The home appliance industry has begun to produce “cold products” that use these newer refrigerants as part of its continuing effort to manufacture the most energy efficient, environmentally friendly products. The newer substances have lower global warming potential. However, they are flammable. This means precautions are necessary to mitigate the associated fire and explosion hazards related to the higher flammability of these new refrigerants, which generally do not contain a special odorant as would be found with heating or cooking propane or natural gas.
The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) has developed a special guidance document for the providers of service and maintenance on household appliances that may contain newer refrigerants.
These refrigerants have been adopted, at least in part, due to regulatory changes that will phase-out HFC refrigerants. The new alternatives include A3 refrigerants, such as R-600a and R-290, and A2L refrigerants, such as R-32 and R-452B, which have been safely and widely used for many years in home appliances sold in Europe and Asia. These substances include isobutane, which has been safely used as a propellant in cosmetics and personal care products. Of the 100 million household refrigerators and freezers manufactured globally every year, roughly one-third or more use isobutane (R-600a) or a similar refrigerant. This is also true of a growing number of air conditioning products that are using particularly A2L and A3 refrigerants.
The home appliance industry recognizes the importance of following the recommended safety procedures when a service provider is working with or around appliances with these refrigerants in order to reduce the risk of fire or explosion.
AHAM Guidance on the Safe Servicing of Appliances With Flammable Refrigerants
Safe Servicing of Household Appliances with Flammable Refrigerants: Recommended Practices (French translation)
Safe Servicing of Household Appliances with Flammable Refrigerants: Recommended Practices (Spanish translation)