R600 is Coming

R600 is HERE!

R600 is Coming.... R600 is Coming........R600 is Coming.........R600 is Coming

“Doug you will look great servicing in a flame-retardant suit”.

It was the dry response, to my question several years ago about the possibility North America would start using R600 as a refrigerant. It told me all I needed to know. R600 was coming!

For those unfamiliar R600 is a hydrocarbon and might be better known as isobutane. Very similar to propane. A so-called natural refrigerant it is desirable because it has less green house effect than a fluorocarbon refrigerant. It’s one knock, and it is a big one, is that it is far more flammable than fluorocarbon refrigerants. 

For me the use of R600 is sort of a full circle moment. When I was starting out R12 was the refrigerant of choice. Ammonia and other far more hazardous chemicals were pretty much phased out of domestic refrigeration. We were of course counselled to check the rating plates before going into any sealed system. A mistake could be hazardous to ones health.  

 

Source; Secop.com

Great article check it out!

 

We the appliance service industry latched on and loved R12. Manufactures devised servicing protocols, which we were to find out much later, were less than sustainable. Due to its wide use, and dare I say abuse, R12 was banned and phased out for R134a.  

Similar to R600 the introduction of R134a came with more than its’ fair share of fear mongering and expense. Manufactures, industry watch dogs were requiring a whole new set of protocols and regulations. Intentional venting of refrigerants would carry stiff fines. Recapture and proper disposal of refrigerants was now mandatory. All the correct thing to do, but the burden it placed on responsible firms who took the new regulations seriously and acted in good faith was significant. Still today we see some service companies add or ‘top up’ units with refrigerants with out diagnosing and repairing any leaks first. Just as we see bullet valves(self piercing valves) left on systems a guaranteed leak waiting to happen.

“Doug you will look great servicing in a flame-retardant suit”.

Non compliance with R600 protocols could lead to immediate personal and or property damage. 

So we come to R600. We are being encouraged to use solderless fittings. We will have to buy and use explosion proof service and test equipment. We are told that recapture will not be necessary, but I wonder how we will vent in building where the widows don’t open as in an office HiRISE. We will be put at a competitive disadvantage if we see the same trend as with R134a, where some companies paid lip service to the new regulations and protocols to save time and money. Of course, anyone not following proper procedure, take serious personal and professional risks. They may get away with it, till they don’t. Non compliance with proper R12/R134a protocols was largely invisible. Non compliance with R600 protocols could lead to immediate personal and or property damage. 

R600 may well further separate the serious service companies from rest of the pack. Already there seem to be more companies that don’t, or avoid doing sealed system repairs, than those that do. Will the costs and risks of R600 will likely further widen the gap? Time will tell.

Is it safe? It will be up to the manufactures and the appliance service industry to make sure it is. Because it is here. 

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