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Propane as a test refirgerant

Turbofiat on Sun July 03, 2011 8:01 AM User is offline

I know you can use propane as a refrigerant. I think Europe is using now propane in refrigerators (R600a or something). Question is, is it compatible with both types of oils?

At my first attempt to get my A/C going, all my refrigerant leaked out and something was wrong with the compressor. It would be nice to just to see the system worked before pumping it up with R134a.

JJM on Sun July 03, 2011 2:24 PM User is offline

We do not support the use of alternative refrigerants. R-600 is butane, R-290 is propane. Both are compatible with mineral oil. Though these refrigerants are not approved for MVAC, they certainly should not be used to test a system that's leaking. Better of using R-409A for testing, which is also compatible with mineral oil.


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mk378 on Sun July 03, 2011 4:06 PM User is offline

Straight propane doesn't have proper pressure characteristics to use in a R-12 or R-134a system. The hydrocarbon refrigerants being sold are blends of propane and butane. By that point you might as well use the proper refrigerant instead. Use a small amount of R-134a to test for leaks. It is legal to vent that out after testing as it was used as a leak test agent, not refrigerant.

runderwo on Mon July 04, 2011 12:05 PM User is offline

Use an inert dry gas, you can get a tank of nitrogen or "bone dry" CO2 at a welding shop and pressurize it to 100psi or more to find the leak. Pressurize both low and high sides and see if one side drops faster than the other to give you a clue. You can use soapy water on hoses and joints, an ultrasonic leak detector or if the leak is big enough, you might just be able to hear it through a leftover paper towel tube. Also, sometimes you can find a leak better under vacuum (negative pressure) instead of positive pressure so try both ways.

Edited: Mon July 04, 2011 at 12:06 PM by runderwo

Turbofiat on Tue July 12, 2011 10:46 AM User is offline

Well what I was more concerned about was testing the compressor, expansion valve, thermostat, etc . Yeah you could use dry compressed air and soapy water to test for leaks but that wouldn't work on testing components.

I used a used compressor on my custom system and swapped heads. Afterwards I had 70# on the low side and all my refrigerant leaked out in 30 minutes because the head didn't seal properly.

I believe if I had not tried to swap heads, the compressor would have worked just fine.

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