Reclamation

When it comes to reclaiming refrigerants in the United States there are a variety of companies to choose from. Over the past few years the list of companies that provide reclamation services has been shrinking but the amount and quality of facilities has only grown. What that means is that a number of companies have begun purchasing and buying out other reclamation companies and begun to consolidate them under three main companies. As I write this today in 2018 the market share of refrigerant reclamation looks a little like this:

As you can see above folks A-Gas Americas has been very busy over the past few years. Just look at some of the companies they purchased recently: A-Gas acquiring Rapid RecoveryA-Gas acquires Refri-ClaimA-Gas purchases Diversified Pure Chem Refrigerants. Hudson hasn’t been asleep at the wheel though. Just recently they purchased Airgas Refrigerants and their reclamation facility in Georgia. Hudson acquiring Airgas Refrigerants. All of these companies that were purchased had a strong reclamation background as well as distribution. There is no telling what the new 2018 year will bring. Will there be more consolidation?

Getting The Best Reclaimed Refrigerant Price

The good thing about this market consolidation is that there is a lot more concentrated competition. What that means is that these three major companies will be competing with each other to get you the best price for your used refrigerant. Before selling your dirty refrigerant to one of these reclaimers it is always best practice to call at least one other company just to compare price. If you have a larger quantity on hand then you may need to take the time and call four or five reclaimers out there just to ensure that you are getting market price and perhaps allowing you to negotiate the price that you are selling up.

Fifty dollars a pound? Well Hudson quoted me fifty-eight. What can you do to to get my business, can we get up to sixty? Remember, use their size against each other to leverage the best price for you and your business.

Conclusion

While A-Gas and Hudson may be controlling the market right now I want to spend some time and mention two other reclaimers out there today.

The first is Refrigerants Inc. out of the Denver, Colorado area. These guys are a certified EPA reclaimer and will even come to site to pick up (Within reason). Chad has helped me out a lot on research and other reclamation articles and I felt it was only fair to mention him here to return the favor.

The second company I want to mention is Ability Refrigerants out of the Phoenix, Arizona area. I can think of no better place in the country to have a refrigerant business than Phoenix. They are a certified EPA reclaimer as well and have a combined sixty years of experience in the HVAC industry. Again, Jeff at Ability Refrigerants helped me out with some of my questions on the reclamation industry and I am very thankful.

I hope this article was helpful and was able to give you a places to reach out to on reclaiming your refrigerant.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

This may be something that a lot of you practice already but I have seen other contractors out there where this doesn’t even cross their mind. As the refrigerant reclamation market grows and grows over the next few years there is an option that a lot of reclaimers out there offer that may be worth your time to look at.

Let’s say it is towards the end of the year and the summer season is over. You are sitting on around one-thousand pounds of dirty R-22 that you need to send back. Now, instead of sending this back to a supply house or a wholesale parts distributor I am first going to suggest that you send it out to an actual refrigerant reclaimer. If you do not know of one in your area please click here to be taken to the EPA’s website of certified reclaimers. Feel free to shop around between the different reclaimers so that you can get the best price for your refrigerant.

When you are talking with these companies an important thing to ask is that if they do reservations or allocations. Think about this for a second. If you are sending back one-thousand pounds of refrigerant they are obviously going to reclaim it. You are obviously going to need R-22 again next year. So, why not make an arrangement with the reclaimer that your refrigerant is specifically for you and that you will be buying it back once it is reclaimed.

By doing this you can accomplish a couple of things. The first is that you ensure a supply of R-22 for you for next year’s season. The second is that by buying back your own reclaimed refrigerant you are guaranteeing the reclaimer a sale right away. What that means is that you now have room to negotiate the buyback price of the reclaimed refrigerant. I know if it was me and I had that sale in hand I would be more than willing to lower my price.

Another thing to mention here is that depending on your reclaimer they may either:

  • Require you to purchase back the reclaimed refrigerant right away. In this case you have some upfront cost but a lot of it will be offset by the dirty refrigerant that you sent back, not to mention the cheaper price of R-22.
  • If you are a really great negotiator you may be able to talk some of your reclaimers to hold your reclaimed R-22 at their facility and you can then order on an as needed basis. This allows you to keep your price point low, allows a reservation of inventory, and also prevents a large one time expense of buying it all back at once.

The last point that I’ll mention here is that by using this reclaimed refrigerant rather it be R-22, R-410A, or whatever you will be purchasing it ten, fifteen, maybe even twenty percent cheaper than you normally would for virgin refrigerant. Imagine what an additional twenty percent savings could do to your bottom line for next year! All it takes is a little research and asking the question.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

 

Hello everyone and happy New Year! I hope that everyone has a solid set of plans for this year. Something that is on my mind today is that we are only two years away from 2020 and when that day hits R-22 refrigerant can no longer be manufactured or imported into the United States. After that date hits there will only be a couple ways to obtain R-22 for future repairs.

The first is purchasing from a distributor who has stockpiled the virgin refrigerant in expectation of the 2020 deadline. While this solution may work for a while it is not a permanent solution and these guys will run out of their inventory pretty fast once the summer heat turns on. This solution may last one season but after that you are going to be out of luck.

The only other way to get R-22 after 2020 is through refrigerant reclamation. I won’t get into all of the details on the reclamation process here but basically a certified EPA reclaimer will take your dirty or used refrigerant that is full of contaminants such as water, Chloride, Ion, Acidity, boiling residue, particulates, and anything else that could get into the refrigerant. They will then refurbish the refrigerant so that it is like new again, or at least until it meets the ARI-700 standard. The full document on the standard can be found here but basically it defines and classifies refrigerant contaminants based on widely available testing methods per type of refrigerant. On top of that it also specifies what the acceptable level of contaminants that are allowed in order to meet ARI-700 standard in a reclaimed refrigerant. This standard is managed by the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute. (AHRI)

Along with those standards the reclaimer has to go through a series of checks and practices to ensure that they are certified with the Environmental Protection Agency to be a refrigerant reclaimer. So, when you pass on your dirty refrigerant over to a reclaimer you can be assured that they know what they are doing. A list of the reclaimers can be found on the EPA’s website by clicking here.

While all this seems well and good there are a lot of people in the industry today who just aren’t comfortable with using reclaimed refrigerants. Discovering this has caused me to write this article and express concern on the future of R-22 machines on the market today.

Technician’s Hesitation on Reclaimed Refrigerants

I am from the automotive side of the business and when I read over the reclamation process I couldn’t help but think of a dirty core on an automotive part. Those of you on that side of the business will know what I am talking about. Cores are a constant headache that always have to be managed by the parts distributor or dealership.

The best way I can describe a core is to imagine a standard yellow highlighter. It is working fine but overtime it eventually fails and it no longer highlights. What you are left with is a non-usable highlighter. You still have the ‘shell’ of the highlighter, also known as the core. It doesn’t work but there is someone who may still want it.

Depending on the industry and the category there are numerous companies that will take that ‘highlighter,’ and remanufacture it so that it is working again. They will then sell it at a cheaper cost as a remanufactured highlighter. This process is done all day every day on parts like brake shoes, alternators, starters, engines, transmissions, etc. The benefit to the customer is that they get a cheaper version or alternative offered and at the same time the parts distributor makes a little bit more money as well versus selling an OEM product.

As you can imagine the ‘dirty core,’ in this situation is the used refrigerant that comes into the reclaimers. The reclaimers, just like automotive remanufacturers, have a set of standards that they have to follow and abide by before they can sell their remanufactured product. The reason I bring all of this up is that there are always customers out there who refuse to even consider a remanufactured part. No. They only want new and will refuse the cheaper alternatives out there. These same type of people exist in the refrigerant world as well. I’ve read accounts from numerous technicians and small business owners stating that they refuse to use reclaimed refrigerant. Sure, they’ll send back their dirty refrigerant and take the cash up front but they won’t be buying that reclaimed refrigerant when it’s all said and done.

But why, why does this perception exist? Is there truly something to be concerned about or is this just fear of the unknown and techs and business owners wanting to stay with what they know and are familiar with? We discussed it above but remember that these reclaimed refrigerants have to go through a series of tests and checks, have to pass ARI-700 before they can be legally sold, AND the reclaimer has to be certified with the EPA. All of these checks should more than enough to spur purchases.

Conclusion

The mentality of the technicians I mentioned in the above section will have to change before that 2020 year hits. Otherwise, we could run into a whole series of R-22 units ‘retiring’ before their lifespan. If the tech can’t get a hold of virgin R-22 refrigerant and he isn’t comfortable selling reclaimed R-22 what do you think is going to happen? If it was me, I would either try to sell a retrofit to MO99, or some other alternative, OR I would try to sell them a new 410A unit. While the early retirement of R-22 units isn’t a bad thing my concern is that there will be a lot of extra forced cost on customers and business owners to upgrade when they in fact could have waited for another four to five years.

The other side of the coin here is what do you do if your competition is perfectly fine with using reclaimed R-22 and your techs are not? You leave a quote with a customer for a new unit and a different company leaves a quote for a fill up and a leak repair. It’s not going to look good on you or your company.

Thanks for reading folks and if you haven’t already check out our community forums,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ