In July 2015, the EPA’s final rule under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), HFC-134a was going to be phased out. This was the most common refrigerant used in most MVAC systems for decades. The main reason for phasing out this refrigerant was its impact on the climate, with possible greenhouse gas emissions 1,430 times that of CO2.
SNAP required R134a to be phased out effective 2021 models. In the appliance repair world, this has led to the phasing in of R600 to the point that it is now the new standard. However, there is some training required to use R600 over R134a.
Most new refrigerator units are now using R600 as the standard, so repair technicians must be up to date on the latest equipment and techniques used to repair them.
To be clear, the system itself still works the same way. However, there are different specifications for the R600 systems than those for the R134a systems.
R600 is flammable, derived from a chemical called isobutane. You probably recognize the “butane” aspect of it, the product you put into a lighter to make it fire. For this reason, using brazing to seal systems is no longer considered a safe method by many manufacturers. We should note, however, that opinion is beginning to evolve. Due to the minimal amount of butane in the refrigerant, some manufacturers permit brazing for repairs as long as very specific procedures are followed.
In addition to the standard equipment, there are some new components that will be needed to do an R600 sealed system work. They are:
- Tubing cutter
- Lockring assemble tool
- Lokring connectors
Most of the new items you will need are fairly inexpensive, but the connectors are going to add up in cost fairly quickly. Just to give you a ballpark idea, connectors generally cost between $5 and $12, so to have connectors for the various diameters and materials you will need, you are probably going to need somewhere between 100 and 200 just to get started, which could run you $1,000 to get your kit stocked.
Like anything, however, starting up a new selling point for the business is an investment, but that investment should pay off significantly as you establish your business in this new market.
If you are interested in learning more about R600 repairs, Dyer Appliance Repair Academy offers training classes and we still have openings for upcoming classes. For full availability and to sign up, click here.