HFO-1234YF Refrigerant Frequently Asked Questions

There are dozens of car manufacturers using 1234YF as their refrigerant in newer models not only here in the United States but also across the world. In fact the common automotive HFC refrigerant known as R-134a is already banned across the entire European Union on new models. To add fuel to the fire the same thing will be happening here in the United States by the year 2020. (Model Year 2021.)

So, with everything switching over to 1234yf questions arise. What is it? What can we expect from it? Will everything be changing, or is it mostly the same? Let’s find out!

The Questions

  • What is HFO-1234yf?
    • HFO-1234yf is a new class of refrigerants known as hydrofluoroolefins. These refrigerants are similar to HFC refrigerants except that they have a much much lower Global Warming Potential number. This is done by creating a double carbon bond within HFO refrigerants. This double bond is easily decompable in the environment if the refrigerant is leaked or vented. 1234yf is the first of these class of refrigerants and will be used in automotive applications to replace R-134a.
  • What applications will use 1234yf?
    • Mostly it will be automobiles that use 1234yf. Eventually we will see medium duty and even heavy duty vehicles come over to the YF side as well.
  • When will 1234yf come to the United States?
    • It’s already here! While the actual phase out R-134a doesn’t go into effect until the year 2020 many auto manufacturers have already taken the initiative and have begun using 1234yf on their newer model vehicles.
  • Why are we switching refrigerant again for automobiles?
    • I am sure most of you remember the days of R-12 refrigerant. R-12 was phased out back in 1992 due to the Ozone depleting Chlorine that it contained. The substitute that we used for R-12 was the new HFC called R-134a. It was later found that R-134a had a very high Global Warming Potential, or GWP, number. GWP is a measurement of Greenhouse Gases and their effect on Global Warming. A lower GWP alternative to R-134a had to be found and thus we have the new 1234yf.
  • How is 1234yf different from R-134a?
    • 134a is a Hydroflurocarbon refrigerant while 1234yf is a Hydrofluroolefin refrigerant. While these are two separate classes of refrigerants they are in fact very close to each other. The only main difference is that the HFO refrigerants have a double carbon bond whereas HFCs do not.
  • I read that 1234yf is flammable, should I be worried?
    • Truth be told, it’s not that big of a concern. Yes, it’s mildly flammable but so is the gasoline in your car. There have been countless tests from all different companies and organizations from all over the world. Throughout all of these tests there has been only one that found bad results from flammability. I will get further into this one bad test in the ‘history’ section in this post.
  • Do I need to do anything different to work on a YF unit if I am already 609 certified?
    • No, if you are 609 certified through the EPA already you are legally able to work on these new YF units. However, it may make sense to go through 609 training again and to take the test again as these tests have been updated to include newer YF questions.
  • Do I need to be certified to purchase 1234yf refrigerant?
    • Yes, as of January 1st, 2018 you will need to 609 certified with the EPA in order to purchase 1234yf refrigerant. The only exception is when purchasing containers that contain less then two pounds of refrigerant. This new rules applies to R-134a cylinders as well.
  • Will I see a difference between temperatures and pressures when working on a 1234yf unit?
    • There is a slight difference as you go up in temperature but for the most part 134a and 1234yf work on very similar temperatures and pressure.
  • Do I need different tools to work with 1234yf?
    • Yes, yes you do. You will need a host of tools. I recommend clicking here to go to our 1234yf tool buyers guide. This guide will provide you with the tools that you need when the new vehicles come into your garage.
  • How long will 1234yf be around?
    • I predict 1234yf will be around for quite some time, even longer than R-134a. 1234yf has an extremely low GWP number of four and has no Ozone depletion potential. It’s here to stay. The only downside is the price.
  • How expensive is 1234yf?
    • As I write this in October of 2017 it is around seventy dollars a pound of refrigerant. That is a HUGE increase when comparing to R-134a which has a price of about five dollars per pound. We can only hope that this price goes down as more cars switch over.

Conclusion

If you haven’t come across a 1234yf unit either in your garage, your shop, or your neighbors garage then I can assure you that the time will come shortly. The number of vehicles using YF refrigerant is expanding rapidly. As I write this article in October of 2017 there are an estimated thirty-five million cars on the road using YF refrigerant and that number is only growing. Are you ready?

Well folks that covers about every question on 1234yf that I could think of. I am sure that I missed some here and there and if you feel that I need to add something or even correct something please do not hesitate to reach out and contact me by clicking here.

Thanks again for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

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