In 1971, singer/songwriter David Bowie penned the anthem, “Changes” to address his personal and artistic reinvention. It became one of his most beloved songs. The lyrics also became a mantra for young people about the importance of facing changes, which can be strange, overwhelming, and yet sometimes gateways to opportunities.

From my perspective, this idea applies to our industry. After all, the HVAC universe is in a constant state of evolution and change. Contractors face an onslaught of challenges from government regulations, technological advancements, and marketplace conditions.

Why Refrigerant Training?

One huge change today is the introduction of A2L refrigerant-based residential and light commercial equipment into the mix of products that contractors sell and service. This category of slightly flammable refrigerants is already being produced and sold throughout the U.S. Yes, it does require a somewhat different tool- and skill-set to install and service equipment using it.

Add to the fact there are different types of A2L refrigerants being used right now. They include R-32 (the refrigerant of choice for Daikin air conditioning products) and R-454B (the choice for Johnson Controls, Carrier Corp., and Trane, Inc.). Copeland Corp. is manufacturing compressors that will operate with either R-32 or R-454B.

That means HVAC contractors need training to successfully handle these products.

By providing training, Distributors play a key role in helping HVAC contractors deal with the refrigerant changes of today and tomorrow.

Confusing? It sure can be. And that is where HVAC Industry distributors can really help. They can step up and help their customers come to grips with these changes. How? By training them in the proper ways to install and service equipment that use these refrigerants.

A2Ls: Knowledge is Power

Distributors can help contractors understand the differences between A2Ls and R-410A refrigerants. They can teach what light flammability means. They can also teach techniques for handling, storing, and transporting it, and provide tips to help technicians keep themselves and their customers safe.

For some background about servicing R-32-based equipment, read Contractor Roman Baugh’s procedural basics in the article, A2L Refrigerants: Contractor Knowledge is Power.

But wait, there’s more. Even though we are still at the beginning of replacing current refrigerants with A2Ls, it won’t be long before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other government entities begin pushing to replace them with A2 and A3 flammable refrigerants. This move will completely change the landscape of how the HVAC Industry works.

Once again, distributors play a key role with preparing contractors to deal with those regulations by developing training on how to work with A2 and A3 refrigerants as well.

Changing Together, As a Village

No one in this industry should face these changes alone. As the adage says, it takes a village. This industry — from manufacturers to distributors to contractors — is one of the most flexible and adoptive villages there is.

From mildly flammable to flammable refrigerants, it’s “time to face the strange,” as Bowie writes. And I believe HVAC distributors are essential in helping their HVAC contractor customers to not only best deal with these changes, but also open the door to new opportunities.