On May 4, Tecumseh Products Company announced it was proceeding with the manufacture of hydrocarbon refrigerant-based compressors.

In this ContractingBusiness.com exclusive, Keith Gifford, director of global marketing at Tecumseh Products Company, provides the rationale behind this decision.

Tecumseh has been a global leader in compressor and condensing unit technology throughout its 77-year history. We believe with that comes a responsibility to help prepare the industry and its marketplaces for inevitable changes. One important element of our leadership is evaluating new environmentally-friendly refrigerants that help in reducing global warming. Because the compressor is a critical component of all refrigeration systems, our customers and extended customers rely on us to determine the trade-offs of refrigerants and lubricants with respect to compressor efficiency and reliability and ultimately, the impact on system performance and applied costs.

Tecumseh was at the forefront of the changeover to R134a many years ago. Although various refrigerant and lubricant options were available, Tecumseh’s research and evaluation provided the impetus to develop compressors that were optimized for use with R134a. Tecumseh’s signatory on The Natural Voice movement embraces the leadership responsibility.

We’ve been developing and marketing compressors and condensing units that utilize hydrocarbon refrigerants for more than a decade. Tecumseh has a large European presence, where R600a (isobutane) is being used in the majority of household refrigerators and R290 (propane) is being increasingly applied to commercial refrigeration applications such as beverage coolers, reach-in refrigerator and freezers and, self-contained display cases.

Tecumseh is actively working with U.S.-based commercial refrigeration equipment manufacturers in applying newly developed compressors that are optimized for use with hydrocarbon refrigerants. This activity is in anticipation of SNAP approval by the U.S. EPA. In fact, some of these fractional horsepower systems, such as beverage coolers, are currently in the field test phase.

Tecumseh believes that the movement within North America to hydrocarbon refrigerants will be a gradual transition. As a result, the transition won’t have an immediate impact on the vast majority of refrigeration contractors and service technicians. However, the transition is inevitable and the industry needs to be adequately prepared. Tecumseh is committed to helping educate and train refrigeration design engineers and technicians on the proper use, application and servicing of hydrocarbon compressors and condensing units.