R-134a

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Old 10-14-12, 04:37 PM
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R-134a

Since anyone may purchase R-134a from any auto parts store (or even from WallyWorld) I assume that the EPA considers it rather benign in comparison to the other common refrigerants. So why doesn't some smart cookie market a DIY split system using R-134a?

I suspect that a goodly number of the Chinese mini-splits (with R-410a) ARE installed by DIYers and they never put a vacuum pump on the system or anything and they seem to get away with it. It just seems to me that a system using R-134a would be both DIY friendly AND completely legal for a non-certificated person to install and service.

OR, if R-410a is as benign as I understand it to be, why does it require a certificate and R-134a does not? Further, why can you buy the 134a in 8 ounce cans but the 410a is only sold in 25 lb. cylinders?
 
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Old 10-14-12, 04:59 PM
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R134A is actually not supposed to be sold to the public. No matter what size container. For some reason the EPA does not enforce that law.

Since January 1, 1993, any person, repairing or servicing motor vehicle air conditioners shall certify, to the EPA that such person has acquired, and is properly using, approved equipment, and that each individual authorized to use the equipment is properly trained and certified under Section 609 of the Clean Air Act. In addition, only Section 609 Certified Motor Vehicle A/C technicians can purchase refrigerants in any size container from an auto supply house for use in cooling the passenger compartment of vehicles, including containers of 20 pounds or less.
Section 609 Certification allows the purchase of any refrigerant in any size container from an auto supply house for use in cooling the passenger compartment of vehicles! Motor Vehicle Air Conditioners (MVAC) are defined as mechanical vapor compression refrigeration equipment used to cool the driver or passenger compartments of any motor vehicle. This definition is NOT intended to encompass the hermetically sealed refrigeration system used on motor vehicles for refrigerated cargo or the air conditioning systems on passenger buses which use HCFC-22 refrigerant. Section 609 certification is required for working on MVAC systems while Section 608 certification is required for working on non-motor vehicle air conditioning systems. Note that Section 608 certification is required for working on hermetically sealed refrigeration systems used on motor vehicles for refrigerated cargo or the air conditioning systems on passenger buses which use HCFC-22 refrigerant.
R410A is sold in smaller containers that you can find on the internet. Again, it is all illegal to purchase without certification.
 

Last edited by hvactechfw; 10-14-12 at 06:41 PM.
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Old 10-14-12, 06:33 PM
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HVACTECHFW....What.....????

R134A is actually not supposed to be sold to the public. No matter what size container. For some reason the EPA does not enforce that law.

You talking R-22 right? Also R 12 correct?

 

Last edited by lawrosa; 10-14-12 at 06:48 PM. Reason: Added info.
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Old 10-14-12, 06:39 PM
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no, I am talking R-134A.... Did you read the quote from the EPA?
 
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Old 10-14-12, 06:54 PM
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Here read this.......



http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2004...df/04-3817.pdf



LOL when you get through that here is what the EPA says.

[h=4]Does the sales restriction apply to HFC refrigerants?[/h] This sales restriction only applies to refrigerants consisting of an ozone-depleting substance. Therefore, HFC refrigerants such as R-134a, and HFC refrigerant blends that do not contain an ozone-depleting substance, such as R-404A and R-410A, are not currently covered under this sales restriction.
 
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Old 10-14-12, 08:00 PM
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R-134a is actually beginning a phase down...

http://www.epa.gov/cppd/mac/9.30 am ...and Zaelke.pdf

Yes, you can legally purchase small cans of 134a in some states.

The EPA seems to be contradicting in their rules. In the future I don't see small cans being available. All refrigerants should only be handled by certified technicians in my opinion.
 
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Old 10-14-12, 08:12 PM
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All refrigerants should only be handled by certified technicians in my opinion.
I totally disagree.....

Just my opinion, and I am done here. No bickering.... Your my partner....Fellow mod.


 
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Old 10-16-12, 10:41 PM
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Well, I didn't mean to start a fight, I just thought it odd that the EPA tightly controls all the common refrigerants other than R-134a.
 
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Old 10-16-12, 11:11 PM
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All I understand about the issue is that before my father passed away he was required to have certification before he could buy refrigerant. My father at one time owned a service station and during that time he didn't need any license. Then when he was in semi-retirement and working for a big company the EPA and congress changed the rules. They at that time realized that they could deplete the ozone layer. So new rules were made and he had to be certified then which his company paid for. The certificate was his not the companies so after he retired he was still able to buy the refrigerant.
A few years later after he passed away they then changed the laws again and tightened down on that type of refrigerant as they realized that no amount should be sold. As time goes by due to more investigations they start to tighten the rules on all other refrigerants. Partly environmental and also concerns for public safety too as those little cans can be dangerous if not handled properly.
 
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Old 10-16-12, 11:57 PM
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I used to work with refrigeration systems in commercial buildings back in the 1970s. There were no restrictions on any of the various refrigerants back then and anyone could buy them or other components for refrigeration systems from any appliance store and some auto parts stores. Then someone noticed there was a hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica and it was determined that fluorocarbon-based refrigerants were the cause. That lead to international protocols calling first for a reduction of free release of refrigerants and later to more and more severe restrictions on the use and manufacture of several refrigerants.

Part and parcel to this were laws requiring that people who worked with refrigerants needed to be certified in following all the rules and also the development of new refrigerants that had a lesser effect (hopefully no effect) upon ozone depletion. There were also further studies made of the ozone hole with the discovery that the size of the hole waxed and waned from year to year but that in the aggregate it was definitely getting bigger. As they often do, governments (around the world) rushed to put in place rules and regulations before fully understanding the phenomena they were trying to alleviate. The result is the regulations and restrictions we have today.

Along with all of this the chemical companies were working on many different combinations to alleviate the problem. R-134a was one refrigerant that showed great promise, enough so that many thought the restrictions necessary with the older refrigerants (primarily R-11, R-12 and to a lesser extent R-22) would not be necessary. Maybe they were right and maybe not, I don't know. What I DO know is that R-134a is readily available but R-410A is not. Maybe there are efficiency issues (SEER and the like) that preclude the use of R-134a in residential sized air conditioning systems but those issues are no considered important in automotive A/C systems, I just don't know.

I was hoping for discussion from the other HVAC professionals on this board. I don't expect there is a snowball's chance in a very hot place in getting the laws changed in favor of some kind of DIY-friendly refrigerant but I sure would like to know the thought processes behind making R-134a readily available to anyone but at the same time restricting the supposedly equally benign R-410A.
 
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Old 10-17-12, 01:30 AM
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Seems to be as if the hvac industry is very well protected; even if a safe, non-flammable, naturally occurring alternative to petrochemical refrigerant was in use, the industry would still go to great lengths to prevent equipment owners from purchasing refrigerant.

Regardless, a good understanding of refrigeration theory is needed to tell what's happening in a system, so selling refrigerant to the general public would be a recipe for disaster. As we know, common problems such as insufficient airflow could be misdiagnosed as a refrigerant leak without measuring refrigerant temperatures.

I know that split systems used to be sold with pre-charged linesets - no need for vacuum pump, gauges, brazing equipment.
 
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