Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration News

Coolers, Freezers in Holding Pattern: Manufacturers Preparing for DOE Standards, React to Potential HFC Delisting

Manufacturers of coolers and freezers are staying cool in the face of regulations that have forced them into a temporary holding pattern. Although the industry was gearing up to meet the updated commercial refrigeration equipment standards from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) that are coming in 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) recent proposal to delist specific hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in certain applications added uncertainty to the mix.

Scott Mallernee, sales development manager, Traulsen, said the removal of R-134a and R-404A from the EPA's approved list as of Jan. 1, 2016, is causing manufacturers to very quickly adopt alternative refrigerant choices. At Traulsen, the likely candidates to replace R-134a and R-404A are R-290 (propane) or a blend such as R-450A.

"Regardless if we use a blend or R-290, our commitment to customers is to have a compliant unit ready for Jan. 1, 2016," Mallernee said.

He noted that R-134a and R-404A will still be available to service existing equipment, so customers buying new equipment that uses those refrigerants this year should still expect to get about 15-20 years of service from the equipment.

"Ultimately, though, the economies of scale will probably be what's at the end for R-134a and R-404A," Mallernee said. "Much like R-22, people will only service the equipment as long as it makes economic sense to do so." Mallernee added Traulsen is notifying all of its certified contractors and advising them to train technicians on R-290. …

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