The ins and outs of re­frig­er­ant

Motor Equipment News - - KEEPING IT COOL -

Re­plac­ing or top­ping up air con­di­tion­ing sys­tems in mo­tor ve­hi­cles is not just a mat­ter of hook­ing up the sys­tem to a bot­tle and away you go, says To­tal Air Sup­ply’s Ces Moyes. There is a whole pro­to­col, as well as safety and equip­ment is­sues, and li­cenc­ing, to con­sider.

Ac­cord­ing to Wikipedia, HFO1234yf is the first in a new class of re­frig­er­ants ac­quir­ing a global warm­ing po­ten­tial (GWP) rat­ing one 335th that of R-134a (the pre­vi­ously used com­mon re­frig­er­ant). It has a GWP of four.

1234yf, as it’s more com­monly known, was de­vel­oped to meet the Euro­pean di­rec­tive 2006/40/EC that went into ef­fect in 2011, re­quir­ing that all new car plat­forms for sale in Europe use a re­frig­er­ant in its air con­di­tion­ing sys­tem with a GWP be­low 150.

Says Ces:” While 1234yf is now be­ing im­ported into the coun­try in­side some brand-new ve­hi­cles as ‘a com­po­nent of the ve­hi­cle’, the re­frig­er­ant it­self is still not avail­able for re­sale here in NZ, and it doesn’t look like it’s go­ing to be any­time in the near fu­ture. The same goes for 1234yf re­cov­ery cylin­ders as they re­quire a dif­fer­ent thread and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion than R134a.

“Ser­vic­ing 1234yf ve­hi­cles means you will re­quire some dif­fer­ent equip­ment due to ‘slight’ flamma­bil­ity is­sues with 1234yf. The re­cov­ery units re­quire anti-spark sys­tems and have earth­ing re­quire­ments, and the ve­hi­cles also have dif­fer­ent charg­ing ports re­quir­ing dif­fer­ent cou­plers. So the min­i­mum you re­quire would be a new re­cov­ery unit, 1234yf man­i­fold set, and a 1234yf com­pat­i­ble elec­tronic leak de­tec­tor if you use elec­tronic leak de­tec­tors.

“DO NOT use an R134a elec­tronic leak de­tec­tor on 1234yf un­less it spec­i­fies it does both, due to the flamma­bil­ity is­sue with 1234yf.

“We here at To­tal Air Sup­ply carry re­cov­ery units that will do both re­frig­er­ants, as well as the dual re­frig­er­ant elec­tronic leak de­tec­tors and 1234yf man­i­folds sets, so if you’re up­dat­ing ex­ist­ing gear or just re­quir­ing ad­di­tional gear why not fu­ture proof your­self?”

Ces adds that as far as she is aware R134a cur­rently does not have a phase out pe­riod here in NZ, and so will still be around for some con­sid­er­able time – so To­tal Air Sup­ply still car­ries R134a equip­ment in stock.

But she stresses: “R134a sys­tems are not a retro­fit sys­tem – you can­not retro­fit a R134a ve­hi­cle to 1234yf and vice versa, al­though in some ex­treme cases the ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­turer has cleared the ve­hi­cle to be retro­fit­ted back to R134a due to the un­avail­abil­ity of 1234yf re­frig­er­ant here in NZ.

“If you come across a ve­hi­cle with 1234yf and you do not have the cor­rect equip­ment to re­cover – DO NOT TOUCH IT. Please give us a call and we can ei­ther ad­vise you of some­one with the equip­ment who can help you, or sell you the equip­ment re­quired.

“Clear­ance from the ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­turer MUST be granted for war­ranty pur­poses if you are forced to retro­fit the ve­hi­cle back to R134a.”

Ces also men­tions en­quires re­ceived at To­tal Air Sup­ply about the re­quired Fillers and Han­dling Li­cence – al­though she feels there has not been enough ed­u­ca­tion and in­for­ma­tion on this vi­tal sub­ject.

“If you are re­mov­ing gas from a ve­hi­cle into a com­pressed cylin­der you re­quire a Filler's Li­cence,” she says.

“This is for ev­ery tech­ni­cian who does air con­di­tion­ing work. The li­cence re­quire­ments have been im­ple­mented by the gov­ern­ment, and if you do not have your li­cence please get it ur­gently, as with the new Health and Safety reg­u­la­tions this could have se­vere im­pli­ca­tions for your com­pany, and pos­si­bly your in­sur­ance as well. Con­tact for more de­tails and course dates.”

The talk of li­cens­ing also brings into play peo­ple us­ing “top-up cans” and the “re-gas” mer­chants of­ten found on the likes of Trade Me or one-day deals.

“It is highly un­likely they would have a li­cence or even know about it,” says Ces. “The so called top-up cans, or peo­ple who re-gas, do not fix the prob­lem. The air con­di­tion­ing may work for a short pe­riod of time, but in re­al­ity it may still have a leak, and if so chances are you are slowly vent­ing re­frig­er­ant into the at­mos­phere.

And she warns that those prod­ucts which have “stop leak” in them can cause gen­uine re­pair­ers all sorts of prob­lems. “Would you use a leak stop­per to fix a head gas­ket in your en­gine?” she asks. “This prod­uct, once in­tro­duced into the sys­tem, is there for the life of the ve­hi­cle.

“To re­move the sealant you would have to re­place ev­ery com­po­nent as this prod­uct can­not be flushed out. There is also the chance that this prod­uct may get into a re­cov­ery unit or air con­di­tion­ing sta­tion es­pe­cially if you are un­aware it is in the ve­hi­cle as there are usu­ally no warn­ing stick­ers or signs on the ve­hi­cle.

“If this gets into your equip­ment it could be ter­mi­nal as it has the po­ten­tial to cause ir­re­versible dam­age. There is a rea­son gen­uine re­pair­ers do not use this prod­uct, and all rep­utable in­ter­na­tional com­pres­sor man­u­fac­tur­ers do not sup­port stop leak prod­ucts of any kind.

Ces points out that To­tal Air Sup­ply is 100 per­cent Kiwi owned and op­er­ated and has more than 40 years of com­bined knowl­edge of the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try.

“We have al­ways had a strong moral code to be truth­ful and eth­i­cal with our cus­tomers at all times, and we of­fer a friendly phone and email ser­vice with a prompt re­sponse to any query.

“We have been a spe­cial­ist au­to­mo­tive air con­di­tion­ing whole­saler since 2000, as well as sell­ing com­plete ra­di­a­tors. We are the ma­jor dis­trib­u­tor for Jayair here in NZ, along with other lead­ing brands such as Jayrad, CPS, Clip­light, Brain Bee Clima and many more.

“In ad­di­tion, To­tal Air Sup­ply is a mem­ber of VASA and has been a Capri­corn Sup­plier since 2004. We also of­fer a com­pres­sor re­pair or re­build ser­vice along with the re­pair or re­mak­ing of hoses for any ve­hi­cle in al­loy or steel. For more info con­tact the friendly team on 0508 868 252 (TOTALAIR); email parts@totalair.; fax 0 9 966 6045, or click on

Couldn’t re­sist this – an early air con­di­tioner, the Ther­mador Air Cooler. Pic­ture Doug Cald­well/Wikipedia.

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