R-404A

Price Alert

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

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

The Changes

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Future

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Pricing Prediction

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

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

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

Considerations

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

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

Repeal of EPA’s SNAP Rule 20

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

Flurospar Shortage

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

Chinese Refrigerant Imports

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

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

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

Trump & His Tariffs

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

Prediction

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Owner

How Much Does It Cost?

The term Freon is used all over the country to describe the refrigerant that is used in their home, commercial, or vehicle air conditioner. Even though it is used by man the term Freon is actually antiquated and is very rarely used within the HVAC industry. Chances are your air conditioner that you are using right now doesn’t contain Freon.

In fact, the word Freon is actually a brand name from the DuPont, now Chemours, refrigerant company. Yes, that’s right. Freon is just like Coca-Cola or Pepsi. Freon is a brand of refrigerant. There are many brands of refrigerant out there today but the reason we associate Freon with everyone is that Freon was the first mainstream refrigerant that can be traced all the way back to the 1930’s. At that time DuPont and General Motors teamed up together to form R-12 and R-22 refrigerants. These new refrigerants were the first mass produced and widely used refrigerant and air conditioning technologies in the world. DuPont branded these new refrigerants under their trademarked brand name, ‘Freon.’ The Freon refrigerants exploded in popularity and just a few decades later they could be found in nearly every home and office across the country.

All of this changed in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s when a team of scientists discovered that these Freon refrigerants contained Chlorine and Chlorine was leaking into the atmosphere and damaging the Ozone layer. Realizing this, hundreds of countries signed what’s known as the Montreal Protocol. This protocol phased out CFC and HCFC refrigerants across the globe. Included in these phased out refrigerants were DuPont’s ever popular ‘Freon’ brand name.

So, What Kind of Refrigerant Do I Need?

Ok, so the old Freon refrigerants are nearly gone nowadays. Yes, there are still some R-22 units out there and some people still need them but R-22 machines were phased out in 2010 so that means at their youngest an R-22 unit is already nine years old. They are quickly approaching the end of their life. The term Freon will be going away with it. So, now the question is what kind of refrigerant do you need? Let’s take a look:

Automotive Application – Nowadays nearly every vehicle is using R-134a refrigerant for their vehicles. In recent years a new refrigerant known as HFO-1234yf is being used on newer models. If you car is a few years old you will need to check if it takes 1234yf or not. Otherwise you are fairly safe to assume that your car is taking R-134a.

Home or Commercial Air Conditioner – These ones can be a little tricky. Depending on when you got your unit you most likely either have an R-22 unit or a R-410A unit. As I said before R-22 was phased out in 2010 for new units. R-410A has been around since 2010 but it’s popularity didn’t really take off until the 2010 deadline hit for R-22.

Refrigerators and Freezers (Home and Commercial) – The go to refrigerant for these applications has been R-404A. There are some other alternatives out there such as CO2 (R-744), R-502, and some other new HFO refrigerants coming out soon.

Conclusion

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

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

Thanks for reading and visiting my site,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

How Much Does It Cost?

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

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

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

So, What Kind of Refrigerant Do I Need?

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

Let’s dive in and take a look:

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

Conclusion

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

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

Thanks for reading and visiting my site,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

How Much Does It Cost?

Hello folks, and welcome to RefrigerantHQ. As I write this article in early November the cold has just now set in. We even have some snow expected in a few days over here in Kansas City. Right now I am watching this cold day from my living room window. I can see the leaves blow by while I sip on my coffee. While I stare out my window I can’t help but think about refrigerant. Yes, you heard me right. Over here at RefrigerantHQ we always have refrigerant on the mind and today with this no article is no different.

Over the past few years here at RefrigerantHQ we have taken the time to write what’s known as our ‘Price Per Pound’ articles. These articles break down the cost of refrigerant so any laymen can understand it. It takes away that hidden cost and brings it out into the light. The goal of these articles is to arm the homeowner or business owner with enough knowledge so that when they receive a quote for R-404A they know where the price should be. This prevents people from being gouged and overcharged, especially during the dead heat of summer.

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

Know This Before Purchasing

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

You Are Paying For Expertise

Ok folks, so the information that I am going to give you in our ‘Price Per Pound’ section is very nearly, if not exactly, the cost that your contractor is paying for their R-404A 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 ideas 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-404A?
  • Are you 608 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 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.

Purchase Restrictions

Up until last year there were a lot of homeowners and business owners who were purchasing their own R-404A refrigerant cylinders. They would do this either through big box stores or through online outlets like Amazon or Ebay. This all changed on January 1st, 2018. On that day the Environmental Protection Agency enforced a new rule known as ‘Refrigerant Restrictions.’ These restrictions already existed on HCFC and CFC refrigerants but they were now moved over to HFC refrigerants as well. This included R-404A. What this means is that you are no longer legally able to purchase R-404A 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.
  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.

If you do not meet the above exceptions and you try to purchase R-404A you will be asked for your 608 license number. If you cannot provide one then you will not be allowed to purchase. For more on the Refrigerant Sales Restriction click here to be taken to the Environmental Protection Agency’s official website.

R-410A Price Per Pound

Alright folks, now that we have that out of the way let’s dive in and find the true price per pound of R-404A refrigerant. Let me paint a picture for you. Let’s say your air conditioner/refrigerator/freezer is no longer working due to an unknown failure. When the technician comes out he identifies the problem and quotes you for the repair. The problem though is that the failure of your air conditioner caused all of your refrigerant to leak out. Now on top of your part replacement you also need to pay for a full refrigerant recharge.

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-404A market price. It’s so simple. All I do is just go to Ebay.com and search for R-404A cylinders.  By doing this I can see what the going rate is per pound of R-404A. As I write this article today I can see that R-404A is priced between one-hundred and forty to one-hundred and sixty dollars for a twenty-four pound cylinder. Now, let’s do some simple math to get your price per pound. Let’s take the higher amount of one-hundred and sixty dollars just to be safe.

$160 / 24lb cylinder = $6.67 per pound.

There you have it folks, $6.67 for one pound of R-404A 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-404A:

R-404A - 404a - R404- R404a - Refrigerant 24 LB Cylinder - MADE IN USA

$148.99
End Date: Thursday Feb-14-2019 10:42:46 PST
Buy It Now for only: $148.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

24 lb. cylinder R404A R-404A Refrigerant Freon New / Factory Sealed

$149.00
End Date: Tuesday Jan-22-2019 8:20:14 PST
Buy It Now for only: $149.00
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Conclusion

There you have it folks, that is the true cost per pound of R-404A refrigerant. I have said it already in the beginning of this article but I want to emphasize again that you may not pay the price we mentioned above due to your contractor’s markup. They deserve to make money as well and they deserve to be paid for their expertise. Just keep this article in the back of your mind so that when you do receive a quote you can ensure that you are receiving an accurate and fair price.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Yes and No

Most of you are familiar with what’s known as the Refrigerant Sales Restriction. This restriction comes directly from the Environmental Protection Agency and aims at preventing novices and do-it-yourselfers from purchasing and handling refrigerant. By preventing these laymen from handling refrigerants we in theory shrink the amount of refrigerant that is leaked into the atmosphere.

This restriction was especially critical in the beginning stages of phasing out CFCs and HCFCs refrigerants such as R-12, R-22, and R-502 in the 1990’s and 2000’s. These refrigerants contained chlorine and chlorine was directly attributed to the damaging and thinning of the Ozone layer. Each time one of these refrigerants was vented into the atmosphere rather intentionally or by mistake damage was done. By imposing the sales restriction, imposing a host of other regulations like leak requirements, and by slowly phasing down chlorine refrigerants the Ozone was allowed time to repair.

HFC Restrictions

In the summer of 2015 the Environmental Protection Agency came out with a new set of rules from their Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP). This new rule, deemed Rule 20, was aimed at phasing down the popular HFC refrigerants across the United States. Along with this new rule it was announced towards the beginning of 2017 that the EPA’s Refrigerant Sales Restriction would be carried over to HFC refrigerants as well.

You see, in the past you couldn’t buy CFC and HCFC refrigerants without a 608/609 license but you could still purchase HFCs. They didn’t require a license. That meant I could have walked into an Autozone and picked up a cylinder of R-134a without any licensing required. Well, all that changed this year folks on January 1st, 2018. That is when the new purchase restrictions went into place by the EPA. This move was expected by many in the industry and not a lot of folks were shocked by it.

What did surprise us though was a court’s ruling in August of 2017. When the EPA introduced their SNAP Rule 20 there were two companies, Mexichem and Arkema, that filed a lawsuit stating the EPA had overstepped it’s legal bounds. I won’t get into all of the details in this article, but the short version is that Arkema and Mexichem won the suit and the EPA’s Rule 20 was tossed out. There were appeals. There was even one to the Supreme Court, but none of them worked out.

Earlier this year the EPA announced that they were withdrawing their Rule 20 regulations and that they were looking into forming a new rule. Along with that it was announced by the EPA that they were rescinding their HFC leak regulations. Lastly, it was announced that the EPA was considering removing the sales restrictions on HFC refrigerants. There is nothing official here on if this will happen or not, but the EPA is definitely considering it.

Restrictions: Yes or No?

The HFC sales restriction may only last for the 2018 year and then may fade away. The question though is, is this good or bad? What repercussions will there be?

About five years ago I had a small side business that sold individual or multiple refrigerant cylinders online through stores like Amazon or Ebay. It was mostly R-410A and R-134a cylinders shipped to individuals across the country. There wasn’t a lot of money in it, but it gave me that entrepreneurial experience. Before the HFC restriction was in place there were dozens of places for individuals to purchase refrigerant cylinders. You could walk into a Sam’s Club and purchase a few cylinders of R-134a. There were online shops, dealerships, and retailers all selling refrigerant.

While this made things easy for consumers it also made it very easy for people who did not know what they are doing to get a hold of large quantities of refrigerant. If they made a mistake, which they would, then that large thirty pound cylinder of refrigerant would get vented into the atmosphere. And while HFCs do not damage the Ozone they are a Green House Gas and they do contribute to Global Warming.

So, by creating a sales restriction we can limit the amount of refrigerant that is vented and help reduce potential Global Warming problems but we also have the side effect of hindering business and do-it-yourselfers from working on their own equipment.

Conclusion

If I was to wager on what will happen I would bet that the restriction will go away soon. The current EPA and Presidential Administration has been very against nearly everything the EPA has done over the past few years and this appears to be no different. If the restriction is removed we will see the availability to purchase refrigerant online and through retailers come back and we will also see a slight increase on refrigerant price due to the flood of all of the do-it-yourselfers purchasing again.

What do you think the best outcome is?

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

The blows to a national HFC phase down plan just keep coming. It was announced today that the Supreme Court would NOT be reviewing the HFC Refrigerant court case. This appeal to the Supreme Court was the last resort to those companies and organizations who wished to see the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2015 SNAP Rule 20 stay in affect. This 2015 rule specifically targeted HFC refrigerants and put forth a plan of action to phase down and eventually phase out these Global Warming refrigerants. The original rule can be found by clicking here.

Upon the announcement of the EPA’s new rules two companies, Mexichem & Arkema, sued stating that the EPA had overstepped it’s authority. Mexichem & Arkema’s motivations for this lawsuit were strictly a stalling tactic while they came up with their own HFC alternatives, but the case still went to court nonetheless. In August of 2017 the Federal Circuit Court ruled against the Environmental Protection Agency stating that the EPA had overstepped it’s authority. As a reference, the foundation of the EPA’s Rule 20 referenced Chapter VI, 6, of the Clean Air Act. The title of this chapter is called, ‘Stratospheric Ozone Protection’ Herein lies the problem. This section of the Clean Air Act, and frankly the Montreal Protocol, focused on Ozone depleting refrigerants such as CFCs and HCFCs. These refrigerants contained Chlorine and the Chlorine is what damaged the Ozone. Without the Chlorine we have no damage to the Ozone. HFC refrigerants do not contain Chlorine and thusly cannot be phased down or out using a piece of legislation that is strictly focused on Ozone depleting substances. HFCs DO contribute go Global Warming though and are considered a Greenhouse Gas. Two very different and distinct problems.

The Federal judge who made this ruling was Brett Kavanaugh. (Some of you may have heard of this name before!) Everyone had expected the court to rule with the EPA so when this ruling came out the industry was taken aback. No one really knew what to do with the news. It only took a few weeks for an appeal to be filed by Honeywell, Chemours, and other organizations. Their appeal argued that the SNAP Rule 20 was ‘well founded,’ and that the Federal Court’s ruling was going against the foundation of the EPA’s SNAP program. Their second argument is just funny in my book. Honeywell and Chemours argued that they had already invested too much money into their new HFO refrigerants and that that was reason enough to rule in their favor.

Despite their best efforts, the appeal did not grant them any traction and the appeal was lost in early 2018. A few months later in the summer of 2018 Honeywell, Chemours, and the NRDC (National Resource Defense Council) petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the HFC refrigerant case. The decision on that potential hearing was announced today. Much to the disappointment of many within the industry, the Supreme Court will NOT be hearing this case.

Now, I love a good irony. I don’t care what your politics are, life is funny sometimes. The Judge who started all of this back in 2017 was Brett Kavanaugh. He was the one who made the initial ruling. And now, here we are over a year later, and the case ends up in the Supreme Court where Mr. Kavanaugh was just sworn into last week. I didn’t see that coming this time last year, that’s for sure. The good news is this that Mr. Kavanaugh had no part in the Supreme Court’s decision today. If this would have come up later this year chances are he would have recused himself from the case. This is normal tradition for Supreme Court Justices who have a case that they previously worked in a lower court come to them in the high court.

Something worth noting here is that the Supreme Court was asked to not review this HFC case by the Trump Administration. This is because of the new HFC rule that is being worked on by the Environmental Protection Agency. There aren’t any details yet on what the new EPA HFC refrigerant policy will be. Will it be close to what we had in 2015? Or, will it be gutted and we will be left with no actionable plan to phase down HFCs? Only time will tell here. I for one am anxious to see what the new rules will look like.

States to the Rescue

Don’t worry folks, there’s good news too! A lot of you may have already heard about this or read some of my articles from last month, but recently there has been a big push for individual States to come up with their own plans to phase down HFC refrigerants. This all started in California and as they began to adopt and pass their laws and regulations we began to see other States pick up the torch. In September we had New York announce that they would be enacting phase down plans and in that same month we had Maryland and Connecticut announce their intentions as well.

All of these states are part of what’s known as the ‘United States Climate Alliance.’ This alliance is a gathering of States that formed after the Trump Administration pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord last year. There are seventeen States in this alliance and so far four have already announced HFC phase down plans. It is only a matter of time before we see others move forward with their own plans.

If this trend continues we may not even need a formal Federal HFC policy. Instead, we’ll rely on the States to make the right decision and like a snowball going downhill it will pick up speed and size until the whole of the country is on board. Those left behind will be forced to comply due to attrition.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Well folks it has been a hell of a few weeks in the refrigerant industry. The past few months have been rather quiet and then we get all of this news all at once. It always amazes me how fast this stuff can happen.

Just a few days ago the Environmental Protection Agency announced that they would be removing their rule that went in place back in September of 2016. (The official EPA Fact Sheet on this rule can be found by clicking here.) This rule applied Section 608 CFC/HCFC leak controls and regulations to appliances using HFC refrigerants that contained over fifty pounds of refrigerant. Basically, it passed on the same regulations that we had on CFC/HCFC refrigerants over to HFCs.

The EPA’s reason for overturning these regulations is that the EPA exceeded its own authority by issuing these laws back in 2016. Their reasoning is that these laws and regulations were all meant for CFC and HCFC refrigerants. They centered on the Ozone and the Chlorine in the refrigerants. HFCs do not contain Chlorine and thusly do not damage the Ozone layer. Instead, they are Greenhouse Gases and contribute to Global Warming. Both are bad for the Climate, but both are distinct separate issues. I do tend to agree with this as the law was bent to accommodate HFCs. Along with that the EPA also announced that they plan to save over forty-million dollars in regulation expenses enforcing these laws.

Before the law goes into effect it will be published in the Federal Register and then there will be a forty-five day comment period. The EPA will also be hosting a public forum fifteen days before the rule goes into effect. This will be held at Washington, DC and you can register by visiting the EPA’s site. Now, instead of rehashing what the EPA wrote I am going to take an excerpt from their site that way there is no confusion.

If finalized as proposed, this action would rescind the leak repair and maintenance requirements at 40 CFR 82.157 for substitute refrigerants. Therefore, appliances with 50 or more pounds of substitute refrigerants would not be subject to the following requirements:

  • conduct leak rate calculations when refrigerant is added to an appliance,
  • repair an appliance that leaks above a threshold leak rate,
  • conduct verification tests on repairs,
  • conduct periodic leak inspections on appliances that exceed the threshold leak rate,
  • report to EPA on chronically leaking appliances,
  • retrofit or retire appliances that are not repaired, and
  • maintain related records.” – SOURCE

Additional Changes Coming

But wait, there’s more! The EPA’s above proposal to remove the requirements on HFC appliances also comes with the option for public comment on removing additional leak requirements on different applications. Again, this is from the EPA website:

“EPA is also requesting comment on rescinding other provisions that were extended to substitute refrigerants, including the following:

  • anyone purchasing refrigerant for use in an appliance or handling refrigerants (e.g., air-conditioning and refrigeration service contractors and technicians) must be a Section 608-certified technician,
  • anyone removing refrigerant from a refrigeration or air-conditioning appliance must evacuate refrigerant to certain level using certified refrigerant recovery equipment before servicing or disposing of the appliance,
  • the final disposer (e.g., scrap recycler, landfill) of small appliances, like refrigerators and window air conditioners, must ensure and document that refrigerant is recovered before final disposal, and
  • all used refrigerant must be reclaimed to industry purity standards before it can be sold to another appliance owner.”

Did you get all that? There were some big ones in there. One in particular that I noticed was the removing of 608 certification in order to purchase HFC refrigerants. This law has only been effect since January of this year. That would be a BIG deal if that was removed as we then open the flood gates for all of the laymen and novices to purchase refrigerant again. This could also create a rise in pricing if enough people who are unregistered purchase.

Along with that we get that appliances don’t have to have their refrigerant evacuated before being brought to the dump. That’s not the scariest one though, what scares me is that last point. If it gets rescinded we are then removing the purity standards from reclaimed refrigerants. There are already so many people who are against purchasing or using reclaimed refrigerants and removing this provision is going to seriously hurt the reclamation industry’s reputation.

Conclusion

These are very confusing times. We have the various States in the Climate Alliances proposing and enacting their own HFC refrigerant laws and regulations and then we have the Federal Government and the Environmental Protection Agency removing previous laws.

As time goes on we’re going to have additional States join the phasedown and I have a feeling this new announcement from the EPA is only going to fuel the desire for the States to take matters into their own hands.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

United States Climate Alliance

After the past few weeks of various States announcing their plans to phase out HFC refrigerants and the expectation of more States to follow it got me thinking about how these changes will end up affecting the pricing of HFC refrigerants across the country. The worse thing that can happen is for us to fall into the trap that the European Union finds itself in. Over there the prices on various HFC refrigerants have gone up hundreds of percent. These huge rises in price have caused many basic refrigerants to be out of reach for consumers and contractors.

The high prices in Europe has also caused a rash of crime on refrigerants. The crimes vary from illegal smuggling, to using disposable containers, to selling refrigerant online without proper documentation, and to mass theft from warehouses. Each one of these crimes have occurred due to the high profit and reward due to the inflated prices.

The good news here folks is that with these State by State phase downs here in the US the chances of prices sky-rocketing here are reduced significantly. The problem that occurred in Europe was that there were mandatory production and import regulations put in place.

These regulations restricted the flow of refrigerant and caused the supply to shrink all the while keeping around the same demand. I understand the intention of these restrictions, but they have caused a lot of pain to end users and contractors. Most regulators in Europe have just told people to tough through it. After a few years of hardship most of the HFC applications will be replaced by HFOs or Natural Refrigerants.

The US Market

The United States did something similar when it came to popular HCFCs like R-22. With R-22 there was a staggered phase down over a ten year period. The restrictions began in 2010 and are coming to a head in 2020. (In 2020 no import or production can occur on R-22, the only exception is reclaimed R-22.)

As can be expected, we saw similar price hikes on R-22 due to these regulations. At it’s peak last year we were seeing prices for a thirty pound cylinder at around seven-hundred dollars. Today’s price is much lower at only around three-hundred dollars a cylinder, but it is still quite high when comparing to it’s HFC counterpart, R-410A, that comes in at only around one-hundred dollars.

With these State by State laws there is not mention of production or import caps. (Not that I have seen anyways.) Instead, these laws focus on the applications that these HFC refrigerants use. To me, this seems to be the smarter way to go about it. By targeting the applications and mandating the converting of new systems over to a more climate friendly refrigerant we will win the war on HFCs simply by attrition. After a certain amount of time has passed the demand for HFCs will shrink and shrink until they eventually disappear and are fully replaced by alternative refrigerants. All of this would be done without restricting the flow of refrigerants into the country/state.

Conclusion

This my friends, seems to be the way to do it. We are not hamstringing ourselves by restricting supply and causing prices to skyrocket. No, instead we wage our war against the new machines out there and reward those who want to retrofit their old systems. Basically, this all boils down to the carrot versus the stick. Do we want to give our contractors and manufacturers incentives and mandates on new systems, or do we want to just cut-off the supply entirely and let everyone scramble to figure it out?

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

United States Climate Alliance

Last week I wrote about New York announcing their plans to phase down HFC refrigerants over the coming years. This announcement came shortly after California finalized their HFC phase down law at the end of last month. Shortly after I wrote that article two more States announced that they would be phasing down HFC refrigerants as well: Connecticut and Maryland.

Like the other previous States, Connecticut announced that their new regulations would be modeled off of the previous EPA’s SNAP rules from 2015. Remember now, that these EPA SNAP rules were overturned in the courts last year and it was announced earlier this year that the regulations would no longer be enforced by the EPA. While now defunct, these previous EPA rules seem to be the standard bearer for future States and their HFC regulations.

While Maryland has not come out with a formal plan yet they have stated that their intentions are to have regulations similar to that of California. The details of their plan are expected to be hammered out soon.

What Comes Next?

Last week was a busy week when it comes to HFC refrigernat news. We had three additional States come out in favor of phasing down HFCs. The question now on everyone’s mind is who will be next and how many more will come forward with their own plan?

The answer to this may be found by looking at what’s called the United States Climate Alliance. This alliance is a gathering of States and Territories that aim to uphold the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. For those of you who do not remember, this was the agreement that the Trump Administration pulled the United States out of in the summer of last year.

Once this pull out was announced this alliance was formed on June 1st, 2017 in an effort to honor the goals of the agreement the best that they could. While there are only seventeen States involved in this agreement the size of these States is something to be considered. Over forty percent of the United States population resides in these States and over forty-five percent of the Gross Domestic Product of the US comes from these States.

So far, four out of these seventeen States have announced their intentions to phase down HFC refrigerants. (Three of these in just one week.) Has the snowball started to roll down hill? Will we be seeing the other States in this grouping announcing their own plans shortly?

States in the alliance are:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Puerto Rico
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington

Conclusion

As more states make their announcements, we will begin to phase out HFCs by default. If we think about it for a moment, if just under half of the country’s population are living in HFC phase down States then it wouldn’t make sense for companies to continue using HFCs in newer applications. Why make two different models for different States if we can just make the switch and have one model in both States?

Tying directly into this, the CoolingPost.com reported yesterday that major HVAC and Refrigerant manufacturers have announced their support for California’s HFC phase down law. I won’t list everyone of these companies, but just a few of them are: AHRI, Goodman, Carrier, Lennox, Chemours, and Honeywell. These are the big players in the industry and if they are in favor then we are inevitably going to see the end of HFC refrigerants here in the United States, maybe even close to the same timeline that everyone was planning on based off of the EPA’s regulations from 2015.

It’s funny how all this worked out. I’m a big fan of States’ Rights so this couldn’t have gone better in my opinion. We removed the Federal regulations and had the States do their own laws to FORCE the industry to change on it’s own.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources:

 

What Is It?

HFCs, or HydroFluroCarbons, are a commonly used refrigerant classification used across the globe. Some of the most common HFC refrigerants that you may have heard of are R-134a, R-404A, R-410A, R-125, and R-32. These refrigerants are used in a variety of applications from automotive, to home air conditioners, all the way to industrial refrigeration. In recent years there has been a push to phase out HFC refrigerants due to their impact on the environment, but I’ll get into that a bit later into this article.

HFC refrigerants first started becoming popular and widespread in the early 1990’s. This came about due to the implementation of the Montreal Protocol. The Montreal Protocol was a treaty that organized and targeted the phase out of Ozone damaging refrigerants like CFCs and HCFCs. These Ozone depleting refrigerant such as R-12 and R-22 were the go to refrigerants for decades and were used all over the globe. It was in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s that scientists discovered these refrigerants were releasing Chlorine into the atmosphere when they were vented or leaked. This leaked Chlorine couldn’t break down in the atmosphere and ended up eating away at the Ozone layer. The more Chlorine that was released the faster the damage occurred.

R-134a Refrigerant
R-134a Refrigerant

There was an immediate push from various countries to phase out CFC and HCFC refrigerants. The first target was R-12 in the early 1990’s. R-12 was majorly found in car air conditioners and it was replaced by the HFC refrigerant known as R-134a. Not too many years afterward R-404A began to see popularity after replacing R-502 and recently in 2010 R-22 was phased down and intended to be replaced by the HFC R-410A.

We have been chugging away with HFCs for the past few decades and the Ozone has nearly healed from the earlier damage. But now, we have a different problem when it comes to these new refrigerants. While HFCs do not contain Chlorine they do have a very high Global Warming Potential, or GWP. GWP is a measurement that is used to measure the impact a Greenhouse Gas has on the climate and environment. The higher the number the more harmful the substance is to the climate. As a zero base for the scale R-744 or Carbon Dioxide was used. R-744 has a GWP of one. Whereas, R-134a has a GWP of one-thousand three-hundred and forty-four. Think about that difference for a moment folks and let the impact sink in.

The HFC Phase Downs

While HFCs saved the Ozone layer we now understand that they are not a sustainable alternative refrigerant due to their high GWP. The push is on now to begin phasing down or completely phasing out HFC refrigerants for lower GWP/Non Ozone depleting alternatives. Depending on where you are in the world you may have already seen the ramifications of these phase downs.

The European Union phased out R-134a on new automobiles back in 2015 and are now actively working on phasing out R-404A as well as R-410A. Their replacements have either been lower GWP HFC refrigerants such as R-32, natural refrigerants such as R-290 or R-744, or the new classification of refrigerants known as HydroFluroOlefins or HFOs. While there is not a perfect alternative yet to HFCs many companies and countries are working towards multiple alternatives. Also, in the fall of 2016 an Amendment to the Montreal Protocol was signed. This amendment, called the Kigali Amendment, was aimed at phasing down HFC refrigerants across the world. Over a hundred countries signed the document.

I won’t get into all of the details here but the United States has had an interesting table to phase out. We signed the Kigali Amendment but haven’t ratified the treaty in the Senate. The EPA planned to phase out HFCs but their regulations were over turned by a Federal Court. We now have States doing their own policies on HFCs.

Prices & Purchase Restrictions

Chances are if you have a home air conditioner or an automobile from 2015 or earlier than you are reaping the benefits of an HFC air conditioning system. Over in Europe the cost of HFCs have skyrocketed to astronomical levels due to their phase outs. It’s so bad over there that organized crime has begun to take part in black market refrigerant sales.

Here in the United States things are a lot less hectic. The price on HFC refrigerants has been pretty stable over the past few years. Sure, we’ll always have our ups and downs, especially in the summer, but we haven’t seen anything like the European price jumps.

There is one thing to note for those of you looking to do your own repairs. On January 1st, of 2018 the Environmental Protection Agency extended their refrigerant sales restriction over to HFCs. What that means is that if you are not certified with the EPA (Either 608 or 609 certified) then you are not legally able to purchase or handle HFC refrigerants. This has frustrated a lot of do-it-yourselfers who are used to doing their own repairs.

There are a couple exception to this that should be noted:

  • If you are purchasing cans of refrigerant in under one or two pound quantities then you are still able to buy without being certified.
  • If you provide a signed document to your vendor stating that you will NOT be using the refrigerant you are purchasing then you can still purchase. Basically, you have to prove that you will be retailing the refrigerant and not using it yourself.

Conclusion

In the United States HFC refrigerants are going to be around for quite a while. The transition away from them is going to be a long and slow process. We are already beginning to see some signs of with automotive manufacturers voluntarily moving away from R-134a and opting for the HFO 1234yf. On top of that some states have announced they will be doing a full phase down and phase out of HFCs. (California and New York.) There are more states expected to announce similar plans.

Regardless of what happens, HFCs will be around for the next few decades, but as time moves on we will be seeing less and less of them until they are eventually as rare as an R-12 cylinder is today.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

New York

Well ladies and gentlemen like dominoes in a line we now have a second state coming forward with their own HFC refrigerant phase down laws. At the end of last month we had California make their HFC phase down bill become official when their legislate voted in favor on August 30th. This new law known as the California Cooling Act (SB 1013) is aimed at reducing HFC usage across the state with a carrot and stick approach.

The carrot is that the state will be offering incentives for low Global Warming Potential refrigeration systems. To start the main target of these incentives will be focused on supermarket and industrial refrigeration applications. The stick approach is preserving the now defunct Environmental Protection Agency’s SNAP Rule 20.

As most of you know, the EPA’s SNAP Rule 20 was the announced planned phase down and eventual phase out of HFC refrigerants across the United States. This Rule 20 was announced back in the summer of 2015 and was to begin phasing down HFCs progressively year after year. The EPA created this regulation based off of their power found in the Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocol. There was a problem in this logic though, the Montreal Protocol and the section of the Clean Air Act that was used strictly specified Ozone depleting chemicals such as CFCs and HCFCs. HFC refrigerants such as R-404A and R-134a do NOT contain Chlorine and therefore do not fall under the Clean Air Act/Montreal Protocol.

A Federal Court ruled against the EPA’s Rule in August of 2017. The ruling came as a shock to those in the industry and there was an appeal filed only a few weeks later by Honeywell and Chemours. The appeal court ruling occurred early in 2018 and the court again ruled against the EPA and Honeywell/Chemours. The EPA had overstepped it’s bounds and could not phase down HFCs without proper legislation.

With the current administration in power there was and is little hope of a comprehensive HFC refrigerant phase down bill from being passed. Another hope for climate advocates was the Kigali Amendment. The Kigali Amendment was an addendum to the Montreal Protocol that was signed by various countries in 2016. This amendment again aimed at phasing down HFC refrigerants across the globe. Over the years many countries have ratified this amendment, however one of the remaining countries to do so is the United States. No one is for sure what the Trump Administration will do on this amendment. Will they push it to the Senate to ratify, will they kill it, or will they just sit on it and let it drift off into purgatory?

States’ Rights

This is where the States’ Rights have come into play. I’ve always been a big proponent of the States making their own decisions and this is no different. California signed their bill late last month and just today we have an announcement from Andrew Cuomo, the Governor of New York, that New York will be adopting the EPA’s SNAP Rule 20 as law in New York. This is now the second state to create their own EPA type regulation in order to combat the impact of Greenhouse Gases like HFC refrigerants.

Like the California law the New York regulation is very similar. The goal is to enact the proposed changes from the EPA’s original ruling. What that means is that we are going to see impact right away in a few sections of the industry. The biggest and most significant impact is automotive.

In the original ruling the EPA stated that R-134a would no longer be accepted in new vehicles from model year 2021 and beyond. Now, a lot of car manufacturers have already begun switching over from 134a over to 1234yf, but not all of them have. This now gives car manufacturers only a few years to comply with this new law if they want to sell vehicles in California or New York. The hope with these regulations is to force the hand of manufacturers to only use GWP friendly refrigerants and if enough States sign on then this very well may happen.

Another change will be the food refrigeration equipment found in supermarkets, vending machines, refrigerators, and freezers. With the first major change hitting in 2020 targeting supermarket systems and vending machines, the next change in 2021 targeting household refrigerators and freezers. And in 2023 targeting industrial cold storage warehousing.

The last major change will be on stationary air conditioning equipment such as centrifugal chillers and positive displacement chillers. The target for these is January 1st, 2024.

Conclusion

Are these two states the first of many? Will we begin to see the dominoes fall so to speak and see other states fall in line? If so, should we even bother with the Kigali Amendment or should we just let the States decide and move on from there?

Time will tell, but if enough states get on board then companies will begin to feel the pressure and proactively transition away from HFCs and over to HFOs or Natural Refrigerants.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson
RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Hello ladies and gentlemen! As we begin to enter the 2018 spring and summer season I would like to remind everyone that here at RefrigerantHQ we offer very competitive bulk purchasing options. It doesn’t matter if you are looking for one pallet or twenty pallets, we can provide you with a quote and get the ball rolling to solidify your business. While we offer all of the traditional refrigerants such as R-22, R-404A, R-410A, and R-134a we also offer some of the less common refrigerants such as the new HFO 1234yf, R-290 Propane, R-744 CO2, and any other refrigerant that you find yourselves needing.

Remember now folks that the best time to purchase refrigerants is in the winter, but since the winter is nearly over and we are now in the month of March the second best time to buy is now! I remember back when I was a purchaser for a larger dealership chain. Our goal was to always, and I mean always, buy up our refrigerant in February and March. No one knows for sure what the summer season will bring but one thing is for certain: The price will most definitely go up. Why run out of product and pay that higher price in the summer when your customers are screaming for cold air? Buy up now and have the peace of mind that you are safe for the upcoming season.

Something else to keep in mind for this upcoming season is that with the new Environmental Protection Agency regulations you now have to be 608/609 certified with the EPA in order to purchase HFC refrigerants such as R-134a, R-410A, and R-404A. This new law is going to cause a lot of previous buyers to be out of luck. Their source of refrigerant is now cut off. Now some of these guys may take the time to get certified but I have a feeling a lot of them are going to turn towards contractors or distributors to get their refrigerant needs. That means more demand. Will you be ready?

If you are interested in purchasing a pallet or two of refrigerant please fill out our bulk purchasing form below and we will get you in contact with a quote at a competitive price.

Hello ladies and gentlemen! I hope everyone is ready for the new year. I myself am sick of this cold and ready for summer to start cooking again. We’re getting down to -12 here in Kansas City New Year’s Eve! I’m envious of all of you guys down there in the south…

The other day I was researching for an article that was unrelated to the European Union but upon reading a few articles I got down a rabbit hole and stumbled upon the upcoming 2018 HFC production/import reduction for the European Union. While most of us already know that the EU has been moving away from HFC refrigerants such as 134a, 404A, and 410A I bet most of you didn’t know that the reduction that 2018 brings to the EU is huge.  So large in fact that we may feel the ripples here in the United States. But before I get too into these numbers let me explain where this reduction comes from and the history behind it.

The F-Gas Regulation

All of this commotion about HFC refrigerants in Europe can be traced all the way back to a 2006 legislation called the ‘F-Gas Regulation.’  The initial goal of this legislation was to stabilize levels of the European Union’s F-Gas emissions to that of 2010 levels. (In other words, they did not want future years’ emissions to go above the 2010 baseline level.) The EU had no reason to be squeamish about these types of phase outs as they had finished years ahead of other countries when it came to CFC and HCFC phase outs. They knew what they were doing.

This initial 2006 regulation was met with success just like before with the others. Then in 2014 a new F-Gas regulation was adopted that posed much stricter rules and restrictions. This part two of the F-Gas regulation went into effect on January 1st, 2015. This law accomplished three main things:

  1. It limited the total amount of F-Gases that could be sold in the EU from 2015 and onwards. The goal here was to slowly phase out the quantity and imports of HFCs into the EU. Death by attrition.
  2. Banning the use of F-gases in many new types of equipment. The same way how R-22 is banned from use in new machines today here in the States. Again, death by attrition. If they wait out the old machines they will eventually fail and be replaced.
  3. Preventing emissions of current and existing machines by requiring routine checks, proper servicing, and recovery of refrigerants using the proper methods and techniques.

One way to look at this law from our perspective is that it is similar to the Clean Air Act here but instead of applying towards CFCs and HCFCs it is towards HFC refrigerants that we use everyday. I hate to say it but for whatever reason the EU always seems to be ahead of the US when it comes to things like this. Just look at R-134a. No new vehicles can use it over there. Here we’re still chugging along. But don’t get too comfortable folks because something similar will be coming here to the States as well. Some would argue that it already has with the SNAP Rule 20 from the EPA.

If you look at the table below you can see the schedule of the planned HFC refrigerant reductions in the European Union. While these numbers can mean a lot at first glance to fully understand them you need to understand the baseline. (It’s a percentage, but a percentage of what?) In this case the EU used the average quantity of CO2 placed on the market in the EU between the years of 2009 through 2012. This baseline number ended up being 183 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent. (Remember folks that the Global Warming Potential uses CO2 as their baseline as well.) Now with an established baseline we can begin to see the impact of these reduction schedules showing in the table below.

2015 2016-17 2018-20 2021-23 2024-26 2027-29 2030
100% 93% 63% 45% 31% 24% 21%

While the F-Gas regulation went into effect in 2015 the European countries really haven’t begun to feel the pinch until just this year. Most of you will remember the prices going like crazy on certain refrigerants in early 2017. Imagine what the EU went through. I’ve seen stories of over one-thousand percent increases from last summer. Here’s the scary part. That was at the 2017 reduction levels. Can you imagine another thirty percent reduction at the drop of a hat come January 1st, 2018? This next jump in 2018 is one hell of a reduction. The question is will our European friends be ready for it or will they be in for a world of hurt?

How Will The US Be Affected?

How will this drastic decrease in production and imports affect the US? If this was a perfect world the reduction in demand from the EU will be planned by manufacturers like Chemours and Honeywell and it would end up being a perfect balance of inventory management and forecasting. But honestly folks, how often does that happen?

I can see two outcomes with this. We are going to have a shortage of HFCs across the globe because manufacturers cut their forecast by too much for 2018, OR we are going to see a surplus of inventory here in the United States as the EU won’t be taking in as much. If you were to ask me I would think it’s going to be the latter. At least, I hope it is. An extra supply of inventory never hurt anyone but a scarcity scenario is never good, unless you are the supplier.

Depending on how this plays out in 2018 this could either be a bonus or a crisis for 2018. What do you guys think? Feel free to leave some comments on this post in our new community forums.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Let me preface this article by saying that this information is as of today, December 14th, 2017. This information may change in the future as it usually does but the facts that I present here are what is known today. In the summer of 2015 the Environmental Protection Agency added a new rule to their Significant New Alternatives Policy. (SNAP) This new rule, labeled Rule 20, was designed and targeted towards phasing out Hydroflurocarbon refrigerants. HFC refrigerants include some of the most popular refrigerants used today such as R-404A, R-410A, and R-134a.

The basis of these new phase outs are different from previous CFC and HCFC refrigerants. The HCFC/CFC’s were banned due to the Chlorine that they contained. The Chlorine actively damaged the Ozone layer when released into the atmosphere. While HFCs do not contain Chlorine they do have an extremely high Global Warming Potential, or GWP. GWP is basically a measurement of how much greenhouse gas a certain chemical traps in the atmosphere. Every scale has to have a ‘zero’ measurement point and for GWP we use Carbon Dioxide, or CO2. CO2’s GWP is set at 1. That is our base line. Some HFC refrigerants on the market today have a GWP number of nearly 4,000. Think about that for a moment. If the refrigerant is released into the atmosphere it has 4,000 times the effect of Carbon Dioxide. You can easily see how governments and scientists began to grow concerned.

Like with most scheduled phase outs by the EPA the approach was staggered over different refrigerants and different applications. The thinking here is to allow businesses, contractors, and consumers to have time to adapt to the changes. If they were to flip a figurative light switch from on to off then chaos would ensue. Business owners would protest due to the cost. Contractors would protest due to the lack of training and available resources on the new refrigerants. End user consumers would complain. It would be an all around catastrophe and the EPA would lose all backing when it comes to scheduled refrigerant phase outs.

The staggered approach allows people to adapt and it also allows these same people the benefit of foreseeing and planning for the future. Typically, when a phase out is scheduled it is years in advance. So, if a phase out was announced today on XYZ refrigerant the actual phase out most likely wouldn’t begin until 2020, at the earliest. This was the case for the HCFC refrigerant R-22 and it is the same case for HFC refrigerants under the SNAP Rule 20.

R-404A’s Phase Out Date

Well folks, as I explained above there is no cut and dry date when it comes to R-404A being phased out. Each type of application has a different set of rules and years that are associated to it. The EPA has provided an official fact sheet on their Rule 20 and the phase outs associated to it. It can be found by clicking here. This is a large document consisting over six pages with a lot of text, so to make things a little easier I’m going to break it down for you below in the next section. If you prefer to read through the document though by all means go for it! Below are the various phase out dates of R-404A. (Please note that this is strictly for the United States. Other countries will have differing dates.)

  • Retrofitted supermarket systems as of July 20, 2016;
  • New supermarket systems as of Jan. 1, 2017;
  • Retrofitted remote condensing units as of July 20, 2016;
  • New remote condensing units as of Jan. 1, 2018;
  • Retrofitted vending machines as of July 20, 2016;
  • New vending machines as of Jan. 1, 2019;
  • Retrofitted stand-alone retail food refrigeration equipment as of July 20, 2016;
  • New stand-alone medium-temperature units with a compressor capacity below 2,200 Btuh and not containing a flooded evaporator as of Jan. 1, 2019;
  • New stand-alone medium-temperature units with a compressor capacity equal to or greater than 2,200 Btuh and stand-alone medium-temperature units containing a flooded evaporator as of Jan. 1, 2020; and
  • New stand-alone low-temperature units as of Jan. 1, 2020.

Conclusion

Remember at the beginning of this article that I said that all of this could change? Well, there was some drama over the summer of 2017. In August a federal court ruled that the EPA’s SNAP Rule 20 overstepped the EPA’s authority. The ruling in essence overturned the EPA’s Rule 20 and removed the planned phase outs of HFC refrigerants. In the SNAP Rule 20 the EPA used Section 612 of the Clean Air Act for their justification. This section of the Clean Air Act strictly specifics on products that contain Chlorine or that cause damage to the Ozone layer. HFC refrigerants do not contain Chlorine nor do they cause ANY damaged to the Ozone. The courts looked at this and ruled in favor of the filing companies, Mexichem and Arkema, and against the EPA. I wrote more in-depth on this ruling in a previous article that can be found by clicking here.

At the time of the ruling and shortly there after no one knew what was going to happen. Everything was up in the air. It was about a month later that an appeal was filed to the court’s ruling. On September 22nd, 2017 Honeywell and Chemours officially filed an appeal to the ruling. I wrote an article about this as well which can be found by clicking here. A few days later it was announced that the court’s August ruling would be overturned until a decision was made on the appeal. (Click here for more info.) So, we are back to square one and it’s like nothing even happened in August.

The question is what will happen next? What will 2018 bring? Will the phase outs continue? Or, will the court rule against Honeywell, Chemours, and the EPA? Personally, I hope that the court’s ruling stands and that we go through Congress to phase out HFC refrigerants. It’s the right thing to do instead of having a goverment bureaucracy force the rules upon everyone all the while using an outdated section of the Clean Air Act.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

So did everyone pay a fair price on R-404A this spring and summer? Hah… I thought so. If you are like me and the rest of the world then I can guarantee that you saw a steep price rise occur on 404A towards the beginning of 2017’s season. That isn’t even mentioning the price increase that we saw in 2016 either. Well, folks I wish I had some good news for you but I think we may be in the same boat again for 2018.

This right here is why I take the time to write these articles each and every year. It’s a lot of fun to dig into the information and figure out why. Why did this price increase happen? What can we do to avoid this? Will it happen again in 2018? Let’s dive in and take a look at the facts:

Considerations

Like with any good analysis we have to look at the considerations and outside factors that will affect the price on R-404A in 2018 before we can make an attempt at an accurate price prediction for next summer. Let’s take a look:

  • There was a worldwide shortage of R-125 during the summer of 2017. For those of you who do not know R-404A is a blended refrigerant comprising of 44 percent R-125. The majority of R-125 is sourced from China and something happened over the spring and summer of 2017 that caused the shortage that we all felt in our pocket books. I spent some time researching why this happened. The most common explanation that I found is that the chemical Flurospar experienced a forty percent price increase towards the beginning of 2017. (Flurospar is a main ingredient in the R-125 refrigerant.) This price increase caused a direct effect on the price of R-125 raising it by one-hundred and thirty percent. The price increase on Flurospar was blamed on China’s strengthening of environmental laws that directly affect the mining industry. So, because China wanted to become more environmentally conscious we all paid the price.
  • A lot of people already know about the tariffs on R-134a Chinese imports. This was put in place by the International Trade Commission in the spring of 2017. What a lot of people don’t know is that there are tariffs also on imported Chinese HFC refrigerant blends, such as R-404A. R-404A is a blended refrigerant. It consists of R-125 (44 Percent), R-143a (52 percent), and R-134a. (4 percent.) These tariffs on blended refrigerants can range from 101.82% to 216.37%. (These variances depend on cost of the product at the time of import.) These tariffs were put in place in the summer of 2016 so a lot of us have already seen the affect over 2017’s summer.
  • Most of us know by now that R-404A is on it’s way out. I’ll get into the EPA’s new rules further down this list but for now let’s take a look at the viable alternatives to 404A. Because if there are alternatives then their is a path to phase out. The two main contenders that I see are:
    • The first one is R-744 or Carbon Dioxide. R-744 is widely used in the Asian markets and has been seen making an aggressive push here in the United States due to it’s baseline GWP number and the fact that the technology is already here and available to use. A lot of vending machines, ice machines, and other smaller units are beginning to come with R-744 now.
    • The big change that I see coming is the new Opteon HFO refrigerant known as XP44 or R-452A. This refrigerant is designed for commercial refrigeration and chillers. A prime example and a huge market that will be transitioning over is trucking. Earlier this year the Carrier Transicold corporation announced that they will be offering their trucks with R-452A refrigerant as well as 404A. Thermoking isn’t too far behind either.
  • Honeywell announced that they will stop selling R-404A refrigerant in the European Union next year. While this is mainly due to the EU’s F-Gas regulation it is also a huge step in showing the world that 404A is not going to be around for much longer.
  • In the summer of 2015 the EPA came out with their new SNAP Rule 20. This new rule specifically targeted HFC refrigerants and the first major HFC refrigerant targeted was R-404A. While the courts did overturn this new rule in the summer of 2017 there is now an appeal on file to reinstate the restrictions. At this time the world and I will be treating R-404A like it is being phased out. To read more about the EPA’s SNAP Rule 20 program click here or read the excerpts below. Note that R-404A will no longer be acceptable in the below applications:
    • Retrofitted supermarket systems as of July 20, 2016;
    • New supermarket systems as of Jan. 1, 2017;
    • Retrofitted remote condensing units as of July 20, 2016;
    • New remote condensing units as of Jan. 1, 2018;
    • Retrofitted vending machines as of July 20, 2016;
    • New vending machines as of Jan. 1, 2019;
    • Retrofitted stand-alone retail food refrigeration equipment as of July 20, 2016;
    • New stand-alone medium-temperature units with a compressor capacity below 2,200 Btuh and not containing a flooded evaporator as of Jan. 1, 2019;
    • New stand-alone medium-temperature units with a compressor capacity equal to or greater than 2,200 Btuh and stand-alone medium-temperature units containing a flooded evaporator as of Jan. 1, 2020; and
    • New stand-alone low-temperature units as of Jan. 1, 2020.
  • The last point that I’m going to make here before moving on is that while the approved applications for 404A are shrinking and shrinking it should be noted that the actual supply and production 404A is not being forcibly shrunk. What that means is that the government isn’t stepping in like they did with R-22 and saying that you can only produce/import X much per year. It is up to the manufacturers to balance the supply and demand with the shrinking marketplace and not the government.

Price Predictions

I’ve been doing these price prediction articles for a few years now and it has given me a unique opportunity to see the trend in pricing of R-404A over the years. Before I get into my prediction let’s take a quick look to see how the pricing has climbed over the years. Keep in mind that these prices are based off the standard 404A twenty-four pound cylinder and purchasing one at a time. The prices are obviously lower if you are purchasing a pallet or more. (Pallet pricing is about $140 a cylinder as of today.)

Those numbers are crazy. I’m not even sure where to begin. So between 2015-2016 we had a twenty percent jump. Then from 2016 to 2017 we jumped up like crazy. Eight percent price increase. This happened because of the new tariffs we discussed and also the shortage of R-125. Since the summer of 2017 prices have started to taper back down but they are still high at around $175 for a cylinder.

Here’s where I give you the bad news folks. I think we’re going to experience the same thing again next year. Once the season gets going we are still going to have to contend with all of the factors that I mentioned above. The only bright side that I can find is that Honeywell won’t be providing 404A to Europe anymore so they may have a bit of a backlog of inventory that will help keep prices from spiking too high.

My pricing prediction for the summer of 2018 R-404A is around $210.00 a cylinder. If you were to purchase a pallet of forty cylinders next summer expect to see a price in the $160s per cylinder. I wish I had better news for you folks but these numbers are what the facts all point too.

Conclusion

The question a lot of you may be asking is how can I avoid this price gouging situation during next year’s summer? Well folks, the answer is pretty simple and it’s exactly what I used to do when I purchased R-134a. Buy in bulk and buy in the dead of winter. Prices aren’t going to go any lower then they are in December and January. It’s a simple supply and demand concept. Barely any one is buying at this time and the demand is all but stopped unless your are in Phoenix.

Distributors still have numbers to meet. Sure they have their curved budgets for the summer months but they will gladly take a large sale and will be more than willing to cut you a deal so that they can get the business. Yes, you will have to sit on your inventory for a bit but think about how comfortable you will be in the summer, and if the pricing does sky rocket again you can sit back and make a ton of profit off each pound you sell while your competitors are paying sky-high prices.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Honeywell Refrigerants

The race is on to find suitable alternatives to R-404A. In 2009 the Honeywell corporation invented a new refrigerant called Genetron Performax. (R-407F) This new refrigerant is an HFC blend containing forty percent of R-134a, thirty percent of R-125, and thirty percent of R-32. The thinking behind this refrigerant was to come up with a viable alternative to the currently used R-404A  in supermarkets and grocers that would be more friendly to the environment.

R-404A has one of the highest Global Warming Potentials in all of the refrigerants on the market today standing at 3,922 GWP. (Source from Linde-Gas.com) To give you some perspective the GWP of R-134a is only 1,430. Just by looking at the numbers here you can see why there is a large concern over the damage that 404A is causing to the environment and the impact that it is having on Global Warming. This is the main reason that when we hear about the phasing out of HFC refrigerants R-404A is the first one targeted. (The phase out began in the United States last year.)

This new refrigerant designed by Honeywell, R-407F, has a GWP of 1,824. That is over a fifty percent decrease in GWP from 404A. While the 1,824 is still very high for a refrigerant it is significantly better than what we had been using. Imagine if everyone converted over to this new refrigerant. The impact on the environment from supermarket freezers and refrigerated transport would be cut in half.

Along with having the lower GWP than 404A the R-407F is an A1 rated refrigerant. That means low toxicity and that it is non flammable. This is a big deal as a common occurrence with alternatives to HFCs is higher flammability ratings. A few more benefits to this refrigerant are that it is an efficient R-22 retrofit option, lower discharge temperature than R-22, similar cooling capacity to R-404A, uses the same oil as 404A, and has around a ten percent energy savings when comparing to existing 404A systems. (Source on these claims is from Linde-Gas.com)

15,000th Store

At the close of 2016 Honeywell celebrated reaching their 15,000th store being converted over to R-407F. That is quite the achievement. Honeywell predicts that over the course of 2016 they saved over ten million metric tons of Carbon Dioxide equivalent. That is equal to eliminating five million cars off of the road.

Most of these retrofitted units were implemented in the Asia Pacific region and in the European Union. The ASDA supermarket chain in the United Kingdom reported that they consumed fourteen percent less energy on the systems using R-407F when comparing it to R-404A.

Along with the added efficiency these stores and business will be in compliance with the European Union’s F-Gas regulation from 2015. The EU regulation can be found by clicking here, but the main goal is to reduce the EU’s HFC usage by 1/4 of 2014 levels by the year 2030.

Conclusion

R-407F is an HFC refrigerant and as I mentioned above HFC’s will be going away. Honeywell does offer a lower GWP under their new Solstice Hydrofluoroolefins refrigerant line. This refrigerant is called N40 or R-448A. R-448A has a GWP of 1,273 which is sixty-eight percent lower than 404A. This HFO refrigerant is also rated as an A1 by the ASHRAE classification. That means low toxicity and low flammability. The downside to alternative HFO refrigerants is the price. Hopefully, as time goes on the price will eventually lower to be closer to HFCs.

As the years pass by we will begin to see more HFO’s, like the R-448A that I mentioned above, come into the marketplace. While HFC’s are going away the push is on to shrink the GWP of refrigerants as much and as quickly as possible. Even though R-407F will most likely be replaced by an HFO refrigerant in the near future Honeywell is still seeing outstanding success in converting systems over to their 407F. It’s better to start converting now and save some carbon than wait until the ‘perfect’ refrigerant comes along.

I predict that in the next few years we will see the push to switch to the lower GWP HFC alternatives increase and during that increase we will slowly transition over and away from HFCs to the newly developed HFO refrigerants that have even lower GWP.

Thanks for reading and if you enjoyed the article please take the time to subscribe to our newsletter by filling out your e-mail in the top right of the page. Thanks again,

Alec Johnson

Owner.

Sources

Top 3 Refrigerant Changes in 2015

Hello ladies and gentlemen! It’s that time of year again. The cold wind is blowing, the snow is falling, and the temperature barely gets over twenty degrees across half of the nation. Instead of thinking about the cold I’m thinking about the summer. What will the heat be like next summer? How bad will it be here in Kansas City and how easily can I escape it with my precious air conditioning? (Last year we had nearly an entire month of hundred degree days.)

The refrigerant market is always changing and developing. It seems like every week there is something new and most of the time there is. As we close out 2016 and begin to look forward to the new year to come I find myself thinking about what upcoming changes we will see next year on refrigerant here in the United States. Here are, in my opinion, the three biggest change factors that we will see next year:

1 – Chinese Tariffs1

By now I’m sure you heard talk of tariffs on the importing of Chinese refrigerant. Over the past decade the Chinese have been importing larger and larger quantities of R-134a cylinders into the United State’s market. Just in 2015 China imported over 14,000 tons of refrigerant into the United States. (Source) Along with the Chinese flooding our marketplace with their product they are also bringing it in at a substantially lower cost than what our local manufacturers can get to.

Last year if you were to import a container of R-134a refrigerant cylinders into the United States you could pay somewhere between $40-$50 for a thirty pound cylinder. This was practically half the cost of what Chemours or Honeywell were selling at. There was plenty of margin to be made and I could see why importers brought it in by the ton. If I had the opportunity and the storage space I probably would have done it as well. The reason why the Chinese can get their price so low is due to the cheaper labor costs over there but also in big part because of their government subsidizing the industry and artificially lowering their manufacturing cost. This allowed them to go to market at that $40-$50 price and still make a hefty profit.

In order to combat the low priced Chinese product American companies began to file law-suits with the United State’s International Trade Commission. The law-suit was against China’s dumping of R-134a into the marketplace at an unfair value. The American companies lobbied for a tariff to be installed on all of Chinese 134a imports. The first suit was filed towards the end of 2013. Since then numerous suits have been filed and all have been denied by the Trade Commission. The latest suit filed by the HFC coalition, a grouping of American companies, was filed in March of 2016. Unlike the others this suit may actually end up going through.

In September 29th, 2016 the Trade Commission announced a preliminary ruling saying that they were in favor of installing tariffs on imported 134a product. The preliminary tariff percentage they announced was 137.23%. (188.94% on smaller Chinese companies.) This will take a $50 cylinder of 134a up to $118.62. Quite the difference. For more details on the rulings and what to expect click here for a previous article that I wrote.

2017

So, the question on everyone’s mind is what is going to happen in 2017. Well, there are two things for certain. In February the trade commission will announce their final tariff percentage on imported 134a product. Then a month later in March they will announce their final ruling. This is the big kahuna. This is the one that matters. While the other rulings are important this one in March is the yes or no on rather the tariffs will be instigated.

One solace to small business owners and technicians is that the expected price increase from the 134a tariffs has already hit. When the announcement came from the Trade Commission in September of the 137 percent increase the price on 134a skyrocketed to over a $100 a cylinder on bulk purchases. My prediction for 2017 is that if they rule in favor of the tariffs that the price on 134a will pretty much stay the same. However, if they rule against the tariffs than I could see the price of 134a plummet to high $50s per cylinder on a forty cylinder pallet.

Other HFCs as Well?

At this point everybody is expecting the tariffs to eventually get approved. After all, companies have been fighting for them for nearly four years now. Eventually, one of these times, they will get what they want. It’s just a matter of time. The thing to mention is that these suits have all been focused on 134a and not on 410A, 404A, or any other refrigerant.

Are there tariffs expected on these common HFC refrigerants as well? From everything that I have read and seen on the anti-dumping lawsuits I have seen no mention on R-410A or R-404A. At this point in time I believe that there haven’t been measures taken to impose the tariffs on these refrigerants. As far as what will happen in the future I can only guess. I believe that R-404A won’t be bothered with. It’s being phased out in just over a year anyways. To me the one to watch is 410A. This refrigerant is the defacto refrigerant now for home and commercial use. It’s a prime market for the Chinese to target and it’s a prime market for the American companies to fight back on.

Conclusion

In 2017 I see the tariffs on 134a being approved and instigated. Everything is pointing in that direction. For once in many years the price of 134a may actually be stable for a long period of time. If it doesn’t get approved get ready for a roller coaster of back and forth prices as the American companies compete with the Chinese imports.

2 – The Beginning of the End of HFCs

2

I’m sure most of you guys saw this coming. It was only a matter of time. The beloved HFCs that we have fallen in love with over the past few years are going away. In a meeting in Rwanda in October of this year over one-hundred and seventy countries agreed to and signed an amendment to the Montreal Protocol. This amendment titled The Kigali Agreement is strictly focused on phasing out all HFC refrigerants across the world by the year 2100. Since this was an amendment to an already existing treaty the Obama administration did not need to get approval by congress. Instead, all they had to do was sign. (I’m not too happy about that, but that’s another story and I’ll leave politics out of this.) I wrote a more in-depth article on the Kigali agreement that can be found by clicking here.

Why HFCs?

Some of you may be asking why HFCs? I thought CFCs and HCFCs were the bad ones. I thought Chlorine was the culprit. Well, yes… that’s true. Chlorine being vented into the atmosphere was the culprit in damaging and eventually tearing a hole into the O-Zone layer. It was because of this Chlorine in the atmosphere that the Montreal Protocol was designed and implemented. The Chlorine containing refrigerants had to be phased out. (R-12, R-22, R-502.) The Montreal Protocol was signed in 1987 and only a few years later R-12 was phased out, then in the late 1990’s R-502 said goodbye. Lastly, in the year 2010 we waved farewell to R-22. As we phased out all of these refrigerants we began to replace them all with the newer HFC refrigerants such as R-134a, R-404A, and R-410A.

How quickly we change our minds. Now that HFCs have been around for a while and have been implemented all across the globe scientists are beginning to realize the impact that they are having on the environment. While they do not contain Chlorine they do contain extremely potent greenhouse gases that when released into the atmosphere are sometimes 1,400 times stronger than Carbon Dioxide. Think about that number for a second. 1,400 times stronger. That is nothing to scoff at. Now think about all of the developing countries in the world who now have the money and business to support air conditioning units. The explosion of industry in India and China coupled with the amount of HFC refrigerants used around the globe made for a perfect storm. The rise of HFCs has correlated directly into the rise of Global Warming. Scientists and governments were determined to stop it.

Changes

Something had to be done across the globe and that is just what the Kigali Agreement was designed to do. In only a few years, in 2019, developed countries such as the United States are expected to cut all of their HFC consumption/production of HFC refrigerants by ten percent in comparison to 2011-2013 levels. By the year 2036 we are expected to cut HFC usage by eighty-five percent. These agreements are signed into international law and will have to be followed.

On top of all of those changes the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency has announced that they will be starting earlier on HFC refrigerants. Their first target is R-404A. As of January 1st, 2017 supermarket freezers and cold cases can no longer use R-404A on newly manufactured machines. (Source from Chemours.com.) Retrofitting is not allowed either. As of January 1st, 2019 vending machines can no longer use R-404A or R-134a. That’s not the big dog though. No, not even close. In the year 2020, or 2021 model year, it will no longer be acceptable for light duty vehicles to use R-134a. Instead most vehicle manufacturers will be switching over to the lower GWP HFO refrigerant known as 1234YF.

Conclusion

Like it or not this is the beginning of the end of HFC refrigerants. They had a good run of… fifteen to twenty years. It’s on to bigger and better things. It’s on to hydrocarbons. It’s on to natural refrigerants. It’s on HFOs. At least, it’s on to these refrigerants until we find something wrong with them and then the whole process will start all over again.

EPA Phases out HFC Refrigerants
EPA Phases out HFC Refrigerants

3 – The Testing and Pushing of Alternative Refrigerants

3

Obviously, if we phase out HFC refrigerants we need to find a replacement refrigerant that performs well, is cost consciousness, and does not harm the environment. Somehow, this narrows the list down to only a select few refrigerants. Over the past few years there has been a battle brewing between the newly innovated HFO refrigerants such as HoneyWell’s new Solstice brand name or DuPont/Chemours’ new Opteon brand name and natural refrigerants, also known as hydrocarbons.

As of now there is no clear winner in this battle. It really depends on where you look. Hydrocarbons are very popular in some parts of the world like Asia and at other points in the world they are practically unheard of. For example, it is rare to find a hydrocarbon application in the United States. It just never caught on here.

If I was to put money on what the majority of the market will look like in another five to ten years I would put everything on HFOs. My reasoning here is that you have to giant conglomerate corporations known as DuPont/Chemours and HoneyWell developing, innovating, and pushing their new HFO brands. These companies are monsters for a reason. Most of the time they get their way. On top of that there is just nothing sexy about hydrocarbons. HFOs are new. HFOs are exciting. New and exciting are what the people want.

Hydrocarbons/Natural Refrigerants

Hydrocarbon refrigerants have been around for a long time and I’m sure most of you recognize them right away. Some of the most commonly used hydrocarbon refrigerants are as follows:

  • R-290 – Propane
  • R-600a Isobutane
  • R-1270 Propylene
  • R-744 Carbon Dioxide

Hydrocarbons are just as efficient, if not more efficient, than HFC or HCFC refrigerants. They are extremely cheap as well when compared to the newly patented HFO refrigerants such as 1234YF. (1234YF goes for as much as $700 for a ten pound cylinder.) They also have an extremely low global warming potential so there is no risk to the environment when using them.

While all of this sounds good the downside of natural refrigerants are the high risk of flammability. I’m sure that you noticed that one of the refrigerants that I listed above is propane. (R-290) In my opinion it doesn’t get much more flammable than that. Just a few weeks ago there was a story about two men working on a hydrocarbon unit. They were not being careful and ended up causing an explosion that cost both their lives. (You can read the article by clicking here.) This unit contained a mixture of propane and isobutane.

This risk of explosion is what has turned people off from hydrocarbons. Even though they are perfectly safe if handled correctly and maintained correctly there is still that level of fear. People just aren’t comfortable using propane for their primary refrigerant. Think about it. Go up and ask someone on the street if they want to use propane for their air conditioning refrigerant. They’d look at you like you grew a second head.

HydroFluroOlefins (HFOs)

HFOs are still new. In fact they have only been around for about a decade. The most commonly used HFO today and the one that you most likely heard of is 1234YF. Both HoneyWell and Chemours have their own version of it. See below picture of HoneyWell’s Solstice cylinder:

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

1234YF is the now the default refrigerant across the European Union and is used by all of the major European car manufacturers such as Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes, and many others. It has also caught on with the Korean and Japanese car market showing up in Toyota and Honda models. Each year that passes we see more and more 1234YF usage across the world and in the United States’ market.

The 1234YF is accepted widely now. The question is what is next. What will replace R-404A? What will replace R-410A? These questions are still up for debate. There are many alternatives out there today and there are many more being developed. So far there is no perfect cross. There is no telling when that perfect solution arrives but I wouldn’t be surprised if it shows up next year.

Conclusion

As I said above I believe in this battle between the HFOs and the Hydrocarbons that the HFOs will come up on top. They have the bank roll of the mega corporations and they have the appeal of something new. Hydrocarbons will always be here and be with us but at least in the United States I see them taking a back seat to the upcoming dominance of HFOs. All of us will be very familiar with the new Solstice and Opteon brands in the near future.

Conclusion

2017 is going to be an interesting year to say the least. There are all the things I mentioned above to consider and there is also a wildcard that I didn’t mention. That wildcard is Donald Trump. What affect will he have on the United State’s refrigerant industry? He has said again and again that he despises China for their trade war against us. Would that mean that he would put on additional tariffs on Chinese imported refrigerant? Could he raise the cost of R-134a even more?

On the other side of the coin he has said that he wants to get rid of as much regulation as he can and that he doesn’t believe in Climate Change. Could this mean that he will back out of the Kigali agreement? (If that’s even possible.) Could he delay some of the EPA’s actions on HFCs? As I said above, it’s a true wildcard. Time will only tell what will happen.

I hope you enjoyed the article and I hope that you are just as excited for the 2017 year that I am. I feel that this is going to be a big year for me and I hope it is for you too!

Thanks for reading and have a happy new year!

Alec Johnson

Owner.

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

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

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

Considerations

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

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

 R-22 HCFC

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

Phase-Out

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

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

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

Price

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

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

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

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

$300 * 40 = $12,000 cost

$900 * 40 = $36,000 cost.

Profit of:      $24,000

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

R-410A HFC

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

Potential Phase Out

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

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

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

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

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

Price

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

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

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

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

R-134a HFC

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

Phase-Out?

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

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

The Anti-Dumping Tariff

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

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

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

Pricing

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

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

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

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

 

R-404A HFC

R-404a Refrigerant
R-404a Refrigerant

So-Called Phase-Out

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

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

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

Price

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

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

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

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

1234YF HFO

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

Background

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

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

Price

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Alec John Johnson

Owner.