Across Australia, it is becoming more frequent that air conditioning technicians are seeing systems with R1234yf come into their workshops.

We’ve been asked alot lately what it takes to be ready to service these systems, so let’s answer some questions!

What is R1234yf and why is there another refrigerant type? 

‘Why another change of refrigerant when R134a was the environmental solution?’ This is a valid question; we need to be well informed of the background of where the whole refrigerant research journey has come from and where it’s going.

R12 was used as an air-conditioning refrigerant from the 1930’s to the mid 1990’s. R12 is an ozone depleting gas, which means that it was contributing to burning a hole in the ozone layer. R12 has an Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) of 1.0 and was replaced by R134a which is non-ozone depleting (ODP of 0.0). Although R134a is not ozone depleting, when allowed to escape it creates a layer in the atmosphere causing a greenhouse effect, which traps in heat and contributes to global warming. This effect is measured as the Global Warming Potential (GWP). GWP is a relative measure of how much heat a greenhouse gas traps in the atmosphere. It compares the amount of heat trapped by a certain mass of the gas in question to the amount of heat trapped by a similar mass of carbon dioxide. Although the GWP of R134a (1410) is half of that of R12 (2400), R134a is still considered a significant threat to our aging environment.

As a result, R-1234yf has been developed as a more environmentally safe refrigerant with an Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) of 0.0 and a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of only 4. That is 335 times less than that of R134a! From this perspective, it is a great development but now the trade needs to understand what they need to do to prepare for R-1234yf.

What vehicles is it in?

We have customers reporting a range of vehicles that are presenting with the new R1234yf refrigerant already. Often seen in passanger vehicles that come into dealerships or crash repairers. There has also been early reports of a few new modles of agricultural and heavy duty vehicles that are due to arrive later this year.

Some of our customers have reported the refrigerant type in*:

  • Jeep Renegade 
  • Fiat 500
  • Dodge RAM
  • Peugeot's (some models)
  • Renault's (Some models)
  • Ferrari (some models)
  • Skoda

How do I get ready and can I use R134a equipment with R1234yf?

As R1234yf is classifed as an A2L midly flammable refrigerant, it requires equipment that has been specifically designed. Hence, you cannot use standard R134a equipment to serivce R1234yf vehicles. The Australian Refrigeration Council (ARC) has listed required equipment that technicians will need to service these systesms.

The R1234yf system refrigerant circuit is accessed using service couplers that are a different size to those of a R134a system. The service coupler hose connection also has a left-hand thread that requires a matching hose for connection. Hence the need for an R1234yf gauge set.

 

Refrigerant Analysers for R1234yf are specifically calibrated to handle the new gas. The good news is they are also compatible with the older gasses. However, the older analysers are not suitable to handle R1234yf.

With the introduction of the new R1234yf refrigerant to the automotive market, vehicle manufacturers worldwide have developed new standards for vehicle A/C service. Included in these standards is the requirement to verify the purity of the refrigerant prior to recovery of the refrigerant in the system.

 

A fully automatic 4-in-1 station must meet SAE’s (Society of Automotive Engineers) requirement for recovering, recycling and recharging vehicle A/C systems that use the new R1234YF refrigerant. Highgate has a range of fully automatic stations that are suited for use with R1234yf. These machines come with an integrated refrigerant identifier that samples the refrigerant in the vehicle’s A/C system prior to recovery. They are very accurate and reliable, and can service both standard and hybrid vehicle A/C systems. Call Highgate for a free assessment of which machine best suits your requirements.



 

All tools and equipment for R1234yf have to be made to an Australian standard, so that they are spark-proof and ‘intrinsically safe’. The Highgate Air team has put together a full starter kit, designed to get your workshop or mobile vehicle set up and ready to service R1234yf safely and efficiently. 

*Only using manufacturers names for the purpose of part identification.