The new information about Retrofits
How I became a believer in retrofit. And why I believe it is about to become a bigger part of our industry.
We all know COVID-19 kills. What you may not have considered is how COVID kills capital, capital budgets that is, and your customer will be looking to you for a solution when equipment replacement may no longer be a viable option.
The economy will slowly recover, but we will all feel the economic impact caused by this crisis for quite some time. Capital business budgets (used to replace equipment) and even home budgets will simply not have the cash for new equipment. Financing may provide an option, but that does not come without other potential perils including tapping much of one’s needed credit capacity
There is tremendous amount of solid, well maintained R22 equipment on the market. We all know it. Don’t tell me if that 12-year old R22 system you are about to remove wasn’t a refrigerator, you wouldn’t take it home and throw it in the garage and use it for a beer/pop cooler. You know it still has useful life! And we both know it would likely continue to run for another 5-10 years. Your only consideration for parting with it might be when the utility offers you $50.00 for that old fridge. It would be the fridge that keeps on giving! How many good operating R22 systems have you removed simply because they were “getting old”, because it was “time” to replace it? It is now time to reshape your thinking.
R22 was one of the best refrigerants the HVAC industry has ever seen from a performance standpoint, and it was exceptionally easy to work with. R22 performs great in hot climates where R410a systems fall off struggling to keep up during the hottest days of the year. Many customers have kept their R22 systems in arid climates for just that reason. Property management companies benefit by keeping equipment running longer. If an R22 system is still in decent condition, the obsolesce of the refrigerant might be the primary reason to consider replacement, but not necessarily the right choice for the customer.
But what about upgrading for efficiency? What about being Green? A high SEER system could be %50 more efficient than an older system. That’s true, but that efficiency gain is not free. There is a cost of the new equipment and the installation. Efficiency gains in northern climates, even in Ohio, may take a lifetime to recover the capital cost by energy savings simply because energy is cheap, and the equipment is not running enough (due to limited hours of operation) to provide significant dollar savings. It’s like spending $30K on a hybrid car when gas is $1.25 a gallon then driving it 8,000 miles a year. Are there every savings? Yes. Enough to justify capital costs? Not in this lifetime. Why replace what you can re-use? You cannot get a greener solution than to re-use the existing appliance. Unlike R-410a, there are retrofit options that don’t use a high GWP refrigerant; not to mention there is at least one retrofit option that will reduce your electricity consumption. A retrofit could be a greener choice from that standpoint.
There are other considerations too. For commercial customers, equipment change-out is very expensive. The building may have been built around the equipment. It may be hard to access even with a crane. In short, your customers may spend tens of thousands for replacement only to see a few dollars returned on an annual basis at a time when they don’t have the dollars to spend. Tripping over dollars to pick up dimes does not make much sense.
I have been retrofitting refrigerants since the phaseout of R12 and R-502. Unequivocally I can tell you that my past experiences with retrofit refrigerants sucked. I really thought hard about this, and there is not a better word for the emotions the some of my past experiences rekindled when thinking about this subject. Everything sucked from the process of changing the oil and seals to even finding a good PT chart for the retrofit refrigerant. The new oil sucked. It was everything from hydroscopic (absorbs moisture), expensive, and unforgiving to poor handling. The pressures were way different. I had to now deal with glide, dew point, and bubble point as well as other characteristics of a blend that I was not familiar with. About the only training you could get on refrigerant retrofit was by the seat of your pants. Things for the most part never worked out as planned.
Then there were the performance issues. Poor oil return, oil foaming, capacity losses, nuisance lockouts, control issues, and even worse, no one to help. The manufacturers are in the business of selling boxes, they have no interest in retrofitting equipment to make it last longer. What do they tell you? “We are no longer going to warranty your “out of warranty” equipment.” Thanks for the help! What about the refrigerant supplier? In my experience, suppliers are only there to sell you a tank of refrigerant. There is no one, including the supplier, equipment manufacturer, or the refrigerant manufacturer to help you with the retrofit. You are pretty much on you own.
So why consider retrofit now? Simple. Bluon is different, and it’s better than R22. At Bluon, refrigerant retrofit is not about a refrigerant scale, it is about the retrofit solution. Is is about the 24/7 service and support available of those actually doing the retrofit. Bluon is focused, like measureQuick, on your success.
It’s also about differentiation. Joe Contractor cannot simply purchase Bluon. Bluon’s support and warranty do NOT come without being certified or as Bluon calls it, accredited. Certification gives you access to information. With information you guarantee success. Bluon has the most extensive database of R22 and R410 equipment in the industry at your fingertips in an easy to use mobile app. Leveraging that database, Bluon can tell you what you need to know before you even attempt the job. You will know what you need, the process for retrofitting the equipment, and you will be guided step-by-step through the process to assure that the retro-commissioning is done right every time.
Bluon has partnered with measureQuick to make the refrigerant retrofit easy. Using measureQuick, the process is streamlined, efficient and basically foolproof. measureQuick makes it easy by automatically calculating superheat, subcooling, coil temperatures and target pressures. In the vitals mode, it even tells you how much refrigerant to add, when to adjust the metering device if necessary, and when to adjust the airflow. As no oil change is needed, a refrigerant retrofit often takes no more time then recharging a system after repairing a leak.
Bluon does not fixate on the refrigerant, they take a system approach to retrofit. When you approach the system, the success of the retrofit is virtually guaranteed.* Not only is your success guaranteed, it is documented with measureQuick. You and your customer can see not only the results, but also the increase in loss in capacity. As 7 out of 10 systems have incorrect refrigerant charge and airflow to begin with, using Bluon and measureQuick can provide epic gains in both.
With Bluon and measureQuick refrigerant retrofit is no longer a messy, unsupported frustrating process. It’s simple, fast and easy. You make money doing the retrofit, your customer gets a little more life out of their equipment, and you get a customer that will likely give you the replacement job when the time finally comes. This is about doing what is best for you and what is best for your customer. This is about options and solutions. This is easy, you’ve got this.
Note: measureQuick is making no guarantees on behalf of Bluon, but merely communicating the likelihood of success based on actual experience with the product and the Bluon team.
Need more proof…
Find a recent case study Jim did with Bluon here.
Download this PDF for your own use here.