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R134a price up over 500%

Posted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 12:51 pm
by mistercool
Hi guys,

I've run an automotive A/C business in the UK for several years.

In 2016 I was buying a 12kg bottle of R134a for £60. Last year it varied from £72 to £96.

I called around for quotes recently and it looks like a bottle will be £331 this year which is a massive price hike in the space of a few months.

I think a lot of garages who do "regassing" are in for a shock this year when they need to restock with gas. Luckily I make most of my money doing repairs, predominantly condenser replacements so an extra £12 to £23 for the cost of gas won't hurt me too much. I will have to review what I charge for regassing though - for example a local garage uses me to diagnose leaks and regas after they have fixed the leak.

Why is the price shooting up so rapidly though? I've heard there is a lack of raw materials and the product being taxed heavily to discourage it being used or possibly being used instead of 1234yf as that is even more expensive.

I'm hoping this will kill off the "cowboys" in the industry who keep refilling leaky systems and actually bring me more custom. Not sure what everyone else thinks?

Re: R134a price up over 500%

Posted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:53 pm
by bohica2xo
Looks like the usual Euro-Gouge on auto parts - part regulation, part taxation... The eco-mafia at work.

Around here I can buy 30lb cylinders for under 200 USD - sometimes as low as 125 USD.

What is driving the price increases in refrigerants goes all the way back to the mineral Fluorspar. Considered a "Critical Raw Material" in the EU, it is the source of the Hydrogen Fluoride to make refrigerants - the "HF" in the name.

The west got lazy, and we let China handle digging it out of the ground - and making the somewhat nasty precursor HF. The chinese have a shortage of HF available right now. The UK quit digging it up as well, but decided in 2017 that they should begin mining again:
http://imformed.com/british-fluorspar-in-uk-mining-revival/

It will take some time to fix the shortage - digging up rocks is the beginning, and the cost to dig up the rocks is higher in Utah than Zhongshan - so the price increase will stay, and then some. I am betting on $225 USD for 30lbs by summer.

So yes, refrigerant is up - 30% or so. Your pricing reflects the government manipulation by tarriff & tax - they want the old 134a systems gone.

Re: R134a price up over 500%

Posted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:05 am
by Tim
This will bring out the alternative refrigerant craze! I wonder when they make these adjustments, taxes or production. If they ever have an idea on what the end user deals with from their actions.

Re: R134a price up over 500%

Posted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 2:42 pm
by bohica2xo
Yeah, Tim the "Hank Hill" refrigerant specialists will be out for a quick buck - but they do that every summer...

Of course the 1234YF is mostly Hank Hill product anyway.

Re: R134a price up over 500%

Posted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 7:05 am
by mistercool
One of my trade contacts just called me (a local motor factor here in the UK). They are offering a 12kg bottle for £288 Sterling ($401 USD) as it is about to go up by 40% - so that would be £403 ($561 USD)

This is getting ridiculous, the price increases are punitive. Last autumn I bought the same bottle for £72 ($100) and the most I paid was £96 ($134)

I am holding off buying any as I have a couple of bottles left from last year and it isn't air con season in this country yet so no demand but that will change in a few weeks as it gets warmer then I will have a decision to make.

Re: R134a price up over 500%

Posted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 11:16 am
by HECAT
There is no shortage of R134a. It has to do with the HFC Quota Allocations.

See page 14

http://www.refritec.be/sites/refritec.b ... ndbook.pdf

Re: R134a price up over 500%

Posted: Thu Feb 22, 2018 8:20 am
by bohica2xo
mistercool wrote:
This is getting ridiculous, the price increases are punitive.


Well of course they are, that is the whole point. As Hecat just documented above, they want to run 134a out of existence.

There is no shortage of 134a - simply a shortage of the cheap HF feedstock. Prices have gone up a little due to that, ans the usual seasonal bump.

Our price increases are supply side economics, yours are simply punishment delivered on behalf of the eco-mafia by a complicit government.

Re: R134a price up over 500%

Posted: Thu Feb 22, 2018 6:22 pm
by Dougflas
The EPA was planning to abolish r134a. A recent court ruling has decided to stop this from happening. Same thing for r410, R404. Thank you President Trump.

Re: R134a price up over 500%

Posted: Fri Feb 23, 2018 2:49 pm
by mistercool
As Hecat just documented above, they want to run 134a out of existence.


They can't run it out of existence when it is still so commonplace though. There are plenty of vehicles which are only a few years old using it and what are we supposed to use when the condenser fails and needs replacing?

It feels like they are trying to run me out of business!

I do a lot of condenser replacements on Porsches - the 911, Boxsters, Caymans etc - these tend to fail at about 10 years old so I see a lot of 2006 - 2008 vehicles and will be most likely be seeing models from 2012 using R134a in 4 years time. The cars are still reasonably valuable and the owners will pay to get the AC working whereas some everyday cars which are 10 or 12 years old it can be uneconomically viable or the owners won't pay to get the condenser changed.

I am going to change my pricing so I charge a fixed fee plus the cost of the gas used. The cost of the gas used to be negligible but not any more.

Re: R134a price up over 500%

Posted: Fri Feb 23, 2018 4:46 pm
by Cusser
R134a is still $4.88 per 12 ounce can at U.S. WalMart stores. No additives.
https://www.walmart.com/ip/Super-Tech-R ... 3=&veh=sem