Commercial refrigeration

Commercial refrigeration uses gas – the benefits of R290

If you operate a business that has commercial refrigeration units, chances are you might not even have considered the refrigerant gas used in the system. Energy efficiency, environmental factors and safety are the key considerations.

But do you know your R290 from your R134?

If you have older refrigeration equipment, it is likely to be charged with HFC gases. R404 (freezers) and R134 (refrigerators) are two common examples. Both have high Global Warming Potential (GWP). Over the coming years, these two gases will continue to be phased down and phased out. Once we reach the point where they’re not readily available on the market, the cost of charging refrigerators and freezers will rise markedly.

Such HFC gases are already more expensive than alternatives such as R290 in the global marketplace. R290 is increasingly available and being adopted in the commercial refrigeration industry. It has advantages over R404 and R134:

    • It has a GWP of 3 compared with 3922 for R404. The EU and the UK prohibited the manufacture of new refrigeration and air cooling equipment with a GWP > 2,500 from 1 January 2020.
    • R290 has a 40% reduction in refrigerant charge compared with R404, which makes it cheaper to run in the long run.

R290 also has excellent thermodynamic properties leading to higher energy efficiency. Its capacity to absorb heat is 90% higher than R404 and R134, which results in quicker temperature recovery and lower energy consumption.

What R290 means for businesses with commercial refrigerators

It is possible to convert existing R404 and R134 systems to use R290. Such a process does not require drastic changes to the design of the equipment. Obviously, there is a cost implication, so a whole life-cycle approach should be taken to determine whether this will be worthwhile. For an older piece of equipment nearing the end of its life, it may be more prudent to replace the unit entirely.

For those businesses already considering investing in new refrigeration equipment, then the capability to charge with R290 makes sound economic sense. Efficient installation and servicing of refrigerated storage and display units remain one of the most effective ways to reduce operating costs.


Brooktech offers a range of servicing options for commercial refrigeration systems. Contact us today to find out more.

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