R-290 is the term used to describe Propane, used as a refrigerant. Propane as a refrigerant solves many problems, but it also has some drawbacks – it all depends on the application in which it’s used.
Some of the benefits include:
- Hydrocarbon-based, non-synthetic substance
- EPA-approved in commercial applications
- Very low environmental impacts; GWO=3, ODP=0
- Relatively affordable
- High-efficiency, high-performance, reliable
- Safe when proper protocols and procedures are followed
Some of the drawbacks include:
- Class A3 refrigerant that is flammable
- Globally mandated low charge limits of 150g restrict the application range
- Difficulty getting approved in fire and building codes
- Requires special handling requirements/certifications
- Lack of trained and certified field technicians
R-404A vs. R-290 in Medium Back Pressure (MBP)
As seen in the chart below, the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) of R-290 is far more appealing than R-404A.
Special Use Cases for R-290 (Propane as a Refrigerant)
There are several considerations to take into account when determining whether or not R-290 will work for the application you have in mind.
- 150g charge limit
- The charge limit reduces the number of applications R-290 can be used.
- Electrical components (UL471 / EN60079-15)
- The electrical components of systems that use R-290 require the use of sealed or gas-tight electrical components that are fire/explosion proof.
- Additional safety measures
- Additional safety measures should be taken while installing and servicing systems that use R-290. Measures include additional ventilation requirements and the use of leak sensors.
- Manufacturing safety
- Special charge & leak detection processes (use sentences)
See the chart below for additional information on how the 150g charge limit impacts the applications in which R-290 can be used:
Due to the volatile nature of Propane, R-290 requires some special considerations technicians need to keep in mind while performing service on systems using R-290. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Many of our products today are already compatible with R-290. Please reference the chart below to see which products are compatible with R-290 in low and medium temperature applications: