Refrigerant Recovery Machines Information

Refrigerant recovery machines are used to remove refrigerants from cooling equipment according to EPA standards. Technicians use these devices before repairing or performing maintenance on air conditioners, freezers or refrigerators. The refrigerant is recovered into a tank for subsequent recycling or reuse. 


In order to minimize the leaking of a refrigerant into the atmosphere, it is important to choose the right size of refrigerant recovery machine. The proper sized machine will also ensure the fastest possible recovery process. They can be divided into three categories based on suitability: small appliance size, residential size, and commercial size.

  • Small appliance-size refrigerant recovery machines will successfully and effectively handle small air conditioning appliances, such as ones found in automobiles, RVs, then portable air conditioning units in homes, also mini split systems, window air conditioners, and through-the-wall air conditioners. Typically, the small HVAC appliances refrigerant recovery models are powered at about 0.1-0.2 hp.
  • Residential-size refrigerant recovery machines are typically used to recover or recharge the central air conditioning units that serve the entire single family residences. Such recovery models usually require about 0.5 hp.
  • Commercial-size refrigerant recovery machines are suitable for large systems. These include large commercial air conditioning systems, or HVAC systems, which can range anywhere from air conditioning units powering retail shops, stores, or restaurants all the way to central air conditioning units powering large multi-home condo units, and high-rises.

Selection Considerations

To avoid fines for the improper removal of refrigerants, buyers in the United States should select refrigerant recovery machines that comply with standards from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Some refrigerant recovery machines recover refrigerants as liquids while others recover vapor. For example, propane can be recovered either as a gas or as liquid propane (LP). Because it does not require pressurization, liquid recovery is faster than vapor recovery. A refrigerant recovery machine pump can either use oil or be oil-less, which is a key maintenance consideration. Generally, higher end systems recover liquids and feature oil-less pumps.

The type of refrigerants that a system can recover is also an important consideration. Although some units can remove both high-pressure and medium-pressure refrigerants, others cannot. For example, some refrigerant recovery machines may not be designed to remove R410A, a higher-pressure refrigerant.

Automotive technicians have specific application needs and may need to select products designated as R134A recovery machines. A/C repair technicians and commercial refrigeration specialists may also have specific requirements.

Components, Accessories, and Portability

Refrigerant recovery machines are equipped with input and output valve gauges, a cooling fan, a pump and compressor, analog gauges, and a pressure cutoff switch. Medium-pressure and/or high-pressure hoses and shut-off valves are key accessories.

Larger refrigerant recovery machines are designed for use with an external recovery tank. Smaller units are often portable and may have a handle. Portable systems that are designed to sit atop a cart are also available.  Some systems have a purge option.


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