HCFC Refrigerant Ban: Everything Contractors Need to Know

As of January 1, 2020, HCFC refrigerant use will be severely limited in the United States. 

If you work in the industry, you’ve probably known this for some time; the Environmental Protection Agency announced these changes way back in the 1990s.

Still, that was a long time ago, and you may not remember all the details. In this post, we’ll provide a quick rundown of everything you need to know in preparation for January 1, 2020.

Keep in mind that we’re looking at things federally. Be sure to check your local government’s regulations, which may or may not be harsher than the federal ones.

What Are The New HCFC Refrigerant Rules?

As of 2020, HCFC refrigerants can no longer be produced or imported into the United States. This means contractors are limited to working with HCFC that either already exists or is being recycled from existing materials.

Consumers are not required by law to replace their existing HCFC systems. However, following 2020, it will become increasingly scarce. This will provide HVAC contractors with plenty of opportunities for decommissioning systems that use HCFC refrigerants. 

This should be a particular boon for companies in cities like Phoenix, Arizona (e.g. American Home Water and Air), where air conditioning usage is extensive and refrigerants will be expended even faster than in other places.

HCFC Refrigerant List

The following HCFC refrigerant list highlights the most commonly-used examples.

  • HCFC-22 (also known as R-22)
  • HCFC-123
  • HCFC-21

Note that there are other types of HCFCs that are not refrigerants. By 2030, all of these HCFCs (which range in utility from fire retardants, skin foams, and more) will be banned as well.

HCFC-Free Refrigerants

As mentioned earlier, contractors have an opportunity to replace many old systems altogether. However, many systems can also be retrofitted to work with HCFC-free refrigerants.

One non-HCFC refrigerant is R600a (isobutane). Others include:

  • R290
  • R717
  • R744
  • R1270

There are also alternatives that still contain these chemicals but in less-ozone-depleting quantities. Such compounds include:

  • R449A
  • R450A
  • R513A

Conclusion: Savvy HVAC Contractors See Opportunity

There’s no question that the clampdown on ozone-depleting refrigerants poses many challenges for the industry as a whole. However, it also presents a number of opportunities. Consumers as a whole crave energy efficiency and environmental friendliness in 2020. Savvy contractors will help clients understand the need for these changes and implement proper alternative systems.

In this post, we gave you some tips for achieving this. Let’s briefly recap.

First, you need to familiarize yourself with the various rules that will come into place concerning HCFCs in 2020. Next, familiarize yourself with the refrigerants that are no longer permitted for use as well as the alternatives that will replace them.

Having these solutions in your arsenal will make it much easier for you to transition clients from old systems into new or retrofitted ones.

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Tags: air, conditioning, hcfc, hvac

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Comment by Kristina Frunze on December 17, 2019 at 11:47am

Hey Walt! 134A is covered under this ban but 410A is not.

Comment by Walter Ahlgrim on December 17, 2019 at 11:43am

Just to be clear are the popular 134A and 410A products covered under this ban?

 

Walt

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