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R-134a Product Details
Just as R-22 was phased out residential and commercial units R-12 freon was phased out of the automotive market. R-134A is it’s replacement. R-134A has exploded in use over the last ten years with most all new vehicles being R-134A only. 134 has been around for over twenty years but I believe we are starting to see the decline of this type of refrigerant over the next few years. It has already been banned in the European Union which is most of Europe and there is already commitments made to reduce production and consumption here in the United States. The key difference between R-12 and R-134a is that the R-12 contained the chemical Chlorine which causes direct damaged to the O-Zone layer.
134 was brought in as a replacement back in 1994 as it was an HFC refrigerant and it did not contain Chlorine. But, it seems that there is no perfect refrigerant. It was found out that even though R-134a does not contain Chlorine it does have a very high global warming potential and massive use of the HFC results in a large contribution to Climate Change. So, there is now a big push to replace this with 1234YF refrigerant. If I was to give a date on when R-134a will be phased out in the United States I would venture a guess at around 2019-2021. Do not be surprised if you begin to see the price rising over the next couple years.
An important note is that vehicles with R-12 compressors will have to be completely retro-fitted in order for them to take R-134A. This can be expensive, but since R-12 has been discontinued you will be paying a premium price just to refill your freon. If your vehicle was made after 1994 and between 2012 it is almost guaranteed to take R-134a. I say 2012 as there have been a few manufacturers over the past few years that have been using 1234YF as replacement and this will be more common place as the years pass by.
EPA Phase Out
In July of 2015 the Environmental Protection Agency announced that they will be phasing out R-134a out across the United States. The phase out will begin in the year 2020 on 2021 vehicle model years. The EPA did make an exception on vehicles that are being exported out of the country. For vehicle exports the deadline is the year 2024, or 2025 vehicle model years.
Most everyone saw the phase out of R-134a coming. It has been phased out in the European Union since 2011 and was being pushed for phase out in the United States for many years. It was no surprise when the EPA announced their decision.
The go to replacement for 134a is the new HFO refrigerant 1234YF. 1234YF was developed as a join venture between Honeywell and DuPont in response to the European Union’s decision to move away from 134a. There is the DuPont/Chemours branded 1234YF known as Opteon YF and Honeywell’s brand name Solstice.
Almost all manufacturers have agreed to begin using 1234YF as a replacement, however there are a few dissenters in Germany that have chosen to go the Carbon Dioxide/R-744 route instead of 1234YF. (Daimler and Volkswagen.)
As I write this in July of 2015 the price of R-134a is only expected to go up. Today we pay around seventy-five dollars for a thirty pound cylinder. In 2016 this could easily be over one-hundred dollars per cylinder and as the years go on I could see it getting to R-22 levels of three-hundred dollars or more per cylinder.