Navigating the Transition to Eco-Friendly Refrigerants: Expert Insights for HVAC Contractors

Understanding the upcoming changes is crucial for contractors as the HVAC industry shifts towards eco-friendly refrigerants. We interviewed Dan Rougeau, a sales executive at Napoleon, to clarify why certain refrigerants are being phased out, the impact on manufacturers, and the specific challenges HVAC contractors face. 

ECCO Supply: Can you explain why certain refrigerants are being phased out and what their environmental impact is?

Dan: The industry and government bodies have created a timeline to promote environmentally friendly refrigerants. As of January 1, 2025, the U.S. EPA mandates that refrigerants must meet new global warming potential benchmarks. The current R410A refrigerant in residential HVAC systems is below this benchmark. In Canada, imported equipment must comply with these standards while not yet legislated.

ECCO Supply: How does this affect manufacturers and imports?

Dan: From January 1, 2025, manufacturers cannot produce equipment that doesn’t meet the new benchmarks. This means U.S.-manufactured equipment must comply to be imported into Canada. Existing equipment manufactured before this date can still be used.

ECCO Supply: What is Napoleon’s approach to these changes?

Dan: Napoleon, [located in Barrie, Ontario] will adopt the updated A2L refrigerants but will continue manufacturing R410A units for the Canadian market until legislation changes. This gradual transition helps dealers and contractors manage costs and adjustments.

ECCO Supply: What challenges do HVAC contractors face with this transition?

Dan: Contractors must recertify equipment and update installation tools to handle A2L refrigerants. Training and certification for handling the higher flammability of these refrigerants will be necessary. Logistics will also be affected, requiring special certifications for transportation.

ECCO Supply: What are the most common low GWP refrigerants being adopted?

Dan: The primary replacements for R410A are R454B and R32. By 2029, refrigerants will need to meet even stricter GWP standards. Currently, R454B is expected to be widely adopted, while R32 may require further changes by 2029.

ECCO Supply: How should HVAC contractors prepare for these changes?

Dan: Contractors should stay informed through industry boards and trade organizations. They need to understand the impact on their business model, whether it is residential service, replacement, or new construction. Planning for a gradual transition allows time to update training and equipment.

ECCO Supply: Any final advice for contractors?

Dan: Educate yourselves and evaluate how these changes align with your business. Stay proactive in preparing for the transition to ensure a smooth adjustment when the new standards take effect.


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