Hello everyone! It’s been a long time for me here at RefrigerantHQ. Life has been crazy as I’ve started a new job, written a few books, and I’ve started a new website as well dedicated to the tool industry. It can be found at ToughAssTools.com. But hey that’s enough about me. Let’s move on to refrigerants.
I wanted to make an announcement today as I have recently found out that HFO-1234YF, the R-134a replacement, is now available for retail. So, What does that mean? Well folks it means that we can actually buy the stuff now. I swear if we rewound twelve months ago 1234YF seemed harder to find than a bar of gold. Half the time you had to go straight to Chemours or Honeywell just to get a cylinder.
But now with each passing year 1234YF has been increasing in popularity and it seems that we finally reached the point where it is going to start being able to be purchased for retail use. R-134a is quickly going away and is scheduled to be phased out very soon. Just like R-12 there will come a time that 134a will be going for over a thousand dollars just for a thirty pound cylinder. Any cars in Europe made over the past couple of years are using the new HFO-1234YF and a lot of manufacturers here in the United States and in Asia are switching their vehicles over to 1234 as well. Like it or not HFOs are the future.
What is 1234YF?
1234YF refrigerant is designed to be an alternative to the R-134a HFC refrigerant that is used today. R-134a has been discontinued in the European Union and is on it’s way to being discontinued in the United States. 134a is being phased out due to it’s high global warming potential number of over 1,300. With 134’a widespread use across the world it was having a significant impact on global warming.
1234YF was introduced as an alternative refrigerant with a MUCH lower global warming potential of 4. Yes, that’s right 4. As you can see there is quite the difference between the two refrigerants. 1234YF also does NOT contain Chlorine like it’s early R-12 predecessor. There are only two drawbacks that come to mind when dealing with 1234YF:
- The flammability risk is higher than 134a and R-12. While this sounds dangerous, the chances of this impacting you are minimal. There have been numerous controlled tests in Germany and other countries testing 1234YF in a collision. More often than not everything is fine. There were a few tests in the early days of 1234YF that the refrigerant tank ruptured and ignited during a simulated car accident. These have not been replicated.
- The price on 1234YF is significantly higher than what you are used to paying for 134a. The typical price for a thirty pound jug of 134a is around $70-$100 a cylinder. The price on 1234YF may be as much as six times that cost for a single cylinder. Instead of $100 you could be looking at $700.
Who’s Using 1234YF?
The demand for 1234YF is still small in the United States. In the European Union 134a was completely phased out a few years ago and was replaced by 1234YF. Demand over there is growing exponentially. The story is a bit different here as only a few OE manufacturers have begun using 1234YF. Even those manufacturers are only using it on certain models. With that being said with each year that passes the demand for 1234YF grows and more models and manufactures begin using it.
134a is predicted to be phased out entirely across the United States in the year 2021. As we approach that year the demand for 1234YF will grow year over year. There are numerous 2015 year vehicles on the road today that use 1234YF, but since the air conditioning system is a completely sealed unit the need to refill their vehicle with 1234YF only arises when the system breaks or a collision accident occurs.