Frequently Asked Questions on Refrigerants:
Refrigerant is a non-flammable gas that is used in almost every air-conditioning unit in the world. Rather it be cars, trucks, refrigerators, your home AC unit, even grocery store freezers use it. Want to keep something cool? Then you need Refrigerant!
It’s been around for almost a hundred years now and it’s here to stay! Over the years the types of Refrigerant have expanded exponentially with varying boiling points and chemical compositions. There are four primary types Refrigerant that you will run into R-12, R-22, R-134A, and R-410A. These four types make up 90% of the Refrigerant market.
There are numerous places you can purchase refrigerant either through online websites, in a retail setting, or purchased directly from a refrigerant distributor. Where to buy is going to be determined off of what kind of refrigerant you are looking for and what kind of quantity you are looking at.
If you’re looking at just one or two cylinders of refrigerant than the easiest place to purchase would be online either through Amazon or through E-Bay. These two sites allow you to purchase any type of refrigerant by individual cylinders as well as providing ease of use.
The only catch is that you will need to provide EPA certification. If you cannot provide certification than you will not be able to purchase.
If you are looking to purchase larger quantities of refrigerants such as five, ten, twenty, or even a pallet of forty cylinders then I would recommend contacting refrigerant distributors. I have compiled a listing of various refrigerant distributors throughout the United States. You can view the list by clicking here.
When contacting them know that the more you buy the cheaper your cost will be and it is best to shop around between at least a few distributors to ensure you get the best cost.
Lastly, if you are looking to buy pallets at a time I would consider going direct with the manufacturer of the product. DuPont, Honeywell, Chemours, MexiChem are all manufacturers here in the United States that could be partnered with.
HFO refrigerants, or Hydrofluro-Olefins, are a new class of refrigerants that have a much lessened global warming potential than it’s HCFC alternatives. One example being the 134a alternative, 1234YF, which is 335 times lower on the global warming potential scale and only four times higher than standard carbon dioxide.
HFOs are the refrigerant of the future… for now. I say for now because we’ve been through this before. A new refrigerant is introduced and then something is found to be harmful in that chemical and the refrigerant is replaced with a new and better line. Maybe HFOs are the perfect refrigerant, but I have a feeling we’ll be going through this again and sooner rather than later. Let’s keep everyone on their toes…
Before I answer this question you should know that your air conditioning unit is a closed and sealed system. The refrigerant that is in your AC system recycles itself through all of the various cycles that it goes through. The refrigerant should never run out and you should never have to refill your system unless there is something else wrong with your unit.
For example, if you have a leak somewhere in your sealed system than the refrigerant will slowly dissipate. If you add more refrigerant to your system you are not solving the problem. That refrigerant you just added will now be leaking out of that same hole. What you should do in this instance is to identify the leak or problem area, fix it, and THEN add refrigerant back to your system.
If you have a contractor saying that they need to refill your refrigerant and they do not mention a leak or other problem with the system you should be very skeptical. Are they fixing the problem with your unit, or are they gouging you on a refrigerant refill and then a week or so later they will be back out there when all of the refrigerant they put in has leaked out.
It depends on what type of refrigerant you are looking at. The CFCs and HCFC classes of refrigerants were phased out due to the Chlorine that they contained. It was found in the 1970s that Chlorine when released into the atmosphere causes damage to the O-Zone layer. The O-Zone layer is a type of shield high in the Earth’s atmosphere that protects the Earth from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
It was found that the O-Zone layer was being so badly damaged that a hole begin to form above Antarctica. Scientists and governments scrambled for a solution and they eventually came up with the Montreal Protocol. The Montreal Protocol was a treaty signed by nearly two hundred countries. The goal of the Montreal Protocol was to phase out all CFC and HCFC products including refrigerants.
The first to go was R-12 Refrigerant. R-12 was the first type of mainstream refrigerant and had been used since the early twentieth century. When it was phased out in the 1994 it was mainly being used for automobile applications. R-12 was replaced with the HFC R-134a.
The next to go R-502. R-502 was mainly used for vending machines, supermarket freezers, ice machines, and refrigerated transport. R-502 was replaced with the HFC R-404A.
The very latest to go in the CFC/HCFC side was R-22. R-22 was being used widespread since the 1950s and was mainly used for home and commercial cooling applications. In 2010 it’s phase-out process began, in 2015 production was cut, and in 2020 it will be completely banned. It’s replacement was the HFC refrigerant known as R-410A or Puron.
Now, you may have noticed something from the text above. All of the replacements for CFC/HCFC refrigerants were HFC refrigerants. Come to find out HFC refrigerants also harm the environment… just not in the same way. HFCs while they do not contain Chlorine do have extremely high Global Warming Potential, or GWP. GWP is a relative measure on how much greenhouse gas is trapped in atmosphere by a certain product. It measures everything against the control value of Carbon Dioxide. Carbon Dioxide has a GWP of zero.
So, with that in mind HFCs are next on the chopping block. R-134a, the replacement for R-12 for vehicle AC systems, has already been banned in the European Union due to it’s high GWP. It has not yet been banned in the United States but I predict that it will be in the coming years. If I was to put a wager on it I would say phase out will begin in 2017-2018 and it will be completely gone by 2021-2022. It is being replaced either by the new HFO refrigerant 1234YF or by Carbon Dioxide applications.
On top of 134a being phased out R-404A is looking to be the next mainstream HFC refrigerant to be scheduled out. R-404A’s has been used for vending machines, superstore freezers, and refrigerated transport. There isn’t a ‘perfect’ replacement yet for 404A but it is looking it will either be replaced with Carbon Dioxide refrigerant or R-452A. (R-452A is another temporary measure as it’s GWP is still very high.)
R-410A is still going strong as of today, but I predict it’s only a matter of time before it is scheduled for phase out as well.
Short answer, yes… but it really depends on what type of refrigerant you will be brining into the country. There are some types of Refrigerant that are monitored and only allowed a certain amount of imports per year. These types include R-12 and R-22 as well as any other CFC or HCFC classes.
If you are looking to bring in HFCs such as R-134a, R-404A, or R-410A there is not limit set today on what you can bring in. This may change in the future as HFCs are slowly being phased out in the United States. It is all voluntary at this point but that could change in the coming years.
Lastly, be sure that you trust your supplier from over seas. There has been counterfeit refrigerant on the market over the past few years. Not only are you getting ripped off but this counterfeit can be dangerous. Most of the time companies will try save money and short change the manufacturing process. This can lead to bad chemical compositions and even lead to extremely flammable product.
R-744, also known as CO2, is a natural refrigerant that can be traced all the way back to the 1850s. It began to see widespread usage in the early 1900s and 1920s but eventually declined due to the Great Depression and due to the high pressure that R744 operates under. In recent years it has seen a resurgence in usage mainly due to companies looking for a replacement for the high global warming HFC refrigerants such as 134a, 410A, and 404A.
R-744 has many benefits over other mainstream refrigerants. It does not have any Ozone depletion potential, it’s global warming potential is 1, it is non-toxic, it is non flammable, and it is far more efficient over it’s competitors.
It’s hard to say if CO2 will become the new mainstream refrigerant again or if it will be replaced another alternative refrigerant.
R-452A is a new HFO refrigerant developed by DuPont that is designed to be a drop in replacement for R-404A. It is also known under DuPont’s brand name Opteon XP44. It is a more environmentally friendly refrigerant compared to it’s 404A equivalent. 404A has a global warming potential of 3,943 whereas the 452A has a global warming potential of 2,140.
Opteon XP44 (R-452A)
• HFO/HFC blend with GWP = 2141; 45% reduction vs R-404A
• Close performance match to R-404A; for retrofit and new systems
• A1 non-flmmable; ideal for use in transport refrigeration
• For use where lowest discharge temperatures are required
Refrigerant is hazardous and can be flammable depending on the type you are dealing with. The storage of Refrigerant should be taken seriously and with consideration. No matter what type of refrigerant you are dealing with you need to take the proper steps and precautions. Below are a few instrumental points to review when storing your Refrigerant :
- Ensure that all cylinders be stored up right and are without risk of tipping over.
- Refrigerant should be stored in a well ventilated area and temperatures should NOT exceed over 125 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperate becomes too hot pressure can build inside the container which could cause the container to rupture. This could cause the release valve to fail which could result in an explosion of the product.
- Ensure all Refrigerant containers/cylinders have pressure release devices to avoid combustion and or explosions.
- Ideally cylinders should be inspected for pressure release valves soon after you receive the product. This will allow you to catch a problem right away and give you time to get back to your supplier.
- Ensure there are no combustible or flammable materials nearby the containers.
- NO SMOKING next to containers.
- Perform regular visual inspections of your cylinders to ensure that everything is in good order.
- Limit the number of people who have access to your Refrigerant , as the more people who have access the higher your chance of an incident. Also, please keep out of reach of children.
Refrigerant can be dangerous, or it can be very safe. It is up to you to take the per-cautions when storing your product.
You can also purchase some storage racks for your van or facility from our Amazon partner by reviewing the options below:
There are numerous scales on the market today and most will be able to take thirty pound cylinders or tanks. I would recommend browsing through some of the scales available through our Amazon partner as seen below.
The FJC 2850 Electronic Scale shown below is one of the highest rated scales on Amazon and it is one of the cheapest in price. It has a capacity of 184 pounds and will get the job done!
The above scale was for more of the bargain shopper but if you’re looking for the latest technology I would recommend the wireless scale below. The Fieldpiece SRS2C Wireless Refrigerant Scale also has great reviews and it’s capacity is over two-hundred pounds. However, as I said it is quite a bit more pricey than the previous shown scale.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s new SNAP program is acronym for ‘The Significant New Alternative Policy.’ It’s original purpose was to monitor, regulate, and to eventually phase out O-Zone depleting gases such as R-12 and R-22. R-12 was phased out in 1994 and R-22 was phased out in 2010.
The SNAP program is now being used to find replacements for HFC refrigerants such as R-134a, R-404A, and R-410A. These HFC refrigerants have a high global warming potential and contribute to Global Warming. The EPA’s SNAP program is looking at all refrigerant alternatives and approving the ones that they feel have the most promise.
The Kigali agreement or amendment was a treaty signed by over one-hundred and seventy countries in October of 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda. The agreement was an amendment to the already existing Montreal Protocol. The goal of this amendment was to phase out HFC refrigerants such as R-410A, R-134a, and R-404A from the world by the year 2100. HFC refrigerants were found to cause significantly to Global Warming. The hope is that by phasing out these refrigerants that the temperate of the earth will lower by 0.5 degrees.
For more information on the agreement read this blog post I wrote on it.
No, refrigerant will not go bad. As long as you have a fully sealed cylinder and there are no leaks on the cylinder you refrigerant will last indefinitely. The only risk that you have is if your cylinder or valve gets compromised. Other than that your cylinder is a sealed unit and will not deplete or leak any refrigerant over it’s life time.
There are many people who will purchase a few cylinders of refrigerant that is about to be phased out. Once they have they cylinders they will sit on them for years. They either want them for ‘just in case,’ or to potentially sell down the road when the price goes up.
The rule of thumb is two to four pounds of refrigerant per ton of your machine. Most home air conditioning units are between one ton and five tons. So, with that in mind if you have a three ton unit then you would need between six pounds of refrigerant upwards to twelve pounds of refrigerant.
It is important to note that these are rough estimates and the exact measurement of refrigerant that your unit needs varies. It is always best practice to review the exact specifications on your unit to see exactly what you need.
The rule of thumb is two to four pounds of refrigerant per ton of your air conditioning unit. Now most home air conditioning units are between one ton and five tons. Anything over five tons or greater is considered a commercial unit.
Let’s say you have a two ton home unit. If we do the math of four pounds of refrigerant times two tons of your unit you end up with eight pounds of refrigerant required.
As I said above that is the typical rule of thumb. Each machine/unit is different and each manufacturer is different. It is always best practice to physical check your unit and see exactly how much refrigerant is needed.
The Refrigerant Sales Restriction is a Federal Law enforced under the Environmental Protection Agency. The law states that CFC and HCFC refrigerants can only be sold to EPA certified personnel. Those who are not certified cannot legally buy, handle, or use these refrigerants.
The restriction was put in place due to the O-Zone damaging Chlorine that the CFC and HCFC refrigerants contain. Both the CFC and HCFC refrigerants were banned across the world under the Montreal Protocol due to the Chlorine they contained.
The most popular refrigerants that fall under this restriction are R-12, R-22, and R-502. In order to purchase R-22 or R-502 you will need to be section 608 certified with the EPA. If you are looking to purchase R-12 you will need to be section 609 certified with the EPA.
It is important to note that HFC refrigerants such as R-410A, R-134a, and R-404A are NOT covered under this sales restriction. If you are looking to purchase an HFC refrigerant you can without a license. This may change in time, but as of 2015 anyone can purchase these refrigerants. It is important to note that as of January 1st, 2018 you WILL need to be certified to purchase HFC refrigerants such as 410A, 134a, and 404A. Click the link on the bottom of the article for the exact wording from the EPA’s website.
Lastly, please do not attempt to go around these restrictions. This is Federal Law. If you violate this law you could potentially have the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Government coming to your door. There are numerous instances of the government going after individuals and or companies that violate this law.
Stop! If your unit is running low in refrigerant there is another problem. The refrigerant that is used in your system is done so through a closed system. The refrigerant cycles back and forth between liquid and gas in a continuous loop. You should never run out of refrigerant. If your system is running low or is out of refrigerant than that means that you have a leak somewhere in your unit.
If you spend a bunch of money refilling your ac unit with new refrigerant but do not fix the leak than you will find yourself in the same position in the not too distant future.
Fix the leak first, and then refill your refrigerant.
Be wary of contractors who need to ‘top off’ your refrigerant levels. Your refrigerant levels should stay constant unless there is a leak.
You can store refrigerants for as long as you would like. The gas will not go bad as long as there is not a leak in your cylinder. If your cylinder is completely sealed you can hold onto your refrigerant for years without any worry. There are many people who still have a hold of R-12 refrigerant from the early 1990s. Product is still good too!
Some people will keep an eye out for upcoming phase outs of refrigerants and if they see a potential big phase out coming they will buy a few cylinders of that refrigerant and sit on it for years and years. They’ll either keep it for personal use or hold on to it until the price sky rockets and then sell it for a huge profit.
POE Oil, or Poly Olester Oil, is a synthetic oil that is used in refrigeration compressors and the refrigeration system with Hydroflurocarbon refrigerants. These oils really became popular with the debut of R-410A refrigerant about ten years ago. But it can be used with other refrigerants such as R-22. Just do not mix mineral oil with Poly Olester Oil and always check the compressor to see what they call for.
A points of note on these oils:
- POE oil is hygroscopic. What that means is that when they come in contact with air they have the ability to absorb it’s moisture. If you are working on a unit that uses POE oil then you need to ensure that the system is open and exposed to the atmosphere in as short as time as possible. Otherwise you risk damaging the compressor or other vital components.
- You may have noticed that when working with POE oil that it comes in a metal container rather than a plastic one. This is done because Poly Olester Oil can actually absorb moisture through the walls of a plastic container.
- When moisture does get in your POE oil it is very difficult to remove. The moisture will stay dissolved in the oil and cannot be removed by applying a vacuum. The only way it can be removed is by using a desiccant.
- Standard servicing procedure is to replace the liquid line drier when a system is opened for servicing. This is even more important when working with POE oils.
- Always always check what type of oil the compressor and the unit takes before adding more. Even if you think you know it is always better to be safe then sorry.
Global Warming Potential, also known as GWP, a measurement of how much heat a specific greenhouse gas can trap within the atmosphere. Something with a higher Global Warming number will have a much more harmful effect on the environment then another with a much lower number. As we all know with every type of scale or measurement we need a baseline or a zero out number. In other words, we need a control to compare GWP numbers to. In the case of GWP our control substance is Carbon Dioxide. Carbon Dioxide has a GWP rating of one. Yes, that’s right one.
So, now that we have the baseline we can begin to look at other substances and see how they compare on the GWP scale. If we look at one of the most popular refrigerants on the market today, R-410A, we can see that it has a GWP number of two-thousand and eighty-eight. Let’s think about that number for a second. R-410A refrigerant has more than two-thousand times the potency on the environment then Carbon Dioxide.
That example right there folks is why there is a big push to phase down or phase out high Global Warming Potential substances and chemicals. Refrigerants are included in these phase downs.
Thanks for reading,
Saturation point on a refrigerant is the same as a boiling point or a condensing point. In other words, the saturation point is the temperature at which the refrigerant changes states rather it be from liquid to gas or from gas to liquid. Each refrigerant has a different boiling points or saturation points and even when you are dealing with the same refrigerant the saturation point can change depending on the pressure that is measured.
For those of you who do not know boiling points on gases or liquids can change depending on the pressure on the chemical. So, while we all know water freezes at thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit what you may not know is that this freeze only occurs when water is at one atmospheric pressure. (Also known as Sea Level.) If this pressure changes then the actual freezing point or boiling point of water will change as well.
In the air conditioning world everything is controlled by temperatures and pressure. So, depending on the pressure of the refrigerant you are dealing with the boiling point or saturation point will change. In order to determine this saturation temperatures technicians will measure the pressure and then convert the pressure reading over to the corresponding temperature. This can either be done with refrigerant specific gauges or with a portable refrigerant pressure temperature chart.
There are many kinds of refrigerant and or Refrigerant on the market today, but only a few that are widely used:
- R-134a refrigerant is primarily used in automobile applications. It is classified as an HFC refrigerant and has been banned in some countries due to it’s global warming potential.
- R-12 was THE refrigerant back in the 20th century for automobile applications. It was banned in 1994 due to it harming the O-Zone layer. It was replaced by R-134a. R-12 is an CFC refrigerant.
- 1234YF is a new type of refrigerant that will be slowly replacing R-134a applications. Some automobile manufacturers have already switched over to the new HFO class of refrigerant known as 1234YF.
- R-410A is primarily used for home and commercial units made on or after 2010. It is also an HFC refrigerant.
- R-22 was the primary Refrigerant used for home and commercial units but was banned due to the harm it caused to the O-Zone layer. It was replaced by R-410A in 2010. R-22 is an CFC refrigerant.
- R-404A is primarily used transport refrigeration. It is an HFC refrigerant as well.
It is important to note that HFC refrigerant such as R134a, R410A, and R404A are being slowly phased out due to their high global warming potential. They will most likely all be replaced by new HFO refrigerant equivalents.
If you are looking to purchase refrigerant check out our product pages below:
Please note that on some refrigerants you will need to be EPA certified in order to purchase.
Thanks for reading!
There are many types of refrigerant available and it can be rather confusing as to what type of Refrigerant your home HVAC or your vehicle takes. There are four major kinds of refrigerant today. You have your R-410A and your R-22 for your home/commercial units. You also have your R-134A and your R-12 refrigerants for your vehicles.
Below is a quick guide on how to identify what type of refrigerant you need:
There are a few types of refrigerants used in vehicles. The most common type today is the R-134A. In the past R-12 was the go to refrigerant for vehicles. R-12 was phased out from production in compliance with the Montreal Protocol in 1995. (Montreal Protocol is an international treaty designed to protect the O-Zone layer by phasing out production of chemicals that are harmful to the O-Zone.)
Vehicle manufacturers begin switching to R-134A between 1992 and 1994. If your vehicle was made after this date (Which was twenty years ago, so I would hope so!) then your vehicle is using R-134A refrigerant. Since R-134A is an HFC you can purchase and use it without having to be licensed with the Environmental Protection Agency. R-134A can be bought in 12 ounce cans or in thirty pound jugs.
If you are in need of R-12 Refrigerant you are going to end up paying an arm and a leg to get a hold of some. Since R-12 was phased out almost twenty years ago the price have gone up exponentially. I’ve seen some thirty pound jugs sell for over a thousand dollars. Also, in order to purchase and handle R-12 Refrigerant you need to be certified by the Environmental Protection Agency. You will not be able to buy this without providing your certification number to a seller.
There are two possible types of refrigerants that are used in your home air conditioning unit. The most common refrigerant is R-22 Refrigerant and other is R-410A. Most units made prior to 2010 will be taking R-22 Refrigerant and ALL units made in 2010 or newer are required to take R-410A refrigerant. So, it is just a matter finding out when your machine was manufactured.
R-22 has been the standard HVAC refrigerant for many years but in recent years has begun to be phased out due to the ‘Montreal Protocol.’ (Montreal Protocol is an international treaty designed to protect the O-Zone layer by phasing out production of chemicals that are harmful to the O-Zone.) The short version is that R-22 falls into the chemical group of Hydrocholoroflurocarbons, or HCFCs. HCFCs contain the chemical Chlorine which negatively affects the O-Zone layer.
In compliance with the Montreal Protocol the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency mandated that no new R-22 machines can be manufactured after 2009. Any new HVAC unit built in 2010 or greater will now take the R-410A refrigerant. If you have a unit that takes R-22 Refrigerant you are still able to buy some on the market today, but you will need to be certified with the EPA before your can purchase or handle R-22. If you are not certified you will need to have an HVAC company service your unit. Lastly, in 2020 the production R-22 will be banned in the United States. You will still be able to purchase it but you will see the price sky rocket over the next few years. If you do find that you need R-22 in the future it may make more sense to just purchase a new R-410A unit instead.
R-410A is a Hydroflurocarbon, or HFCs, and has no negative affects on the O-Zone layer. It is the future of Refrigerant for home and commercial air conditioning units. Although HFCs are an improvement from the damaging R-22 they are not perfect. They may not damage the O-Zone but they are greenhouse gases and have a higher Global Warming contribution then it’s predecessor R-22.
R-410A is not widely spread today as most units prior to 2010 were using R-22 Refrigerant. However, as the years go on R-410A is going to be the dominant Refrigerant in the marketplace. Since R-410A is an HFC refrigerant you do NOT need to be certified to purchase or handle it. This gives all you do-it-yourselfers the ability to purchase Refrigerant online and not have to worry about breaking any regulations.
There are hundreds of types of refrigerant that have been developed over the years. You can follow this link to Wikipedia for a complete listing. The list may seem daunting, but there are really only a few types of freon that are widely used in the market today.
Refrigerant is a hazardous gas and storage of Refrigerant should not be taken lightly. No matter if you have R-134A, R-410A, R-22, or any other kind of Refrigerant you need to take the proper steps and precautions. Below are a few key points to remember when storing your Refrigerant:
- Ensure that all your cylinders be stored up right and are without risk of tipping over.
- Refrigerant should be stored into a well ventilated area and temperatures should NOT exceed over 125 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperate becomes too hot pressure can build inside the container which could cause the container to rupture. This could cause the release valve to fail which could result in an explosion of the product.
- Ensure all Refrigerant containers/cylinders have pressure release devices to avoid combustion and or explosions.
- Ensure there are no combustible or flammable materials nearby the containers.
- Perform regular visual inspections of your cylinders to ensure that everything is in good order.
- Limit the number of people who have access to your Refrigerant, as the more people who have access the higher your chance of an incident. Also, please keep out of reach of children.
Refrigerant can be dangerous, or it can be very safe. It is up to you to take the per-cautions when storing your product. Well, that about covers storage requirements for Refrigerant.