The pipeline that brings refrigerants from production facilities to jobsites passes most often through wholesalers and supply houses. Most contractors are customers of both manufacturers and wholesalers.

Earlier this year, I was asked to moderate a refrigerants panel at the Northeastern & Mid-Atlantic Regional Meeting of the Heating, Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) held in Galloway, N.J. The panelists were representatives of refrigerant manufacturers and the audience consisted of wholesaler members of HARDI.

The discussion centered on contractors and techs who work with refrigerants on jobsites.

Kevin O'Shea of DuPont told HARDI members that both manufacturers and wholesalers "need to help our mutual customers succeed." He said manufacturers need to rely more and more on wholesalers to forward correct information to contractors, douse incorrect information, and halt rumors.

He told the audience "to keep challenging us as manufacturers" to provide the correct information to pass along to contractors and technicians.

Information Sources

For the time being, he noted, government has allowed the industry to be self-regulating when it comes to procedures and venting restrictions. (Environmental Protection Agency officials have said as much in noting that investigations of violations result from whistle-blowing within our industry.)

However, O'Shea noted that "the license society has given us can be revoked," and government could intervene more. "We have to keep equipment intact."

Michael Brubaker of Atofina told the wholesalers, "You are viewed as the informed source for understanding regulations." He noted that refrigerant manufacturers do have individuals who monitor regulatory aspects and who are willing to provide their perspective on those regulations to the supply houses.

In terms of information concerning types of refrigerants and applications, Brubaker said manufacturers can also supply training and marketing. "We are here to help you transfer information (to contractors)."

Ron Vogel of Honeywell said wholesalers should also relay feedback they get from contractors back to the manufacturers. "We need feedback from you. We take everything we hear."

The message here is that contractors should be able to get the information they need regarding both application and regulatory aspects of refrigerants - and they should be able to get such information from both manufacturers and wholesalers.

The tenure of the talk in New Jersey seemed to point toward wholesalers being the first place to get that information - not the only place, obviously - but it's the place most techs go nearly every day. It should be the first place to obtain such information.

I invite contractors to let us know how that aspect of the refrigerant communication line is working.

Peter Powell is refrigeration editor. He can be reached at 847-622-7260, 847-622-7266 (fax), or

Publication date: 10/04/2004