Refrigerant 22 Outlawed?
Is R-22 Banned?
Long story short, yes, the manufacturing of r-22 (Refrigerant 22) is outlawed. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), new production and import of refrigerant-22 was phased out as of 2020. This recent ban of the refrigerant has had many homeowners scrambling to figure out what to do with their systems that still use the outlawed refrigerant. If you’re one of these people, don’t throw in the towel just yet because there is a new refrigerant that is even more efficient than the old r 22 while also being safer for the atmosphere!
What Can We Do Now That Refrigerant 22 Is Banned?
Recently, the owner of Service Emperor, Tersh Blissett, had a conversation with the manufacturer of a refrigerant that can replace R 22. They spoke all about the properties of this new refrigerant, named Refrigerant-458A, or also known by its trade name of Bluon. Bluon’s creators truly aim at providing a better product for our clients than what Refrigerant-22 (Freon), and this shows in the conversation between Tersh and Mike Eriksen of Bluon. Below is the entire transcription of their conversation, along with a link to the podcast recording.
Conversation Between Tersh & Mike About Bluon’s Replacement of Freon 22
Tersh: [00:05:09] Hello, everyone out there in the Facebook world in the podcast world, we are live on Facebook and recording this for the podcast. I am Tersh Blissett Service Business Mastery podcast. And today we have Bluon HVAC and Mike Eriksen with Bluon to speak with us about not only their refrigerant that replaces our Refrigerant 22.
I’m going to try my hardest to not say drop-in this entire conversation because it’s not a drop-in for our Refrigerant 22. It’s a replacement. As we were talking earlier, there are going to be people that are going to drop this in on top of our Refrigerant 22 and that’s let’s get this out in the air.
Upfront is it’s not a drop-in or it’s a replacement. So, make sure you’re following all of their policies and procedures and everything. Integrity first, Service Emperor core value, integrity first. Don’t just dump it in on top of our Refrigerant 22. I’m super excited to talk with Mike because this isn’t just a conversation about our Refrigerant 22 and getting rid of it and not being able to be manufactured anymore in twenty-twenty.
Let’s be real, getting rid of our Refrigerant 22 is probably the least of our concerns this year, but it’s, there’s a lot of houses out there that have especially vacation houses that didn’t have a lot of traffic around here that still have our two systems in them.
Tersh: [00:06:45] And they’re sometimes they might just have a minor leak and they just need refrigerant replaced instead of it being a major component replacement and justifying replacing a system. And when I speak about this, one does a lot with and we’ll get into more detail, too. But Blueline does a lot with the commercial and industrial type stuff, too. But a lot of the people that listen to this, we’re going to do a lot of residential and commercial. So, you may have that rooftop package unit that needs refrigerant and it’s an R 22 system and they just don’t want to replace the whole system.
Bluon has that solution that is cool, and that’s really awesome and interesting. But what I really want to talk about is the app and everything that that app has to offer, which is more than just a basic forum with questions and answers, which I think is really cool. So, with that being said, welcome to the show. Thank you very much. We’re supposed to be here. Absolutely. So, tell us a little bit about Bluon how long you’ve been around and what it is you actually offer.
Mike Eriksen: [00:07:55] Yeah, it always helps to give a little bit of context. So 2011 started with an idea. Our co-founder Johnny came from the corporate real estate world and knew about our 22 days out and knew of the other options that were out there and didn’t like them.
Mike Eriksen: [00:08:16] And basically the idea was, why can’t we make something that is equal or better than our Refrigerant 22 and solves this looming problem coming down the line. So fast forward five, six years of thousands of empirical tests, software tests on psych tests, sometimes intentionally blowing stuff up to learn what works and what doesn’t work. Going through EPA approval, which is its own fun story, and being fully EPA and fully actually approved and then coming to the market with a solid product. And that’s where the app was born, was how do we reach all these contractors with what we’ve learned in the last six, seven years, between 2011 and 2017? And that’s where the app came in, where there are now thirty thousand or Refrigerant 22 manuals loaded in their original unit specs to have at your fingertips along with this green light, yellow light, red light system.
Mike Eriksen: [00:09:22] That’s these ones that are good to go. Yellow light one means call us and red light one run away blends don’t work unless you just want to have fun in your backyard and buy. Go them though and evolved beyond that was not just write down what we know and write down what we learned.
Mike Eriksen: [00:09:43] It was let’s give them more tools so we have some calculators, airfoil calculators, diagnostic tools like a temperature test to help figure out do I have a leak or is there something else going on as well as the twenty-four-seven tech support that I call it the big red easy button on the app.
Mike Eriksen: [00:10:05] You press the red button and within two minutes a real veteran from the field answers. The phone says, How are you doing brother or sister, what do you need, what are you looking at. Let’s get into it right now and talk about what’s going on.
Mike Eriksen: [00:10:23] So that’s really cool that that part of it is really awesome to me because it’s like you’re doing more than just providing a product and saying, hey, come purchase this product and put it in. And then because there’s a lot of times where I remember when other replacement refrigerants, air quotes replacing refrigerants were out for 20 to and all I heard was rule of thumb. Well, if 22 is going to be at 70, this one’s going to be around 50 or something like that. And then there was very little actual support provided with that. So I think that’s really also the funny thing there.
Mike Eriksen: [00:11:06] So, I mean, a lot of those ammonia nine, you trying to whatever they were designed by the large companies with the support of the larger investors to follow the pressures of the original equipment. You know, and we came at it from a completely different angle. We were like, we want to make a better refrigerant. That was a lofty goal. We set and stumbled on all these other things. So we actually operate at lower pressures, which is a huge reason why we didn’t want to just hand the junk someone and say, go have fun. Hey, by the way, when you’re doing this, it’s a little bit different. So here are all the tools to do that while you’re out there. And so, I mean, as a result, we average 15 percent energy savings. The larger the unit, the better those can get. We are better capacity is R20 to and we never require an oil change, which was always a question mark with some of the other options out there as well.
Mike Eriksen: [00:12:08] We are measurable, but not if the line sets this long or all these if that then this scenario, it’s like, OK, I don’t even want to think about it. We’re just going to say, no, you need a unit.
Tersh: [00:12:19] Exactly. That is the exact scenario that we ran into. It was like, can I, as a contractor, stand behind a product that I do not understand? No, I can’t. I mean, obviously, I’m not an engineer. I can’t take apart and inverter and do all that. But I understand that Trane or Carrier or whoever is going to stand behind that product. Whereas if we’re dumping in refrigerant, the refrigerant itself is a whole different beast. I mean, it’s the one component that’s not warranted by any manufacturer.
You have a compressor change out, you don’t get it…you don’t get the refrigerant from the manufacturer. It’s like, what happens if the fear that I was presented with was unjustified fear that we add this drop-in replacement refrigerant to the system and the seals are going to shrink up or blow out or something to that effect because of the different oils and mixing all the stuff together. And so, I’m like exactly like you said.
We can do this for an emergency scenario, but we need to change the system out because this is like…back whenever I was younger, I was big into cars, and I always remember hearing the mechanics that were talking about black death. That is kind of what I’ve associated with mixing refrigerants. You know, getting this black sludge inside the lines, and then we’re stuck with having to replace line sets, you know, even if they’re inaccessible.
I’m thinking the worst-case scenario in my head every time, and I really value the fact that you have come to market with an app that says, green light, that’s a good system to drop this in and replace this with Bluon or red light and don’t. We were talking beforehand a little bit about it getting better as the pressures go up, so what would be a scenario where you typically would see the red light flash off and say, don’t replace?
Mike Eriksen: [00:14:42] We’re viable in a vast majority of units, the easy ones, to stay away from anything that’s got multiple metering devices along the line that I guess to get a little bit deep because we’re a blend and we have. Which all replacements and all that track moving forward are going to be a form of a blend. We have a different boiling point of each of those systems and that creates a glide. And so there are actually like some I think the control systems or things like that, where they tried to mimic that, that our chemistry naturally does, and that actually interrupts our process.
Mike Eriksen: [00:15:26] So things like that, many splits are a perfect example, but those are mostly, by and large, newer systems anyway.
Mike Eriksen: [00:15:37] Very often. So I mean, there are there and that’s why they’re bright red. And then just to kind of touch on, you know, we don’t look at conversion as like you’re just simple. I fix the part. And here’s your bill service. We would try to add a new category to that basket. So you like to work on cars? We call it like a tuneup. And we’re going to holistically replace this, this and this, because these are all going to work together.
You touched on seals for the value of the seal kit when you’ve already got a system fully evacuated. How much time are you spending to replace seals and have that peace of mind to know that they’re good? And then when you’re walking away, you’ve got everything lining up the right way and you can show your customer, look at all these increases and I’ve done what I said. I’ve actually tuned up your system. And these are changes that have come of that. And so it’s a whole new basket of either just instead of just fixing or replacing its actually optimizing a system.
Tersh: [00:16:46] So, are you seeing or do you foresee or is this even in your scope of conversation with manufacturers, are we going to see “dry” systems again?
Mike Eriksen: [00:17:04] I think that’s a little bit over my pay grade.
Tersh: [00:17:09] I, I just kind of thing that I mean, I’m obviously just spitballing here and I’m thinking like a contractor who wants to provide for a client that I mean, there was a couple of years there where we were we were, you know, or 22 wasn’t outrageous yet. But you couldn’t buy our 20 to condensers, but you could buy a dry condenser and then, you know, throw some are Refrigerant 22 in there. And I always thought that that was a decent option, especially for any of our property management clients or anybody that maybe even the air handlers still under warranty.
They change the outdoor unit because of a leaking coil, and then they phased out the 22 to condensers and now they’re stuck with a new handler and a bad outdoor unit. And so we were replacing just the condensers and then they kind of phased away because I don’t know if there was a reason they fade away or if it was just the price of Refrigerant 22 went through the roof. So, people just quit buying them.
Mike Eriksen: [00:18:09] But yeah, I mean, I do know that that happens and I can’t really predict if it’s going to happen on a large scale. I know for a fact one of my colleagues just removed their home and couldn’t find an old or 22 system or they might buy an old one. So they did they bought like a dry unit and charged up as planned, and his house is great. I mean, is a totally viable option that we work well in. It’s just pretty rare at this stage that that’s what we’re seeing a lot of.
Tersh: [00:18:40] Yeah, I just wonder, you said that this is more efficient than Refrigerant 22, is that correct?
Mike Eriksen: [00:18:47] Energy-efficient, yes. With those savings, because we operate at lower pressures, that is both lower and more stable amperage. So, the lower amperages obviously are going to be your direct energy savings and we minimize those peaks and valleys. Compressor startups reduce vibration, creates a more stable load on the system, which typically we’re already talking about older equipment. So that’s nothing positive on that system all around.
Tersh: [00:19:22] Yeah. And to me, I just think about working even and currently we carry two of Refrigerant 22 on I ran, but we…working on Refrigerant 22 versus a 14 or four before the system, it just seems to always like that. It just is it just cools better. It almost feels more efficient. Even though you have a 10 SEER Refrigerant 22 units versus a 14 SEER a unit, it feels like the Refrigerant 22 units were more efficient or more comfortable in the house.
Mike Eriksen: [00:19:57] Yeah. And not to start a name bashing or anything for reasons for some of those things that direct our attention to replacements. A lot of them lose capacity. So you get a tired system that has to work harder to create the same cooling. And with newer systems for 10, it maybe is more environmentally friendly, but you’re operating at higher pressures than honestly, we’re seeing a lot more service calls due to leaks as well that portends struggles with high ambient temperature. So, they start running more. So, yeah. And your perfect test lab chamber, it’s going to get those relatively close SEERs, but real life always seems to present its new challenge.
Tersh: [00:20:47] And let a little bit of dirt get on the cool on the already run pressures that.
Mike Eriksen: [00:20:53] So, I mean, and that’s in this industry. There are so many variables all the time. You take two same units and you are going to have a completely different result, even if they’re both installed perfectly correctly. Yes, that’s true.
Tersh: [00:21:05] Now in the in a worst-case scenario. So, we have a leak in a system and we need to perform a leak search. Most of our leak detectors, they’re going to be able to pick up Bluon.
Mike Eriksen: [00:21:20] I don’t see why not and dealing with leaks in favor of leaks is the standard EPA rule. OK.
Tersh: [00:21:29] Yeah, I knew that whenever we when we were first going over to refrigerant 410a from r-22 to kind of showing my age a little bit in the industry, but when we first went over to the new refrigerant, the leak detectors, they wouldn’t always go off on the r-410a like they would with the Refrigerant 22. And I just remember dealing with that, and it was a pain.
Mike Eriksen: [00:21:56] We probably see more often is we are not even able to ask that question, because whoever was coming behind it, is not labeled. How much was there in the first place? Oh, it is just it’s usually safer. Just walk this back and start from square one and, you know, and then go on from there.
Tersh: [00:22:18] So, with the and obviously the app was created so that we could, you know, especially in commercial applications, can reach out to you and ask for support whenever replacing or 22 was with Bluon. It does not have to be Bluon related for the tech support, which is really is mind-boggling to me because I am thinking there’s a chance you could tie people up. But I understand you are, kind of giving back to the industry a little bit. But can you explain to me a little?
Mike Eriksen:[00:22:54] Sure, and we look at this whole ribbon program. For you, by you, we have a whole team of guys who have been doing it for twenty-five years, 30 years, 40 years, and we work with them. What were you missing out there all these years? What was going to make your life better? I mean, the industry as a whole has a lot of curveballs constantly being thrown at it or back at you. So we kind of committed to let’s kind of solve and fill this void of a true tech support line that is going to answer you while you’re still on the roof three days later and not ask you if you have tried turning it off and back on to see if it fix the problem.
“Hey, man, I’m here.” Says the tech before getting on the roof. “What are you looking at?” says the tech support before getting livid. Yeah, there is a there’s an implied time commitment there. But we’re I call him our Geek Squad, our nerd squad. They love talking about it. They genuinely love talking about it. That is a hugely important piece to everyone here is the passion and trying to help.
So whether it’s the tech or the counter sales guy or the project sales engineer wanting to make sure all the ducks are in the right rows and, you know, let’s get this job going in the right direction and empowering people to have more options and build a business.
Tersh:[00:24:25] Now, is that just an HVAC or is that refrigeration too?
Mike Eriksen:[00:24:28] Is it refrigeration, too? I mean, we prefer mostly HVAC, but we have refrigeration experience and the way we always work is if one guy works for longer and something else like let me I’ll go wake the other Mike up and have him talk to you about refrigeration, etc… We are upfront just like the red light green light program. If I don’t know the answer, I’m going to go find the guy who does the answer. So the same commitment there.
Tersh:[00:24:59] Yeah, that’s really cool. Say, you’re unsure if there’s Bluon in our area. Is there a way for us to search somewhere and find out the blue ones are there is?
Mike Eriksen:[00:25:09] So the easiest way to find your local fire is the blue one website, www.Bluon.com and right up top there’s a buy button and it’s your standard type in your zip code and search, and it’ll give you less than 50 miles if there’s not someone who is a convenient driving distance. There’s TruTechTools.com and they’ll ship it. They’ll ship it up there.
Tersh:[00:25:37] You can use a ServiceBiz and get 8% off of certain things. Yeah, those guys, Bill, and all of them, Bill Jr., they’re really cool guys. I love them.
Mike Eriksen:[00:25:50] They really are. Yeah, they’ve been great to work with because of this last while. So we’re really excited to have them too.
Tersh:[00:25:58] So the app itself has gone through several transitions. This is the last question I have! What would you say is the biggest changing point and update that the apps had over the past? Let’s call it six months.
Mike Eriksen:[00:26:19] In the last six months. I don’t know the computer way to say it, but we made the manuals basically readily available. So instead of having to be in good service, you know, the download speed and availability speed, a hundred times more available and faster and at your fingertips and just make it. That was probably the most functional change that’s happened in the last six months. And then adding the bidding tool.
Tersh:[00:26:58] Explain that bidding tool really fast.
Mike Eriksen:[00:27:01] The bidding tool on a giving unit will immediately pull up. How many? A rough estimate of how many hours of labor it’s going to take to do a conversion. We also share how many pounds of refrigerant and if there are any modifications to be made. How many of those parts you’re going to need to order and how to order them.
If you’re looking at a smaller unit, it’s going to say we’ve got seven hours for your average stack to complete and can be 15 pounds of refrigerant and you just apply our fixed price per pound times your labor rate and you’ve got a ballpark number that you can continue the conversation quickly instead of having to call in. And I’ll get back to you in a week and let’s increase the speed of moving projects forward. Not, you know, the standard way of “let me go check the book”. And I got it right here. This is what we’re looking at. This is what I’m getting into work into and keep going.
Tersh:[00:28:01] I really like the fact that especially having any of the contractors that may be listening, the service business owners that are listening or watching this that we’ve all experienced, especially after hours, I’m at the house and somebody calls me about something. And so I just quickly Google trying to get a spreadsheet.
I just want the schematics on a piece of equipment and they’re like, hey, thirty-nine dollars. Or they give like a pixilated version of it. And then if you want to actually see it’s like pay this amount and it’s like the first three pages of it, like they’ve done the SEO on it and it’s super irritating, but it’s really cool that you all have the schematics available, readily available, which is a pretty big deal, is pretty large commitment to keep them all in there.
Mike Eriksen:[00:28:54] And the sheer amount that they’re continuing to add daily, I mean, there’s so much equipment out there. We’re also adding 410 manuals. You know, that’s what people are seeing out there. So they need the need to have those, too.
Tersh:[00:29:08] So, yeah, how many manuals would you guess is in there right now?
Mike Eriksen:[00:29:11] Thirty thousand.
Tersh:[00:29:12] Thirty thousand. Wow. Well, that’s cool.
Mike Eriksen:[00:29:16] You’re going to find what you’re looking for. Yeah, that’s awesome.
Tersh:[00:29:20] Well, I appreciate it. I promise is the last question. If someone’s converting something over to Bluon, is there a sticker or something that we can buy? This sticker would be to let other people know that we’ve converted it. It will let them know how much refrigerant we put into the unit.
Mike Eriksen:[00:29:42] Every Jugg comes with a packet of labels, I can’t remember if it’s six or seven, but there’s a packet. So you get multiple units. You’ve got enough to do one of the compressors, one on the outside, and put it in a spot where it’s going to last and they have to fill out what you did so awesome, the thought of everything. There’s even a PT chart on the box, so you’ve got that going too.
Tersh:[00:30:15] I said that was the last question. Is it in the measure quick app?
Mike Eriksen:[00:30:20] Yes, we are in MeasureQuick. Jim Bergeron’s fantastic genius and he is amazing with fine-tuning and aligning. Tuning up and optimizing the system the right way and knowing that you’ve got it there. You owe that to your customer and show the before and after’s. That is a perfect setup for how we would like people to work.
Tersh:[00:30:49] Oh, yeah. We do that, and we run a report on every job we go to. It takes a little bit more time. But to know when you leave the house, or leave the building, you know the system is working optimally at that time, you know, the BTU’s output, you know, all that stuff. And it takes a lot of guesswork out of it. And that’s something that whenever I was up and coming that we didn’t have really well. “You’ve got good delta T and your pressures are pretty close. You should be good, you know.”
Mike Eriksen:[00:31:19] I mean one of my old bosses I’ll never forget it if you got time to do it twice, you got time to do it right the first time. And I think that was building a wall or something and it was an off level. And I will take the whole thing now and do it over. Yeah, that sucks. OK, do it right now. So yeah, that little bit of extra time and care and attention makes a big difference. And you know, I think customers actually really appreciate being able to see the difference that’s there.
Tersh:[00:31:46] Yeah, I agree. Cool. Mike, I appreciate you taking some time and share in Bluon with us. Make sure if you’re not following Bluon on social media, you follow them, connect with them. And then is Bluon.com the best place to learn more? Obviously the app, get the app, download it. And it’s not just any of your apps. You have to actually take a quiz, take a test, and do some education. And that’s cool, but it’s kind of cool.
Mike Eriksen:[00:32:15] Everyone seems to learn something. It takes about twenty minutes, a couple of videos and then you get an access code from us. It’s pretty famous, but everyone gets said, everyone seems to learn something. I know I did. And Google Play Store and Apple Store. There are links on our website as well, readily available. Cool man. I appreciate it. And we’ll thank you very much. It’s good to be here.
Tersh:[00:32:40] Yeah, absolutely. If you are listening to this podcast, I thank you! Thank you for listening to the Service Business Mastery Podcast. It’s the podcast focused on the service business owner, managers, and technicians who are considering becoming business owners themselves. I hope that we have answered some of the unasked questions or questions you did not know to ask. If you have any other questions, though, feel free to reach out to me.
I hope to see if you are not following Bluon already. Connect with Bluon. The tech support thing is really cool. It blows my mind, as someone who manages Labor, to have Bluon. Along with their help and support when it comes to the labor portion of my business. So cool. I appreciate everything and I appreciate Bluon again for coming today and we’ll talk again soon. Have a great week.