A fully automatic 4-in-1 station runs through the process of Recovery, Recycling, Vacuum and Recharge in a “set and forget”, fully automatic workflow. While this comes with so many benefits (think about what else you could do in the time while the machine is working for you), let’s take a specific look at the recycling process. While recycling of refrigerant is technically possible when performing a manual re-gas of an A/C system, the effort it takes to do so basically outweighs the benefits it would generate. The story is an entirely different one though when it comes to 4-in-1 stations.
The benefits of refrigerant recycling are mostly obvious yet significant, the biggest one being a cost saving. When re-charging the system, you may need to add no or little gas, depending on the level the system was charged with. No matter the angle you look at this, it’s money back in your pocket as you’ll either be able to increase your margin of the job or you’ll be able to charge a job at a lower cost, thus being more competitive. This saving also pays back on your initial investment cost, albeit there are even more factors that contribute to a fast financial return on a 4-in-1 station investment. Another benefit is the positive impact on the environment which has become more than a ‘nice to have’. Reducing emissions and therefore the Global Warming Potential is being reflected financially in the price of R134a refrigerant, which is driven up by the reduction of the national import quota. This aspect is only going to increase as we are chasing a ‘net zero’ target in the years to come. It should also be noted that the current price of R1234yf is more than ten times the cost of R134a, making recycling even more worthwhile. Lastly, recycling means less handling and logistics for you as you won’t have to worry about changing or filling bottles all the time.
As always, before you start the recovery process, it is recommended to ensure you have pure refrigerant in the system by using an Analyser. As you program the 4-in-1 station and start the recovery cycle, the machine recovers the contents of the A/C system and runs them through a filter. The filter contains a desiccant that removes moisture (‘the enemy of refrigeration’) and other impurities. From there, the contents flow into a separator within the machine, in which oil and gas get separated. Based on their chemical characteristics, the gas accumulates at the top, and the oil accumulates at the bottom from where it gets ‘sucked out’ via a ‘straw’. This leaves the recycled gas that will be diverted back into the cylinder, ready to be used when re-charging the system.