The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is warning commercial vehicle owners to avoid hydrocarbon refrigerants being sold as inexpensive substitutes for HFC-134a and CFC-12.
Hydrocarbon refrigerants, marketed under such names as OZ-12, DURACOOL 12a, and HC-12a, may contain large quantities of propane, butane or other highly flammable gases. EPA says there is insufficient proof that hydrocarbon refrigerants are safe for mobile air-conditioning systems, and that leaking systems charged with hydrocarbons pose serious risks of fire or explosion.
"These products are sold online and at flea markets as direct replacements for EPA-approved refrigerants," said Gary Hansen, vice president of engineering at Red Dot, which produces air-conditioning systems for heavy vehicles.
Hansen said using hydrocarbon refrigerants will void the system warranty. No vehicle manufacturer has authorized their use in its current A/C systems.
"Hydrocarbon blends can degrade gaskets and hoses designed for HFC-134a or CFC-12, making leaks more likely," he explained. "If you suspect improper service, a trained, certified A/C technician can run a test to make sure your air conditioner has been serviced with the refrigerant it's designed for."
For information call the Ozone Protection Hotline: 800-296-1996.