What is a Refrigerant Tank?

B. Turner

A refrigerant tank is any vessel used to store or transport gaseous or liquid refrigerant. These tanks can be found in a wide variety of applications, including air conditioning service and installation, food storage, ice skating facilities, and even in automobiles. Some hold freon, while others contain any number of other refrigerant products. Each refrigerant tank must be carefully chosen to match the material inside, and also to protect the refrigerant from leaks, damage, or fire.

Ice skating facilities are one example of where refrigerant tanks can be found.
Ice skating facilities are one example of where refrigerant tanks can be found.

HVAC and refrigeration professionals use these tanks as they add or remove refrigerant from a cooling system. They may simply transfer the material from the tank to an air conditioning unit, or hook the tank up to the unit and leave it in place to operate with the system. A built-in gauge lets installers know how much refrigerant remains in the tank. Some applications also require the installer to hook a special gauge called a manifold up to the tank to measure pressure within the tank or the refrigeration system itself.

Refrigerant tank manufacturers often produce many types of tanks, each designed to hold only one type of refrigerant. The tank may feature a special shape or color that helps users identify the material inside. Many government and safety agencies set very specific requirements for labeling a refrigerant tank in order to minimize the risk of injury. While labeling requirements differ among countries, the color of these tanks is often fairly consistent in many parts of the world.

Most governments and other organizations also institute strict storage and handling guidelines for refrigerant tanks. The refrigerant within these tanks often poses risks to health or the environment, and some varieties may be flammable. Most require the tanks to be stored far from heat or fire sources, and specify a safe range of temperatures that the tanks can be kept in. Refrigerant tank safety rules may also include procedures aimed at tamper prevention or transporting these tanks safely in a vehicle.

These tanks are often used to remove dangerous refrigerants from the system and replace them with safer alternatives. Many traditional refrigerants have been phased out by governing bodies due to the damage they cause to the earth's ozone layer. Refrigerant tanks allow service personnel to collect the old material and take it to local recycling or processing centers. A separate tank is then used to recharge the system with new refrigerant that poses less danger to the environment.

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