The refrigeration engineer and refrigeration technician work with a variety of refrigerant equipment and gases to perform tasks. Refrigerant equipment is sometimes called Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) equipment. The equipment used is grouped into two main categories: refrigerant charging equipment and refrigerant recovery equipment.
Refrigerant charging equipment is used to charge a new refrigeration system or recharge an old system that has lost its ability to provide proper cooling function. This refrigerant equipment is usually very basic, consisting of a gauge, a valve, and a hose with a connector that fits onto the input port of the refrigeration system. The gauge set is attached to a tank that holds the refrigerant and the valve is opened to charge the system.
In addition to the gauge set, refrigeration technicians also use a variety of tools to help diagnose and repair refrigeration systems. Thermometers are used to track the air temperatures coming from the refrigeration units and diagnose problems with the system. Leak detection equipment and dye reveal areas of the system where the refrigerant gases may be escaping. The vacuum pump is a tool used in refrigeration unit service to remove air or moisture from a system prior to service to avoid damage to the system. A refrigerant identifier may also be used to determine exactly what type of refrigerant gas has been used in a machine of unknown origin.
Refrigerant recovery equipment is used to reclaim refrigerant gases prior to taking a system out of use, working on a refrigeration system, or recharging a system. This type of refrigerant equipment is designated for a particular type of refrigerant gas; mixing gases can be dangerous, so they must be kept separate. This type of refrigerant equipment is commonly seen in automotive repair shops where it is used to clear automotive air conditioning systems of a refrigerant charge before servicing the unit.
Since some refrigerant gases are extremely dangerous, both to the operator of the equipment and the environment, the use of refrigerant equipment and some gases is closely monitored. These gases can cause frostbite on contact with the skin and some turn into deadly poisons in the presence of open flame. Different types of refrigerant gases should not be used in the same system and most gases must be reclaimed from a system using refrigerant recovery equipment before it is taken out of service or destroyed.