Environmental laws are now very stringent regarding the release of refrigerant into the atmosphere. The rising global warming issue definitely calls for it. To minimize the leakage of refrigerants into the atmosphere, it’s important to select the right size of refrigerant recovery machines. A proper-sized machine will ensure the fastest possible recovery process. The refrigerant is usually recovered in a tank for subsequent reuse or recycling. In this article, we are answering some questions and featuring some of the best refrigerant recovery machines on the market.
What is a Refrigerant Recovery Machine and How Does it Work?
A refrigerant recovery machine is used to remove refrigerants from a cooling system according to EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) standards. Typically, technicians use these machines before maintaining or repairing refrigerators, freezers, or air conditioners. A refrigerant recovery machine is equipped with output and input valve gauges, analog gauges, a compressor, a pump, and a cooling fan, as well as a pressure cutoff switch. When a refrigerant recovery machine is hooked to the manifold on the air conditioning system, it tends to create a vacuum that sucks the refrigerant from the unit, cleanses it with a filter, and stores it in a tank.
When the system repair is complete, the recovery machine will then vacuum the system to 30” of mercury to rid it of all air and moisture. Refrigerants can’t be inserted in a closed system when air is present. Once the system is free of moisture and air, the technician will find the right amount of charge needed for the system and set the recovery machine to fill the exact charge of refrigerant in the unit. Also, the machine can detect leaks.
What Happens When Refrigerant Escapes?
Refrigerants can escape from an AC system because of loose connection points or leakages along the refrigerant lines. Sadly, refrigerant line leakage is a common problem that affects AC systems once in a while. Corrosion along the refrigerant lines that result from air pollutants from household chemicals can weaken the AC system metal to the point where the refrigerant escapes through small pinhole leaks. Loss of refrigerant is a significant problem for an AC system. It may affect performance, thus causing uneven cooling around your house. Also, the change in pressure in the AC may eventually lead to the compressor being permanently damaged. And when this happens, it means the entire AC system must be replaced.
How to Safely Recover Refrigerant?
Refrigerant recovery is a common task service technicians will perform when repairing or maintaining HVAC systems. Understanding the various recovery methods will help you perform this task as efficiently and quickly as possible. When the right refrigerant recovery procedures are followed, you will prevent harm to you and your equipment while working on your AC system. Safety is an important aspect of refrigerant recovery. You must have the appropriate equipment for the exact type of refrigerant you are recovering. The first thing you will need is a pair of protective eyewear as well as a set of gloves to hinder frostbite. Most technicians utilize a manifold set with 2 center utility ports for recovery and 3/8 inches for vacuum – besides the red and blue high- and low-side ports. Finally, you will need the right recovery tank.
There are three basic refrigerant recovery methods: push-pull, vapor, and liquid. The push-pull recovery method removes liquid refrigerant quickly, but it is a 2-step process. Generally, you would only use this method if you have over 10 lbs of refrigerant in an air conditioning system. The liquid method allows you to transfer refrigerant while it is still in the liquid state. The method is particularly good for moving refrigerant from one container to the other. The liquid recovery method is the fastest of the three methods. However, it doesn’t work with all HVAC systems. The most common method is the vapor recovery method, but it’s slower than the liquid recovery method. It transfers refrigerant in the vapor state.
What are the Factors to be Considered Before Buying?
Here are some factors to be considered when buying a refrigerant recovery machine.
Before purchasing a refrigerant recovery unit, you must understand the type you want. For occasional use, a single-use unit will work fine. Large, commercial refrigerant recovery units are perfect for large air conditioning systems because they will recover greater quantities in a shorter time. Like those in shopping malls, restaurants, as well as central AC units in superstores and high-rise buildings. The residential recovery machines are perfect for the central air conditioning systems of small homes.
A light recovery machine is easier to transport. Also, with a lightweight unit, it’s easy to get to those hard-to-reach areas like on rooftops and ceilings. With the advancement in technology, refrigerant recovery pumps manufacturers are continually finding innovative ways to fit all the important features in a compact design. Additionally, how heavy or light a recovery unit depends on the application area. Heavy-duty recovery machines have more weight because they pack additional features that can considerably reduce operational time. Meanwhile, lightweight options have fewer features and are perfect for small-scale jobs.
The portability of a machine is determined by how heavy the machine is. Opting for the lightest refrigerant machine means you need to sacrifice on some features. Your option will depend on the area of application. For residential applications, a lightweight recovery unit is your best option. Such portable units are easier to carry up attics or roofs to access the air conditioning system. Meanwhile, the heavy-duty recovery machines, also with more advanced features, would be perfect for commercial and industrial applications. They can perform multiple tasks simultaneously, allowing you to work more efficiently and faster.
Single VS Twin Cylinder
Refrigerant recovery units with twin cylinders are not only more efficient but also perform a task faster. However, they are heavier to carry around and more expensive. Conversely, single-cylinder units are more affordable but slower. Also, they are more portable and lightweight.
Refrigerant recovery machines with faster recovery speeds are very handy where there is limited time. A twin-cylinder recovery unit will recover faster when compared to a unit with a single-cylinder installed. Beyond that, models with faster recovery speeds can handle several tasks.
Oil-Based VS Oil-Free Compressors
To boost efficiency, modern recovery machines are switching from oil-based to oil-free compressors. Oil-based units require more maintenance, flushing out residual oil, and monitoring oil levels. Meanwhile, oil-free units are cleaner to run when compared to those with oil-based compressors. They can help recover both vapor and liquid. They require little maintenance and they work on a wide range of refrigerants.
The best refrigerant recovery machine should have a warranty lasting at least 1 year to about 3 or 5 years. As well as a warranty, it is important to buy your product from those companies with a reputation for great customer service. This is helpful in situations when the product malfunctions, and you want a refund or replacement.
How Much do they Typically Cost?
The price of a refrigerant recovery machine varies between $300 to about $1000. The cheaper models may be manual and typically have only one cylinder compressor. The pricier models pack in extra features such as notification mechanism, self-purge system, dryers, filters, and many more. Also, the more expensive units typically have twin cylinders with higher recovery and greater cooling rates.
How do You Use a Refrigerant Recovery Machine?
Using a refrigerant recovery unit involves three (3) basic steps:
Understand the Process
The first thing you need to do is to know about the type of refrigerant used in your machine. Also, you must determine if you want to put the refrigerant back in the unit. Furthermore, it is better to understand what each piece of equipment in the machine does.
Keep Dirt at Bay
When using a recovery unit, your machine will no doubt be exposed to dirt and dust that has been collecting in the unit over time. This could include small metal pieces and acid contamination which could reduce the lifeline of the machine. Using an inline filter at the unit’s inlet port can prevent that.
Use the Appropriate Methods
It is important the liquid refrigerant is recovered first before the vapor. Ensure the right methods are used to pump the refrigerant from your unit.
Comparison of the 5 Best Refrigerant Recovery Machine
Weighing just 18 pounds, the Robinair RG3 Refrigerant Recovery Machine is a portable and lightweight machine. It’s a perfect solution for different HVAC solutions and can effectively work for common CFC, HCFC, and HFC refrigerants. This unit features an oil-less compressor that has a 40 percent smaller footprint and can recover both liquid and vapor refrigerants. Besides its compact size, its less ghastly appearance is another plus of this machine. Robinair RG3 has a high-pressure safety shut-off switch which automatically switches off when the machine rises to over 550 PSI. It also features 2 easy-to-use dials, which make the extraction process quite easier.
Additionally, the two clear gauges make tracking the in and out levels easy throughout the process. The high-efficiency cross-flow design of the unit uses a fan and a condenser layout. The entire machine setup optimizes shorter cycle times that the machine can extract up to 2 pounds within half an hour. This accelerates not only the refrigerant recovery but also lets you move to other steps with ease. While the Robinair RG3 Refrigerant Recovery Machine is advertised as a very versatile machine suitable for different tasks, it is better suited for automotive jobs. Nonetheless, it’s a compact yet powerful unit that removes both vapor and liquid efficiently.
- Lightweight and portable design
- Environment-friendly as its footprint is 40 percent smaller
- Perfect choice for automotive refrigerant recovery jobs
- Due to the single-cylinder, recovery speeds can be often slow
More details of the Robinar machine can be found in the video below.
If you are looking for a high-performing refrigerant recovery machine, the Mophorn Recovery HVAC Machine Recovery Machine is worth seeking. This superb self-purging unit prevents the risk of cross-contamination, thus saving a lot of recovery time. Its compact yet lightweight design improves efficiency and makes it very convenient to use. Also, this unit is equipped with an auto shut-off switch. So, if the pressure exceeds 550 PSI, it shuts off automatically. The ½ HP powerful motor assures you of effortless recovery.
This recovery machine can easily work with HFC, HCFC, and CFC refrigerants, including the popular R410a, so you need not worry about using it. Furthermore, it can be used for commercial applications as it is very versatile. It is equipped with an oversized fan and condensers to ensure shorter cycle times and maximum cooling performance. It can handle both vapor and liquid refrigerant recovery. The Mophorn Recovery HVAC Machine Recovery Machine features a comfortable handle, rugged case, and simple controls which make the unit easy to operate.
- The self-purging system prevents cross-contamination
- Auto-shutoff function
- Convenient to use
- It can be noisy
For more details on the Morphon Recovery machine, please see the video below.
The universal refrigerant recovery design of this machine allows it to be used with virtually all known refrigerants. The Yellow Jacket 95760 comes with single valve control which allows you to instantly switch from liquid to vapor to purge mode. Beyond that, this unit doesn’t require throttling, so you need no expertise to use it. The ½ HP compressor of this machine creates enough force to recover refrigerants at high speed. This recovery machine comes with a special CPR valve for pressure regulation. Thus, it maintains the recovery pressure of the refrigerant to the condenser. Also, the unit has an auto-shutoff feature which helps prevent damage to the unit if the pressure exceeds the limit while recovering.
The Yellow Jacket 95760 comes with a mesh filter that entirely removes the risk of contamination. The high-efficiency fan keeps air moving across the condenser for cool running even in hot weather. The high strength HDPE case is lightweight and durable. The precise design ensures the gauges are appropriately placed so you can easily view them from multiple distances and angles. The Yellow Jacket 95760 is quite easy to clean as all residues can be easily eliminated to prevent contamination and clogging.
- Single gauge control for convenient usage
- Superior condenser performance
- Reusable mesh filter
- Quiet operation
Watch the video below for more details.
The Bacharach 115V Refrigerant Recovery Machine is one of the most economical and powerful refrigerant recovery machines on the market. It can handle high demand and pressure for a wide variety of applications, including residential and commercial tasks. A high operational speed, fan-cooled twin-cylinder, and an oil-less compressor make this unit a top choice. With all these advanced features, the vibration and noise this unit produces are extremely low. The oil-less air-cooled compressor offers quiet-running performance.
This machine prevents pollutants from escaping back into the atmosphere and can be cleaned easily. It is compatible with all refrigerants, including liquid, vapor, and R410a. the integrated purge function help to minimize the loss of refrigerant and risk of cross-contamination. The durable condenser offers better heat dispersion during hot weather. The Bacharach 115V Refrigerant Recovery Machine is a very portable unit with a sturdy case that offers excellent durability. Its compact, lightweight design along with the carry shoulder strap makes it convenient to use.
- Compact and lightweight design
- Easy-to-read indicators
- Single knob operation
- Faster recovery speeds
- It is an expensive machine
Check out the below video for details on how to use a Bacharach Refrigerant recovery machine.
The Appion G5TWIN Recovery Machine is very similar to the Robinair RG3 Machine. The difference between the two units is that the Appion G5TWIN has twin cylinders which make it more efficient. The twin condensers incorporated into this unit also cuts down the work-time by up to half the amount. Weighing just 26 pounds, this unit is not very heavy. This machine comes with a sturdy, multi-colored exterior casing that protects the unit’s cylinder. The user panel at the top of the machine allows for easy access. Meanwhile, the color-coded red and blue inflow and outflow valve switches facilitate easy identification.
There are also pressure gauges on the machine that fast tracks pressure levels readings. The gauges not only monitor the amount of pressure in the machine, but it also prevents the refrigerants from leaking. This fast and efficient machine can be used for recovering both commercial and residential refrigerant. Also, it can serve as a vacuum pump in emergency situations. The Appion G5TWIN Twin Cylinder Recovery Unit is a lightweight and compact unit that can get the job done efficiently.
- Faster recovery speeds
- Easy to use
- Durable construction
- Compact and lightweight
- Only works with R-410A and R-22 refrigerants
Watch this video to get more details on how the Appion G5TWIN Recovery machine works.
The best refrigerant recovery machine will help to reduce the cost of getting your air conditioners and refrigerators maintained regularly. If you want to go with this eco-friendly option, our review will help you choose the most suitable unit for your needs. The list comprises recovery units popularly used by individuals, homeowners, and technicians.