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It was announced last Friday that an agreement had been made between the Federal Government’s EPA/Justice Department and the company Southeastern Grocers (SEG). Southeastern Grocers is a large grocery store chain that operates nearly six-hundred stores across the southern United States.  They operate under various supermarket chains including BI-Lo, Winn-Dixie, Fresco y Mas, and Harveys Supermarket. They have over forty-five thousand employees and over eight billion in revenue.

The court case emerged from the Environmental Protection Agency accusing SEG of not following the Clean Air Act. Specifically, on the refrigerators within their stores. These refrigerated units use HCFC refrigerants and were not being actively monitored for leaks. Along with that, there was not proper record keeping on what maintenance had actually been done.

The agreement states that SEG will work to solve their issues over the next three years. Part of that is investing four point two million dollars to reduce SEG’s dependency on Ozone depleting systems. SEG will also pay a three-hundred thousand dollar fine. But wait, there’s more! It’s not just fines and investment that SEG will have to go through. Along with all of that they will also have to put in place a corporate policy when it comes to refrigerant management. This will include a bi-monthly leak monitoring program to ensure leaks no longer go undetected and if they do then they get repaired in a timely manner.

Most grocery stores/supermarkets have an average leak rate of twenty-five percent. SEG will now be expected to maintain a twenty-one percent leak rate in the first year, a nineteen percent in the second, and a seventeen percent by the third year (2022). They also are mandated to use non-Ozone depleting advanced refrigerants in all of their new stores as well as in fifteen existing stores. (These would be any of the SNAP approved refrigerants for commercial refrigeration.) If any of these requirements are not met over the next few years then SEG could face additional, possibly harsher, fines and penalties.

The Clean Air Act states that owners of commercial refrigeration equipment that contain fifty pounds or more of refrigerant must regularly be checked for leaks and if a leak is occurring to have that leak repaired within thirty days of detection. It should be noted that there is a threshold here, not EVERY leak has to be repaired right away. A determination needs to be made as to how large the leak actually is. I won’t get into all of the details in this article, but the EPA states that for commercial refrigeration the leak cannot exceed a rate of twenty percent. (This used to be thirty-five percent, but was changed at the beginning of this year.) If you’d like to view the EPA article on this topic click here.

Conclusion

While this fine and mandated investment may seem like a lot it is just a blimp in the radar for a company like Southeastern. They bring in billions a year, this won’t have much impact on them. Don’t let that fool you though folks, the EPA doesn’t discriminate when it comes to company size. If the Clean Air Act isn’t being followed then your business could be at risk as well. It’s just that SEG was a much bigger target for an investigation. This initial agreement is subject to a thirty day public comment period and then final approval from the court.

If you walk away with one thing from this article know that proper record keeping is essential. Even if you have regularly scheduled maintenance if you don’t have the records showing so it is all for not. Be sure to cross your Ts and dot your i’s in these matters to prevent any future risk of EPA investigations. Use these companies that are going through the EPA headaches as warnings to others out there.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

7-Eleven, the world’s largest convenience store with sixty-eight thousand stores, has announced a partnership with Honeywell and their Solstice refrigerant line. Specifically, 7-Eleven has announced that they will be switching their condensers away from R-404A and over to the Solstice N40 refrigerant in the United States and Canadian markets. That is nearly twelve-thousand stores. This was the next logical step for 7-Eleven as last year they began a similar transition in their Japanese market. This switch was mandated by law, but it must have gave 7-Eleven the encouragement to switch additional stores over in North America.

I’m not an expert on supermarket or gas station coolers, but I noticed that when I was reading about this that they only intend to replace the condensers and not the rest of the machine. I am assuming that these are cascade systems that are being replaced and that the other refrigerant used is more climate friendly such as R-744. If any of you know of a different approach that they could be using feel free to let me know. It is always good to learn something new!

The replacement refrigerant known as Solstice N40, or R-448A, is a newer refrigerant from the Honeywell corporation. This refrigerant is a zeotropic blend between numerous refrigerants and is classified as an HFC/HFO mixture. It contains twenty-six percent of HFC R-32, twenty-six percent of HFC R-125, twenty-one percent of HFC R-134a, seven percent of HFO R-1234ze, and twenty percent of HFO R-1234yf. Just by the numbers I would call R-448A an HFC refrigerant rather then an HFO.

R-448A is designed as a replacement for R-404A in supermarket systems and can be used as a retrofit as well as on newer models. The retrofit is fairly simple and has been described as a near drop in replacement for R-404A. Notice I said ‘near.’ There are still some slight adjustments that have to be made before it can be used in an 404A system. 448A is meant for low and medium applications commonly found in super-markets, gas stations, vending machines, and other smaller systems.

It has a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of one-thousand two-hundred and seventy-three. While that is still quite a high GWP it is nowhere near it’s predecessor. R-404A has a GWP of three-thousand nine-hundred and twenty-two. By making the switch to R-448A 7-Eleven will see a nearly sixty percent reduction of GWP. It is also more efficient then R-404A. In the lower temperature applications users can expect to see five percent in energy savings. With the medium temperature systems users can see up to fifteen percent in energy savings.

Lastly, it is safe as well with an A1 rating from ASHRAE. That means it is non-flammable and non-toxic. The flammability rating is a big deal as so many newer refrigerants nowadays seem to sacrifice safety for environment. Take R-1234yf for example, it’s predecessor R-134a was not flammable at all. 1234yf on the other hand is rated as 2L or slightly flammable. It is good to see that a next generation refrigerant is able to tackle both GWP and public/technician safety.

Conclusion

While 7-Eleven moves forward with this new refrigerant the question that I have on my mind is how long will this refrigerant last? Yes, it is a definite improvement over the HFC R-404A but it still has a GWP of over one-thousand. This refrigerant may last for a while and companies can all give themselves a pat on the back for becoming more environmentally friendly, but chances are that they will have to be switching refrigerants again in another five to ten years due to the pressure of getting rid of high GWP refrigerants.

If it was me I would either hold off on replacing/updating my HFC equipment, or if I had to update then I would opt for a natural or hydrocarbon refrigerant such as R-744 or R-290. At least with these you know that you do not have the risk of phase down looming around the corner. If there is one thing business owners can’t stand it is uncertainty.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

United AirLines

The past few weeks have been rather crazy on my side of the world. I started a new job a few weeks ago, put a contract down on a house, and the kids start school in just a month. Time is definitely flying by. I’m hoping here in a few months things will begin to calm down… but we will see.

Overall the news has been rather slow in the refrigerant industry the past few weeks. One story I did come across today though was that United Airlines has announced that they will be spending twenty million dollars to replace their aging air conditioners. These aren’t the air conditioners on the plane though. No, these are mobile units that are used while the plane is parked at the gateway to keep the plane nice and cool for when passengers leave or board the plane.

Truth be told, I didn’t even know these existed. I had assumed that the planes had their built in air conditioners running while on the tarmac through an auxiliary power unit. (Similar to what we do with heavy duty semi trucks.) Instead, airlines have these units called Air Conditioning Units for Aircraft (ACUs) and Pre-Conditioned Air Units (PCAs). They are a heating and cooling unit that can be moved to any plane on the tarmac. It makes perfect sense and is most likely more cost efficient then having APUs installed on each plane.

The Investment

The ACUs and PCAS that United Airlines have are aging and use the HCFC R-22. As we all know, R-22 is completely phased out here in just a few months. (January 2020) While this is good news I will say that United Airlines isn’t doing this out of the goodness of their hearts or to protect the climate. No, it is a business decision. These older units are not performing where they should be and in some cases are not able to fully cool the plane. Along with that they are also breaking down more and more frequently. This is not only costing in repairs but it is resulting in downtime for United Airlines. Downtime means money lost.

The plan is to invest twenty million dollars in replacing sixty-seven GPUs and eighty-five PCAs across their network. While that may seem like a large number, it is only a dent when compared to their total of five-hundred GPUs and four-hundred and sixty-four PCAs. Everyone has to start somewhere though. Along with replacing older R-22 units they will also be making the switch away from diesel/gasoline models and over to all electric. While electric models in the end cost more to operate United Airlines is seeking government grants to help offset the extra expense. So, I do have to give them credit here. They are making an effort at being green with these new units.

Conclusion

There doesn’t seem to be an end to the versatility of R-22. I swear, it’s everywhere. For most of us when we hear R-22 we picture a home or office building’s air conditioner. It’s the most popular and widely used R-22 application. But, since I’ve been doing this site I have seen R-22 ice rinks, R-22 fishing boats, R-22 shrimp boats, R-22 refrigerated transport, R-22 supermarket freezers/refrigerators, and now R-22 airline air conditioning.

The business owners who operate these machines are a whole other animal. These aren’t your residential customers who have an air conditioning unit that’s ten or fifteen years old that needs replaced. No, for the most part these business owners hold on to these R-22 air conditioners for as long as they can, sometimes longer then they should. This is all due to the investment needed to either retrofit their systems or to purchase a whole new HFC, HFO, or natural refrigerant system.

Sure, a homeowner may spend five or ten-thousand dollars on a new R-410A air conditioner. But, what about United Airline’s spending twenty million dollars on new portable air conditioners? That number is staggering and it is only about fifteen percent of their air conditioners. This is from a huge conglomerate like United Airlines. Now imagine a small town having to replace an R-22 ice rink. Or, a fishing company have to replace their refrigeration system on five or ten boats. The costs can be staggering and in some cases unaffordable. Many folks just kick the can down the road and hope their situation will improve a year or two later.

I don’t know if this constitutes as good news or not, but R-22 is at record low prices right now. This was unexpected in the market place and the assumption is that there is just a massive oversupply in the market place right now. Everyone has bought up and is holding onto what product they can. In some cases I have seen reports of small business owners buying pallets of R-22 just in case their aging system breaks.

The end is coming for these R-22 machines. We can bury our heads in the sand and ignore the problem, or we can come up with solutions. Is a retrofit possible? Is there an alternative refrigerant available for the application? Could the conversion be done in baby steps like what United Airlines is doing? Whatever way is decided, these R-22 systems need to be retired.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources:

There are a variety of reasons why you may be in the market for a dehumidifier. It could be that you are trying to get rid of that damp musty smell coming from your basement. Or, perhaps someone in your family is suffering from rather severe allergies and you are looking for a way to improve the air quality within your home. My father for example suffers from extreme asthma and having a dehumidifier in the home is just one of the things we can do to make him more comfortable.

Whatever your reason is it can be a bit overwhelming when you decide to purchase a dehumidifier. If you look online at the various e-commerce websites you will see dozens, if not hundreds, of different models, sizes, and options. How do you know which one is right for you? And, if you go into a big box store how do you know that you are getting a quality product?

In this article we are going to strive to answer those questions for you by taking an in-depth look at the Frigidaire dehumidifier models FAD301NWD, FAD504DWD , and FAD704DWD. Normally I do one review for each product but in this case these dehumidifiers are exactly the same. The only difference that you will see is the pint size. (I’ll get into that later.)

Frigidaire

Now before I ever buy any product, especially an expensive one, I always like to take the time and research the company and the brand behind the product. After all folks, a company’s brand name is paramount to a company’s success. If you have a recognizable and reputable brand name then people will know your product. They will know what to expect. Look at cars, as an example. You know what to expect if you buy a Lexus. You expect a premium car that is top quality. The brand name tells you that. The very same principle can be applied to dehumidifiers. Yes, I know it’s not as exciting as a new Lexus, but it is still worth it to do our research and understand the name and the company behind the product we’re looking at.

Frigidaire FAD301NWD Dehumidifier2
Frigidaire FAD301NWD Dehumidifier2

The Frigidaire company is one of the oldest refrigerant and air conditioning companies out there. In fact, I bet most of you have already heard of this company name. Chances are if you go into your kitchen right now that you’re going to find an appliance from Frigidaire. I don’t care if it’s a dishwasher, a microwave, an oven, or even your refrigerator. Speaking of refrigerators, did you know that Frigidaire was one of the very first companies to invent, patent, and began selling refrigerators? All the way back in 1916 Frigidaire was around and they were selling refrigerators. Over one-hundred years ago.

Since that date so long ago Frigidaire has grown and prospered. Over the years they have innovated, developed, and invented all new applications. With a century of experience behind them I would say that they are a great candidate to purchase a dehumidifier from. They have the knowledge, the development, and one of the most recognizable brand names within the industry. Along with all of that they have a variety of dehumidifier  products to choose from. If you find that this unit is not the right fit for you then I highly encourage you to visit Frigidaire’s online Amazon.com store so that you can find and select the perfect product for your needs.

Product Features

In this section I like to go through the various product features that can be found on this Frigidaire dehumidifier. This lets you know what you are getting into. Once we are through this we’ll then take a look at the Pros and Cons of the product.

Sizing

First things first though, before we start talking about the various features this product has we need to determine if this is the right dehumidifier for you. This product comes in three different sizes. We have the thirty pint, the fifty pint, and the seventy pint. There is a method when choosing the right sized dehumidifier for your home, I’m going to give you the quick summary but if you want to read the full article feel free to click here.

  • FAD301NWD – This is the thirty pint model. In other words, it cane remove up to thirty pints of water within a twenty-four hour period. This is the smallest size and while it will work for a moderately damp basement you will get better results if you move to the fifty pint. (If your basement is a thousand square feet or under you can get away with the thirty pint without an issue.)
  • FAD504DWD – This is the fifty pint model. In most cases this is going to cover your needs. Even if you have some moisture beading on your walls. This will dehumidify up to fifteen-hundred square feet as long as you don’t have actual standing water in your home.
  • FAD704DWD – This is the seventy pint model. This is the biggest size of this model range and will be more then big enough to handle a two-thousand square feet area with standing water. Most folks recommend going a size larger then what you need when it comes to dehumidifiers. Your machine won’t work as hard and will last longer.

Ok, so now that we’ve got sizing understood let’s take a look at the various other features that these products have.

Features

A lot of folks may not know this, but dehumidifiers are basically small air conditioners. You see an air conditioner actually removes humidity from the air as well. This is why your central air conditioner’s evaporator (The part above your furnace.) will drain water through a hose to your basement floor. This is the removed humidity. This is also why your basement can sometimes floor if this drainage pipe is clogged. The only main difference between an air conditioner and a dehumidifier is that the dehumidifier actually warms the air back up before it expels. All of the same parts are there though including refrigerant. These Frigidaire models use the HFC refrigerant known as R-410A. While this refrigerant has a higher global warming potential then we would like it is widely used and will be around for quite some time.

Frigidaire FAD301NWD Dehumidifier
Frigidaire FAD301NWD Dehumidifier

Ok, so now let’s take a look at the controls this Frigidaire dehumidifier offers. These units come with a digital display that allows you to set the desired humidity percentage within your home. (Remember that the perfect humidity for our homes is between thirty to fifty percent.) These units have a humidity range of between thirty-five to eighty-five percentage so you have more then enough flexibility to find that perfect setting for you and your family. You are also able to control the fan settings through this digital display. There are three settings of high, medium, and low. You are also able to set a timer. This timer will allow you to customize when your dehumidifier runs. This is a great feature if you want to be energy unconscious or want to have it turn off/on during the night.

Continuing on with the digital display you also get an indicator on when your filter needs cleaned and you get a full tank alert indicator that when your water tank has reached capacity. Speaking of water tanks, this unit can hold just over sixteen pints of water. The tray comes with a splash guard to minimize spills and can be easily pulled out from the front of the machine. If you don’t like having to empty the tray during operation you can also have continuous operation if you connect a hose to the unit and lead the water to a drain. This would work best in basements as you can have it drain through the same place where your air conditioner goes through. Also note that this hose is gravity fed, so the water will not flow unless the drain is lower then the dehumidifier. (Your kitchen sink won’t work.)

This dehumidifier comes with an anti-bacterial mesh filter. Remember not to ‘wash’ these filters with water. If you do then you risk damaging the anti-bacterial coating. It is best to shake out or to take a vacuum hose attachment to it. This filter is located at the bottom of the machine and can slide right out. It is best practice to clean the filter and the entire machine regularly to prevent any water or mildew from building up from within the machine. If uncleaned there is risk of mold growing within the appliance.

All three of these dehumidifier models come with a noise level right around fifty-three decibels. This is a little bit louder then a refrigerator running in your home or about the volume of a quiet conversation in your home. I won’t lie to you here, while the machine may not be loud… you are still going to notice the sound. Just be prepared for that before your purchase. This bothers some people and not others. Personally, I don’t hear very well so I doubt I wouldn’t even notice it.

Even the largest sized of these units, the seventy pint FAD704DWD, only comes in at forty-six pounds. The other two are under forty pounds. It’s a rather light machine but to make moving it easier for everyone Frigidaire has added rollers/wheels to the bottom for easier transport. Along with that there is also a top handle for an easy grip. There shouldn’t be any problem in moving this dehumidifier around.

The last point I want to make is that the smaller sized thirty pint model FAD301NWD is missing some of the features of it’s bigger brothers. With the thirty pint model you only get one fan speed and you do not get the digital humidity readout, instead you get mechanical controls. If it was me I would purchase the fifty pint as you get the extra features and just overall more capacity of water removed per day.

Pros

As I mentioned in the last section, the two fifty pint and seventy pint models are where it’s at. While yes, the thirty pint will get the job done, I would opt for the better controls and larger capacity. Regardless of what model you choose you can be safe in your buying decision. Throughout my research on this product I have found nothing but raving reviews. For example, on Amazon.com, there are over twelve-thousand reviews with an average rating of four out of five stars. With the features we mentioned above you are sure to get a quality dehumidifier to suit your needs.

All three products are Energy Star certified with the Environmental Protection Agency. The Energy Star program is designed to evaluate various appliances and determine if they meet the EPA’s efficiency standards. An Energy Star appliances is on average about fifteen percent more efficient then a competing machine. Along with the Energy Star rating you also get a one year full warranty from the Frigidaire manufacturer.

Cons

Every product, no matter who makes it, will have drawbacks. That’s just how it is. That being said, it was difficult to find specific cons on these products. Instead, nearly all of the complaints that I read through were towards the delivery of the product. Remember before how we stated that dehumidifiers are very similar to air conditioners and refrigerators? Well, just like with refrigerators you cannot turn or ship a dehumidifier upside down.

Just yesterday I was helping my father move a refrigerator and we were very careful not to tilt it too far. The reason for this is if the refrigerator or dehumidifier is upside down or tilted too far then the oil can drain out of the compressor. Without proper lubrication your compressor will fail and the compressor is by far one of the most important components of your air conditioner, refrigerator, or dehumidifier. Many folks have reported premature failures of their dehumidifiers… but this is most likely due to them turning on the product right away after it being upside down. If the product did arrive upside down then turn it right side up and then wait for quite a while, maybe even a day. Then, start your dehumidifier up and you shouldn’t have any issues.

It also may be best practice to wait a day or two before turning on your new dehumidifier. The product may come to your home right side up, but who is to know if it was like that earlier that day. Always better to be safe then sorry. The good news here though is that if your dehumidifier does end up not working after a few weeks or months Frigidaire offers a one year warranty. Through my research I had found cases where Frigidaire offered a complete replacement product. It’s good to know you’ll be protected here.

Another point worth mentioning is the cleanliness of the inside of your dehumidifier. I touched on this briefly but I’d like to bring it up again as this was another common complaint. A few consumers stated that they had mold growing on the inside components of their dehumidifier. Mold grows due to stagnant water. Normally this will not happen if the appliance is taken care of. That means having the filter cleaned regularly, have the water tank emptied in a timely manner, and a just overall cleaning. If you do start to notice a mildew smell or see signs of mold then you can do one of two things. You can take apart the dehumidifier and do your best to clean the unit. In most cases this works fine and you are up and running again. If the mold is extreme then you may need to scrap the appliance and purchase a new one.

This leads me to my next point. These dehumidifier models won’t last forever, nothing does. From what I have read these models tend to last anywhere from two to four years. After that the quality or the amount of humidity removed begins to go down. In some cases the machine no longer operates at all. Most consumers just opt for buying another model after theirs fails. This is up to you, just be aware that if you purchase you may end up doing again in another three or four years.

Conclusion

Ok, folks. We made it through! We covered absolutely everything on this product that I could fathom. If you are still thirsty for more information please check out our ‘Important Links,’ section below for the official instruction manual, installation guide, and more. If you are interested in purchasing this unit then please click here to be taken to our Amazon.com partner where you can have the product shipped right to your door.

Lastly, if you find that you have more questions or think you may need a different dehumidfier please visit our dehumidifiers buyer’s guide by clicking here.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Important Links

alert

On April 4th, 2019 a suit was filed by the HFC Coalition to the International Trade Commission (ITC). This suit aimed at stopping the dumping of HFC blended refrigerants such as R-410A, R-404A, and R-407C. The ITC’s decision on rather or not to review the suit was set for a deadline in May, but it was then pushed back to July. We were all expecting a decision to come next month but it was announced at the tail end of this week that the ITC has decided to accept the case and began the inquiry.

There have already been anti-dumping tariffs on HFC blends for a few years now, but the ITC’s ruling back then stated that only the blended refrigerant could be subject to the tariff. The components of these blends were not subject to the tax. So, businesses could import R-32 and R-125 refrigerants from China and face no penalties. These same businesses would then blend the refrigerant here in the States and then circumvent the tariff.

This oversight by the International Trade Commission has led to what we have today. Dirt cheap prices on some of the most common HFC refrigerants used. In essence, the initial levying of tariffs on blended refrigerants had very little impact. Everyone was getting around the tariff by importing components. It was like nothing had changed.

This is where the new suit filed in April comes into play. This case targeted the components of these blended refrigerants. On the original announcement of the suit prices on HFC blends went up nearly forty to fifty percent. As the dust began to settle prices slowly sank back down to pre-suit levels. Now though, the ITC has announced that they will hear this new case.

The Inquiry

As I said previously, the Department of Commerce has decided to began an inquiry on HFC refrigerant components. Originally, everyone had thought that the inquiry would be solely focused the blending process of the components. So, if you imported the components and then blended them into an HFC blend that is tariffed then you would be subject to the tax.

To my surprise though there were four inquiries announced this week. Let’s take a look:

  1. The first inquiry is what we just mentioned above. This is the blending of the components within the United States and circumventing the tariff. If the ITC agrees then a tariff would be installed on the blending process if the components are sourced from China.
  2. The next is what’s known as unfinished blends. I’ll be upfront with you here, I don’t know one-hundred percent what this is but my educated guess is that this is Chinese refrigerant companies blending the refrigerants but NOT to the exact levels to meet the anti-dumping blended requirements. In other words, they get it close to R-410A… but not all the way. This process would also be taxed if the ITC approves.
  3. The next inquiry is similar to our first point. This has to deal with importing components and blending them in a different country. The difference here though is that this is referencing India in particular. In this scenario, China exports the refrigerant components to India and then India blends them to create the blended HFC. This was yet another work around that companies found as the country of origin is India… even though the goods came from China. If approved anti-dumping would be installed in this scenario as well. While the initial inquiry only states India that does not mean that other countries are exempt. Say for example, China imports components into Vietnam and they blend there. If a decision is made here let’s hope it applies to all countries.
  4. The last change is on the blended refrigerant R-421A. This refrigerant blend actually doesn’t have a tariff on it because the product is patented. Patented refrigerants were excluded from the previous anti-dumping order. R-421A is quite similar to the more popular blended refrigerant known as R-407C. So, folks were importing the non-tariff R-421A and then finishing the blend to create R-407C. To give an example here, R-421A is comprised of R-125 (58%) and R-134a (42%). R-407C is comprised of R-32 (23%), R-125 (25%), and R-134a (52%). The only thing missing between these two refrigerants is R-32 and that is easily enough imported in without a tariff. If the ITC rules in favor then these patented blends will see tariffs installed on them as well.

Call these work around what you want. Maybe they are clever loopholes found by hard working businessmen. Or, maybe, they are skirting the edge of the law and they should all be stopped. However you feel, it is all coming to a head now. Now that this inquiry has begun there is a great amount of uncertainty in the market. What will happen? Will they rule in favor of all four? Just some, or none at all?

Pricing Impact

The official inquiry by the Department of Commerce will be hitting the public register on Monday. From that date onwards, June 17th, there will be a three-hundred day period for the ITC to make their decision. Here’s the scary thing though folks. If the ITC decides to impose tariffs in any of the ways we described above then those tariffs could be retroactive. This is huge and this is the main reason we are seeing prices go haywire.

Look at this way. Let’s say I am a business owner and I am going to import a trailerload of R-32 and R-125 into the United States next week. The product comes in, I blend it to R-410A, and then sell all of the product a few months later. I could face a tariff on ALL of that imported product nearly a year after I had imported and sold it. The ITC has the power to make this ruling retroactive and because of that the importing of HFCs has become a lot less attractive. Business owners could be looking at an over one-hundred percent tax on product they already sold.

Everyone who saw this coming bought up on as much product as they could and now that the inquiry has begun prices have begun to rise. A few major manufacturers have already announced their price increases. The question now though is will these manufacturers put limits on what quantities businesses can buy as well? Or, will the high prices be enough?

If you were smart enough to buy ahead you can now make a killing since the import market has all but dried up. Let’s take a look at some of the pricing trends we’re seeing now since this inquiry began just a few days ago:

R-410A – Twenty-Five Pound Cylinder Pricing:

  • Fall 2017 – $140
  • Fall 2018 – $65
  • Jan 2019 – $68
  • Feb 2019 – $56
  • Mar 2019 – $49
  • Apr 2019 – $100 – News of possible tariffs
  • May 2019 – $78
  • June 2019 – $65 – Before Inquiry
  • June 2019 – $100 – After Inquiry
    • I will state that the $100 is with some vendors. I have seen some say one-hundred and fifty and even some at one-hundred and eighty dollars a cylinder.

R-404A – Twenty-Four Pound Cylinder Pricing:

  • Fall 2017 – $175
  • Fall 2018 – $80
  • Jan 2019 – $70
  • Feb 2019 – $58
  • Mar 2019 – $50
  • Apr 2019 – $105 – News of possible tariffs
  • May 2019 – $89
  • June 2019 – $60 – Before Inquiry
  • June 2019 – $105 – After Inquiry

R-407C – Twenty-Five Pound Cylinder Pricing:

I don’t have as much pricing information on this product but I can still show you the pricing swing that took place this month:

  • June 2019 – $85 – Before Inquiry
  • June 2019 – $105 – After Inquiry

Conclusion

With the announcement of these inquiries this week there is now a lot of uncertainty introduced within the market place. It is difficult to say what will happen with pricing now. In the earlier announcements there was still hope that the ITC wouldn’t take up the case, but now that it is official we may see prices stay at these levels, or even go higher. It could go as crazy as two-hundred dollars plus a cylinder late this summer for some of the more popular HFC blends. But, we just don’t know for sure.

After all, it’s been an unseasonably colder summer for most of the country. I just took a bike ride earlier today in seventy-four degree weather. That is unheard of in Kansas in the middle of June. It should be close to one-hundred degrees. I know New England and other areas are experiencing the same thing. This colder weather may act as a buffer to this pending inquiry and help insulate the pricing situation until a decision is made next year.

If you are looking to purchase refrigerant please check out our bulk purchasing page by clicking here. In many cases we can get you the best and most aggressive priced product on the market.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Also, check out our other earlier articles on this same topic:

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In the beginning of this year I got into the habit of writing refrigerant pricing updates as I saw them coming. Most of these have been fairly benign with a few percent increases here and there. It was last month though that I wrote a pricing update that had pricing doubling on some of the most popular refrigerants in just a matter of days. The article can be found here.

This huge jump in price can be tied to a new suit filed with the Department of Commerce. This suit which was filed by the HFC Coalition aimed at installing anti-dumping tariffs on HFC components. For those of you that do not know, a few years back there were anti-dumping tariffs put on some of the most popular HFC refrigerants used today: R-410A and R-404A. These tariffs targeted Chinese product that was being unloaded in the United States at ultra low prices.

The problem with these tariffs though was how they were written. The tariffs themselves ONLY applied to R-410A and R-404A. Remember folks, that these two products are blended refrigerants. While the tariff was on the finished product it wasn’t on the components to make the blend. So, your refrigerants like R-125 and R-32 were immune from the anti-dumping. This resulted in a halting of imports of R-410A/R-404A and instead we saw massive importing of the components to blend these refrigerants. This flood of refrigerant components caused the price to stay pretty much were it was before the anti-dumping tariffs were installed. Nothing had changed except now distributors were blending Chinese refrigerants in the United States.

The Suit

I won’t get into all of the details here as it would be repetitive from my last article. Instead I’ll give a short summary and then move onto the update. In order to prevent these low prices and the continuing flood of Chinese refrigerants a suit was introduced to the Department of Commerce. This suit aimed at solving the problem when it comes to HFC refrigerant blends by adding a tariff to ANY HFC components that were used to create a blend within the United States. In other words, you can import R-125 all day long but the moment you use R-125 to create R-410A then you have to pay a tariff.

This suit was filed in early April and originally a decision was to be made today May 20th, 2019. Well, the deadline came and went and there was still no decision made. Instead the Department of Commerce issued a statement saying:

“According to 19 CFR 351.225(c)(2), “{w}ithin 45 days of the date of receipt of an application for a scope ruling, the Secretary will issue a final ruling under paragraph (d) of this section or will initiate a scope inquiry under paragraph (e) of this section.” However, “unless expressly precluded by statute, the Secretary may, for good cause, extend any time limit.” We have determined that additional time is required to review and assess the HFC Coalition’s request. Thus, in accordance with 19 CFR 351.302(b), we are extending the time-period for initiating a formal anti-circumvention inquiry by 45 days, until July 3, 2019.”

So, the can has been kicked down the road and we are now left with even more uncertainty. Before I get into pricing I want to make sure everyone understands that IF the DOC decides to take this suit up on July 3rd then EVERY blended refrigerant from July 3rd up until the decision date of the suit could be retroactively taxed the tariff. So, if I imported a heap of R-125 and R-32 in August, mixed them as 410A, and then sold them in September then I could be liable for tariffs… even if the DOC’s decision doesn’t come until February of 2020.

Pricing Update

That clause I just mentioned above is why we saw prices go crazy last April. The price of HFC refrigerants seemed to jump overnight when news of this hit the industry. Everyone was buying up as much as they could from their distributors and the distributors were buying as much as they could from China before a decision was made to accept the suit or not. In some cases we saw prices double.

Today however, I have good news. The prices on HFCs have begun to settle down. It’s hard to say exactly why this is but it appears that the initial shock of tariffs on components have worn off. Or, it could be that everyone and their brother have bought up so much that the demand has ultimately died down. Whatever the reason is prices have gone down since May. While we are still not near where we were before, we are in a much better spot then we were a month ago.

In my last article I did a break down of pricing on R-410A and R-404A. Let’s take a look again but with this week’s prices:

R-410A – Twenty-Five Pound Cylinder Pricing:

  • Fall 2017 – $140
  • Fall 2018 – $65
  • Jan 2019 – $68
  • Feb 2019 – $56
  • Mar 2019 – $49
  • Apr 2019 – $100 – News of possible tariffs
  • May 2019 – $78

R-404A – Twenty-Four Pound Cylinder Pricing:

  • Fall 2017 – $175
  • Fall 2018 – $80
  • Jan 2019 – $70
  • Feb 2019 – $58
  • Mar 2019 – $50
  • Apr 2019 – $105 – News of possible tariffs
  • May 2019 – $89

Conclusion

As you can see, we are moving downwards… but it is very tough to say what will happen in the future. There is still a lot of uncertainty in the industry and it is anyone’s guess as to what the Department of Commerce will decide on July 3rd.

One other point to mention here is that there was some talk on the latest tariffs from the Trump Administration. These tariffs are unrelated to the anti-dumping tariffs but are instead retaliatory taxes in the ongoing trade war between the United States and China. They were to be twenty-five percent on selected harmonized codes.

At first I understood that HFC refrigerants, and components, were affected by this tariff. But now, I have heard that an exemption was made specifically for HFC components. I have searched online trying to find specific information but it is quite murky, and I have not been able to find anything concrete. If any of you have further information on this topic please reach out to me and I will update this article.

Thanks for reading and hope everyone has a great Memorial Day! I’ve got a barbecue with my name no it. Cheers!

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

A Look

I’ll be the first to admit that I know very little when it comes to a transcritical system. I have seen it mentioned numerous times and have also seen that it is starting to become a trend in certain newer environmentally friendly applications. In an effort to educate myself I’m going to take a look at transcritical systems and how they work in this article.

We are all familiar with subcritical refrigeration process. This is the same process that is used in most every air conditioner or refrigerator across the world. It consists of four specific processes known as evaporation, compression, condensation, and expansion. A subcritical system has ALL of it’s processes occur below the refrigerant’s critical temperature.

When parts of the cycle process take place at pressures above the critical point and other parts below the critical pressure the cycle process is referred to as transcritical cycle. Transcritical systems are found when using R-744 Carbon Dioxide refrigerant. This is due to R-744 having an extremely low critical temperature of thirty-one degrees Celsius. As a comparison, R-134a has a critical temperature of one-hundred and one degrees.

There are many cases where the ambient temperature could be between twenty-five to thirty degrees Celsius. If your critical point for R-744 is only at thirty degrees then how can you expect to remove the heat?

Difference of Subcritical & Transcritical

The key difference with transcritical systems is that the heat rejection process is different. There is in fact no condensation. This is due to the low critical temperature of certain refrigerants. In transcritical systems the heat rejection takes place at temperatures above the refrigerant’s critical temperature.

When a refrigerant reaches a temperature above it’s critical point it is no longer known as a gas or a liquid but instead known as a fluid. This fluid condition is also known as a gas condition or state. So, when rejecting heat with a transcritical system it is known as ‘gas cooling.’ Therefore the heat exchanger in an transcritical system is known as a ‘gas cooler.’

Besides the difference in heat rejection though the rest of the refrigerant cycle remains the same. We will go into the transcritical process in our next section:

The Process

A transcritical process begins with the compressor just like it does with a subcritical system. The difference here though is that as the compressor compresses the vapor refrigerant the temperature rises and rises until it reaches past the refrigerant’s critical temperature. This is where the state change differs. Instead of a liquid we get a state in between liquid and vapor known as fluid.

The next step in the process is the rejection of the heat gained from compressing the vapor. The heat exchanger, or gas cooler, expels the heat all the while having the temperature staying above the critical point. During this process you will also have the temperature vary between the point it left to the compressor to when it goes to the expansion valve.

Next, as you know, is the expansion process. At the time the refrigerant comes into the expansion vale it is above the critical temperature and in a fluid state. When leaving the expansion valve the refrigerant is no longer above the critical temperature and it is a mixture state of liquid and vapor.

Lastly, we are at the evaporator. In the evaporator the refrigerant comes in as a liquid at a constant pressure. Obviously, during the evaporation cycle we change states again to vapor that is slightly superheated. The vapor then makes it’s way to the compressor to start the process over again.

One thing to note that with a transcritical system superheat and subcooling temperature aren’t as important. While they can still be helpful, most folks only look at evaporating and condensing temperatures. In fact, with a transcritical system there is no condensation process and therefore no subcooling.

Questions

Are There CO2 Systems That Aren’t Transcritical?

  • Yes, most often these are found in what’s known as cascade systems. These systems contain two types of refrigerants. In these examples the CO2 refrigerant is used during the low temperature stage of the refrigerant cycle. This ensures that the refrigerant does not rise above the critical temperature.

Are there other popular transcritical refrigerants?

  • From what I have researched CO2/R-744 is the only transcritical systems used today. I also went through a list of all refrigerants and their critical temperature and only found a few that were very low. R-744 was the only common one that I found that is used today. If you know otherwise, please reach out and let me know.
    • One reader reached out to me and informed me that in some cases R-410A can be used in a transcritical system. That is because 410A’s critical temperature is only one-hundred and sixty-two degrees Fahrenheit. If you are in a warmer climate, in the summer, and the sun is beating down on a rooftop condenser then temperatures could very well come close tot hat one-hundred and sixty degrees mark.

How often do we use transcritical systems?

  • With constantly improving technology and the push to move the worlds towards greener refrigerants we are seeing a substantial rise in transcritical systems across the globe. Most of these new systems are found in Europe and other countries but the United States is making inroads as well. We’re always just a bit behind Europe though…

Are transcritical systems more expensive?

  • Yes, they are when compared to traditional HFC systems. This is especially true here in the United States as there aren’t as many technicians who are familiar with the technology and the parts aren’t as readily available. In the US these systems are nearly twice as expensive but in the EU they are only around thirty percent more.
  • The good news here is that CO2 systems are slightly more efficient then HFC systems and the cost of R-744 refrigerant is significantly cheaper then HFC refrigerants.

Why Should I Choose a Transcritical CO2 System?

  • Yes these R-744 systems are more expensive but you get peace of mind with a transcritical CO2 system. They are never going to be phased out like a R-404A application will be. CO2 has a negligible environmental impact and will be around for decades to come. It is a safe investment in the future of your business.

Conclusion

Well folks I learned quite a bit during writing this article. I had to dig through some articles to educate myself. All of my sources articles can be found below. If you have further interest in learning about transcritical systems then I highly recommend the first two sources from ACHRNews & Danfoss. These articles are great and go in-depth on the transcritical process as well as including diagrams and illustrations to help drive the points home.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

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Hello all, I apologize for the two e-mails in one day but I figured this one was worth it. Over the past week I have had a few notifications from my contacts within the industry about incoming price changes.

First, before we get into what these changes are I want to take a look at why they are occurring. A few years back there was a suit filed with the International Trade Commission. This suit claimed that refrigerants from China were being dumped into the United States market at unfair prices. This dumping caused the prices on the most common HFC refrigerants to sink lower and lower.

In 2016 the Trade Commission ruled in favor of tariffs on imported HFC refrigerant blends from China (Two-hundred and ten percent tariff – Source from CoolingPost.com) The problem here though was that the Trade Commission’s ruling was on on HFC blends and not their components. That meant if you imported R-410A into the United States from China you would face a two-hundred and ten percent tariff, but if you imported R-125 and R-32 from China and then blended them within the US then you could work around the tariffs.

Obviously, this was a big hole. With this ruling there was going to be very little impact on HFC blend pricing. Sure, there is the extra cost of having to blend the product, but it is minimal when compared to purchasing competing product. The low priced product from China continued to flow freely.

The New Case

Everyone knew that the anti-dumping tariff had to be put in place on the components of blended refrigerants as well. But, in order to justify a new case with the Trade Commission it had to be proven that the tariffs instigated in 2016 were not effective and that companies were navigating around them by importing component refrigerants. From what I have read there needs to be at least a couple years of data in order for a case to move forward and be legitimized.

Well folks, here we are in 2019 and years have passed since the initial anti-dumping tariffs were passed. It is now time for a new case with the International Trade Commission. Yes, on April 4th, 2019 the American HFC Coalition and it’s members filed a new anti-dumping case with the Trade Commission. An excerpt can be seen below:

Section 781(a) of the Act is designed to address circumvention of an order by imports of out-of-scope merchandise, such as HFC components, that are completed or assembled in the United States after importation. As described below, the statutory criterion for initiating an anticircumvention inquiry are satisfied in this case. Evidence establishes that iGas USA, Inc., and its affiliate BMP USA, Inc., are mixing HFC blends in the United States using HFC components imported from China.

The process of blending HFC components from China into in-scope HFC blends adds only [ ] per kilogram of the finished HFC blend. As such, the blending performed by iGas and BMP is “minor or insignificant” within the meaning of section781(a)(1)(C) and 781(a)(2) of the Act. Additionally, the imported R-32, R-125, or R-143a, as the primary inputs of HFC blends, account for a “significant portion” of the total value of the merchandise within the meaning of section 781(a)(1)(D) of the Act. For these reasons, HFC components imported from China by TTI, Lianzhou, iGas and BMP are circumventing the antidumping duty order on HFC blends. Consequently, these components should be included within the antidumping duty order on HFC Blends from China pursuant to Section 781(a) of the Act.

As you can see, they have referenced companies bringing in HFC components from China and then mixing them in house to create R-410A, R-404A, and other popular HFC blends. Here is where things get a bit different though folks. Most people within the industry knew that this was coming. They had expected it to hit this year even, but what’s different is that the expected case was to be on the component refrigerants coming in from China. This new case though aims at the actual blending process. If you import HFC components into the United States from China and you then use those components to create a refrigerant blend that has a tariff then that tariff will apply to your newly blended refrigerant. In other words, you will be charged the tariff on R-410A even though you didn’t actually import R-410A. (You imported R-125 and R-32 instead.) An excerpt from the case is below as well:

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

All of this is preliminary. There is nothing official yet. The Trade Commission hasn’t even decided if they are going to investigate the matter. Their decision is expected to come towards the end of May. If the Commission does decide to investigate this case then we may have to wait a year, or more, to find out what the results are and if they will be levying a tariff on the blending of HFC refrigerants. Here’s the kicker though folks, if they do accept this case and rule in favor of a tariff a year down the road they could also make the decision to retroactively enact the tariff on blending refrigerants. That means that from the moment they accept the case up until their ruling refrigerant distributors could have to pay the new tariffs on their blended refrigerants… even on product that have already been sold. This is a worst case scenario, but if it does happen a lot of companies will have to write off these tariffs on product that they sold a year ago.

Price & Availability

As a direct result of the scenario above we have begun to see chaos in the HFC pricing and availability market here in the United States. In just a few days after the announced case two major refrigerant manufacturers sent notifications that they would no longer be accepting HFC refrigerant orders. Think about that for a second, two out of the four major manufacturers are no longer accepting orders. (I won’t name names here, but I’m sure you can make a good guess.) These companies put a hold on their distributing refrigerant because everyone is buying as much refrigerants as they can as soon as they can. Everyone is trying to beat that May deadline when the Trade Commission decides rather to pick up the case or not. That date is critical because, as we discussed before, if they do decide to investigate then ANY product brought in after that date could be subject to an anti-dumping tariff.

Along with the two manufacturers who are no longer taking orders I have another mailer from a third global manufacturer. While this mailer isn’t stopping orders it is announcing a large price increase on all of their HFC refrigerants. This company announced an increase of eighty cents a pound on their various HFC refrigerants such as: R-410A, R-407A, R-407C, R-404A, and R-507. For some reason, R-134a was also mentioned as having an increase although theirs was smaller at sixty cents more per pound. Having R-134a in here is strange since it is not a blended refrigerant, but this may have been thrown in there just because.

Based off of the increases mentioned above let’s take a look at one of the most popular refrigerants and how they are impacted. Remember, that these prices are always ball park and can change at any time:

R-410A – Twenty-Five Pound Cylinder Pricing:

  • Fall 2017 – $140
  • Fall 2018 – $65
  • Jan 2019 – $68
  • Feb 2019 – $56
  • Mar 2019 – $49
  • Apr 2019 – $100

R-404A – Twenty-Four Pound Cylinder Pricing:

  • Fall 2017 – $175
  • Fall 2018 – $80
  • Jan 2019 – $70
  • Feb 2019 – $58
  • Mar 2019 – $50
  • Apr 2019 – $105

Conclusion

These two pricing trends above really tell the story on what has happened over the past week or so. The prices on these HFC blends have nearly doubled. ALL of this is due to speculation and rumor as to what the Trade Commission will decide. Will they take up the case? Or, will they hold off? 

Also, another point that I didn’t mention is that it’s not just the larger global manufacturers that are having a run on their HFC inventory. The Chinese are seeing huge trailerload orders placed as a last ditch effort to get as much product on hand as possible before a possible tariff begins. If this keeps up there very well may be a global shortage of R-125 again similar to what we saw in the spring of 2017. (At some points during that year we saw 410A and 404A prices upwards of four-hundred dollars.)

The only good news I can offer here is that once the May deadline approaches things began to slow down. Right now it is the uncertainty that is driving the market mad. At least once a decision is made everyone can sleep a bit easier. 

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Greetings folks! I hope everyone had a great January and was able to stay warm during the Polar Vortex. Kansas City didn’t get it as bad as some other areas as we only got down to negative five. (Only!) I apologize for not updating the past few weeks but we all need a little R and R every now and then.

As most of you know I came from the automotive industry, specifically trucking. While in this industry I was responsible for purchasing R-134a for our dealerships. After doing this for a few years I found that the absolute best time to buy is right now. Yes, January and February are the best time to purchase refrigerants rather it be R-134a, R-410A, R-404A, or anything else.

The Why

There are a few reasons you should consider buying right now. As the year progresses and we get into the spring and summer months the price on refrigerants steadily begins to creep up. This is due to demand and the hotter weather. As we all know, more demand equals higher pricing. This is why it makes sense to buy most of your company’s yearly demand in the down season while the prices are still quite low.

That being said, I wouldn’t recommend purchasing in November or December either. Depending on the year you could see the high summer prices extend even to the fall months. With some years I’ve seen exceptional pricing last all the way to mid November. The demand and the pricing that followed finally begins to die down in December and is pretty much non-existent in January. This causes the price to drop to it’s lowest point.

Even though January has the absolute best prices a lot of companies will wait until the magical month of February. This may be due to the pricing being right around the same and that we’re another month closer to spring and summer. That’s one less month of sitting on expensive inventory.

Late last month we had a trucking company go through our bulk purchasing program. After some negotiations they ended up buying a full trailer load of R-134a from us. For those that don’t know, a trailer load consists of twenty pallets of forty cylinders each. (Eight-hundred cylinders.) Just about a week later we had another trucking company purchase just under five trailer loads. That’s nearly four-thousand cylinders.

All of these large purchases are designed to give companies the best price in the market, to insulate them from seasonal price increases, and to also fill their demand for the entire season.

The Risk

It’s not all a bed of roses though folks. There is a risk to purchasing like this. Refrigerant is a commodity and it’s pricing can change with just the snap of a finger. In previous articles I equated it to the price of oil. We always see in the news that oil prices are going up and down every week or even every day. While refrigerant isn’t as volatile as oil is, it is important to know that the prices can go down or up at any moment.

While it is fairly standard for prices to go up during prime season it is not always the case. There are a variety of reasons that prices could actually go down in the hot months of summer. It could be oversupply across the country. Or, it could be a very mild summer and the need for air conditioning just isn’t there. Whatever the reason is, you should know that there is the possibility of prices going down as well as going up in prime season.

Let’s look at a worst case scenario. Say your company bought a trailer load of refrigerant this week and you got what you believe was an aggressive price. As the months go by and summer arrives you begin to notice that you are getting priced out of the market. Your competitors are quoting fifteen to twenty percent lower then you. You are now stuck with overpriced product. Do you sell at a loss? Do you buy some at the lower price and hold onto your current inventory? Do you write off the cost difference as a loss and move on?

Conclusion

While the above scenario isn’t a pretty picture I can assure you that the other end of the spectrum is. Imagine for a moment that you purchased a trailer load product at ninety dollars a cylinder. Then, as summer arrives, the price goes up and up until it hits over one-hundred and fifty dollars a cylinder.  Now you are in a great position to make a killing and still undercut some of your competition.

Whatever you decide to do with your company’s refrigerant needs this year just remember that there is no right or wrong answer. No one knows for certain what will happen within the market this year. There are always going to be winners and losers. Here’s hoping you’re on the winning side!

If you are interested in purchasing please contact us and we’ll do our best to get your an aggressive price.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

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

Hello everyone! I hope your Labor Day is going well. We just got back from our city’s parade and I’ve got a few hours before our barbecue so I thought I’d take some time and get an article out there. I’m going to preface this article with the disclaimer that this is an opinion piece. Take it how you want, but it has been on my mind over the past year or so.

As we all know refrigerants have been phased out or phased down for decades. We started it way back in the early 1990’s with R-12 and other CFCs. Then we focused on HCFCs and now the world is looking at HFCs. With CFCs and HCFCs the goal of the phase out was to stop using Ozone damaging refrigerants. These refrigerants contained Chlorine which did not break down in the atmosphere and ended up harming the Ozone layer.

HFCs were the replacement for these Ozone damaging refrigerants. HFCs did not contain Chlorine and did not harm the Ozone layer. They were also non-flammable and non-toxic. Yes, I am aware there are always exceptions out there, but the most commonly used HFC refrigerants were non-flammable and non-toxic. These HFCs seemed to be the perfect substitute for HFCs and HCFCs.

Fast forward to the present and the world is now looking to phase down or phase out HFC refrigerants across the globe. This time though instead of them damaging the Ozone these refrigerants are contributing to Global Warming. Refrigerants are measured on a scale known as Global Warming Potential, or GWP. The zero scale for GWP is Carbon Dioxide (R-744) with a GWP of one. Popular HFC refrigerants, such as R-134a, have GWP as high as one-thousand four-hundred and thirty. There is an obvious problem here and the continued use of HFC refrigerants will speed up Global Warming. The question now though is what alternatives are out there?

Natural Refrigerants

For a lot of companies and countries the answer has been Hydrocarbons such as R-717 and R-290. These natural refrigerants have a very low Global Warming Potential and they do not deplete the Ozone layer. In fact, R-717 is widely seen as one of the most efficient refrigerants out there. Both of these refrigerants are great for the environment. The downside though is that these refrigerants can be dangerous.

Yes, just like with anything, if the refrigerants and machines are handled correctly and maintained properly then there is little chance of problems, but the chance still persists nonetheless. Let’s look at R-717, or Ammonia, as an example. Ammonia is a great refrigerant but it is toxic if inhaled. In today’s world it is mostly used industrial refrigeration such as meat packing plants and in ice rinks. When a leak does happen it can be deadly. Notice, how I said when? Ammonia leaks occur quite frequently across the Americas. There was a particularly bad one around one year ago in Canada that ended up fatally harming three workers. (Source) When an Ammonia leak occurs an evacuation has to occur. Depending on the size of the leak the evacuation could be a couple of blocks surrounding the facility. It can be that dangerous.

The alternative for Ammonia based systems was R-22. In the 1980’s and 1990’s companies could pick between these two refrigerants for their plants. (Yes, there were more, but I believe these were the main players.) The choice for R-22 is now gone due to the phase outs. Depending on the application, some were using R-134a as an alternative to Ammonia. But now, that too, is being phased out. While R-22 and R-134a were damaging the Climate they were safe. If a leak occurred it wasn’t the end of the world.

Now with the shrinking list of alternative refrigerants more and more companies are leaning towards Ammonia. Yes, there are new HFC and HFO alternatives being developed by Chemours and Honeywell but these have not been perfected yet. You may get one that has a low GWP but has a higher flammability rating. Or, you may get one that still has a somewhat high GWP and it just wouldn’t make sense to base a new machine off of a refrigerant that is only going to be around for a few years.

R-290, or Propane, has a similar story. While yes, it’s not near as deadly as Ammonia, it still has it’s risks. Instead of toxicity being a problem we now have to deal with flammability and flame propagation. If an inexperienced technician attempts to work on an R-290 unit and is not sure what they are doing they could end up igniting the refrigerant. (The worst is the guys who smoke when working on a unit.)

Now picture this, what if we start using R-290 in home based air conditioners? It doesn’t even have to be a split system, it could be a mini-split or even a window or portable unit. Let’s say Mr. Homeowner, who has no idea what he’s doing, decides to tamper with the unit because it’s not blowing cold air. Maybe he thinks it just needs ‘more Freon.’ If the unit was using Puron then the homeowner would recharge, waste his money, and think he did some good. However, if the unit contained R-290 the results could be far worse.

HFOs and Alternative HFCs

In my opinion, HFOs are much safer then Hydrocarbons, but there is still that safety risk out there. Let’s look at everyone’s favorite HFO target, 1234yf. Now, I know this horse has been beaten to death, but I’m going to bring it up one more time. YF is rated as an A2L from ASHRAE. That 2L means that YF is flammable and has a chance to ignite. What kills me here is that there was such a push to get YF rolled out to new vehicles that instead of rating it as a standard A2 refrigerant they instead created a whole new flammability called 2L. (Lower Flammability.) So, they’re admitting to it being flammable, but only slightly.

The whole controversy on YF started years ago when the European Union was looking for a suitable alternative to R-134a. There were hundreds of tests conducted across Europe and the World to view the viability of 1234yf. In one of these tests the Daimler company out of Germany found that after the vehicle suffered an impact and the compressor cracked open the HFO YF refrigerant ignited when it was exposed to the hot engine. (For more on this check out our YF fact sheet by clicking here. The video of the ignition is at the bottom.)

Needless to say, this test result shocked Daimler and they published their findings to the world. The other companies and countries stated that Daimler’s test could not be reproduced and that it was a non-issue. The world moved forward with the somewhat dangerous 1234yf. Daimler, being the innovators they are, decided to instead move forward with a completely different automotive refrigerant, R-744.

While 1234yf is by far one of the most popular HFC alternatives on the marketplace today there are others that have similar problems. One that comes to mind right away is R-32. R-32 is an HFC refrigerant that is beginning to see more popularity for it’s usage in home and commercial air conditioners. R-32 is an alternative to the standard R-410A that is found in most home units. The goal of R-32 was to reduce the GWP number when compared to R-410A. 410A has a GWP of two-thousand and eighty-eight while R-32 has a GWP of six-hundred and seventy-five. This is a significant reduction, but the GWP is still quite high when comparing to Hydrocarbons or HFOs. Another very important point is that R-32 is rated as an A2 refrigerant. There’s that 2 again. 2 means flammable except with this one we don’t even get the L for lightly flammable.

So again, I’m going to illustrate the similar scenario we mentioned above. Picture a homeowner, who doesn’t know what they are doing, trying to either retrofit his existing R-22 over to R-32 or perhaps he just wants to recharge his R-32 machine. Without the proper training and knowledge this can end in disaster.

Conclusion

So, now here we are sacrificing technician and public safety for the betterment of the Climate and environment. I understand that Global Warming is a crisis and that it needs to be dealt with, but is it really worth increasing possible risk and danger of everyday workers and people? It appears that in everyone’s haste to move away from HFC refrigerants and to save the environment the thought of safety has taken a backseat.

I mean, if we wanted to get really aggressive in the fight against climate change why not start using Ammonia in nearly every application? After all, it has a GWP of zero and is extremely energy efficient. (I’m being sarcastic here, if you couldn’t tell!)

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Differences

Spring is beautiful. Trees are blooming, birds are chirping, and we rarely have to wear winter coats. It’s nice outside! Finally, there are days when you don’t have to run your HVAC system. If you have another type of space heater you’re probably not using that either. Soon, however, you’ll need to consider your cooling situation. And the perfect time is now.

This is because those 100 degree temperature days can come out of nowhere. Instead of being caught off guard, let’s take a look at some cooling options. Your HVAC system might be your go-to. However, there are portable and window air conditioners are great solutions as well. Before considering which might be best for you, you first need to understand the differences between the two. You’ll then learn functionality and features of each to decide which is best for you. There are a few points to consider here. They are:
• Defining each of the systems.
• Comparing the features of each system.
• Choosing the right air conditioner.
• Knowing where to buy it.

What is a Portable Air Conditioner?

DeLonghi America PACAN120EW 12000BTU Whisper Cool Portable Air Conditioner
PACAN120EW 12000BTU Portable Air Conditioner

A portable air conditioner is named as such for a reason: it’s portable! Think of a unit which can be moved from room to room or home to home. Portable air conditioners sit close to a window. This allows it to remove warm air from the room through a hose connected to the unit.

Portable air conditioners typically have a removable tray which collects moisture. Over time, this tray needs to be removed and the liquid should be flushed down a drain. Some high-end models, however, evaporate moisture out of the exhaust hose, along with the warm air. The Whynter ARC-122DS Elite is a great example of a higher end portable air conditioner which automatically evaporates moisture. You can learn more about portable air conditioners by clicking here.

What is a Window Air Conditioner?

Koldfront WAC10002WCO 10,000 BTU
Koldfront WAC10002WCO 10,000 BTU

A window air conditioner can also be viewed as a type of portable unit. However, it’s a stationary one. They are literally installed in an open window. The trick to window air conditioners is finding the right size. Having a proper setup means that the unit should fit perfectly. This will allow the cool air to stay in the room, thereby saving energy and money. The hOme 5000 BTU Window-Mounted Air Conditioner is a popular choice due to its ideal fit in bedroom windows. Make sure you measure your window before purchasing.

Installing a window air conditioner is not difficult, provided you follow the instruction manual. Once ready to run, you’ll find that the unit seems like a permanent fixture. They are great, in part, because they don’t take up much space due to being in the window. You can learn more about window air conditioners by clicking here.

Comparing the Two

There are multiple benefits to each unit. Some of the benefits overlap. For example, each type of air conditioner is relatively inexpensive. The average price is a few hundred dollars. In contrast, central air conditioners cost thousands of dollars. Portable air conditioners are slightly more expensive than window air conditioners. However, the price difference is minimal and may not be a major deciding factor with which unit to choose from.

The noise level varies with portable air conditioners. You can generally expect them to be quieter the price goes higher. Window air conditioners, on the other hand, are usually louder. This is due, in part, to the rumbling of the unit up against the window sill. Securing the unit in place will help to minimize the noise it produces.

Window air conditioners commonly come with an Energy Star rating. But that doesn’t mean portable air conditioners can’t be energy efficient. Portable units are commonly assigned an Energy Efficient Ratio (EER) rating. The higher the EER is, the more efficient the portable air conditioner will be. That being said, window air conditioners are generally known to be more energy efficient.

Which You Should Choose

Efficiency, price, versatility—these are the factors you’ll consider before choosing a unit. If you think you’ll be moving the unit from room to room you might want a portable air conditioner. If you are looking to save space in a room you might want a window air conditioner. If you want the easier unit to install you might choose the portable air conditioner. If you are looking for an efficient model you might choose a window air conditioner.

These factors might seem clear-cut to you. Or, you may want a mix of the features. At the end of the day, you’ll need to pick which one is best for your situation.

Where to Buy Them

My favorite place to shop is Amazon. I’m able to easily compare models and types without leaving my home. And you can too. For portable air conditioners, a great starting point for you would be here. If you are interested in window air conditioners, you will want to shop here.

Make sure you read customer reviews. It’s one of my favorite ways to research a new product I’m considering buying. You can also look at the star rating for a quick idea of how good the product is. If you are energy conscious, make sure you look at the BTU number of the unit. As the number goes higher it will be able to produce more energy.

Conclusion

Reading this has made you better prepared to face to face a hot summer. It’s important to note that, even if you have central air, you’ll want to get it checked before a hot an humid day. You may not have used your air conditioner since last year and you’ll want to make sure it’s working properly.

Consider also that both portable and window air conditioners use less energy than a central air conditioner. If you only need to cool one or two rooms in your home, either unit might be a great money-saving solution. If you have any further questions about portable or window air conditioners don’t hesitate to contact me.

What Is It?

Anyone who has ever dealt with an air conditioning system, even in the smallest of manners, has most likely heard of the TXV. It’s one of those things like Superheat and Subcool that are essential to understand when working on a unit. But what is the TXV? How does it affect the system? When did it come about? We’re going to dive in folks to all of this, answer those questions, and maybe more. Let’s take a look.

What is the TXV?

TXVs, or Thermostatic Expansion Valves, is a metering device found in most air conditioning systems around the world. The goal of this valve is to control the amount of liquid refrigerant being fed into the system’s evaporator and to also control the amount of Superheat in a system. Depending on who you are or who you are working with you may hear TXVs be called the generic name of ‘metering devices.’

Refrigerant TXVThe TXV is located on the liquid line between the condenser and the evaporator. In most cases it sits right outside the evaporator ensuring that no extra liquid gets in and potentially floods the evaporator. When working perfectly the TXV is a precise instrument that increases the overall efficiency of your system.

As I stated above TXVs were designed to improve energy efficiency on air conditioners. This is done by metering the amount of refrigerant. TXVs were NOT designed to control humidity, capacity, head pressure, air temperature, suction pressure, or anything else. Again, it is just controlling the amount of refrigerant allowed into the evaporator.

The TXV achieves this by doing a couple of things. First, it looks at how fast the refrigerant is moving through the evaporator and how fast it is boiling off back into a gas form. It does this by looking at the temperatures of the refrigerant gas as it leaves the evaporator and the pressure inside of the evaporator. These recordings are kept in a temperatures sensing bulb built into the TXV. If metering needs to occur then a pin is moved in our out automatically in the valve to control the flow of refrigerant based off of the data that the TXV received.

When this pin is applied inside the TXV a few things begin to happen to the liquid refrigerant that is now stagnat. The pressure on the refrigerant slowly begins to drop. As this drop occurs an amount of the refrigerant converts to gas. (This is the standard response during pressure drops.) This now low pressure liquid and gas mixture moves into the evaporator and then completely boils off into it’s gaseous state.

Refrigerant TXV

TXV Failure Causes

Like with anything on an air conditioning system Thermostatic Expansion Valves can break. The question now is when they are broken or when they are failing how can we tell and why did they break? What should we look for? Below are a few examples of failures that can occur on your TXV:

  • Build up of wax on the inside of the TXV. This can happen due to the wrong oil being used in the system.
  • Containment or particulates getting stuck in the TXV. This can happen due to a few reasons, one of them is your compressor failing and burning out.
  • Orifice inside the TXV freezing and filling with ice due to excessive moisture within the system.
  • If at one point your compressor was flooded with refrigerant than your system’s excess oil may bog down the TXV. This can also happen if you just have too much oil in your system.
  • The Thermostatic Expansion Valve may be adjusted too far closed or open for it to work effectively.
  • Lastly, but still very important, is that there may just be a manufacturer’s defect on the TXV.

Remember that a system with a faulty TXV is going to display the same symptoms as a faulty liquid line. This is because the TXV is in fact part of the liquid line. So, when checking for failures it is best to check every component in the liquid line including the TXV, the drier, any solenoids, and valves.

TXV Failure Symptoms

Ok folks, so we now know what a TXV is and how it can fail but the question now is what are some of the signs that a TXV is failing? What are the things to look for? First, let’s remember that a failure on a TXV is one of two things. First it is either too restricted and it is not letting refrigerant into the evaporator. Second, it is not restricting enough and you are having excess refrigerant being fed into your evaporator.

Let’s look at the first example first where not enough refrigerant is being fed into the evaporator. Symptoms of this can be the following:

  • Low pressure on your evaporator.
  • High evaporator and compressor Superheat temperatures.
  • Low amperage from your compressor.
  • Short cycling on the low pressure control.
  • A higher than normal discharge temperature.
  • Low condenser pressure. (Head)
  • Higher than normal condenser Subcool temperatures.

Ok, now let’s look at the second example when too much refrigerant is being fed into your evaporator. When this happens the evaporator can no longer keep up and some of the liquid refrigerant may in fact work it’s way towards your compressor. If liquid refrigerant moves into your compressor the liquid will settle at the bottom of the compressor along with the oil. All of this can cause premature failure in your compressor. Trust me folks, compressors aren’t cheap. The thing to keep in mind here is that if you do have a compressor failure then there was a reason for that. It may have not been a faulty compressor but instead something further on down the line, in this case the TXV.

Conclusion

Remember folks, nowadays the Thermostatic Expansion Valve is one of the most important things for technicians to check, monitor, and review. Couple this with checking Superheat and Subcool then you will have a pretty darn good idea what is going on with your system.

Thanks for reading and I hope this was helpful,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

I am proud to say that RefrigerantHQ has been mentioned in quite a few different websites in their ‘Top HVAC Websites,’ section. These various post are a great way for an audience on one site to discover a related site that they may have not known about in the past. Thanks to these posts I have seen an increase in traffic so I thought that I would return the favor by compiling a best of here as well.

My website, RefrigerantHQ, is a niche within a niche. Yes, I see my site as part of the HVAC industry but as you all know we tend to focus only on the refrigerant or air-conditioning side of the world. While there are many top ten or top whatever sites in the HVAC industry I thought that I would take the time today and put together a top listing of all of the best refrigerant sites out there. The sites listed below are all highly regarded and respected. Most of the time when I am writing an article I will either get the idea from one of these sites or I will refer to them as a source. Let’s take a look.

#1) – Cooling Post

The Cooling Post is a website based out of the United Kingdom. Like my website they tend to focus only on the refrigerant and air conditioning aspect of the industry. I have them ranked as number one in my listing as they provide a great, steady, and late-breaking news on the industry. Chances are if something has happened the Cooling Post will have an article about it. I try to reference them as much as a I can as a reputable source. If you haven’t already subscribed to their newsletter then I would highly recommend doing so! It is sent out twice a week and there is usually always an interesting topic related to our niche.

#2) – ACHRNews

I’m sure most of you have heard of ACHRNews. They have been around as a magazine for nearly one-hundred years. While they focus on anything and everything in the heating and cooling world they do offer very detailed articles and updates on the refrigeration side of things as well. Their subscription base looks to be mainly composed of contractors and technicians.

Depending on the article these guys can either cover a broad topic or they dive down into the weeds and details of certain applications. I would suggest subscribing if you are a small business owner or someone who is just looking to keep up with all of the changes in the HVAC industry. Personally, I use ACHRnews as a reference and a source for quite bit of my articles as well.

#3) – RACPlus

RAC is out of the United Kingdom just like the Cooling Post is. RAC is another website and magazine dedicated to the refrigerant and air conditioning world. While some of their stories may be European Union centered I can assure you that they do a variety of international stories including covering the United States. Just today I signed up for their monthly print magazine and I’m looking forward to diving into it when the first edition arrives.

While I have used RAC as a source in the past I do not see them as often as I see the previous Cooling Post and ACHRnews. That’s not to say that they don’t provide great articles, they do, but sometimes it is not the exact kind of story that I am looking for on my site.

Something kind of neat that I would like to mention here is that they are putting on a ‘2018 Cooling Awards,’ program. The official link can be found by clicking here. There are many different categories to win. The 2017 winners can be found by clicking here.

#4) – SHECCO

Shecco is an interesting company. They are a company dedicated to advancing and promoting natural refrigerants. Instead of having one centralized site they run a variety of websites, magazines, and publications. As an example, R-744.com is owned and ran by Shecco. This website is anything and everything related to CO2 refrigerants. Another website of theirs Ammonia21.com is, you guessed it, dedicated to Ammonia (R-717) in refrigerant applications.

On top of their various websites they also host an annual tradeshow out of Long Beach, California. 2018’s show is this June and there are expected to be around four-hundred and fifty experts, policy/law makers, and end users attending. Registration for the event can be found by clicking here. While I was planning to attend this year I now found that I am unable due to a family medical issue. I’m hoping for next year!

Shecco’s various sites:

#5) – iiar

Iiar is another advocate group for natural refrigerants including Ammonia. This site is more a lobbying group. I say this as their address is in Virginia and their board of directors are all come from various large companies across the United States as well as outside of the US. I would take most of their articles with a grain of salt. This website provides occasional news and updates on natural refrigerants and I have used them as a source or reference a few times, but nowhere near as much as the previous sites.

#6) – ClimateControlNews

Again, this isn’t a site that I have used very often but they do provide informative articles and updates. Climate Control News is based out of Australia which is great as I usually don’t see too much news coming from over there. Most of the time I only end up reading about western changes either from the United States or the European Union. This website actually gave me the idea for a story I did the other day about a new refrigerant phone application that will soon give us the first accurate measurement on how much charge is left in a dying or scrapped air conditioning system. (Story can be found here.)

#7) – LindeGas

While this isn’t a news or magazine site I find myself using Linde’s website quite often when I am looking for specific facts about a certain refrigerant. For example, if I didn’t know the exact GWP of R-134a or the ASHRAE safety classification then I simply go to Google and type in, “Linde R-134a.” Bam, I get exactly what I needed. (Example of their R-134a page here.)

As you can see from the above link, this page gives you a break down of all applications 134a can be used for, GWP, Ozone depletion potential, oil requirements, and much more information. This is my go to site when looking for refrigerant specifics.

Honoralbe Mention – ACRJournal

My honorable mention here is the ACR Journal out of the United Kingdom. While I haven’t personally sourced from them I can say that after browsing their site they look to have some good articles. I did notice that they haven’t updated for a month or two, so you won’t get as much news from them as say a Cooling Post subscription but it may still be worth your time to look this site over.

Conclusion

Well folks, that’s my listing of top refrigerant sites for  2018. Now I know that I have missed some sites. It’s bound to happen. I’m hoping that if you run a site or if you know of a site that wasn’t included in this listing to please send the information my way. If I feel that it fits into this listing then I will edit the article and add your suggestion. The goal here is to provide a great and ever building list for everyone to source from.

Reader Recommendations:

Thanks for reading and I hope this list was helpful,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Not everyone has lost hope since the Environmental Protection Agency’s SNAP Rule 20 was overturned by a federal court last August. This SNAP Rule 20 was the EPA’s planned phase down and phase out of HFC refrigerants across the United States. This Rule had been the law of the land for nearly two years before this sudden court ruling put everything into a tailspin. Now, no one knows for sure what is going to happen.

There have been a series of appeals by Honeywell and Chemours, there have been bills introduced in the United States’ Senate, and there is talk about ratifying the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. All of this though is merely conjecture and so far none of them have proven to be a promising alternative. So far the appeals have failed, the Senate Bill is stalled and most likely won’t pass due to Trump and Republican controlled Houses, and Trump hasn’t indicated one way or the other if he will be pushing the Kigali Amendment for Senate ratification. The question now though is what happens next?

States to the Rescue?

With all of this uncertainty now coursing through the industry there are some states that have taken it upon themselves to enact their own rules and regulations. I’m a big States Rights guy in the first place and so I am hugely in favor of this. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) will have more powers for regulations on refrigerants based on two new State Senate bills SB1383 and SB1013. (They were both introduced by State Senator Ricardo Lara.)The goal of both of these bills are to reduce the usage and consumption of the ‘Super Pollutants,’ known as HFC refrigerants. These include the ever so common refrigerants such as R-134a, R-404A, R-507A, R-410A, along with other HFCs.

For the most part both of these new bills actually mimic the Federal Government’s original EPA SNAP Rule 20 plan. There are slight changes here and there but the overall aim remains the same.  (The EPA SNAP Rule 20 fact sheet can be found by clicking here.) Under the SB 1383 California must reduce their HFC emissions by forty percent below 2013 levels by the year 2030. While this goal may seem a bit extreme it is worth noting that this goal is significantly less than the Kigali Amendment that is still in limbo. (Kigali wanted an eighty-five percent reduction by 2036.) This SB 1383 bill is the first step into reducing the usage, imports, and production of HFC refrigerants within California. An excerpt from the bill is below:

This bill would require the state board, no later than January 1, 2018, to approve and begin implementing that comprehensive strategy to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants to achieve a reduction in methane by 40%, hydrofluorocarbon gases by 40%, and anthropogenic black carbon by 50% below 2013 levels by 2030, as specified. The bill also would establish specified targets for reducing organic waste in landfills. – California Senate Bill 1383

This bill will be accomplished by stopping manufacturers from using HFC refrigerants in new machines and applications as well as retrofitting existing machines over to cleaner refrigerants. These applications where HFCs can no longer be used include supermarket refrigerators and freezers, food processing machines, self-contained refrigeration units, and vending machines. Like with most phase downs there is ample time for businesses and contractors to adapt to these changes. Remember, the deadline is 2030, so there are nearly twelve years for everyone to adapt.

Another rule, SB1013, restricts the use of HFC refrigerants in air conditioners and refrigerant applications. This bill gives CARB a few powers to wield. One of the most important of these powers is that it gives CARB the ability to grant incentives and benefits to businesses that move away from HFCs towards climate friendlier options like Hydrocarbons or HFOs. An excerpt from the bill is below:

This bill would establish the Fluorinated Gases Emission Reduction Incentive Program, to be administered by the state board, to promote the adoption of new refrigerant technologies to achieve short- and long-term climate benefits, energy efficiency, and other cobenefits, as specified. The bill would authorize moneys from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to be allocated for incentives offered as part of the program. – California Senate Bill 1013

Conclusion

Even though the rest of the country is still somewhat in a shroud of mystery on HFCs, California has taken their first step forward. With these two bills California has begun moving away from HFC refrigerants and towards the future of Hydrocarbons and HFOs. The good news is that many businesses have already begun planning for the phase down of HFCs so while the court’s ruling in August was a surprise I have a feeling that many companies were already prepared and are now just continuing on like the phase down is occurring anyways. HFCs are going away, it’s just a matter of time.

California has always been a trend setter and the first of many. The question now is will other States begin to follow suit? These changes may go the route that Net Neutrality went late last year. Even though the regulation was overturned by the FCC there have been many States that have begun adopting their own policies. As I said earlier, I am a big fan of State powers over Federal power and by having these States move forward with their own HFC laws we will achieve the same goal of phasing down HFCs across the country.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

When I first started writing articles about R-717 Ammonia being used in ice rinks and in industrial refrigeration I tried to keep an open mind. However, over the past year or so I have become less and less confident with R-717 systems. I try to make my articles unbiased and to show the Pros and Cons to both sides but this is proving more difficult with R-717. Maybe I need some of you to re-convince me to the benefits of this refrigerant but as of today I am very skeptical of it’s practical applications.

Ammonia has been used as a refrigerant for nearly ninety years. While the applications have varied over the years it has always been around. It is highly regarded as the most efficient refrigerant available due to it’s low boiling point. To give an example R-717’s boiling point is -28 degrees Fahrenheit. While R-22’s boiling point is -41.62 degrees Fahrenheit and R-410A’s boiling point is -55.3 degrees Fahrenheit. Compare R-717 and R-22 and that’s a forty-eight percent difference in boiling point. Along with that low boiling point you also get no Ozone depletion and a very low Global Warming Potential. I can see why this refrigerant is used but we have to be aware of the downsides. R-717 is toxic and is also slightly flammable. It is rated as a B2L from the ASHRAE group.

Greenwood, South Carolina

Today, March 25th, the Department of Health and Human Services is on the scene of an Ammonia leak in Greenwood, South Carolina. Upon finding the leak and determining how large it was a half-mile radius was evacuated for precaution. Local citizens were awoken by police alerts on their phone and at their door to evacuate the area at two this morning. Later that morning police and firefighters walked through the affected areas taking samples to ensure that the air quality had returned to normal. The all clear was given this morning as well. Luckily, this leak was handled correctly.

While the exact cause of the leak has not been released I did find that it came from a food processing plant known as Carolina Pride Foods. (Their website can be found by clicking here.) This plant is a meat processing and manufacturing center. In the past I have toured a few meat processing plants and just as anyone would assume, they need to be refrigerated as well as have a freezer section. Heck, it’s so cold there you have to wear jackets, mittens, and hoods just to walk around for any matter of time. Using R-717 as their main refrigerant logically makes sense due to the energy efficiency. (In fact you’ll see these used in most industrial applications like this.)

Luckily, with this leak in South Carolina there were no fatalities. However, this latest incident was very familiar to a leak at an ice rink that occurred in Canada towards the end of 2017. A leak occurred and a large radius was evacuated just like in today’s story. The difference though was that proper precautions were not taken in Canada and it resulted in three fatalities. This tragic event has caused a lot of business owners and contractors to reconsider using Ammonia in future applications. I wrote a story about this event that can be found by clicking here.

Conclusion

While today’s event ended well and with no injuries I still am quite skeptical on the reasonable application of R-717. If this stuff leaks, which all systems will at some point, then disaster can occur. Today Ammonia seems to have a monopoly on industrial refrigeration and a fair slice of the market on ice rinks especially over in the European Union. Here’s the thing though, even with it’s danger and risk to public safety the R-717 market isn’t expected to shrink over the next few years. In fact, just the opposite. With all of the pressure around the world to phase out or phase down Ozone depleting or high Global Warming Potential refrigerants the industry has only two options to turn two: HFO refrigerants from Chemours and Honeywell or Hydrocarbons such as Ammonia.

The question on my mind folks is when does saving the environment become more important then safety? Should we keep switching units over to Ammonia in an effort to reduce Global Warming, or should we begin switching to HFC alternatives until a more suitable refrigerant that provides low GWP and is non-toxic arrives into the market place?

I looked through Honeywell and Chemour’s website going over their Solstice and Opteon HFO lines but I did not see anything specifically referencing industrial applications. I’m wondering if the rush to find an alternative to R-717 is on the back burner because it doesn’t actually affect the climate whereas all of the other HFC refrigerants are affecting Global Warming. So, again, I feel like safety is taking a backseat to Global Warming.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

First and foremost let me state right now that the word ‘Freon’ is not a generic name for all refrigerants on the market today. In fact Freon refers to a specific type of refrigerant and is a specific brand of refrigerant. Confused? Well let me explain it this way. Using the name Freon to refer to all refrigerants is like using the term ‘Accord’ to refer to all cars. Obviously, there is a large difference between a Camry, Accord, and a Fusion. They are all different cars and all have different capabilities. It is important to realize that the same applies when it comes to refrigerants.

The term Freon is a registered brand name by the DuPont company and the Chemours company. The name was trademarked all the way back in the 1930’s when the first mainstream CFC refrigerant was invented. This refrigerant known as R-12 was the first ‘Freon’ refrigerant. That is also why the name stuck. It was the first major refrigerant used widely across the world. Because of this everyone referred to it as it’s brand name of Freon. Not much later another refrigerant was developed by DuPont known as R-22. The R-12 and R-22 refrigerants in tandem are responsible for the revolution of the refrigerant industry and were used in nearly every automobile and home air-conditioner for decades and decades.

Sometime in the 1980’s a problem was found with these CFC and HCFC refrigerants that had the Freon brand name. These refrigerants contained Chlorine and Chlorine was found to be damaging the Ozone layer in the Stratosphere. This Ozone layer is what protected us from the ultraviolet rays from the sun. Without it the world would heat up, we would be exposed to more radiation, along with a host of other problems. Because of the world’s demand for refrigeration a hole began to form in the Ozone layer. Scientists found this hole and sounded the alarm. Soon after a treaty was signed across the world announcing the ban of CFC and HCFC refrigerants. This included the Freon branded refrigerants known as R-12 and R-22.

The EPA’s Refrigerant Sales Restriction

In past years end users or do-it-yourselfers were not able to purchase R-22 or R-12 refrigerant due to the Environmental Protection Agency’s refrigerant sales restriction. This restriction stated that in order for you to legally purchase these types of refrigerants you would need to be either 608 or 609 certified with the EPA. The section 608 and section 609 clauses come from the Clean Air Act of 1990. The point of this regulation was to prevent people who did not know what they were doing from accessing and handling refrigerant that contained Chlorine. Remember now that Chlorine was a main contributor to the hole that formed in the Ozone layer.

This restriction was a nuisance to a lot of do-it-yourselfers but it wasn’t an all out deterrent. After all, most of the refrigerants used in today’s world are known as HFC refrigerants. These include your ever popular R-134a, R-404A, and R-410A. Users could buy these refrigerants without requiring a license. However, after January 1st, 2018 the EPA passed a new regulation stating that HFC refrigerants would now need a proof of section 608 or 609 certification in order to purchase. As I write this article in March of 2018 the country is still seeing the effects of this change. People who used to buy thirty pound cylinders of 134 at their local NAPA dealer are now being turned away due to them not being certified.

Please note that there is one exception here. If the user wants to purchase two pounds or less cans of refrigerant they still can without needing a certification number. So, instead of buying your thirty pound tank of 134a you now have to buy fifteen cans at a higher price. The good news though is that you can still buy it. Some of the other refrigerants out there don’t have the option to purchase in one our two pound cans.

All of this criteria above is dictated by the EPA. For more information on the refrigerant restriction rules please click here to be taken to the official EPA page.  If you are seriously considering purchasing refrigerant then please do you research, obtain the proper certification, and then continue on reading this article for a list of distributors and contacts. Click here to be taken to our official refrigerant licensing guide.

So, What Kind of Refrigerant Do You Need?

Alright, so you are looking to purchase Freon/Refrigerant. The question now is what kind of refrigerant do you need? Just like in the example I used above with the Honda Accord there are hundreds of different types of refrigerants on the market today. Now, I can give you some basic knowledge and form a hypothesis as to what refrigerant your unit is using but I can not know for sure. It is always best to be absolutely certain as to what kind of refrigerant you need. Most of the time you can find this information when looking over your air conditioning unit. If it’s a car then you can most likely find the information under the hood or in the instruction manual. If it is an outside traditional split system then there should be a sticker on your outside unit that displays a whole host of information about the product. Somewhere on this sticker you will see the refrigerant that is used.

Below is a short listing of what the most likely refrigerant that your unit is using:

  • 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.
  • Window Air Conditioners – Over the past few weeks I have done numerous articles and reserach on window air conditioners and throughout this research the most common refrigerant that I found used was R-410A.
  • 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.

How Much Are You Buying?

This is the question and it is a big one. Just like with anything in this world the more you buy the cheaper you can get it. It is no different with refrigerant. Another point to mention here is that refrigerant is by all measures a commodity. The price changes wildly back and forth over the seasons. What that means is that there is room for negotiation on price, especially if you are purchasing larger quantities. Let’s take a look at the refrigerant buying levels and what can be done witch each:

  • Little – If you are a do-it-yourselfer looking to get your hands on five or ten pounds of refrigerant then you are going to have a hard time. Today, as I write this you can purchase cylinders of refrigerant on Amazon.com or E-Bay.com. I fear that once the new refrigerant restriction rules go into effect in 2018 that these cylinders will vanish from online retailers. This is the sales restriction’s purpose though. They want to avoid novices or do-it-yourselfers working with AC machines. The chance of them accidentally venting or causing a leak of refrigerant in their system is very high since they are not experienced. There is an exception in the EPA’s restriction that allows small cans of refrigerants that are less then two pounds to be sold without a certification. The problem here is that these cans usually only come for automotive applications. If you are looking to purchase refrigerant for your home unit you may be out of luck unless you are 608/609 certified.
    • If you are certified and just need a few pounds of refrigerant the best way would to contact either your local HVAC company or a HVAC parts distributor like Johnstone Supply. If they are willing they would be able to sell to you after you provide your certification. Now there may still be refrigerant cylinders available for online purchase but if they are then the seller will be asking for your certification number before the product has shipped. If they do not ask for this in 2018 then they are breaking the law.
  • Medium – In my mind I picture the medium guys as business owners who either run a small HVAC repair company or they have a small automotive shop. These guys may need a few cylinders at a time but definitely cannot handle a forty cylinder pallet. These customers are 608/609 certified but just don’t have enough demand to require buying in larger quantities. Most of the time they are buying from HVAC wholesalers such as Johnstone Supply. While most distributors only sell in pallet quantities there are a few out there that will work with you and sell five cylinders at a time. There isn’t much room for negotiation here on pricing but it never hurts to try. Another point on this buying group is that you as the purchaser may be required to pay freight to ship the refrigerant. When you get to be purchasing a pallet at a time freight is usually pre-paid.
  • Large – Alright so now we’re getting onto the bigger guys. These are larger HVAC companies or shops/automotive dealerships. These guys can comfortably buy a pallet or two pallets at a time. (Remember a pallet is forty cylinders of refrigerant.) Like before these guys are EPA certified. The difference here is that they may have a corporate buyer buying for them rather than the actual technician or business owner who is certified. This buyer will need to provide the 608/609 number of one of the technicians that work for the company. There are a few things to note when buying a pallet or even multiple pallets of refrigerant:
    • It is typically standard practice to have the vendor pre-pay the freight when purchasing a pallet of refrigerant. If your distributor wants you to pay freight then I would fight it and push it back to them to pay. However, if they insist that you pay freight it honestly won’t be so bad as you are paying for an LTL shipment of one pallet. The only catch here is that it is a hazardous material so there will be an up-charge for the delivery. If I was to guess I’d rate it at about one-hundred and fifty dollars to two-hundred and fifty dollars for an LTL shipment.
    • The second point when buying in pallets is that the door is opened for negotiations on price. When I would have a two to three pallet order that I needed to place I would call around to three to four, sometimes five to six, refrigerant distributors. This would give me an average price point and then I would begin negotiating pricing down by pitting the distributors against each other. When I was satisfied with my price I would issue my purchase order and call it good. Now, you don’t want to do this back and forth all the time and you don’t want your supplier to hit bottom either. Remember, that the distributors need to make a profit as well and that you are not just buying from them but you are also establishing a relationship. If you have a habit of driving the price down to the bottom then it may come to the point where they don’t even want to deal with you.
  • Trailerloads – Now we’re on to the big boys. These are your chains of automotive dealerships or very large HVAC repair business in a larger city or in a network of cities. A trailer load of refrigerant is set at twenty pallets times forty cylinders a pallet or eight-hundred cylinders of refrigerant. Like before these buyers are certified with the EPA either through 608 and 609 and a corporate buyer is most likely co-coordinating the purchase and distribution of the trailer-load. This buyer will need to provide the 608/609 number of one of the technicians that work for the company. There are a few things to note when buying a trailerload of refrigerant:
    • Freight should be pre-paid by the vendor. There should be no question in this. If you are spending that much money with them they should be more then willing to pay for the freight.
    • Freight leads me right into my next point. When buying a trailerload you should be able to negotiate multiple drops of your trailer with your vendor. What that means is if you have a dealership in Kansas City and one in Saint Louis that the trailerload will drop ten pallets in Saint Louis, go across I-70, and then drop the remaining ten pallets in Kansas City. This should come at no extra charge to you as again you are paying for a full trailerload of refrigerant. Depending on the carrier and the vendor you are working with you should be able to squeeze our two drops maybe even three drops as long as the cities are close to each other.
    • The door is wide open to negotiate on price when dealing with twenty pallets. Distributors love a trailerload shipment because it’s easy. If done right they can purchase it directly from their manufacturer and have the manufacturer dropship the product without the distributor even touching the goods. The only thing they’d have to do is co-ordinate the shipment and the delivery. Because this is easy for them and they are getting a large sale you have plenty of room to negotiate that price down.
    • The last point I’ll make on trailerload purchasing is that there is the possibility to contact the refrigerant manufacturers directly instead of going through a distributor. Remember how I said that the distributor wouldn’t have to touch the trailerload? Well, the manufacturer is the one doing the work now.  Wouldn’t it make sense to cut out the middle man and go right for the manufacturers? This will save you quite a bit of money and will allow you to build a relationship with the manufacturer for your next large purchase.

When To Buy

I mentioned this earlier but refrigerants are a commodity. What I mean by that is that their prices can change at the drop of a hat. I like to use the analogy of the price of oil. We always hear about the price of oil going up and down per barrel. One day it’s this and the next day it’s that. It’s just a fact of life. Refrigerant is very similar to this except we just don’t hear about it in the news.

Predictably, refrigerant’s highest price for the year is in the dead of summer. That goes for the homeowners and the business owners. If you are an HVAC company in July and you find yourself out of refrigerant you are going to be paying a pretty penny to get some more. At that point the price almost doesn’t matter. Without it you can’t do your jobs and your techs sit. On the reverse side the bottom price for refrigerant is winter. It’s that whole supply and demand thing again. No one is buying much in winter so the price tends to drop and drop until the Spring comes.

Typically the price will peak towards the end of July or in August. There have been a few times where I have seen September carry a high price but it usually comes down when October comes around. Instead of experiencing a typical crash the price will slowly creep down with each week that passes by until we hit December and January where the price is the lowest it’s going to get.

This December and January time is the absolute best time to buy if you are worried about price. There has been enough time for the previous summer’s inflated price to die off and the new demand for the next year hasn’t begun to hit yet. If you wait until February you are going to begin to see prices start to rise. The reason that is a lot of these bigger companies who can handle trailerloads begin buying multiple trailers in preparation for the upcoming Spring and Summer season. It’s usually about mid-February when these big orders start coming in. The trailers usually hit the buyer’s docks a couple weeks from there and then they are ready and rearing to go for March all the way until the end of the year.

The last thing I’ll mention in this section is that if you are one those early buyers is that you need to watch the market when summer comes. I remember one year where I had bought at sixty dollars a cylinder for R-134a in the winter. Then, that summer the price kept climbing and climbing until it broke two-hundred dollars a cylinder. Here’s the problem though. Our guys were still selling cylinders at eighty or ninety dollars a cylinder. We sold out in no time and only found out later that we were priced WAYbelow market. We left a whole bunch of money on the table. Don’t let that happen to you. If you see the market climbing don’t be afraid to raise your prices as well to keep in line with the competition.

Where To Buy From?

First things first before we get onto the different distributors I want to point out that all these companies are just that, distributors. They are not manufacturing this product. Refrigerant primarily comes from one of four places: Honeywell, Chemours, Mexichem, and Arkema. The only thing you have to look out for when dealing with distributors is making sure that you are not getting imported Chinese product. A lot of the times the Chinese product is bad quality, not mixed correctly, or is not even the right refrigerant that you ordered. A safe practice when dealing with a distributor is asking exactly what manufacturers they carry. That way you know exactly what product you are buying from and I can assure you that if it is from one of those four names that I mentioned above that you are getting quality product.

Without further ado let’s take a look at our listing of refrigerant distributors:

Airgas Refrigerants – http://www.airgasrefrigerants.com/

Airgas Refrigerants is a large refrigerant distributor. I bought from these guys when I was a buyer and again back in 2013 when I had my online business, they were very helpful and I had no issues with product quality. They were recently acquired by our next distributor Hudson Technologies.

Hudson Technologies – http://www.hudsontech.com/

Hudson Technologies is one of the largest distributors in the United States. They hold many patents in the refrigeration industry and claim to be one of the biggest reclamation companies in the country. They offer ON-SITE refrigeration services no matter where you are in the country. On top of that they have been growing like crazy through acquisitions and innovation.

A-Gas Americas – http://www.agasamericas.com/

A-Gas Americas is the direct competitor with Hudson Technologies. A-Gas is the other largest refrigerant distributor in the country and have also been acquiring and growing like crazy through the United States, Canada, and Mexico. They are owned by their parent company A-Gas out of the United Kingdom. If you ever used to work with Coolgas or RemTec International then you’ve worked with A-Gas. These companies combined with A-Gas to form A-Gas Americas back in 2012.

Refrigerant Depot – http://www.refrigerantdepot.com/

Refrigerant Depot, formerly known as Automart Wholesale, was founded in 1995. They are based out of Orlando and provide very competitive pricing on pallets nationwide. All of their products are produced in the United States by major manufacturers. I’ve bought from these guys in the past and have had no issues.

Lenz Distributors – http://www.lenzdist.com/

Lenz Distributors has been in business for eighteen years and sells over three million pounds of refrigerant annually.

Weitron Inc – http://www.weitron.com/

Weitron is a worldwide distributor of refrigerants. They were founded in 1992 in Maryland and have since expanded to supplying locations all over the United States and globally. Weitron is committed to quality product and great customer service. Again, I’ve bought from Weitron in the past and did not have any issues or complaints.

Refrigerants Inc – http://refrigerantsinc.com/

Refrigerants Inc was founded in 1997  and have now expanded to three hub locations across the United States. Their locations in Denver, Omaha, and Chicago provide same or next day shipping to most areas of the United States. Customer sanctification is their goal and they work to earn their customers.

Altair Partners – http://www.altairpartnerslp.com/

Altair was founded in 1991 as an importer of industrial chemicals and have expanded to other chemicals, refrigeration ,and oils. Altair is committed to providing the best quality products as well as the most competitive price. Altair prides itself on it’s numerous international connections and breadth.

TulStar – http://www.tulstar.com/products/chemicals/refrigerants/

Tulstar was founded back in 1986 and have built up to a leader in industrial chemical and oil distribution. They sell many other products as well as refrigerants.

JohnStone Supply – http://www.johnstonesupply.com/storefront/index.ep

I am sure everyone had heard of JohnStone Supply. They are one of the leaders in HVAC distribution, not just in refrigerants but in all manners of tools, parts, and accessories. JohnStone was founded way back in 1953 and is now a recognized name throughout the HVAC industry. They average over $1.5 billion in sales and growing. They are the go to for a large portion of HVAC contractors.

Chinese Product

Yes, of course Chinese product is available… but it is tough to know exactly what product you are getting if you decide to import product yourself. Manufacturing refrigerant is complex and some imported refrigerants will not have the exact same chemical formula as locally made product. Now, this could be due to ignorance or the exporting company trying to get their cost as low as possible. Some of these concoctions are harmless but others can result in increased flammability which could lead to injury to you or technicians. Best advice I can give is to do your research and to know exactly what you are getting.

Conclusion

Alright folks well I hope that after reading this article that I have accomplished two things for you. The first is that you now have a better understanding of what Freon is and how it differentiates from other refrigerants. The second point is that I hope that you feel more comfortable about purchasing refrigerant, how to purchase it, and where to go to receive quotes and other information.

I hope that this guide was helpful to you and thanks for reading!

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Good morning folks and welcome to RefrigerantHQ!  As I write this article it’s a nice cold March Sunday morning. Things haven’t begun to warm up yet for the upcoming refrigerant season but everyone knows that it is just around the corner. In fact April is really the beginning. It is the point where we begin to see maintenance calls start to come up and then slowly but surely as the days and weeks pass we inch closer and closer to summer and to those long, but profitable, days.

Something new this year that a lot of people may have overlooked is that HFC refrigerants such as R-134a, R-404A, R-410A are now subjected to the Environmental Protection Agency’s refrigerant sales restriction regulation. What that means folks is that you are no longer able to purchase these types of refrigerants unless you are section 608 or section 609 certified with the Environmental Protection Agency. For more on the refrigerant sales restriction please click here to be taken to the EPA’s official site.

While these restrictions are new to HFC refrigerants those of you who have been in the industry for a while know exactly what I am talking about. In the past CFC and HCFC refrigerants were subjected to the EPA’s refrigerant sales restriction as well. So, if you wanted to purchase one of these refrigerants you had to go through the training and the certification.

This change on HFC refrigerants caught a lot of the do-it-yourselfers off guard. A lot of the larger companies knew this was coming and had prepared for it by getting their techs and purchasers already 609 certified back in 2017. These garage mechanics and other do-it-yourselfers are now finding that they do not have a way to purchase thirty pound cylinders of 134a any longer.

It should be noted that there is an exception to these rules for the weekend warriors out there. People who are not certified to handle refrigerants can still purchase two pounds or less canisters at their local stores. So, if I needed to recharge my Camry then all I would need to do is go to my local parts store or Amazon.com and purchase a few cans of R-134a. This can be done without a license. So, there is hope!

However, if you are confident that you need a license or certification then keep on reading folks and I will do my best to guide you along the process.

Section 609 Certification

Section 609 is in fact the easier license to get on refrigerants. 609 deals strictly with the automotive side and covers refrigerants such as R-12 and R-134a. So, if you are a mechanic or an at home repair guy then 609 is what you will need. Today there are more than one million people certified under this section 609. There are a few ways for you or your employees to become certified with the Environmental Protection Agency. Some of these options are listed below:

  • A licensed 609 certification trainer comes to your place of employment, puts on a class, and then hands out testing to each attendant. After the tests are completed they will then be mailed to MACS Worldwide to be graded. If passed you will then receive your license through the mail. In my experience these work great as a ‘lunch and learn.’ Cater in a lunch, bring in a trainer, and get your staff qualified in just an hour.
    • A 609 trainer can either be from an outside party like a vendor/salesmen or it could be a designated person at your company. I have seen both. A good trainer will go over all of the details and help attendees with questions that they are unsure of. Ideally, most everyone should pass this test.
  • The other option is to go directly through MACS Worldwide. MACS is the primary provider and manager of 609 tests and license granting. They started their program only a few years after the 609 rules were introduced back in 1990. Ever since 1992 MACS has been the leader in granting 609 tests and certifications. Review the links below to read up a bit more about them, order a study book, and even order a test.
  • Please note that for each of these scenarios it will take twenty dollars per person in order to take a test.

Section 608 Certification

608 is where things get a little bit more complicated and where the ‘meat and potatoes,’ of air conditioning is. If you’re going to be working on anything other than vehicles than you need your 608. 608 comes in four different types of EPA level certification and each one contains it’s own specialized section.

  • Core Test – The core test is necessary for all technicians to take rather you are going for sections 1, 2, or 3.
  • Type 1 608 Certification – This covers small appliances that are manufactured, charged, and hermetically sealed with five pounds or less of refrigerants.
  • Type 2 608 Certification – This covers high pressure and very high pressure appliances. Some example high pressure refrigerants are as follows: R-12, R-22, R-114, R-500, and R-502. Also note that this type 2 certification will allow you to legally purchase and handle R-410A refrigerant.
  • Type 3 608 Certification – This covers low pressure appliances with some example refrigerants being R-11, R-113, and R-123.
  • Universal Certification – Just as it sounds a universal certification can be obtained by passing certification for all types 1, 2, and 3. If you are going to be working in the industry then I would suggest going for the universal and just to cover your bases. The worst thing that can happen is having to turn down a job because you are not certified to handle that type of refrigerant.

Unlike 609 the 608 certification is much harder to achieve. Unfortunately, most 608 certifications have to be taken in person at a certified training facility. These training facilities can be a third party company, your trade school or college, or your employer. Depending on how large your employer is they may put on their own 608 training courses. It should be noted that you are able to take the type 1 section 608 certification online. Click this link to learn more.

If you are looking to achieve a higher level 608 certification and am not quite sure where to go then I would suggest a few things. Contact your employer first to see if you can get free training and certification. If they do not offer that then check with your local trade schools. Lastly, if you are still not finding a provider then check out this link to the EPA’s website for featured training areas.  

Lastly, check out this resource for a free 608 practice test. This should definitely help you out and get you prepared for the real thing!

Intent to Resale

There is one more option for users to purchase refrigerants without having a certification license. While this won’t help the at home mechanics it will help those of you who are purchasers or resalers. If you are purchasing refrigerant from a wholesaler you can provide them with a formal letter stating that you are intending to resale the product and that you or your company will not be using the refrigerant. According to the EPA’s website“(The) EPA recommends that wholesalers obtain a signed statement from the purchaser indicating that he or she is purchasing the refrigerant only for eventual resale to certified technicians.” This covers you as a purchaser and also covers the seller. Once this is bought please be aware though that it will be up to you or your company to track all of the refrigerant sales.

Conclusion

Well folks, that about covers it for refrigerant licensing. I hope that this guide was able to answer your questions on what license to get, how to get it, and where to get it. I have a feeling most of you will be looking at that 609 certification over the 608. Either way though, when you are dealing with refrigerant remember to be safe and to be certified!

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Greetings ladies and gentlemen and welcome to RefrigerantHQ! Today we will be doing another one of our product reviews. Over the past few weeks our sole focus has been on everything window air conditioners and I can assure you that today is no different. The featured product for today is Koldfront’s WAC12001W 12,000 BTU Window Air Conditioner.

Depending on where you are in the country window air conditioners could be an unnecessary tool or it could be a lifesaver. Our climate is so different depending on the state. For me, a Kansas resident, air conditioning is a must. We routinely have summer days that break over one-hundred degrees. On particular bad weeks we may have an entire five to seven day spread of straight one-hundred degrees temperatures. The majority of people cope with this heat by using their traditional split air conditioner system at their home. But how do the people who have older homes without central air or people who live in apartments with no air conditioners cope? Well folks their best option is window air conditioners. They provide a cheaper alternative and an easy installation to allow all of us no matter where you are to enjoy the nice cool air during a hot summer day.

But the question now is what window air conditioners are the best? Should you get the Koldfront WAC12001W 12,000 BTU unit? Or, should you be looking at a different product? A different size? Or even a different brand? Well folks, let’s dive in and find out exactly what you need!

KoldFront

Now before I get into the actual details, Pros, and Cons of a product I always like to take some time and look at the company behind the product. After all, the manufacturing company can say a lot about the quality of the product. Brand names have power. Don’t believe me? Just ask Coca-Cola or Toyota. These names mean something to people when they hear them. While a window air conditioner bran d may not mean anything to you I can assure you that the same differences can apply.

Koldfront WAC12001W 12,000 BTU
Koldfront WAC12001W 12,000 BTU

The Koldfront name is a brand from the Livingdirect company. (Think of it like how Pepsi owns the Mountain Dew brand name.) Koldfront was originally founded back in 1999 by Rick Lundbom. While that may not sound like a lot of years of experience Rick and his company have made it their mission to provide new and innovative appliances and have not relented over the yeras. Think about this for a second: Koldfront is competing with the names out there such as Frigidaire and General Electric. Two gigantic companies that have been around for over one-hundred years but yet Koldfront has thrived and grown since their 1999 beginning. That says a lot about the company right there.

While their brand name can be found on portable dishwashers, wine coolers, and other appliances their main focus and drive are window, wall, and portable air conditioners. With a Koldfront air conditioner you can count on three key factors: High-quality craftsman ship, affordability, and durability.

Product Features

The Koldfront WAC12001W  is rated at 12,000 BTUs. BTUs are the traditional measurement unit of heat. In the air conditioning world BTUs are a measurement of the cooling capacity of your window air conditioner. The bigger the number of BTUs the more powerful and the higher cooling capacity of your A/C unit.  As a standard measurement an air conditioner needs around thirty BTUs for each square foot of living space that you wish to cool. In this case 12,000 BTUs is rated to cool around five-hundred and fifty square feet. That could be the size of a large master bedroom, a living room, or a small apartment. 

The Koldfront WAC12001W comes with a two-hundred and twenty volt outlet. Please, please, please be aware of this! If you have a two-hundred and twenty volt outlet you have in mind then it is no big deal but I have seen so many homeowners buy one of these units only to realize that they only have one-hundred and fifteen volt outlets available.

This window air conditioner will fit windows between twenty-six inches up to thirty-six inches in width. While the height doesn’t really matter as most windows are taller than the air conditioner this unit comes in at sixteen and a half inches. Please be sure to measure your window before purchasing so you don’t accidentally buy the wrong sized product. It also comes with side curtains and insulation strips to prevent any leaks or air from coming in from outside. It does not come with an outside mounting bracket that I could find. I would recommend purchasing an extra support bracket just in case. This unit weighs in at eighty-eight pounds and I would hate to have it fall out your window and damage or ruin the unit.

This unit uses the HFC R-410A for it’s refrigerant. This is a VERY common refrigerant that is found in most offices and homes across the country. If you do need a repair down the road you don’t have to worry about finding or paying an arm and a leg for a refrigerant refill.

The  WAC12001W comes with a 11,000 BTU heater as well as the 12,000 BTU window air conditioner. This is a big deal as you are getting a unit that will keep your room cooled year round and not just in the summer. (Please note that this heater has lower BTUs then the air conditioning side and will not heat as large of a space as it cools.) Along with the heater you also get an energy saver mode, fan speed control, and a twenty-four hour timer.

Pros

The most satisfying part about this Koldfront unit is the price point. As I write this the price on Amazon is in the four-hundred dollar range. (Prices are subject to change at any time.) That is quite the bargain especially when you look at other 12,000 BTU units on the marketplace today. Remember folks that you also get that 11,000 BTU electric heater along with your air conditioner. That’s quite the bargain!

The WAC12001W comes with basic settings such as sleep mode, twenty four hour on/off timer, a remote control that comes with two triple a batteries, varying fan speeds, and cool/energy saver/fan only cooling modes. While most of these modes and options are pretty standard I am going to point again to the price point on this unit. For a 12,000 BTU with these features at this price you are saving a lot of money while getting all the standard features.

The last Pro I’ll mention on this Koldfront unit is that it comes with a two year manufacturer warranty.  This is a great insurance policy if for whatever reason your new unit doesn’t last the year. There are always outliers out there and having this warranty to back you up ensures you that your investment is protected. (Also, for those of you who do not know this is a full extra year when comparing to Frigidaire’s one year warranty.)

Cons

As far as the Cons on this Koldfront window unit there really aren’t that much to go through. There are few main things that I want to make you aware of before you purchase. A lot of these are ‘bad luck’ type of situations but I would be amiss if I didn’t make you aware:

Koldfront WAC12001W Energy Saver
Koldfront WAC12001W Energy Saver
  • This is an 12,000 BTU window air conditioner. I mentioned this above in our product features section but you should be aware that this unit is rated to cool a five-hundred and fifty square foot room. If your room is bigger or smaller than that then you should look at getting a different sized BTU unit. If you are unsure of what size unit you need please check out our window air conditioner buyer’s guide which can be found by clicking here.
  • When buying things online there is always risk of damage from the transport carrier. This is moreso when you are dealing with a machine with a lot of moving parts like an air conditioner. While most people who order this item receive it in fine condition there is still the risk of the unit arriving to your home damaged. If this does happen then I would recommend filing a complaint with Amazon on your order. If you aren’t having any luck in that avenue then you could file a claim on Koldfront’s website under their two year warranty.
  • The last complaint that I have found in my research is that through usage and the passage of time the fan can become loosened and begin rubbing up against other components of the unit. While this isn’t a big deal mechanically it does result in a larger noise when the air conditioner is running. So, if this happens to you you may have a noisy unit to contend with. While this may not matter during the day it may make it difficult to sleep with if the WAC12001W is in your bedroom.

Something else to take into consideration when it comes to air conditioners is if they are Energy Star Certified by the Environmental Protection Agency. When a product is Energy Star Certified it means that that product has met strict energy efficiency guidelines set fort by the US EPA. A Energy Star certified unit will have higher seasonal energy efficiency ratios as well as having improved energy efficiency ratios. In order to meet Energy Star certification the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) on a unit should be at 10.0 or higher. The WAC12001W is NOT Energy Star Certified with the EPA. I’m not sure why that is since it is a full 0.9 EER above the threshold but I figured I would let you know anyways.

Conclusion

Overall I would say that if you are looking for a new window unit that will cool your living room, master bedroom, or small apartment then this would be a great fit for you. It comes with all of your standard features you would need on an air conditioner as well as coming in at a great low price point. If you would like to purchase or learn more about this unit then please click here to be taken to Amazon’s product page.

If you find that your room is too big or too small for this unit then I would recommend checking out our official RefrigerantHQ Window Air Conditioner Buyer’s Guide by clicking here.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

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