24 Aug 2014

Why are there so many refrigerants

Growing trends in the HVAC Industry and new construction building. No Comments

Why are there so many refrigerants in our industry now. It is slowly becoming impossible to determine what refrigerant is in a system. We will soon need a tractor trailer to go on service calls. I have 10 different refrigerants in my truck and another five or six at the shop. And I still dont have enough!!!!! Have we gone to far? If I go on a service call and I cant determine refrigerant I recover the refrigerant. And put in something that will work. Then I clearly mark what went in and the date. How hard is it to do that!

I am finding very unusual pressures on systems on a regular basis now. This tells me that all the inexperienced service techs are mixing refrigerants. There adding the wrong refrigerant to the systems. How much money is this costing the owners. If my little service company is finding dozens of the these every year what are other people coming across.

Lately I look at my gauges and have to scratch my head. What is the problem? Expansion valve or wrong orifice? Wrong size line set or too long. Really bad duct work. Forgot to remove the nitrogen before charging. Never pulled a vacuum on the system. Mixed the refrigerants or even put the wrong one. You almost never saw the quantity and types of mistakes being made today years ago.

When I started in this industry there were 3 refrigerants for every thing. If you had one can of each you were golden. Companies are working on more as I write this, I have no idea just how many there are but there must be more then one hundred by now.

Nothing is clearly marked! I have not come up behind another company yet that is clearing marking there condensing units. Commercial refrigeration is the worst. Nothing is marked and a large restaurant that has a dozen refrigerators can have a separate refrigerant in each system. What some refrigeration companies are doing is marking the systems with a number they came up with and keeping information in there books as to what they installed so that no one coming up behind them can get it.

Why are there so many refrigerants? Why cant we start getting rid of the refrigerants that are not widely used? Why are the refrigerant companies not supplying stickers with each box so that we can clearly mark every thing? I just worked on a large commercial freezer that was marked Freon 502 on the compressor and while checking the fans on the evaporator discovered someone wrote MP-39 on the side of the coil? Why would you put Mp-39 in a freezer? That has a 502 compressor in it…

With the exception of the large union refrigeration companies that service mostly supermarkets and and large food handling plants it seems no one working on these systems is a career refrigeration service tech. Most of the techs I see are just people who know just enough to cause more damage then do good. There on there way somewhere else. Just passing through. They hope to get a really high paying union job where they can text all day. Many will wind up in the metro north or DOT maintenance department. In the meantime we have them putting refrigerants in systems they dont care about. They care more about there next text then what will happen if they put in the wrong refrigerant. Monetarily I make more money off of these persons I cant complain about that! What bothers me is how they think this is easy, they got it, yet they cant do it properly.

I have a commercial customer who has a bunch of bad compressors. Not to mention his equipment looks like hell and there are clearly other issues. How did all these compressors go bad? They are all Copeland semi hermetic. They dont fail all that often not like this. More then likely refrigeration companies are sending tech’s out that are putting in the wrong refrigerants causing catastrophic failures of each one of these compressors. This customer has spent five thousand dollars with me in just the last two weeks and we are just scratching the surface.

Why are there so many refrigerants? It’s time to start limiting the refrigerants some how!

I am starting to use 404A on most of my new refrigeration installations and retro fits. It works just fine so far as I can see and it’s cheap. On my retro fits I am setting up the small compressors with unions and shut offs so that i can easily change the oil in the future. I simply blow out the system with nitrogen and return after a while and change the oil. I am finding that when I come up behind people who use flush kits that they dont get all the flush out of the system and the clean up for that is more then an oil change.

I use 410A on my new air conditioning systems as most people, it seems to work fine once you get used to it and put it in the correct way. I find the biggest by far mistake people are making is with sub cooling. If you dont get the sub cooling correct on these systems then they do not work up to there potential. I am installing 1/4 x 4 copper wells on my liquid line near the condensing unit and strapping it down with heat transfer paste then covering it with insulation. So I can get a accurate reading with my thermometer. I have watched these 410A units just come to life once the sub cooling is in range. The heat coming from the condenser increases and its a beautiful thing.

Of course we are going to need to keep 134A around for a while longer i think we have finally got used to it and it works. I still have my doubts about it just cant put my finger on them.

Hot shot has got to go, why is it so expensive? 414B Plus i dont think it really works well and is efficient. It just seems to do the job. Does not preform well under extreme conditions. And at almost $500 a can or more in someĀ  places its cheaper to retrofit then keep buying it for a few customers. Every time I buy a can I have it for years.

I believe in the near future I will start a separate blog so i can get feed back from people in the trade so we can all get together and start getting a handle on this problem. I don’t allow comments on my main site.


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