Recharging AC with propane

As the summer heats up an air conditioning system is a necessity in many climates. [Grayson's] system suffered some damage over the winter that caused it to vent its refrigerant, avoiding an explosive situation. Before he can chill out inside he’ll need to recharge it and he’s chosen to use propane in his cooling system. According to our friend Google this is not his original idea, but has been done many times before. [Grayson] makes the point that although propane is flammable it’s not necessarily any more dangerous in a fire than Chlorodiflouromethane, or R22, which is the nasty little gas that fled his system for its new home in the upper atmosphere.

The video above includes a brief explanation of recharging the system and the tools needed. We’d need to mill this over for quite a while before working up the gumption to give it a try. For now we’ll stick to [Grayson's] more pedestrian hacks like making some servo motors sing or easing our yard work woes.

Comments

  1. JohnHVAC says:

    @ ejonesss

    Look. I have no care at all whatsoever for the Techniques and tactics of HVAC technologies of other countries. Nor do i wish to begin Paranoid discussions that could rage for days. We all know that propane is used for cooking. Heck I made Hamburgers the other day, And I don’t know about you but I was always taught that
    1. Fuel + Oxidizer + Ignition source = Fire
    2. If said chemical reaction occurs inside of a sealed container, say like the copper lines of an air conditioner, you have a pipe bomb.
    3. If The EPA catches this. It can be a fine of over $500 for every day it is not corrected and Correct refrigerant utilized.
    4. In the US. You must Be EPA Certified. in order to be permitted to do any kind of maintenance or care to freon containing portions of devices, Even then there is Four levels of Certification; Small appliances, Residential Heat and air, Commercial Heat and air, And universal which is being Certified in all forms of HVAC Tech in the US.
    5. The EPA Can fine you for Having The refrigerant and not be Certified.
    … If all this is not Convincing enough to let a Tech do it… Here is one last reminder…
    Propane has tendency to ignite fairly easily, And there is more than likely a fair amount of Oxygen trapped in the Compressor Oil that by now has been released into the unit. In my last post I said that I have had to replace units Whose Compressors Had Been shorted out, In every case The house wasn’t Burnt Down because Modern refrigerants Do not burn easily, We replaced the refrigerant because it was contaminated with burnt oil residue, But beyond that It was repaired and running. My point is Propane+ AC Compressor + High probability of Fire +The fact that most AC units weakest point is the indoor or out door coils = High probability of A house fire.
    There Is a reason Propane isn’t used in HVAC. And If me Being EPA Certified is not a testament to my knowledge, Then I don’t know what will be good enough to convince you that this is dangerous.

  2. aztraph says:

    JohnHVAC, from your name, i would infer that you work on air conditioners, i would then presume you would know that any air trapped inside a sealed system (of significant quantities) would inhibit the system from performing at peak efficiency, so if the system is working properly then it only has trace amounts of oxygen in it, and not enough to explode. since you SHOULD already know this, i conclude you don’t know what your talking about. and I speak from 20+ years of HVAC, refrigeration, and commercial cooking equipment repair, I know how to both keep things safe AND make them go BOOM. you quite literally do not know what you are talking about, you have some experience. oh, and i’m epa certified too, i paid $90 and took a test, the certification is for the safe handling and recovery of refrigerant, that’s all. you really need to go back to school.

  3. ejonesss says:

    @ JohnHVAC i am not trying to argue i am just asking questions.

    i know that propane is highly flammable .witch is why it is not safe to use.

  4. JohnHVAC says:

    @aztraph Yes. I do know this. But did the guy that pumped propane into his system know this? I am not saying anything about Large amounts of oxygen, Just What if A small amount were trapped in the system, Did some how ignite. And yes. I am Type one and type two Epa Certified. What I am saying is that: Why bother taking the Risk of recharging a system with propane. It is dangerous for the homeowner and the tech that will more than likely come along months or years down the road after the home has changed hands, hook his guages up without knowing about the propane, and suddenly there be complications somehow. If the Unit does need to be replaced, and the tech somehow manages to recover the propane from the system, Then Take it to be traded in to be processed, Then The HVAC Tech Will be charged for sending in propane in a recovery tank labeled R22 or something. Propane has no place in an HVAC equipment. only in propane burning equipment.

  5. aztraph says:

    John, we cannot be responsible for the actions of others, we can just hope that they do the right thing, when I convert an old r-12 fridge over to r414b, I write it on the label, since propane DOES have a r designation, i would hope that the individual, licensed or not, would make the proper notes on the label.
    on a side note, it is commonly known that r22 will not burn or explode at atmospheric pressure, but mixing air with r22 under pressure it could, turn it on in this condition and the added pressure will probably make it explode, the msds even notes this. here’s the rub: it takes a lot of air to oxidize propane, a small amount of air, dispersed through a system could burn, it might make a small pop, but if the energy released never encounters another viable mixture for combustion, then the whole process would halt and that would be the end of it, since propane is far more flammable, if you had air in the system (again trace amounts) and left it sit for a day or two, the fuel could decay with the oxygen without producing any explosion at all.
    lastly, i am in agreement with you about this but for different reasons, propane in it’s most common form can degrade hoses and seals, the explosion aspect of it is really quite negligible as long as you know what your doing, the person who started this whole thread with the video does not.

  6. JohnHVAC says:

    Too true. However it still Frightens me somewhat. Up until I Saw this post I had never considered that people would be bold enough to even consider using Propane in their AC systems. Especially in Vehicular AC. The What ifs and the What-mights in the entire gamble seems Too risky. Labels Fade, People Change HVAC repair Companies just as much as they switch their satellite providers at the chance to save a dime, and No matter what, Something Fails and down the road, Who will remember the house on such and such lane that has Propane for refrigerant? Being a Hacker and a DIYer is one thing, heck Being a Tech is just as much as being a Hacker or a DIYer, but Gambling with ones Life and the lives of others is another thing all together. I have Been called out on some Strange repair jobs but This… This is scary crazy. But I suppose that it would be inevitable to fuss over it. everyday people try their hardest to cut corners to try and save that penny. But eventually There will be corners that are cut that were never meant to be cut and people being hurt when it could have been avoided, in the end costing two to three time more than it would have to actually do it right the first time, and safely the first time. I have had too many friends and family hurt by this… “corner cutting logic” that I just hate to see it broadcasted out onto the Internet For those that are innocently ignorant of the dangers to see and Think it Wise to Do it themselves without knowing what they were getting into.

  7. aztraph says:

    John, I know exactly what you mean, I work on small appliances too, the customer takes it apart, and comes to me for a part that hasn’t failed, but they don’t know that because they don’t have the most basic diagnostic method. Lady comes in with the magnetron for her microwave and wants a new one, “how do you know it’s failed?” i ask. “it won’t heat” is her reply, I tell her to go buy a 40 dollar microwave at walmart because i’m not going to help her kill herself.

    back to refrigeration, the properties of boyle’s gas law are just as valid for propane, as they are for refrigerant or even water, it uses the state change to move heat, and direct observation of you gas grills’ tank after a marathon like cookout couples with the shear boredom of watching meat cook, it was only a matter of time till someone did just enough research to think this was a good idea, I’m honestly surprised it took this long to show up on HAD, ‘course the others may not have survived either, we’ll never know.

  8. ejonesss says:

    @ JohnHVAC

    well before someone sells their house they open up the high side with the unit running and spray all the propane out of the system and run the unit empty to purge all vapors out then close up the unit and call their local shop to get it recharge the correct way or leave it empty and let the next owners foot the bill for the repair.

    like i mentioned before window air conditioners are easily obtained a lot of people dont realize that freon has to be recovered and throw out the junkers with their garbage.

    then using some r134a retrofit adaptors and hoses you can get a local auto zone or what ever you can connect the high side of the window air conditioner to the low side of the home air conditioner and have both running so you can blow the charge from the one to the other and the home unit would suck the charge off the window air conditioner.

  9. aztraph says:

    ejones, your average window unit can contain anywhere from from 12 to 24 ounces (3/4 to 1.5 pounds), your average split system could require up to 9-10 pounds, plus the fact that you’ll never get all of the refrigerant out of a window unit, you could be hauling around a lot of window units to do that, is it really worth the trouble?

  10. John says:

    Quite alot of interest on this. From my database, propane is slightly more efficient than R22 as a refrigerant. But there may be a compressor reliability issue because the mineral base lubricating oil used with R22 may be too thick for propane to carry it around.. key word may. System should be labelled so that future service people know what is in there. Propane should not be “hamburger gas,” get decent stuff like propane torch or camplight fuel and it still won’t be as dry as you would like so good idea to replace the receiver/dryer. You will probably sleep better at night if you know that there are no leaks or potential leaks around your furnace in the winter.

  11. aztraph says:

    hey, if you wanted to get really convoluted, along with having a lp furnace, you could use the holding tank as a liquid source, and discharge the liquid line into the tank, kind of like a receiver. mind you that breaks about a dozen laws and codes, and several bits of common sense, but if your using propane as a refrigerant, it’s no less crazy.

    BTW the above mentioned idea is a joke, if you really think it’s a good idea, you need to be medicated.

  12. ejonesss says:

    another problem that may happen that cause a fire or explosion is (correct me if i am wrong) the Diesel effect where the propane is being compressed it gets hot and the heat and pressure may set off the fuel especially if the unit has not ben purged of any trapped air.

    you may be lucky nothing happened and it worked because the weather was not that hot that day so the unit did not reach auto ignition temp’s and pressure’s.

    but if the weather got hot enough and it got hot enough it could be like a bomb or simply burn.

  13. aztraph says:

    ejoness: that could happen with regular R22, but since it is accepted practice to evacuate a system of as much air as possible before charging; air won’t condense into a liquid at these pressures and therefore will obstruct the regular flow of refrigerant, making it harder for the system to . . . ya know this is level one stuff, if the person working on the system doesn’t know to do this they shouldn’t be doin’ it (and most likely be killed for stupidities sake). but even if you don’t, the amount of air left won’t be enough to cause an explosion unless you’re pressure testing with pure o2.

  14. ejonesss says:

    here is an example of a refrigeration explosion.

    http://www.alder.co.za/blowup.htm

    also on the same page a technician got hurt because a home made dosing pot used to flush the system exploded.

  15. aztraph says:

    ejonesss: wow, It never ceases to amaze me how stupid people are, how did you find this article, it’s got great detail and a bit on the unsettling side. I’m glad i do all my own work. but to achieve up 65% air in the system to get that kind of detonation is beyond incompetent, i hope the technician survived to choose another line of work.

  16. BULLDOG says:

    I cant believe there is so many so called ac experts on this site get it right you dudes how is 270grams of r290 in an auto system going to blow anyone up or 100-150 grams of butane in a refrigerator going to SEND YOU TO the moon IT WILL NOT EXPLODE YOU GOOF BALLS GO TO HYCHILL.COM.AU and get the facts I HAVE USED IT FOR OVER 30 YEARS NO BOOM JUST THINK OF THAT HUGE GAS LIGHTER YOU USE TO LIGHT THOSE THINGS YOU PUT IN YOUR MOUTH AND SUCK ON THAT KILL YOU WITH CANCER AUSSIE INSURANCE COMPANY’S ACCEPT IT IT IS USED WORLD WIDE THERE AINT ENOUGH GAS TO KILL MY CAT THE MIXTURE IS WRONG IT WONT GO BANG I BRAZE ON PROPANE SYSTEMS

  17. aztraph says:

    heya bulldog, thank you for your well thought out rant, i had to re-read it a few times to make sure i got your point, but i think i have it despite your total lack of punctuation. oh and switching to caps a third of the way through; totally drove your point home with me. as one who loves to rant, may i advise you to think through your rants, just a little. the point to the end of this thread was more on the level of incompetent individuals who shouldn’t be doing whatever it is they are doing. The fact that you are still alive puts you in the happy company of the smart ones, so there is no reason to get barking mad and frothing at the mouth as your name and method of posting brings to mind.

    this is a rant, good day

  18. ejonesss says:

    another update via research:

    while i was researching propane and green gas i found

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Gas

    red gas is r22 refrigerant (freon).

    you cant get ahold of any cfc based gas without license (except for harvesting it from window ac units) however if you can get red gas legally from sports shop you can use that and it would be safer.

    the only catch is there may be a lube in the tank to lube the gun and i am not sure if that would cause damage to the system.

  19. Judd says:

    You guys need to cool down….pun intended. Mercedes used propane as it’s automotive refrigerant for decades. Has anyone heard of a Mercedes blowing up? Time for a reality check guys.

  20. James says:

    Hydrocarbon refrigerants are starting to become mainstream in parts of Europe and Australia. It’s illegal in the US to charge an AC system with propane but I’ve seen a lot of people do it to convert R12 automotive systems. It’s nothing new, been going on for decades. There are of course people screaming hysterically about the safety issue, but most of them are stumped when you ask them why it’s ok to convert the car to *run* on propane and have a 20+ gallon tank of the stuff in the back, but it’s incredibly dangerous to have a few ounces of the same stuff in the AC system? Give me a break. Propane is strongly scented, you would smell even a tiny leak in the cabin.

    I’ve personally seen several cars completely engulfed in flames within minutes of a gasoline leak catching fire, but nobody is hysterical about the prospect of having gasoline pressurized in the fuel injection plumbing under the hood. Even if you shut off the fuel pump, there is more gasoline in the lines than you would have propane in the AC system. Likewise, most homes have natural gas plumbed in them. The pressure is much lower than in an air conditioner but unlike the A/C unit, there is a virtually unlimited amount to leak out if nobody is around to smell it. Life is full of risks and this is a fairly minor one. Not only is the propane cheaper, it is a more efficient refrigerant than R22.

  21. aztraph says:

    ANY condensable gas CAN be used as a refrigerant, given the right circumstances. propane’s biggest drawback with integration into existing systems is that it attacks any rubber seals over time and could cause a leak, there is specially treated propane on the market that is ready to use. refrigeration systems also require the oil to be miscible with the refrigerant to keep the oil distributed, I read an article about CO2 systems that were trying to overcome that specific problem. A lot of people don’t seem to understand the amount of research and thought and problem solving that goes into a refrigeration system, by changing one aspect of it, you create a few problems that, if left unchecked, could destroy a system. please do your research folks.

  22. ric says:

    hey not to change the subject but why not use liquid nitrogen as a refridgerant its cold as hell aint it in a i guess new made for it system.cant be worse than propane ?

  23. ric says:

    why not use liquid nitrogen in a made for it system can it be done ? just a thought \ric

  24. Mark says:

    Everyone seems to be up in arms about Propane in their home…. Interesting… I have 40lbs of LP in my gas grill I keep in my garage, 5-20 gallons of gasoline I keep in the gas tank of my car, 2 gals of gas for the mower, one gallon for the chainsaw, and I heat my home with Natural gas and cook my food with the same….. BUT I would never use 5 lbs of propane to cool my house, cuz that is wayyyyy too scary!

  25. Bert says:

    JohnHVAC…propane needs oxygen to burn. Without an oxygen rich environment, you can’t light it. You could install a spark plug inside a propane tank and run a plug wire directly from it, to your ignition coil, nothing will happen (except you’ll look like a moron doing it). Even if the motor windings cooked completely, shorting and zapping inside, not a thing would happen. I’ve used propane as refrigerant in many of my own vehicles over the years, as well as my home AC unit, and in fact had it charged with propane when the compressor shorted internally. Nothing at all happened, except I had to buy a new compressor, flush the system, and weld a new dryer and compressor in and recharge it (yep, with propane, still using it today, 4 years later). The propane can cause oil thinning in the home AC, but in the smaller auto systems, it causes no problems and I’ve never had a pump damaged by it. And it’s a better refrigerant than R134. And since most auto systems only use around a couple of pounds of refrigerant, the bomb your talking about isn’t a very big one, and even if the system were opened to vent freely and a match was struck, all you’d get is a big blowtorch for a dozen seconds or so, not a bomb. Propane doesn’t hang around very long, and can’t be ignited without oxygen, and a spark.

    So, while maybe it is more of a fire hazard than R134, it certainly isn’t overly dangerous unless you’re a complete imbecile….on second though, you’re right. The overwhelming majority of people have no business using it.

  26. DYIdave says:

    1. Propane is a more efficient refrigerant than r22 and most other hcfcs.
    2. Propane is relatively safe, it has a narrow flammability range of 2.1% to 9.6% fuel to air ratio. You would never get anywhere even close to that is an AC system. Pure propane is not combustible.
    3. Propane has zero possibility of depleting ozone.
    4. Propane refrigerants work at lower operating pressures than most hcfcs and are compatible with mineral based lubricants which are less expensive and offer better corrosion protection than the expensive synthetic lubricants required by hcfcs.
    5. Propane is relatively immune to small amounts of contamination in the system.

    Propane can be a safe and effective drop in replacement for r22 in a lot of systems, but as in all things common sense prevails. If you do not know exactly what you’re doing, DO NOT DO IT!! or even try it!!

  27. geo says:

    propane is also used under another name in cooling systems called duracool!

  28. Aircond newbie says:

    Too much scare mongering here Propane is reliable, environment friendly cheap and very effective and the future and I will use it forever, screw Dupont. You get less head pressure in your aircon unit and colder air a fact. The charge is typically 40% less than your usual charge, propane molecules are bigger equals less leaks in automotive. AND Guys remember you need 3 ingredients, to receive a burnt eyebrows explosion from the 500g of gas if your lucky. You need air, continued dense spray mist of gas and spark, you need 3 not 2 but three ingredients simultaneously not later. A leak doesnt self ignite, Ive never seen a evaporator leak indoors or in a car. Paramedics dont smoke ciggies while trying to save you. Whats the stats from injuries? Ive googled and googled and googled???
    I wasnt a believer now I am.

  29. Halen says:

    I put propane in my ac in my truck and it gets super cold, 32 out the vents I could neverr get under 40 on r134a. I had to put a restriction in the suction line to keep.my low pressure up and highressure down. Talk about freeze my butt off! I think the propane gets too cold to catch on fire. also I put a evaporator temp switch to keep everything from freezing up solid. Next I want to put in a larger evaporator I think naysayers are dumb for sweating lol

  30. KiDD says:

    No Video and Broken links.
    This really isn’t as crazy as a lot are suggesting

  31. http://autorefrigerants.com/Envirotechnical.htm

    134a BURNS EASIER THAN ES-12A

  32. Dave says:

    I work in the HVAC trade and there are a few things i would like to say about this idea. First of all Europe has been doing this for some time. Secondly the reason its ok in your appliances is because there is a very small amount needed so even if it does escape it isn’t enough to blow up. Thirdly and most importantly you cooling system in your house will take a fairly decent amount of propane to cool properly. With the cooling system in your house its possible for the compressor to burn out which is exactly what it sounds like a small fire in your refrigeration system. However if you have propane in there it has a pretty decent chance of exploding. Additionally you can’t just switch refrigerants around in your system however you want there are different types of oils and working pressures that need to be considered and in a lot of cases you actually need to replace most if not all of the system. All i’m getting at here is if you don’t know what your doing don’t fuck with it. This isn’t one of those areas that super easy to do it yourself there are alot of things that can go wrong and the components are expensive. If you really want to save some energy and the environment just have a geothermal heat system put in they are expensive initially but they will save you alot of money over time.

    • aztraph says:

      Hi Dave,

      Lets assume for the moment that the H in HVAC stands for heating, oh wait! It does. This means that you work on furnaces too. That being said, what is a major component which is required for propane to burn/explode/combust (insert applicable term for Oxidation here)? See the hint? oxygen, and good luck getting it to do anything without it. I am not saying its a good idea to use propane(at least not fuel grade propane), I’m just sick and tired of people talking like they know what they are doing without doing the appropriate amount of research.

      Now I’m sorry I’m coming down hard on you with this, but not knowing (or caring) about oxygen being required for propane to combust is a pretty glaring error on your part, especially since you claim to be in the hvac field. I think your faking it.

      • Dave says:

        if you had bothered to pay attention to what i said instead of looking for a fight with anyone and everyone you would see that i mention compressor burnouts which is a fire in your system IE. oxygen has entered the system allowing the fire to take place if you knew what you were talking about you would have made the correlation and I’m not claiming i know everything I’m in my last year of school for it and we just covered this. The only point I was trying to make was that it can pose risks which if someone like you is doing it. The risk of it happening is not only possible its likely because you think you know everything and miss the well intentioned cautionary advice of others. As i said in the beginning of my post it is possible to do as it is already in place in Europe and has been for around ten years. My point is that without the proper safeguards there is risk involved and when there is the possibility of explosive combustible erring on the side of caution is what the wise would do.

        • aztraph says:

          Um a burn out in the compressor doesn’t require oxygen. it’s simply overheating of the compressor to the point where it changes the molecular structure of the oil and/or refrigerant, sometimes acids are formed that eat away the insulation off the motor windings. whoever told you a burn out condition requires oxygen is mistaken, the main ingredient is heat.

          and I DID pay attention, as for spoiling for a fight – I will give you a pass on not reading the 3 pages of posts that ended with yours, it CAN be a bit daunting, but I have posted all over this article simply because I feel the need to educate the uninformed. If others like you show up and read all the other posts before adding to them, they would probably see that and not post at all. But your still in school, so consider it an assignment, read ALL the posts, have your professor look at the article and have them comment on my posts. I’ve only been in the field for 24 years, so what do I know.

          As you are still in school, did you know that r-22 is combustible? it is a form of methane after all, not natural gas of course, but if you have oxygen contamination due to poor work habits like not evacuating the non-condensibles from a system, you can get a violent oxidation event that destroys the system, even with r-22.

        • aztraph says:

          one more thing, If you have oxygen in the system with propane, you don’t need to reach burnout conditions to have an explosion, the combination of oxygen and propane in the compression chamber will get to the autoignition point without an actual flame. think of it like a diesel engine, but without the exhaust port, that would go boom real quick.

          • Dave says:

            you know what, think, do whatever you want i don’t really give a shit and i have better things to do than argue. the point is people should be aware of necessary safety protocols because it can be dangerous under the right circumstances and if you want to argue about that i don’t care to. things go wrong with these systems all the time for plenty of reasons not the least among them being people fucking with them that don’t know what they are doing hence the need for service professionals if you actually worked in the industry for 24 years you would know that people do really dumb things and that them working on a delicate system might not always be such a good plan but whatever argue with someone else I’m bored. Refer to Contren learning series HVAC level three edition3 NATE recognized manual for why propane can be dangerous.

          • aztraph says:

            Here’s the kicker Dave, I agree with you. Refrigeration systems are way too complicated for every tom dick and harry to dig into with just enough knowledge to be dangerous and survive. If you don’t believe me, then read through all my past posts and see for yourself.

            Now lets get back to the lesson: Refrigerant grade propane (R290) is a valid refrigerant and pure enough to be used properly, I believe it’s oil compatibility is consistent with r22, however, I think I read somewhere that r290 attacks rubber seals, so someone would have to be very careful in its use, i.e. special gauges.

            I can see that you are getting frustrated with this thread, and I can understand why, Please take the time and follow some of the links, and remember, I’ve been fighting against stupidity on this article since it was written back in 2010. But as long as someone does it properly (granted that isn’t likely) it can be done and done safely.

  33. Dave says:

    I would like to say that you are correct about compressor burnouts and i was wrong so i apologise for that. I appreciate your last post and I’m sorry for getting irritated my whole intention in posting was just to try to tell people to be careful every now and again you hear of something blowing up (not propane related from bad practises like capping relief valves and things) I was merely intending to comment on the topic heading not to anyones posts. I absolutely agree that when done right it can be done safely and is a very good and interesting direction for refrigeration to take. Where i got fouled up was that i should have said if there is a leak in the system it then has a possiblily to combust where someone who doesn’t know how to braze this may not be the best thing to learn on. If you know what your doing then by all means go nuts but i also want to point out that as far as i can find the epa has not approved it for anything beyond small refrigerator appliance 350 grams i believe.

    • Dave says:

      I mean snap not epa sorry

    • aztraph says:

      I strongly urge you to read through the posts, You will see a lot of people think the way we do. and I believe you would find it somewhat entertaining. I didn’t mean to gas light you the way I did. there’s something about someone commenting on the right way of doing things with wrong information that doesn’t set well with me, I tend to overreact. which is also the wrong way of doing things. I am sorry for that.

      • Dave says:

        thats ok i understand there are alot of people who feel the need to tell others how to do things with no clue about anything. I am curious to know if you think geothermal is a better way to do things from everything i know about it i would like to have it put in at my house except for the fact that it will cost through the posts as you have suggested I am writing a paper on this right now actually which is how i stumbled on this thread in the first place. The article I am reading is saying that with the safeguards you can put on a propane system like a heat transfer loop to keep the propane outside the house or a flame suppresant added, they said that with the added cost increases you could apply the same amount of money to a 410a system it would actually have a better Total equivalent warming impact rating per unit of investment. this was only a computer simulated study they did though so obviously more reseach is needed. I am parapharsing though so here is the source if your interested in the study http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/iracc

        • Dave says:

          I have read through quite a few of the posts and i see what your saying I don’t normally leave comments places in fact i believe these were the first time i ever have some people had some good points. The reason i had you figured for someone looking for a fight was i had read your first post which you have to admit was intented to be inflammitory having read more of your posts however i see that is not the case and i apologise for saying that. I have learned something about posting on forums here though and probably won’t do it again. Reading some of these earlier posts its pointless to try to correct people because most people can’t admit when they are wrong or just plain refuse to acknowlege when they are. I don’t mind being wrong because it is a chance to learn. Which is why when you told me i was wrong i went back and double checked and realized that i was wrong which meant i had to eat a little crow but ultimately i know i won’t forget that or confuse it again because that was a bad way to get something wrong. sorry for going on a rant just wanted to kind of explain myself better i guess and let you know i see where you were comming from now.

          • aztraph says:

            Hey! if you gotta rant, rant! just make sure your information is above board and beyond reproach. If you can do that you can bring the smack down to anyone out there without worry.

            Now to your geothermal unit, were you going to do a closed loop in a lake, ground loop, or an open water loop? My Father in law has a well source geo that he still hasn’t hooked up the electric heat to because it’s so efficient. and being on a well he’s only out the electricity for the water pump. it discharges into a man made pond which overflows into a stream so very little environmental impact there. Now if your looking at a ground loop with propane in it, your thinking direct expansion, which is good, the extra step of the glycol solution never made much sense to me other than the cost of all the refrigerant. I don’t know . . . If you had a large system that was direct expansion and used propane . . . some of the equipment would have to be in the house for the heat exchanger, if there’s ever a leak inside the house, that would be VERY bad, the shear volume of gas that could accumulate would keep me from trying it personally. The new mini split systems use a internally corrugated copper line to improve heat transfer, I would see if there are any plans to make ground loops out of that, it would mean a lot less refrigerant but I don’t know if it would be enough to make a difference.

            Geothermal system are also tailor made for zone control, so it probably wouldn’t be as efficient if it were located on the outside of a house like a package unit. I’d have to think about that.

        • aztraph says:

          OMG! I just went through a few of the articles on that link! Now we are going to see the difference between you an me. And this time my 24 years of experience will lead to my downfall. When I was learning this stuff, I dealt with 12, 22 , and 502 primarily. the rarefied ammonia system, 11, and elusive 500. but commonly kept with the original 3.

          Today however, you have 134a, 410a, 414b, mp39, 404a, 507a, not to mention the newer formulas for the drop in replacement for 22. You are learning this stuff as the core of your education. and I think 410a is the devil. I am a dinosaur.

          I did like the link though, I’m a bit of a science nerd/geek and get down on this stuff when I’m not fixing computers, or trying to learn arduino stuff. good luck to you.

          • Dave says:

            I can guess why you hate the 410a though the older types worked better the instrutor for my class has discussed this with me at length. With the temperature glides and fractionalization to worry about the newer ones create a lot of extra problems and headaches which is partly why i think that propane has such potential. I am very fortunate as the instructor for my class is one of the four people who write the training manual used in the apprenticeship and he is extremely knowledgeable if I knew half of what he does I would be doing very well indeed. I’m with you on the science nerd computers facinate me as does most scientific fields. It’s been good talking with you.

  34. Dave says:

    I was thinking of a ground loop but a verticle well not a field as i dont have the room for a horizontal which is why the cost is higher i think it is around 10 grand or so for the well if its 150 feet deep; and i was considering propane use in the field and then a different heat transfer medium for in the house. but its mostly just a wish at this point as i dont have the money to have it done.

    • aztraph says:

      A lot of this depends on what area of the country you are in, I’m in southern Indiana, lots of farmland so horizontal loops and water source heat pumps are the norm. major metropolis locations I can see going to a well loop. but if your going to dig 150 feet down, you might as well drop a water source well, but in the city that could be a problem as it’s against code to run that water down the drain when your done with it.

  35. robo says:

    WTF

  36. JJ Joseph says:

    It’s a good idea because it’s tested, healthy, good for your A/C unit, and safe. The whole world uses propane as a refrigerant, even the USA. It’s NOT explosive, although it’s flammable, it’s NOT corrosive like R134a, and it’s really cheap. There’s not a whole lot of it in your A/C unit (maybe 5oz at most). And it’s not toxic. So, whatever you’re worried about, it’s still a good idea.

    • aztraph says:

      “It’s a good idea because it’s tested, healthy, good for your A/C unit, and safe.” GOOD AND HEALTHY? WHAT IS THIS AN AFTER SCHOOL SPECIAL? AND HOW IS IT GOOD FOR YOUR A/C UNIT IF IT WASN’T DESIGNED FOR PROPANE?

      “The whole world uses propane as a refrigerant, even the USA.” NOT EXTENSIVELY BUT OK

      “It’s NOT explosive, although it’s flammable,” TOTALLY WRONG, UNBELIEVABLY WRONG, MORONICALLY WRONG!!

      “it’s NOT corrosive like R134a, and it’s really cheap.” CAN’T FAULT YOU ON THE CORROSIVE BUT ONLY THE FUEL IS CHEAP, REFRIGERANT GRADE ISN’T AS CHEAP BECAUSE THEY HAVE TO FILTER IT FOR MOISTURE

      “There’s not a whole lot of it in your A/C unit (maybe 5oz at most). And it’s not toxic.” PAY ATTENTION! HE WAS RECHARGING HIS CENTRAL AIR UNIT, NOT HIS WINDOW UNIT WHICH MEANS IT’S WEIGHED IN POUNDS, NOT OUNCES, ENGAGE A SENSE OF SCALE HERE, OR AT THE VERY LEAST READ THE ARTICLE AND ALL THE POSTS LEADING UP TO YOUR FEEBLE ATTEMPT AT INTELLIGENCE.

      “So, whatever you’re worried about, it’s still a good idea.” ONLY IF YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND HAVE GOOD REFRIGERATION HABITS AND TRAINING.

      Sorry for coming across with the caps, but it was easier to just paste his entire post in and demarcate each and every point he tried to express and point out errors were one a time.

  37. Lloyd McCown says:

    Three years ago I called a “Professional” Sevice to fix my a/c unit. The freon leaked out. The serviceman never connected a vacuum pump to evacuate the sysytem. He did no testing of the sytem whatsoever, he simple filled the system with freon and charged me $300.00. A few hours after the serviceman left the cooling stopped and the compressor statred short cycling. My freon was gone. Upon self inspection I found a kinked suction line less than six inches from where the suction line port is located. Knowing that I had nothing to lose, I filled the system with compressed air at 30 lbs and went checking for leaks. The kink was not leaking but the A-Coil was. I worked my way up from mechanic to electrician in my career so while I was willing to pay the piper the first time, if he came back there might have been a fight the second time. I went out studied got my HVAC Cert. Replaced my A-Coil and looked around for R22 freon the prices being asked where outragious at Johnstone and Grainger. I knew what R22A was and thought, my grill is propane, I use propane with my camping gear, the towmotor at work uses propane, and some cars and trucks use propane. So I put R22a in my system two years ago and have had no problems whatsoever. This will be the third summer and while I needed to top off the system, which I atributed to leaking Shrader Valves, I cannot complain. Cavemen use to fear fire until the learn to handle it with respect and use it appropriately

    • aztraph says:

      I’ve been looking into this “R22a” and found a lot of information about it in regards to sales, thankfully it has a (as required by law) and msds. it looks like it’s propane, which is fine as long as it’s pure. I have used propane based replacements that have been marketed under other names, Max-fridge was the last one. but here’s the rub, they have to tell you what’s in it in the msds, they don’t have to tell you how pure it is, these impurities can cause problems. If your going to do it right, and getting your hvac certification is in my opinion the right way, make sure you get your R-290 from a registered supplier and not some company trying to “cash in” a product that CAN’T be considered R-290 because of impurities.

      that’s the other thing, if it’s really propane, why don’t they use it’s registered name?

  38. Lloyd McCown says:

    Has anyone ever given thought to the fact that the folks who would tell you how dangerous R22A is are the same folks who would lose business and money if R22A were used more and more. No more having to pay recovery charges and exorbinate Freon charges. HVAC companies made money hand over fist thanks to the Global Warming scare and R22A eliminates all that money.

    • aztraph says:

      wow, you’re really going to play the “Big Business Conspiracy” card?

      Listen if you’ve gone to the trouble to get your certification, just go buy a couple of recovery tanks and offer to recover r-22 for free from systems that are getting decommissioned. I’ve got 50 pounds of r-22 that i’ve saved back for my own private use that i didn’t have to pay for. granted I can’t sell it for legal purposes, but I can keep my own system going for quite a while this way.

      and since you did get certified, YOU are now part of that big business problem, unless you give away your services for free, or you don’t practice a trade you’ve been certified in, which means you just threw some money away to what, play with your a/c and NOT get in trouble for it?

      I’m getting mixed messages from your posts, I hope you clarify this.

  39. Aaron Edwards says:

    I’m sure being an auto mechanic who took an open book test makes you a thermodynamics expert. However real scientist at Purdue University have a great article with actual analysis of R-290 (Propane) vs R-22. ( http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2086&context=icec) I know it is a small university with ill-informed intellectual types, and they only have P.H.D.’s
    R-290 has significant advantages over R-22, The details are unimportant. The net effect is that R-290 has nearly 11% better efficiency for cooling. In a heat pump it is even better for heating. To put it another way, in a heatpump if you figure a life expectancy of 20 years for a compressor (lower head pressures should extend this) using R-290 could save well over $5,000.00 worth of electrical usage during it’s lifetime.

    So, is there is a risk? Yes, just as taking a bath has a risk of drowning (aprox 335 / year in US).
    Life is about risk mitigation, and balance.

    • aztraph says:

      Hi Aaron! I’m Aztraph! I am curious who you left that comment for, cause, you see, you hit the general comment button and I haven’t been able to sift through all 3+ web pages of comments (about a third of them being from me) to find out who this auto mechanic you were trying to get a message to. I would be interested in seeing what prompted you ire on the subject.

      That being said, congratulations on properly posting the third link down from the top when googling “r-290″. (indecently, I have read it, it is a great article given that it was written in ’96 and r22 is being phased out, all this will become moot in 10 years anyway.

      What chaps my ass is when some one (like you) comes in and posts on an article 3 YEARS OLD. AND tries to make a salient argument while at the same time belittling someone on taking an open book test. That’s just rude.

      I had several tests that were open book for heating and cooling, not because I wanted to be an expert on thermodynamics, but because there was no way to take the test without the book. You have no idea how much reference material you need to have at your fingertips to properly check the charge on an a/c unit. most of them come with the temperature and pressure chart stickered to the inside of the condensing unit, and every one is different, every temperature is different, the humidity levels in the house are different from house to house. Memorizing every chart won’t help you if you don’t know how to figure out the superheat, and if you don’t know how to figure that out, no chart in the world will do you any good.

      So, Tell me Aaron, what kind of expert are you?

  40. Aaron Edwards says:

    Aztraph, you are correct in that this is a old article. However it is still very active. Just as many legacy R-22 systems are, and I suspect both will remain active for some time to come. There could be many reasons for a old system losing pressure and needing to be refilled. In my part of the country a significant reason is attempted copper theft. Repair will continue to become more expensive as availability of R-22 diminishes. In ten more years I would expect to see R-290 used more often than today in repairs.

    My comments to the “auto mechanic” were generically directed at no single person. It was simply stated due to that level of certification being the easiest to obtain for a person to be an “expert”. In academic settings reference material is not often considered “open book”. However equations and formulas often must be memorized.

    As for myself, I am not an HVAC technician, I did not claim I was. But what could make me an expert might possibly be a degree in Physics, or perhaps my work on thermoacoustics. I am not able to discuses any of the DARPA projects I have been part of, but much of it has been in thermodynamics. I am also currently working on a new absorption / phase change cooling system that could provide very low cost cooling solutions. Additionally I am also close to bringing a personal cooling solution to market that could benefit anyone working in hot environments. I do not know everything, my in field experience is very limited.

    It is good for someone who is knowledgeable in this subject to chime in and dissuade people from truly dangerous practices. But to just be critical of everyone who supports an alternate methodology is counterproductive to development. There are always pros and cons to everything. Flammability is a big con for hydrocarbon refrigerants, but a highly manageable one if basic precautions are taken. Ammonia systems should scare the hell out of you, the risk are far greater and more difficult to manage. Yet millions of ammonia systems are in service…

    Hydrocarbon refrigerants CAN be a safe alternative to legacy refrigerants in older systems to extend the operational life and reduce cost of operation. In an ideal world we would all replace all old technology with new. However that is not the reality we live in. there are still millions of pre 1994 cars on the road with R-12 today. The need for R-22 or a hydrocarbon replacement will not go away anytime soon.

    • aztraph says:

      Hey Aaron, Thanks for the response, and thank you greatly for giving your background, thermoacoustics is some serious shit, I too have a degree in physics, but more towards the applied sciences as it pertains to heating and air conditioning.

      I’m not going to challenge you to read all my posts throughout this article, but safe practices are important in dealing with ANY refrigeration system. The problem with this article is that most of the people reading it won’t realize that r-290 isn’t the same as what comes out of your grill tank. what’s worse is that half the hvacr tech i know don’t know that R-22 is flammable under the right circumstances as well.

      should you take a few hours and read my posts, you will probably agree with my view on the topic.

      by the way, have you looked at r-744? CO2 is also a refrigerant, even water, that’s R-718. pretty much anything that can be evaporated or condensed to transfer heat by changing it’s pressure can be used in a refrigeration system.

      oh and i know what you mean about ammonia system, we still have one, it isn’t in use but it would if we hooked it up and run it. nasty stuff that.

      Thanks again for responding, being a hvacr tech I defend this article rather aggressively and wanted to make sure you weren’t a blowhard. peace out

      • Aaron Edwards says:

        I can certainly see the point you make. I think you are correct that many people do not understand grill propane is not R-290. And have even less of a grasp on basic safety practices. I do miss the days of Popular Mechanics projects that could be useful…not always safe…

        It is funny you mention water, both of my current experimental projects use water as working medium. Until the patents are completed details must be withheld. They both use the enthalpy of fusion and vaporization. I love the triple point.

        I think you would be surprised at the state of development of thermoacoustics. It is uniquely suited to the microgravity environment. The great thing is nearly any gas can work. There have been some amazing strides in efficiency. To bad every aspect of the satellites using that system are highly classified. It could revolutionize refrigeration.. damn NDA’s….

        It is good that you have moderated this article to some extent. Providing a professional experienced viewpoint. Hopefully this can help people to be safe.

        • aztraph says:

          Oh I’m not the moderator, I’m just very territorial! especially when it comes to this particular topic.

          My current project is the removal of moisture from a food product to concentrate it, the product will remain nameless until i can get the prototype built and patent it. the product is heated to boil off the moisture, once it hits 200F, a centrifugal compressor kicks on to lower the pressure, less pressure means lowering the boiling point of the water in the product, the discharge of the compressor is then condensed by running it through a coil that holds the original product, there is about a 20% energy savings of the entire process, maybe more.

          The real kicker is the water, because of its source it retains a unique and not unpleasant flavor and my customer has a market for it. it also has an environmental advantage of not releasing the most prolific greenhouse gas there is, water.

          That’s my other sore spot, people who think that CO2 emissions have any real effect on the environment when water makes up between 35% and 70% of the greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.

  41. Richard C says:

    What happened to the link and video?

  42. robert says:

    First paragraph says Grayson has chosen to use propane….. in his cooling system!

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