AHRI publishes new refrigerant colour guideline

USA – The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) today released a statement announcing significant changes to refrigerant paint colour designations in the revised version of AHRI Guideline N, Assignment of Refrigerant Container Colours. The latest revisions now specify that all refrigerant containers should have one uniform paint colour, which the institute has decreed must be a light-green grey (RAL 7044), and that existing individually assigned container paint colours should make the transition to this new uniform colour by 2020.


The AHRI Guideline N had previously stipulated that specific paint colours ought to be used for refrigerant containers as an additional means of refrigerant identification. However, due to the increasing number of refrigerants approved for use, concerns were raised over the potential misidentification of similarly coloured containers. These concerns were vindicated with more than half of respondents to an AHRI survey of refrigerant handlers disclosing that container colours had caused confusion. The AHRI consequently believed that this confusion was likely to increase as new refrigerants continue to be added to the market.


Maureen Beatty, the chair of the AHRI committee which oversaw the revision of the colour guidelines, outlined the dangers that could be caused by misidentification, saying “Misidentifying refrigerants can lead to serious safety issues since refrigerants have different operating pressures and, in some cases, flammable properties.”  Beatty continued, outlining further drawbacks linked to misidentification of refrigerants, stating “It can also cause equipment damage if refrigerants are used in the wrong applications. Therefore, we decided the best course of action for the industry was to update the guideline to ensure that refrigerants continue to be used correctly and safely based on the required product markings and labels.”


All hazardous material containers, including refrigerant cylinders and drums, must be properly and correctly labelled in order to clearly identify the contents, as laid out under the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 49 for hazmat transportation regulations and CFR Title 29 for occupational safety and health regulations. These laws require that container labels and markings must always be used as the primary means to identify the type of refrigerant in a container. While AHRI guidelines serve as recommendations for industry and are not, as yet, legal requirements, most industry members do however use Guideline N, and the AHRI was keen to remind all refrigerant users that they should be aware that the label will now serve as the primary means of positively identifying the type of refrigerant in a cylinder or drum.


The AHRI review did, however, reveal that they would continue to assign individual PMS ink colours for printed materials only, including the product label on containers and container cartons. The existing guideline already contains a requirement that all flammable refrigerants include a red band on top of the container.


All AHRI standards and guidelines, including Guideline N, are free to download from the AHRI website