There have been a lot of changes that have occurred to the Environmental Protection Agency’s refrigerant sales restriction. Those of you who are already 608 or 609 registered may not have even noticed these changes but those who are not certified most certainly have. On January 1st, 2018 the refrigerant sales restriction laws changed dramatically.
In the past, these sales restrictions specifically targeted Chlorine containing refrigerants such as CFCs and HCFCs. Some of the most common of these refrigerants are your R-12, R-11, R-502, and R-22. If you were to try and buy these refrigerants you would have to provide your 608 or 609 license number. This was done to prevent any further damage to the Ozone layer. The thinking here was that by preventing laymen from acquiring the refrigerant there would be less chance of refrigerant being vented into the atmosphere. (If you didn’t know what you were doing then there is a high chance you may accidentally vent refrigerant.)
Now, along with restricting sales on refrigerants containing Chlorine the new limit went after high Global Warming Potential refrigerants such as R-134a, R-404A, and R-410A as well. Yes, that’s right folks. As of January 1st of this year, you are no longer able to purchase these types of refrigerants without first providing a license number or providing an intent to resale document to the vendor. These refrigerants are the most common refrigerants used today and can be found in nearly every vehicle, home, or office. This is a big change.
This change has caused a lot of headaches across the industry especially to those do-it-yourselfers out there. A lot of the time these guys would purchase a thirty-pound cylinder and have it in storage just in case they needed it down the road. Now, they have to be certified or they have to call a professional technician to come out and repair their machine instead of doing it themselves. This can be very frustrating especially if you KNOW exactly what the problem is.
The good news here is that there is an exception for automobile applications. R-134a and 1234yf can still be bought by non-certified individuals as long as they are purchasing ONLY cans of refrigerants no bigger than two pounds. So, while this gives some relief to some of the at-home mechanics it doesn’t resolve everything.
608 Versus 609 Certification
So, now the question is if you still want to purchase refrigerant how do you get certified? What steps do you need to take? Well, folks, as I mentioned above there are two main types of certification: 608 and 609.
Let’s start with simpler one out of the two. I can tell you right now that 609 certification is much much easier to obtain than a 608 certification. The 609 program applies to whenever you are working on an automotive air conditioner application. This could be a do-it-yourselfer working to repair his daily driver’s air conditioner, or it could be a certified diesel mechanic repairing replacing compressors on a Kenworth T2000. It is important to note that you 609 certification is only required when purchasing refrigerant greater than two pounds. So, if you were not 609 certified you could still buy one or two-pound cans of R-134a and be fine. The restriction comes into play when trying to purchase a ten or thirty-pound cylinder.
In today’s world, 609 cert applies to two main refrigerants: R-134a and HFO-1234yf. 134a is the most popular but 1234yf is starting to gain traction in recent years. As time passes us by we will be seeing more and more 1234yf in the marketplace and less and less of 134a. (R-134a is being phased out due to its high Global Warming Potential.)
The last point on 609 is that it is ONLY meant for automotive appliances. You are not authorized to work on home air conditioners, chillers, or anything else like that. Say for example you had an ice cream truck that you needed to do a repair on. If the air conditioner inside the cab wasn’t working then you would be authorized and you could purchase R-134a. However, if the refrigerated cargo wasn’t working then you would need a 608 certification to handle the R-404A refrigerant.
609 certification can be acquired through online classes. One site that offers this service can be found by clicking here. You can also acquire this certification through local colleges or trade schools.
608 certification is a whole different animal. People who are 608 certified are your HVAC technicians, contractors, and overall repairmen. They focus on home and commercial air conditioners, supermarket freezers, and even large industrial cooling applications. If you plan to be working on anything other than vehicles then you will need your 608 certifications. The 608 actually is divided into four separate parts and depending on what you want to do your certification need will vary. Some users just opt for the universal license right away to save time and prevent future hassle.
- Core Test – The core test is necessary for all technicians to take rather you are going for sections 1, 2, or 3.
- Type 1 608 Certification – This covers small appliances that are manufactured, charged, and hermetically sealed with five pounds or less of refrigerants.
- Type 2 608 Certification – This covers high pressure and very high-pressure appliances. Some example high-pressure refrigerants are as follows: R-12, R-22, R-114, R-500, and R-502.
- Type 3 608 Certification – This covers low-pressure appliances with some example refrigerants being R-11, R-113, and R-123.
- Universal Certification – Just as it sounds a universal certification can be obtained by passing certification for all types 1, 2, and 3.
Acquiring 608 certification is a bit more difficult than 609. There aren’t online courses available. Instead, you will either need to be trained and certified by your employer or go through a trades school or local college in order to become certified.
For more information on the EPA’s refrigerant sales restriction please click this link to be taken to the official EPA’s website. Here you can read into all of the regulations, exceptions, and any other questions that you may have.
I hope this article was helpful and was able to provide you with the necessary information.
About the Author
This post was a guest article by Alec Johnson at RefrigerantHQ.com. For more information on anything and everything to do with refrigerants and air conditioning please check out RefrigerantHQ.