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*:
- VW / Audi
- Dodge / RAM
- Alfa Romeo
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.
*Only using manufacturers names for the purpose of part identification.