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HVAC School - For Techs, By Techs

Feb 21, 2019

Chris Stephens from HVACR Videos joins us to talk about his experiences with and perspective on R290 (propane) refrigerant in restaurant refrigeration.

Chris sees R290 propane on a daily basis, and his perspective as a tech differs from that of an R290 equipment manufacturer. While the temperature sensitivity contributes to flammability, R290 is also under pressure in a system. Therefore, propane refrigerant systems require a lot of caution.

R290 equipment must undergo thorough redesigning to be entirely spark-proof. Hydrocarbon refrigerants also require OEM components; aftermarket components change the design and can cause problems down the line, and technicians WILL be liable for any damages related to aftermarket components. When techs evacuate/recover R290, all evacuation and recovery tools must also be spark-proof; you also need to check to make sure that those tools are certified to work with propane refrigerant, even digital gauges. When using approved service gauges, also be sure to use short hoses. More so than ever, following the manufacturer's guidelines is an invaluable practice.

Unlike R-22 and R-410A, you CAN vent R290. However, the location should be well-ventilated. Chris recommends that you take extreme caution when venting refrigerant, such as by using a leak detector to let you know when to stop. Most of all, we need to be aware of our surroundings when we work with highly flammable R290. When we use our senses and are aware of our surroundings, the refrigerant becomes much more predictable.

Chris and Bryan also discuss:

  • Buying and sourcing R290
  • Recommended R290 training resources
  • Piercing valves
  • Basic R290 behavior
  • Flowing nitrogen
  • Evaluating hydrocarbon systems and using a "common-sense" approach
  • Leak detectors to avoid using for R290 systems

Learn more about Refrigeration Technologies HERE.

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