached out to over a dozen contacts that I have within the refrigerant industry. These folks range from manufacturers, distributors, contractors, content writers, and consulting firms. My aim here was to not only provide my insight but also to get the view and opinions from a host of others so that I can provide you all with a well rounded look at the future of R-22.

First thing is first, there are a lot of folks who believe that R-22 will NOT be available after January 1st, 2020. That is not true. You will still be able to purchase R-22 as long as you are certified with the EPA and are able to find a distributor with quantity on hand. The same rule applies for reclaimed R-22 refrigerant. It is perfectly legal to buy as long as you are certified. The struggle you may face is finding a wholesaler that will provide the product. If you’re not having any luck feel free to reach out to me and I can put you in touch with a few folks.

The number one thing we need to remember when it comes to looking at R-22 is that these machines are only going to be around for another five to ten years. Yes, there will be some outliers, but for the most part these machines will all be retired in that time. Dead and gone. It will go the way of R-12 is today… except I can’t imagine anyone restoring a ‘classic R-22 system’ they way do with R-12 automobiles.

So, with that five to ten year deadline in mind, what can we expect over the next few years? Please note that this is  a prediction on my part folks, so don’t take my word as gospel. That being said, I believe that this is all going to boil down to supply and demand. And at this point of time folks there is plenty of supply of R-22. In fact there are stockpiles of it. One refrigerant manufacturer, not the one I mentioned earlier, has a large surplus of R-22 on hand and waiting to be shipped. While other manufacturers have backed out of the market these guys have bought up in hopes of being the only major source to purchase from.

It’s not just the virgin product that we have to consider though folks. There is plenty of reclaimed refrigerant out there as well. In fact, we are seeing the same type of logic on reclaimed product that we did with virgin. A lot of folks are buying up this reclaimed product so that they can stockpile it before the phaseout hits. One of my contacts put it this way:

“The bigger refrigerant recovery companies are overpaying for reclaim gas in order to have a nice stock for next year and beyond.” – Eric Sugarman Owner at Refrigerant Depot.

So, with that statement above in mind we can truly see the R-22 market beginning to consolidate. We have one of the major refrigerant manufacturers stockpiling the product and then we have the larger recovery companies stockpiling their own source of reclaimed R-22. What all this means is that the amount of companies that will be available to purchase R-22 from is shrinking and shrinking. This will eventually result in a price increase due to the lack of options.

The good news here though is that the refrigerant manufacturer that has this stockpile has publicly claimed that they do not want R-22’s price to go over three-hundred dollars a cylinder. While this sounds nice and all, there is a strategy behind it. You see if R-22 gets to around four-hundred dollars or higher then that opens the doors for alternative products to come in and take the business. Keeping prices at three-hundred dollars prevents the alternative refrigerants from gaining a foothold on the market.

The consensus that I received from my contacts was that there is enough virgin R-22 and reclaimed R-22 product out there to keep demand fulfilled for the next several years. The price may rise slightly, like I indicated in my pricing graph earlier, I do not foresee a drastic increase. No, instead it will be a slow crawl upwards.

Conclusion

This article will by no means my last article on R-22. I know there will be more news down the road and always more surprises. No one knows for sure what is going to happen next year or the year after. It is all a guessing game. Hopefully though, this article was able to give you a bit more knowledge so that when you make your guess on the market you’ve got some logic in your corner. If you would like more thoughts or notations on R-22 please feel free to reach out to me for consulting and we can discuss rates.

Thanks for reading and I hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

AlorAir Basement or Crawl Space Dehumidifiers

Hello folks and welcome to RefrigerantHQ. Today we will be doing a review of AlorAir’s crawl space dehumidifier. We will go in-depth on all of this products features as well as the pros and cons. But, before I get into this I first want to give you a horror story on high humidity crawl spaces that I personally experienced last year. You see a damp, wet, or high humidity crawl space can cause a whole host of problems. The extra moisture can attract mold, pests, odors, and worst of all… structural problems. If you’d like to skip past my personal story then by all means move onto the next section called ‘Sizing.’ Otherwise, read on my friends….

A few years ago my family and I decided to move out to the country. We found twenty acres with beautiful land and ponds all around. It was ideal. The only problem that we had was that the house was relatively small and there was no basement. Instead, we had a crawl-space. This was troublesome since we lived in Tornado Alley and were only about an hour away from Joplin, Missouri where that EF5 tornado hit about ten years ago. But, we had a storm shelter and we made do.

The house that we had bought was older and a lot of the necessary maintenance work just hadn’t been done over the years. Overall, we didn’t have too many problems with the house but there was a reoccurring pain my side and that was the crawl space. Crawl spaces are quite a bit different then basements, which I was about to learn. Looking back at it now I should have paid more attention to the crawl space and the moisture that it was attracting. Instead, I opened the vent and forgot about it for a year.

Well, about a year into my house I noticed that the floor in my hallway to the back door felt strange. If you stepped in certain spots the floor would give a little bit. Almost like a sponge or like if you were to step on a trampoline. My kids thought it was great and would hop up and down on it. Of course, me being an idiot, did nothing for another month. The sinking floor feeling spread down the hallway and even into the master bathroom. At this time I was starting to freak out so I called contractor to take a look at what was going on.

After just a few minutes of inspection he knew what had happened. The excess humidity from the crawl space had seeped it’s way up into my floor joists and floor boards. That sinking feeling I felt was the plywood rotting out. If I had done nothing the plywood would have eventually rotted all the way and I would have had a gaping hole in my floor leading to the crawl space. It was a disaster. I had to have all of the floor ripped up the entire length of the hallway and in my master bathroom. The plywood was ripped out as well and replaced. Luckily, the floor joists were undamaged. All in this mistake ended up costing me about seven-thousand dollars in repair bills.

Once the repair was done I set to work fixing my crawl space. I bought some crawl space liner and covered the floor and the walls. I sealed all of the vents to the outside the best I could as well. I checked the sump pump to see if it was working correctly, and it was. So, the last thing I did was have a new dehumidifier installed. I lived in this house for another year and within that year I saw no further problems. The floor that was replaced was holding up just fine… and was much nicer then the rest of the home’s floor! The occasional times I went down to the crawlspace I saw no indication of water pooling or mold growing. All seemed to be right in the world.

So, the lesson here folks is that your crawl space most likely needs a dehumidifier in it, especially if you live in a humid climate. If you aren’t sure or are hesitant to to make the investment then at least check the humidity levels in your basement regularly to ensure that you aren’t having any problems arise. Most folks use a hand-held humidity reader like this one found on Amazon. The humidity shouldn’t be above sixty percent. If you notice that the number is increasing then there are a few things you can do before purchasing a dehumidifier. Just like I mentioned above, you can purchase liners and cover the floor and walls with these waterproof liners. This will help moisture from coming up from the exposed dirt as well as the cracks or gaps in your foundation.

If you install liners and have even sealed all of the vents in your crawlspace but you are still having high humidity then it may be time to purchase a dehumidifier. I’ll be honest with you folks, this won’t be a cheaper purchase and that is precisely why I mentioned the above strategies first. Hopefully, they work for you but if they do not then it may be time to bite the bullet and make that investment into a dehumidifier. After all, would you rather pay a one time expense or pay a massive repair bill like I did?

Sizing

First things first folks we have to determine which sized unit is right for you. This product from Alorair comes in two different sizes and three different models. There is the fifty-five pint model that can work in area up to thirteen-hundred square feet and then there are the ninety pint models that can work in rooms up to twenty-six-hundred square feet. Notice how I said models for the ninety pint? That is because one of the ninety pint models comes with a pump. I’ll get into the pump benefits later on in this article though.AlorAir Basement or Crawl Space Dehumidifiers

The question now though is what size is right for you? The fifty-five or the ninety? Well, first you need to determine that all important square footage. If you are at thirteen-hundred or just above it then I suggest you go with the ninety pint. The other factor that you have to consider is the overall dampness of the crawl space. Is there already standing water that you can see? Is the soil muddy and showing water as you walk through it? In my old house you would feel your foot sink into the mud as you walked through it. The more water there is in the environment the harder your dehumidifier will have to work.

So, if you have a one-thousand square foot crawl space but there is standing water in that crawl space then I am going to recommend the ninety pint model. With dehumidifiers it is always safest to go an extra size up just to ensure that you’ve got enough power to get the job done. The last thing I want you to do is purchase a unit that is too small and end up having the same problems you had before.

Product Features

Alrighty folks so now we are onto the meat and potatoes of this product review. This is where we will go over all of the various features that these three dehumidifiers have. The first and most obvious feature is the humidity control. This is where you will set your desired humidity and where you will see what the real humidity level is in your crawl space. The humidity is shown via a digital display. Upon turning the dehumidifier on it will show you the current humidity level in the crawl space, or other room that you have the appliance setup in. You are then able to begin adjusting the humidity to your desired level. This is done by using the up or down arrows. Each adjustment will take the number up or down by one percent. The humidity levels on this appliance can range from thirty-five to ninety-five percent. When you have set your desired humidity the screen will change back to show the current area’s humidity level. This dehumidifier can also work in lower temperatures when compared to other models. This unit has an operating range between thirty-four  to one-hundred and four degrees Fahrenheit.

There is also an option called Continuous Mode that can be triggered by setting the desired humidity level to below thirty-six percent. You will know it worked as the ‘Cont. Defrost,’ light will have lit up green and the humidity readout will state ‘CO.’ Continuous mode is just that, the dehumidifier will run constantly without stopping. If you’d like to shut this off then adjust the humidity level back about that thirty-six percent threshold.

Some of you may not know this but a dehumidifier is almost the exact same thing as an air conditioner. Yes, you have nearly all of the same components and even operating cycle that air conditioners or refrigerators have. You see your air conditioner functions as a dehumidifier a well. That is why your inside air conditioning unit has a hose leading to a drain. In a crawl space home this drain is usually located just outside the home next to your air conditioner. The hose was only about five or six feet and it came out of the evaporator towards the drain. This water that is being drained is the same water that will be filling up your dehumidifier. The only real difference between these two machines is that the dehumidifier has an extra heating element in the last step of the cycle. This is to prevent air conditioned air from flowing into your home. This is also why you may feel some heat coming from your dehumidifier. Just like air conditioners your dehumidifier uses refrigerant. This dehumidifier from AlorAir uses the very popular HFC refrigerant known as R-410A. This is the same refrigerant that most new home air conditioners use as well. It is a very safe, non-toxic, and non-flammable refrigerant.

Just like an air conditioner your dehumidifier can eventually accumulate frost on the evaporator coils. If enough frost or ice accumulates then the unit will not be able to run correctly. Luckily, this AlorAir dehumidifier comes with an auto-defrost feature. What this means is that if the dehumidifier detects ice beginning to build it will shut down and instead focus on melting the ice. This is done by blowing the fan across the ice and preventing the refrigeration cycle from occurring again until the ice has all melted. You will know if your unit is defrosting by a red light indicator on the ‘Cont. Defrost,’ button. This feature is actually pretty common with other dehumidifiers as well but the AlorAir stands apart as it has what’s called a Hot Gas Valve Defrosting System. This makes for a much faster defrosting process than your standard system.AlorAir Basement or Crawl Space Dehumidifiers Control Panel

Continuing on with the components of this machine I should mention the evaporator coils. These are the coils that can get covered in ice that we just mentioned above. These coils are also a high failure point after years of use. If some of the coils get corroded or crack then the refrigerant in your dehumidifier can leak out resulting in your appliance no longer working. To help promote longevity of their product AlorAir has covered the evaporator coils with an epoxy coating. This will extend the life of the evaporator and help protect it against corrosives.

One more note on the internal workings of this machine, if you see a red light turn on in the ‘Comp’ button do not worry. All this means is that the compressor has kicked on and it is warming up. After a few minutes this light will turn from red to green and you will be good to go.

This AlorAir unit does come with a remote control system. That is something you don’t normally find on dehumidifiers and it’s a great feature as you don’t have to go down to the crawlspace to change settings every time. The downside here is that this controller does not come with the purchase of the unit. Unfortunately, you have to buy it separately. The controller can be found by clicking here.

This isn’t necessarily a feature but it is prudent that I bring it up. There are a variety of options when it comes to installing one of these dehumidifiers in your crawl space. Some folks like to hang them from the foundation wall. Others like to suspend them from the floor joists in the center of the crawl space. Either one of these will work, but the easiest method is to get some foundation blocks, bricks, or cinder blocks and create a level surface in your crawl space. Once it is level you can then set your dehumidifier on top of the bricks, again ensure that the appliance is level. Installing the appliance on the ground is not only the easiest way to do it but it is also the only way to do it if you wish to use AlorAir’s warranty. Yes, that is correct. They require that the unit be ground mounted for any warranty claim to be honored.

One consideration you should keep in mind when installing is how close you are to a drainage area. Remember, that the water from your dehumidifier is going to need to go somewhere. If you have a drain in your crawl space already then that’s great and it makes things easy. However, if the drain you need is a ways away or not gravity fed then you are going to need a pump. AlorAir does offer their ninety pint model with a pump. So, if you needed to you could pump the water out through a vent in your crawlspace. Just make sure that the water has someplace to go and it doesn’t just roll back into your crawl space. The pump  may be more expensive but if you don’t remove the water then you’re not fixing anything.

This unit has some basic cleaning needs. The first and most needed is the cleaning of the filter. Now during my research I didn’t see an exact timing schedule to clean the air filter, but I am going to recommend at least every sixty days. The filter container is easily slid out and the filter can be popped into your hand. Note that before you attempt to remove the filter the dehumidifier should be off and unplugged. This is purely for safety reasons. You can clean the filter by taking a vacuum to it or by washing it with warm water. Do not use soap on it as you could damage the mesh. Before you put the filter back inside ensure that it is dry. Once the filter is back inside you are good to turn the machine back on. Besides the filter the outside of the unit should be wiped down with a cloth every few months to prevent dust, dirt, or grime from accumulating. Lastly, the evaporator coils should be cleaned once a year. You will need a special solvent to clean these coils and this is most likely something you can contract out to your local HVAC company.

These units require a one-hundred and fifteen power outlet. Before plugging it in please ensure that the outlet you used is grounded and is safe. This product comes with wheels to make for easy transport. The fifty-five point model weighs in at sixty pounds and the ninety pint model weighs in at ninety pounds. It also comes with adjustable feet so that when you are installing you can get the product as level as you need to be.

Pros

No matter if you buy the fifty-five pint or the ninety pint these units are quality made. They are tough and meant to withstand operating in a crawlspace for years on end. Now, I’d like to spend a whole bunch of time getting into the various Pros of this product but I did what I usually end up doing. I mentioned nearly all of the Pros in our Product Features section and now I don’t have as much to talk about! One of these times I’ll learn my lesson. That being said, here are some of the quick Pros that I didn’t mention above.AlorAir Basement or Crawl Space Dehumidifiers2

This dehumidifier is easy. What I mean by that is once you get it installed, hopefully level on the ground, all you have to do is connect the drainage line, set the humidity you want, set a timer cycle, and then walk away. It’s that easy. It’s even easier if you have the remote attachment. That way you can glance at the humidity level in your crawl space from inside the comfort of your home. The only thing you’ll have to do is occasionally go down there and clean the filter and the machine itself.

While this unit is marketed towards crawl spaces don’t let that fool you. This appliance can be used in a variety of applications. It could be that you have a large unfinished basement you want to control the humidity levels on. Or, perhaps you are in an office or a small warehouse. Whatever your need is this ninety pint model will definitely get the job done for you.

All three products are 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. Along with the Energy Star rating you also get a five year warranty from AlorAir. Yes, I said five years folks. That is a huge number that I frankly haven’t seen before. Most of the time I am seeing one to two year but a five year warranty is unheard of. It is good to see a company stand behind their product nowadays.

Cons

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 the manufacturer offers a five year warranty. Through my research I had found cases where  they offered a complete replacement product. It’s good to know you’ll be protected here.

Price

I would be amiss if I didn’t mention this. The price on these units is quite high and may scare a lot of folks off. I completely understand that. What may happened here is that some folks may see that price then opt for a much cheaper model, maybe even a home model with a thirty pint capacity. If you are looking for a solution for your crawlspace then I would not recommend going that route. Yes, I know it is cheaper in the short term but in the long term you are going to pay for it.

I heard a quote the other day that stuck with me. It came from a seasoned plumber and it went like this, “I’m too poor to buy cheap tools.” In other words, he only buys premium tools because they are going to last forever. If he bought lower end tools then he’d be having to replace them every few years. The same can be applied here as well.

Cleaning

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. 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.

Conclusion

Ok folks I think we’ve finally made it. We have made it to the homestretch. I believe I have mentioned every possible feature and option there is on this unit and now it is time for you to make a decision. Is this the unit that you want for your home? Is it right for your home? Before I close this article let’s take another quick look at these dehumidifiers from AlorAir. There is the fifty-five point, the ninety pint, and the ninety pint with the pump. Between these three models they have over one-hundred and fifty reviews all with an average of four out of five stars. That equates to an eighty percent approval rating. That is pretty good if you ask me.

If you’d like to purchase this unit, or if you just have more questions, then I recommend you click here to be taken to our Amazon partner’s product page. Also, feel free to check out our ‘Important Links’ section below for more information on this product. However, if this isn’t the right one for you then I encourage you to keep shopping around and educating yourself. I hope this review was helpful and that it provided all necessary information.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson
RefrigerantHQ

Important Links

How Much Does It Cost?

Well folks it is that time of year again already. Thanksgiving is just a few days away and the temperatures outside are thirty degrees or even colder here in Kansas City. Most people are focusing on the upcoming feast on Thursday or Black Friday that comes immediately after. I on the other hand am focusing on one thing this week and that is refrigerant. Yes, during this holiday refrigerant is on my mind… as it always is. You see during these colder months I find that things begin to slow down. The season is over and everyone has time to catch their breath. I have sometime to relax, think, and time to write articles.

Over the past five years or so I have taken the time to write a series of articles known as my ‘refrigerant price per pound’ posts. These articles aim at providing the end-user with the knowledge on exactly how much a refrigerant costs. These posts have quickly become some of my successful as this information just isn’t out there. If you search for refrigerant pricing you either can’t find much of anything and the stuff that you do find is at very highly inflated prices. Our goal here is to find the most up-to-date and realistic prices on refrigerants.

In this article we’re going to give you an accurate price per pound on R-1234yf. But, before we get into that I first want to take some time and go over some air conditioning basics for your vehicle. If you’re not interested in this and you are just looking for the price then please scroll towards the bottom of the article and look for a section titled, ‘Price Per Pound.’ Otherwise, if you are interested then please read on.

Know This Before Purchasing

Let’s say your vehicle’s air conditioner is no longer working. You’ve tried everything you can think of. You even tried a few AC recharge kits and the air only stayed cool for a few days. It is clear that you need a repair… but what should you expect with this repair? Obviously, every dealer or repair shop is going to charge differently for their parts and labor but the below section will at least give you some basic knowledge on what to expect as you take your car into the shop.

R-1234yf VS R-134a

Something that a lot of folks may not have realized is that in recent years the refrigerant that automobiles are using has switched. Yes, that’s right. A lot of newer vehicles are no longer using R-134a. Instead they have switched over to a newer HFO refrigerant known as R-1234yf. In the United States this switch started to occur in 2015 and with each passing year the number of cars that are using 1234yf has increased. In the next few years it is predicted that nearly ninety percent of the market will be using 1234.

Earlier this year I did an article where I put together a list of all cars and what refrigerant they were using for their 2019/2020 model years. This list took quite a bit of time as I had to dig through instruction manuals for all of these different vehicles. I didn’t find every single car but I found the majority. At the end of the exercise I had found that nearly seventy percent of cars produced in 2019 within the United States are using r-1234yf. That is a huge number folks. This article can be found by clicking here.

There is a really big downside when it comes to r-1234yf. That is the price. In most cases r-1234yf is ten times more expensive then r-134a. So, your thirty dollar recharge on r-134a may end up being close to three-hundred dollars on 1234yf. That is quite the difference and can result in a lot of angry consumers when they get their repair bill. The bad news here is that I have seen no sign of the 1234yf pricing dropping anytime soon either.

You Are Paying For Expertise

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

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

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

Your AC Unit is a Closed System

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

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

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

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

Purchase Restrictions

This isn’t as big of a problem when it comes to automotive application but it is still worth mentioning. You see back in January 1st of 2018 a new regulation was implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency. This regulation known as the, ‘Refrigerant Sales Restriction,’ aimed at preventing novices from purchasing HFC refrigerants such as R-410A, R-404A, R-134a and yes… R-1234yf.  These restrictions already existed on HCFC and CFC refrigerants but they were now moved over to HFC and HFO refrigerants as well. What this means is that you are no longer legally able to purchase R-1234yf unless you are 609 certified with the EPA. Now, there are a few slight exceptions to this such as:

  1. The first exception is that if you purchase small cans of refrigerant that are under two pounds of refrigerant or less. This works great for automotive applications as they only need a few pounds to recharge an entire system. But, this can be difficult when trying to recharge a larger system with only a pound of refrigerant at a time. A typical split-system air conditioner may take up to twelve pounds of refrigerant. So, you could technically do this yourself but you would have to find a source for the cans and it still not legal to tamper or tinker on an air conditioning unit if you are certified with the EPA.
  2. The other exception is providing the vendor you are buying from with an intent to resale form. What this means is that you state that you will NOT be using this refrigerant yourself but that you intend to resell it to another party. In this case the legal record keeping requirements would be passed onto you. So, if the supplier you bought from gets audited by the EPA their records will then point to you. The EPA will reach out to you and you better hope you either sold the product or are 609 certified!

If you do not meet the above exceptions and you try to purchase R-1234yf you will be asked for your 609 license number. If you cannot provide one then you will not be allowed to purchase. This was done to protect the environment. If R-1234yf is vented or leaked into the atmosphere it contributes to Global Warming. The restriction was put into place to prevent novices from playing around with the refrigerant and accidentally releasing it into the atmosphere.  There was talk at the beginning of 2019 that the Trump Administration would rescind these restrictions but so far there has been no follow-through on this matter. As the law is today you are not able to purchase this refrigerant.

The good news here is that this doesn’t affect the automotive market too much. Yes, there are larger cylinders of 1234yf available but there are also cans available. These cans can be purchased either online through websites like Amazon.com or at your local automotive parts retailer.

R-1234yf Price Per Pound

Alright folks so we’ve gotten past the need-to-know section and now we can begin to dive into to see the exact cost per pound. Let me paint a picture for you now. Let’s imagine it is the middle of summer and your car’s air conditioner has gone out. No cold-air is blowing through and you’re stumped. You drive the car into the dealership for a repair, but what can you expect? The first thing is that you will need to pay for a repair to fix whatever caused the malfunction. This could be a faulty hose, a bad compressor, a bad evaporator, and so on and so on. On top of this you will also have to pay for a full refrigerant recharge. But, what price is fair here?

Before I give you the price on R-1234yf I first want to give you a few tools that will allow you to determine the true cost of R-1234yf at any given time. You see, I am writing this article in November of 2019 and I can bet that by the time summer rolls around and you’re reading this article that the prices have changed. Refrigerant pricing is ever changing and you never truly know where it will be at. The good news is that if you check Ebay.com and Amazon.com you can begin to see where the market is at any given time. Yes, it’s really that simple folks.

When looking at these prices on Ebay and Amazon be sure to look at the ten pound cylinder pricing. That is going to be quite a bit cheaper then the cans and that is most likely what the dealer or repair shop you are at are buying. From my experience these dealerships will buy a pallet full of cylinders and use them throughout the season. This gives them a very aggressive cost within the market. Some smaller shops may only buy five or ten of these cylinders at a time, but they still get a rather aggressive cost.

Today, if we look at Ebay we can see that ten  pound cylinders are ranging from six-hundred and seven-hundred dollars per ten pound cylinder. For argument’s sake let’s take the highest dollar one at seven-hundred dollars. In order to get the price per pound let’s do some simple math:

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

There you have it folks, $70.00 for one pound of R-1234yf refrigerant. Now, please keep in mind that these prices CAN change. To give you a bit more help I have also included a feed from our Ebay partner below that shows you the current market price of R-1234yf:

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

$602.00
End Date: Friday May-1-2020 9:55:20 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $602.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

New SEALED Honeywell Solstice HFO-1234YF Refrigerant 10 lb Cylinder 1234YF

$638.97
End Date: Saturday Apr-18-2020 10:30:34 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $638.97
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

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

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

Conclusion

Alright folks, that should about cover it. I’ve gone through everything you should know when refilling your air conditioner as well at what price point to expect. One last thing I wanted to mention before closing this article is that you have to remember that there will be mark-up involved from your technician or HVAC company. The price that I gave you is going to be very close to their cost. So, while you may not get that $70.00 price per pound article it does give you a starting point for negotiations. Remember, that everything in this world is negotiable and if they quote you one-hundred and twenty-five dollars a pound then you do your best to get them down to ninety dollars a pound using this article as a point of reference.

Thanks for reading and I hope this article was helpful,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

How Much Does It Cost?

Greetings ladies and gentlemen! It’s just a few days before Thanksgiving. The weather is quite cold outside and I am sitting in my office, sipping at a cup of coffee, and thinking about refrigerant. Yes, it seems that refrigerant is always on my mind, even during these colder winter months. In fact it is actually quite a bit easier to get work done during this time of year. With summer gone and spring quite a ways in the future everything slows down a bit and I have time to catch a breather, gather my thoughts, and write some articles.

Most of the time the articles on this site are more of a technical nature and cater towards HVAC technicians and contractors. However, today we will be doing something slightly different. You see over the past four years we here at RefrigerantHQ have published a series of articles that go into the exact cost that homeowners can expect when paying for refrigerant. This was a problem that I recognized a while back. When a homeowner receives a quote on refrigerant they have no idea if it’s a fair price or if they are being gouged. There were very little references out there so it made it nearly impossible to negotiate or price shop.

In this article we are going to give you the exact cost per pound on R-410A refrigerant. This will give you the knowledge on rather or not you are being priced fairly. Now, before I get into the price details I am going to spend some time covering some basic HVAC and refrigerant knowledge. I can be a bit long-winded at times so if you find that you just want to find the price per pound then I suggest scrolling through towards the bottom of this article and look for the section titled, ‘Price Per Pound.’ However, if you’d like to learn a bit then please continue reading.

Know This Before Purchasing

Now before I get into the price per pound information you should first understand the R-410A market and your R-410A air conditioner a bit more. The first point of note is do you have an R-410A system? The only way you can be exactly sure is by looking at the outside section of your air conditioner. There should be a white sticker located somewhere on the machine. This sticker will indicate exactly what kind of refrigerant your split-system is taking. If you are in the United States then the chances are that it will be one of two refrigerants. If the unit was manufactured and installed before 2010 then the chances are high that it takes R-22. However, if the system was manufactured after 2010 then it most likely takes the HFC R-410A. Again, it is always best to check for the sticker to identify exactly what kind of refrigerant you are dealing with.

Purchase Restrictions

If you thought that you could repair and recharge your system yourself then you are mistaken. You see, there was a time when this was possible. I knew quite a few folks who bought their own cans or cylinders of R-410A. They then repair and recharged their system. You could find these 410A cylinders online on Amazon and in a lot of big box stores like Home Depot or Lowes. The problem with this now is that as of January 1st, 2018 you can no longer purchase R-410A unless you are section 608 certified with the Environmental Protection Agency. Purchasing has been locked down to only certified technicians. This new rule is known as the ‘Refrigerant Sales Restriction.’ These restrictions already existed on HCFC and CFC refrigerants but they were now moved over to HFC refrigerants as well. This included R-410A. What this means is that you are no longer legally able to purchase R-410A unless you are 608 certified with the EPA. Now, there are a few slight exceptions to this such as:

  1. Providing the vendor you are buying from with an intent to resale form. What this means is that you state that you will NOT be using this refrigerant yourself but that you intend to resell it to another party. In this case the legal record keeping requirements would be passed onto you. So, if the supplier you bought from gets audited by the EPA their records will then point to you. The EPA will reach out to you and you better hope you either sold the product or are 608 certified!
  2. The other exception is that if you purchase small cans of refrigerant that are under two pounds of refrigerant or less. This works great for automotive applications but can be difficult when trying to recharge your system with only a few pounds of refrigerant at a time. A typical split-system air conditioner may take up to twelve pounds of refrigerant. So, you could technically do this yourself but you would have to find a source for the cans and it still not legal to tamper or tinker on an air conditioning unit if you are certified with the EPA.

If you do not meet the above exceptions and you try to purchase R-410A you will be asked for your 608 license number. If you cannot provide one then you will not be allowed to purchase. This was done to protect the environment. If R-410A is vented or leaked into the atmosphere it contributes to Global Warming. The restriction was put into place to prevent novices from playing around with the refrigerant and accidentally releasing it into the atmosphere.  There was talk at the beginning of 2019 that the Trump Administration would rescind these restrictions but so far there has been no follow-through on this matter. As the law is today you are not able to purchase this refrigerant.

You Are Paying For Expertise

Ok folks, so the information that I am going to give you in our ‘Price Per Pound’ section is very nearly, if not exactly, the cost that your contractor is paying for their R-22 refrigerant. What that means is that you can expect a markup. After all, the technician and the HVAC contractor need to make money as well. This is a specialized trade and requires trained expertise in order to succeed in. Thinking that you can do this yourself is never a good idea as there are a lot of intricacies that need to be accounted for. As an example, let’s go through and ask a few simple questions that a technician would either have to do or consider:

  • Do you know how to flush your system?
  • Do you know what refrigerants can be vented?
  • Do you know what the Superheat and Subcool are for R-22?
  • Are you 608 certified with the EPA to handle HCFC refrigerants?
  • Do you know how to find, let alone fix, a refrigerant leak?

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

Your AC Unit is a Closed System

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

Even before you 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.

R-410A Price Per Pound

Alright folks so we’ve gotten through the precursor of this article. Now we can begin to look at the meat and potatoes. This is the reason you came to this article. Let’s say that for whatever reason your air conditioner is no longer working and your house is getting warmer. You call out a technician for a repair quote. Now in most cases when something goes wrong with your air conditioner the refrigerant will most likely leak out. Say for example one of the lines get a crack in the pipe. The refrigerant is going to leak through that pipe so not only do you have to replace the copper tubing but you also have to recharge your system with refrigerant. This is where it can get expensive. Just how much should you be paying for R-410A per pound?

The answer to this question is actually fairly simple. I will give you the exact cost per pound in just a but, but I also want to provide you with a few tools so that you can begin checking the prices yourself. I’m writing this article towards the end of November. There is no doubt in my mind that the market will change by the time you’re reading this in spring or summer. But, by using these tools you can still get a gauge for the market and an idea of how much you should be paying.

It is actually really simple too. All you have to do is visit sites like Ebay.com or Amazon.com and check the price of R-410A. Amazon may not always have a 410A listing but I can guarantee you that Ebay does. Let’s take a look at Ebay’s prices today. As of November 25th, 2019 I am seeing a price range of one-hundred and nine dollars to one-hundred and forty dollars on a twenty-five pound cylinder of 410A. To determine the price per pound let’s take a middle of the road number between those two prices. Let’s use one-hundred and twenty dollars. Now it’s time for some math:

$120 / 25lb cylinder = $4.80 per pound.

There you have it folks, $4.80 for one pound of R-410A refrigerant. Now, please keep in mind that as I said above these prices can change at any given time. To give you a bit more help I have also included a feed from our Ebay partner below that shows you the current market price of R-410A.

R410a, R410a Refrigerant 25lb tank. New Factory Sealed Lowest on Ebay

$117.00
End Date: Wednesday Apr-29-2020 11:47:36 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $117.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

R410a refrigerant 25LB CYLINDER ***LOWEST PRICE ON EBAY ***NEW FACTORY SEALED!!

$119.00
End Date: Monday Apr-13-2020 7:43:54 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $119.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Ok, so now that we have the cost per pound of R-410A now let’s determine how many pounds that you need to recharge your air conditioner. Now 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, let’s get on with our math problem. Let’s pretend that you have a middle of the road three ton air conditioning unit that is on the fritz with no refrigerant in it. In order to refill your unit entirely you will need the following:

4 pounds of refrigerant * 3 ton unit = 12 pounds of refrigerant needed.

12 pounds of refrigerant times the $4.80 per pound number we came up with earlier = $57.60 for a completely fill up of your unit.

Conclusion

Alright folks, that should about cover it. I’ve gone through everything you should know when refilling your air conditioner as well at what price point to expect. One last thing I wanted to mention before closing this article is that you have to remember that there will be mark-up involved from your technician or HVAC company. The price that I gave you is going to be very close to their cost. So, while you may not get that $4.80 price per pound article it does give you a starting point for negotiations. Remember, that everything in this world is negotiable and if they quote you twenty-five dollars a pound then you do your best to get them down to ten dollars a pound using this article as a point of reference.

Thanks for reading and I hope this article was helpful,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

How Much Does It Cost?

Greetings ladies and gentlemen. It is that time of year again. It’s just a few days before Thanksgiving and here I am sitting in my office having a nice cup of coffee and taking shelter from those thirty degree temperatures outside. As I sip my coffee I have begun to think about the various types refrigerants and what we can expect from each one in 2020. Yes, I’ve always got refrigerant on the mind and today is no different. You see, that is what we do here at RefrigerantHQ. Even during these cold winter months we are planning for the next season. In fact, it’s actually easier to get a lot of writing and preparation done in the winter as the demand is gone and it gives us a little bit of time to rest and gather our thoughts.

While most of our articles are more of a technical nature designed for HVAC technicians, this article is orientated towards homeowners. Over the past four years RefrigerantHQ has published a series of articles right around this time. Each of these articles goes into exactly how much you can expect to pay per pound on a specific refrigerant. Unfortunately, a refrigerant recharge is one of the most overcharged services out there. It is this way due to one simple fact: Homeowners have no idea what a refrigerant’s price per pound is. It is an unknown concept with no real point of reference.

This is where we come in folks. In this article, and the other articles I published today, we will be diving deep into exactly how much each refrigerant is per pound. So, say your air conditioner needs a repair and a refrigerant recharge. Once you know how many pounds you require you can do the math based on the numbers in this article. However, before I get further into this article I do want to give you a warning that I can be rather long winded at times. While this is all good information about your air conditioner and how it works… if you find yourself just wanting to know the price of the refrigerant then you should scroll down to the bottom of the article and look for a section titled, “Price Per Pound.” This is where you will find the pricing details.

 Know This Before You Purchase

Now before I get into the price per pound information you should first understand the R-22 market and your R-22 air conditioner a bit more. The first point of note is do you have an R-22 system? The only way you can be exactly sure is by looking at the outside section of your air conditioner. There should be a white sticker located somewhere on the machine. This sticker will indicate exactly what kind of refrigerant your split-system is taking. If you are in the United States then the chances are that it will be one of two refrigerants. If the unit was manufactured and installed before 2010 then the chances are high that it takes R-22. However, if the system was manufactured after 2010 then it most likely takes the HFC R-410A. Again, it is always best to check for the sticker to identify exactly what kind of refrigerant you are dealing with.

R-22 Phase-Out

You may have noticed from my section above that the year 2010 is significant when it comes to R-22. Well folks, that is because there was a mandatory phase-down implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency that started in 2010. You see, as of January 1st, 2010 no new R-22 machines could be manufactured or imported into the new United States. (This excludes ‘dry systems’ which could be manufactured as long as they didn’t contain R-22.) At the time of this phase-down nearly every home and office air conditioner in the country was using the HCFC R-22. Yes, there were some exceptions here and there… but for the most part the country ran on R-22.

The phase-down was put in place due to the damage that R-22 caused to the Ozone layer. R-22 contained the chemical known as chlorine and when R-22 was leaked or vented into the atmosphere that chlorine made it’s way up to the Stratosphere and eventually into the Ozone. The chlorine would then eat away at the Ozone layer causing damage and the eventual formation of a hole above the arctic. As most of you know, back in the 1980’s a treaty was signed by over one-hundred countries known as the Montreal Protocol. This treaty aimed at phasing out Ozone damaging substances around the globe. The first to go was the refrigerant known as R-12. There were other phase-outs over the years but the last one, which started in 2010, is R-22.

The phase-down from the EPA was a staggered approach. There was a production and import limit installed in 2010 and then there was another one in 2015. The last one, which is coming up here in just a few weeks is January 1st, 2020. When that date hits R-22 will no longer be able to be produced or imported within the United States. The only way to get your hands on R-22 refrigerant from then on is either through stockpiles of refrigerant that distributors bought up on before the phase-out, by using reclaimed R-22, or by using an R-22 alternative product.

R-22 Pricing Variables

Starting in 2010, when the phase-down began, the pricing of R-22 has been anything but consistent. In some cases it can change wildly from month to month. There are a number of reasons for this but there are a few main drivers that cause the price to go haywire. The first is the basic concept of supply and demand. The more supply out there then the less the price will be. The more demand the higher the price. The other reason is speculation. This is a common term when people discuss the price of oil. Speculators drive the price up or drive the price down. These speculators are folks trying to make a profit based on the rising and falling tide of oil prices.

For those not in the industry I like to compare refrigerant pricing to that of oil. You always hear of oil prices changing day to day. You always hear of speculators and supply/demand issues. Refrigerant is the same way. Since the phase-down started in 2010 we have seen R-22 prices go from a high of twenty-five dollars a pound all the way to nine dollars a pound. That twenty-five dollars per pound was the highest price point that I have seen and that occurred in the summer of 2017. The reason this got so high is that everyone was buying as much R-22 as they could in preparation for the upcoming 2020 phase-out. Because everyone had the same idea of buying up early the price continued to rise and rise.

A lot of folks thought that the price would stabilize at that twenty-five dollar mark. Others thought it would go even higher. Many companies bought up thousands or millions of dollars worth of R-22 in anticipation of an even higher price. Well folks, the inverse happened. After the summer season in 2017 the price on R-22 started to drop. And drop it did. Over the past few years R-22 has been the lowest it’s been in years. Throughout the summer of 2019 R-22 was pricing around ten dollars a pound. In some cases, like right now, it’s around nine dollars a pound.

No one knows for sure what will happen to the pricing when January 1st, 2020 arrives but a lot of the articles I have read predict more of the same. That same price of around nine or ten dollars a pound. This is due to the overwhelming amount of stock-piles out there still.

Age of your R-22 Unit

Before you consider repairing your R-22 system you should ask yourself a few questions. The first is exactly how old is your air conditioner? Is it over fifteen years? If so, then it may be time to look at purchasing an entirely new system that uses the newer refrigerant known as HFC R-410A. I say this for a couple of reasons. The first is that most air conditioners last between fifteen to twenty years. Once you hit that fifteen year mark you are also going to start running into repairs. It could be that your compressor goes out, a capacitor is blown, or a whole host of other reasons.

Whatever happened, your air conditioner isn’t cooling and you need a repair. If the price on R-22 is on a higher upswing then you could risk paying a substantial amount just to repair your unit. Remember, that you have to pay for the repair AND the refrigerant as well. So, say your compressor needs replaced. That could be a two to three-hundred dollar repair. Factor in the refrigerant recharge of about twelve pounds of refrigerant at twenty dollars a pound then you’re looking at a repair bill of around five-hundred and forty dollars.

The question that you will have to answer is are you ok with paying that repair bill? Remember, that your unit is older and with each passing season you are going to have more and more repairs come up. The alternative is spending three-thousand or so and get a brand new 410A air conditioner. While this is a big expense upfront it does prevent you from having a future headache of yearly repair bills.

R-22 Alternatives & Reclaim

Continuing on with the above section if you find that the cost to purchase and install a whole new system at your home or office is too expensive then there are some other options available. If the price of R-22 is high during next year’s summer and you’re looking at possible twenty or twenty-five dollars a pound then there are some alternative choices. The first is what’s known as reclaimed refrigerant. Reclaimed refrigerant is R-22 refrigerant that was used in another machine at one point in time. The used refrigerant is extracted from that machine, put in a recovery cylinder, and then sent to an EPA certified reclaimer. The reclaimer removes any impurities or containment from the used refrigerant. When they are complete the refrigerant is clean and able to be used again.

Many technicians frown on the use of reclaimed refrigerants. I’m not exactly sure why this is as these reclaimers have to go through a rigorous inspection process by the EPA. These guys know what they are doing. The only reason I can see for the skepticism is similar to when you take your car to the dealership. The dealership will ask you if you want new or remanufactured parts. Most folks buy new as they’re not comfortable with a remanufactured. I’ve never had a problem with buying reman/reclaim but that decision will have to be up to you. There is savings involved so that could perhaps be your deciding factor.

Along with reclaimed refrigerants there are a number of alternative refrigerants to R-22. At this time I believe there are over one-hundred different alternatives out there from all different companies and manufacturers. Each alternative is different as well. Some of these products may require very little retro-fit to get the alternative refrigerant to work in your R-22 based system. Others will require a complete overhaul on your machine to get it to work with an R-22 alternative.

Alternative refrigerants are cheaper… as long as R-22 is at or above eleven dollars per pound. If it is lower then that, like it is today, then alternatives won’t do you much good. After all, why pay for an alternative product if you can get the real thing at the same price… or even at a cheaper price? However, if you see R-22 prices going up and up again then alternatives are a great choice for those of you who don’t want to purchase a whole new system.

You Are Paying For Expertise

Ok folks, so the information that I am going to give you in our ‘Price Per Pound’ section is very nearly, if not exactly, the cost that your contractor is paying for their R-22 refrigerant. What that means is that you can expect a markup. After all, the technician and the HVAC contractor need to make money as well. This is a specialized trade and requires trained expertise in order to succeed in. Thinking that you can do this yourself is never a good idea as there are a lot of intricacies that need to be accounted for. As an example, let’s go through and ask a few simple questions that a technician would either have to do or consider:

    • Do you know how to flush your system?
    • Do you know what refrigerants can be vented?
    • Do you know what the Superheat and Subcool are for R-22?
    • Are you 608 certified with the EPA to handle HCFC refrigerants?
    • Do you know how to find, let alone fix, a refrigerant leak?

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

Your AC Unit is a Closed System

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

Even before you 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.

R-22 Price Per Pound

Alright folks so we’ve gotten through the precursor of this article. Now we can begin to look at the meat and potatoes. This is the reason you came to this article. Let’s say that for whatever reason your air conditioner is no longer working and your house is getting warmer. You call out a technician for a repair quote. Now in most cases when something goes wrong with your air conditioner the refrigerant will most likely leak out. Say for example one of the lines get a crack in the pipe. The refrigerant is going to leak through that pipe so not only do you have to replace the copper tubing but you also have to recharge your system with refrigerant. This is where it can get expensive. Just how much should you be paying for R-22 per pound?

Now, I could tell you the price today, which I will in a bit, but I will also give you kind of a cheat sheet that I like to use when gauging the R-22 market price. It’s so simple. All I do is just go to Ebay.com and search for R-22 cylinders. By doing this I can see what the going rate is per pound of R-22. As I write this article today I can see that R-22 is priced between three-hundred and seventy-five and four-hundred dollars a cylinder. Now, let’s do some simple math to get your price per pound. Let’s take the higher amount of four-hundred just to be safe.

$400 / 30lbs = $13.33 per pound.

There you have it folks, $13.33 for one pound of R-22 refrigerant. Now, please keep in mind that as I said above these prices can change at any given time. To give you a bit more help I have also included a feed from our Ebay partner below that shows you the current market price of R-22. (You used to be able to purchase on Amazon.com as well, but it has since been removed due to illegal online sales.)

30 lb.New R-22 Virgin Refrigerant FACTORY SEALED FREE SAME DAY SHIPPING by 3pm!

$369.00
End Date: Friday Apr-17-2020 20:00:22 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $369.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

FORANE Refrigerant R22, Virgin NEW FULL 30 lb. Jug Cylinder Factory Sealed, R-22

$150.00 (0 Bids)
End Date: Tuesday Apr-7-2020 14:48:55 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $350.00
Buy It Now | Bid now | Add to watch list

Ok, so now that we have the cost per pound of R-22 now let’s determine how many pounds that you need to recharge your air conditioner. Now 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, let’s get on with our math problem. Let’s pretend that you have a middle of the road three ton air conditioning unit that is on the fritz with no refrigerant in it. In order to refill your unit entirely you will need the following:

4 pounds of refrigerant * 3 ton unit = 12 pounds of refrigerant needed.

12 pounds of refrigerant times the $13.33 per pound number we came up with earlier = $159.96 for a completely fill up of your unit.

Conclusion

Alright folks, that should about cover it. I’ve gone through everything you should know when refilling your air conditioner as well at what price point to expect. One last thing I wanted to mention before closing this article is that you have to remember that there will be mark-up involved from your technician or HVAC company. The price that I gave you is going to be very close to their cost. So, while you may not get that $13.33 price per pound article it does give you a starting point for negotiations. Remember, that everything in this world is negotiable and if they quote you forty-five dollars a pound then you do your best to get them down to twenty-five dollars a pound using this article as a point of reference.

Thanks for reading and I hope this article was helpful,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

R-134a Refrigerant

One of my most visited articles this year was on the topic of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed phase down and eventual phase out of the HFC R-134a. This article is a few years old now and it was referencing the EPA’s SNAP Rule 20 and 21. These rules, which were issued in 2015, stated that R-134a would no longer be acceptable for use in new 2021 model year vehicles.

When I wrote that article everyone was under the impression that this phase out would come to fruition and auto-makers would be forced to switch away from R-134a just as they had done in the 90’s with R-12. There was very little debate on it, it was just the next logical step. However, the winds of politics changed a few years after the EPA announced their new regulations.

In the summer of 2017 a federal court overturned the EPA’s regulations stating that they had overstepped their authority. The argument was that the EPA was using authority granted to them by the Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocol. Both of these refer to Ozone damage done by products that contain chlorine. Since HFCs contain no chlorine and do not harm the Ozone the EPA does not have authority to phase them out. HFCs do harm the environment, just not in the specific way that these documents lay out. It may have been a loophole, but the law is the law.

This was a surprise to a lot of folks and it caught many companies off guard. I know that courts are supposed to be impartial when it comes to politics but I find it an odd coincidence that a short while after Trump is elected we see this significant overturn in government policy. The court’s ruling voided the EPA’s SNAP Rule 20 and 21 regulations including the one on R-134a. So, as of 2017 there is NOT a scheduled phase out date for R-134a. When I initially heard about this ruling I had assumed automakers would take the easy route and continue the status quo with R-134a.

I was wrong. Over the years more and more makes and models are switching their new vehicles away from R-134a and over to the HFO 1234yf. Earlier this year I wrote an article that attempted to gather a listing of ALL manufactured cars and what refrigerant they are using for their 2020 models. This article took quite a bit of time as I had to dig through instruction manuals for each of these vehicles in an effort to determine the refrigerant they used. The article can be found by clicking here.

The results were rather astounding. If you look at the top fifty selling cars within the United States there are only fifteen using R-134a. That is a seventy percent market share and those numbers are growing with each passing year. Over the next few years there is a prediction that up to ninety percent of cars will be using 1234yf. There are a few reasons for this but in my opinion one of the biggest is that the European Union and other countries have already begun phasing out R-134a. The EU is using R-1234yf and R-744 in their newer vehicles. Perhaps, in an effort of engineering simplification these auto-makers have decided to bite the bullet and switch to 1234yf.

The other major reason for this is pressure from state and environmental groups. While the Federal Government doesn’t have a phase out plan for R-134a there are many states that do. These states makeup what’s known as the Climate Alliance. While not all of these states have announced an HFC phase out plan a good portion of them have. Some of the largest are California, New York, and Washington State. These states can have enormous sway with auto-makers. Just imagine if Ford could no longer sell their trucks in California or New York. That would be a huge impact. Why not make ALL of their vehicles compatible and just use 1234yf?

Conclusion

So, instead of the phase out that occurred with R-12 we have seen a phase out occur due to attrition. Over time the amount of cars using R-134a is going to shrink and shrink. Yes, it may take another ten years or so to get most of the R-134a vehicles off the streets but, in essence, the phase out has already begun. With all of the twists and turns the R-134a phase out has had it is somewhat ironic that we may hit the ninety percent 1234yf usage by the year 2021. While we may have not met the EPA’s goal entirely we are going to be darn close.

Before I close this article I did want to bring up one additional point. This is a question that I’ve had in the back of my mind when it comes to 1234yf. You see, I work in the heavy duty trucking industry. Think over-the-road trucks, dump trucks, water trucks, etc. Through all of this talk on phasing out R-134a for automotive vehicles I have seen very little, or in some cases nothing, when it comes to R-134a usage in truck classes six, seven, and eight.

I have seen the amount of R-134a a single truck dealership can go through in a year. The numbers can be staggering. The question I have is when will these truck OEMs begin to seriously look at 1234yf? Has Kenworth or Freightliner already begun looking? The only news stories I could find on it are three or more years old and reference the original EPA rule as gospel. If we’re going to phase out R-134a in automotive we have to phase it out in heavy-duty as well.

I wonder, when will these OEM behemoths make the move?

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

MIDEA MAD50C1ZWS, MAD50C1YWS, & MAD20C1ZWS Dehumidifier

Adding a dehumidifier to your home can solve a host of problems. It could be that you’ve noticed a damp or musty smell every time that you walk into your basement. Perhaps you have even seen some water droplets collecting on your basement windows, or worse yet, standing water on your basement floor. Or, in a less drastic scenario, maybe you have someone in your home who suffers with allergies or asthma. A house with too much humidity creates a breeding ground for dust mites, fungus, and mold. If left unchecked mold can begin to grow throughout your home including on your walls, floors, blankets, and even on your clothes. This mold, along with other allergens, can wreak havoc on someone who suffers with asthma.

Running a dehumidifier in your home can fix a lot of these issues. You see the best humidity for us is somewhere between forty to sixty percent. If you go to far under that forty percent number then you will end up with dry and cracking skin. On top of that, your house will become so dry that your lungs and respiratory tract will begin to dry out. This can lead to more susceptibility to sickness. On the inverse, when humidity is higher then sixty percent, then we run into the allergen problems we mentioned above.

Installing a dehumidifier will allow you to customize the humidity level within your room, basement, or home. Find what’s most comfortable for your and get cracking! The question now though is what dehumidifier should you purchase? There are so many choices nowadays it can be a bit overwhelming. In this article we are going to take an in-depth look at one of those choices. Today we are going to review the thirty, fifty, and seventy pint dehumidifier models from Midea. Are these the right ones for you? Let’s find out!

Sizing

First thing’s first folks. Before you purchase a dehumidifier you have to understand what size of product that you need. The main thing to understand is that you CAN get a dehumidifier that is too small for your home but you can NOT get a dehumidifier that is too large. This is different then say an air conditioner. With an air conditioner you need to get the sizing rather exact for the room or home you’re trying to cool. With a dehumidifier the rule of thumb is bigger is better, but you also want to be price conscious as well.

MIDEA MAD50C1ZWS, MAD50C1YWS, & MAD20C1ZWS Dehumidifier

  • MAD20C1ZWS – This is the thirty pint model. In other words, it can remove up to thirty pints of water within a twenty-four hour period. This is the smallest size and while it will work for a moderately damp area you will get better results if you move to the fifty pint. (If your area is a thousand square feet or under you can get away with the thirty pint without an issue.) This unit also works great for a small room or bathroom that you are looking to dehumidify.
  • MAD50C1YWS – This is the fifty pint model. In most cases this is going to cover your needs. Even if you have some moisture beading on your walls. This will dehumidify up to fifteen-hundred square feet as long as you don’t have actual standing water in your home. Again, this is great for your basement or large open area within your home or office.
  • MAD50C1ZWS – This is the seventy pint model. This is the biggest size of this model range and will be more then big enough to handle a two-thousand square feet area with standing water. Most folks recommend going a size larger then what you need when it comes to dehumidifiers. Your machine won’t work as hard and will last longer.

I typically recommend that my readers purchase the larger size and I am going to do the same here… except more so. You see this dehumidifier’s price is quite a bit cheaper then other competing products. That means that a seventy pint with this model is going to be about the same price as a fifty pint of a different model. So, while you’re spending by getting a seventy pint you are also getting more then you normally would through other models out there. I hope that makes sense! 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.

Product Features

We are now ready for the ‘meat and potatoes’ of my review. In this section we are going to take a look at all of the various features that comes with these three dehumidifiers. Before I get started you should know that most of these features are pretty standard on other dehumidifiers. I did not see anything unique that stuck out to me on these units, but the main selling area is the price point. It is significantly cheaper then other models out there.

All three of these units come with a digitally displayed humidity level. An image of this control panel, with the humidity display, is shown further on in this article. These controls will allow you to adjust the humidity in the room to your liking. It can range from thirty-five percent to eighty-five percent. The product can work within temperatures ranging from forty-one to ninety-five degrees.

A 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.

The next major feature to mention here is the water tank. All dehumidifiers come with a water tank… after all that water has to go somewhere, right? The thirty pint model comes with a 0.8 gallon water tank and the fifty or seventy pint model comes with a 1.6 gallon tank. If the tank is full of water then an indicator will flash on the control panel and the dehumidifier will shut-off to prevent any water from overflowing out of the machine and onto your floor. If the prospect of having to empty a bucket again and again doesn’t sound like too much fun there is also a drainage connector that will allow you to screw in a normal garden hose. This hose can then be routed to a nearby drain. This is the best feature if you want to set it and forget it as the dehumidifier will continue to run and drain the water as it goes. It should be noted though that this feature is gravity fed. So, you cannot drain to a sink or other place that is HIGHER then the dehumidifier. Most folks end up using the same drain that their central air conditioner uses in their basement.

These next features are smaller then the previously mentioned ones but they are still worth bringing to light. The first is that the fan on this dehumidifier has two settings. There is a low and a high setting. On the actual control panel you will see the high setting labeled as ‘Turbo.’ This is the same as high. When ‘Turbo’ is on the fan is set to high and when it is off the fan is set to low. Along with the fan settings these models also come with a timer feature. The timer can be set to so that the appliance will run up until the hour limit you determine has been reached. This range goes from zero up to twenty-four hours.

Also on the control panel is a reminder to clean the air filter on this dehumidifier. After so many hours the indicator will light up informing you that it needs to be cleaned. The filter can be easily removed by pulling outwards from the machine. Washing the filter is as easy as running clean water through it and then letting it dry. It is important to note that you should not run the dehumidifier without the filter in it.

The last few features are rather basic. There is a continuous operation option that allows for the dehumidifier to constantly be running. If you experience a power loss in your home the appliance has an auto-restart function. So, when your power comes back on the dehumidifier will start right back up where it left off. This is nice as it’s one less thing you have to remember to reset during a power outage. Lastly, these models come with four wheels to make transport easy. The product itself is rather light as it only comes in at around forty pounds so if you wanted to pick it up and carry it up or down stairs you shouldn’t have a problem.

Pros

First, I have to mention the price point on this product. I know I’ve already said this before but this product is aggressively priced when compared to other models. If you are looking to save a bit of money and not worried about having extra features then I would pick this product! The next pro is 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 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.

The next Pro is the overall sound of this appliance. This dehumidifier has a decibel rating of forty-nine.  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.MIDEA MAD50C1ZWS, MAD50C1YWS, & MAD20C1ZWS Dehumidifier2

Cons

During my research on these products I found two complaints. The first one was that the timer feature stopped working after a few months of use. While this isn’t a huge deal, it is a major feature that a lot of folks enjoy using. I could definitely see myself running the unit at night with a timer shut-off in the morning, but if the timer isn’t working then that obviously won’t happen. This other con that I saw a couple times was that the dehumidifier gets confused as to how full the bucket is. The bucket may only be twenty or thirty percent full but it thinks it has a full bucket so the unit shuts-off and will not start until it sees the bucket as empty. There are a couple choices here if this happens to you. You could either play around with it and see if you get it to read the bucket correctly. You could set up a hose for continuous drainage so you don’t have to use the bucket, or you could contact the manufacturer and file a warranty claim.

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.

Conclusion

Alright folks, we’ve gone over every possible thing that I can think of when it comes to these dehumidifiers. We’ve reviewed all of the features, the Pros, the Cons, and everything in between. Is this the right unit for you? Well, that depends. Are you more of a price conscious consumer and not as worried about various features and options? If so, then this unit is for you. It will get the job done as well as save you some money versus some of the other models. If you’d like to purchase this product please click here to be taken to our Amazon partner’s product page.

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. We go into sizing requirements, what features to look for, and many other topics.

Thanks for reading and I hope this review was helpful,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

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