While I was attending a Honeywell Refrigerants event at this year’s AHR Expo in Las Vegas, I met some people representing a major Nashville, Tenn., supply house.
I took the time to ask what they were seeing their local service techs doing when it comes to charging air-conditioning equipment that was low on R-22. Their reply was most were using R-407C and they were adding it on top of any R-22 that was left in the system.
When I asked whether they knew that this would reduce the system capacity and harm oil return to the compressor, I was told, “Yeah, we know, but the techs don’t understand because they are being told that it is a drop-in replacement. And since we had a relatively mild season, they haven’t seen many problems yet.”
A drop-in replacement? Is anyone really saying this? Well, as I was walking past the Daikin booth I noticed two of its young marketing people standing in front of a display advertising R-407C. So I went up to them and asked what they were telling people about the product? Both replied, “It is a drop-in replacement for R-22.” I then asked, “Which products are you saying can use this?”
“In residential split-system HVAC units.”
If this is what they are saying and the equipment thereafter fails because of it, aren’t the companies telling this story also making themselves liable for any lawsuits that may result? I would be very careful about what I would allow my sales and counter people to say about this to their customers if I owned a supply house. By the way, while doing an online search for R-407C, I noticed it being offered (very misleadingly) as “Freon.”
While I was at the show, I also made my annual visit to the Airgas booth to talk to my friend Jay Kestenbaum, the company’s senior vice president of sales and marketing. The reason why I do this at each expo is because he supplies me with some of the best information about what is really going on in the industry.
When I told him about what I heard about the use of the so-called “drop-in replacements” for R-22, he said the recycling companies are very aware of the problem this is causing because they are seeing larger quantities of mixed refrigerants being returned, which requires a much more costly processes to clean. This, of course, raises the prices of the refrigerant for the companies actually trying to do things right.
Also while I was at the show I attended a program being put on by Intertek (the ETL Laboratories people) about flammable refrigerants. After the program I asked two of their people about R-32, which is a less-expensive mildly flammable refrigerant being promoted by Daikin for potential use in future residential and commercial systems.
My question was, “Is there any chance this will eventually become a legal and accepted refrigerant in our industry?
Intertek’s reply was, “It could!’
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