Refrigerant Licensing Guide

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

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