Tools Talk

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Published: 05 October 2015


Engineers, Is it time for a manifold upgrade?

​Things are slowing down slightly and the planned maintenance is now taking up the time of many engineers up and down the country.

Leaving fridges and cellar coolers on defrost is common place, so what to do with all this spare time on your hands. Obviously the café is the best idea but a good van clean out and tools check over can be very beneficial!
​Manifolds are the most common used item on an engineer’s kit and let’s be honest we want these to be in top condition due to the pressures they have to deal with. Any manifold which is looking a bit aged and has seen a good life and fell off the top of a fridge a few times should really be upgraded.

Will my current manifold suit R32?  No

We will see a new range of manifolds available in 2016 to keep up with the ever increasing refrigerant ranges. One of the biggest on everyone’s lips will be is what changes will be happening to manifolds when the mildly flammable R32 gas is common place.

For the REFCO range from JAVAC our manifolds will see changes to the scales to suit R32 and R410a. All manifolds will be dual scale with R32 and R410a on the HP and LP gauges. The body of the manifold itself will be available with and without a sight glass and as always we will have this available in two valve and 4 valve in a case with hoses.

All R32 A/C equipment will have fittings of 5/16th male flare. This is the current standard for R410a systems. This been the case means that all R32 manifolds will have hoses with 5/16th connections on one end which will fit all systems for R32 and R410a. The 3 hoses will consist of a Blue Red and Yellow hose.

The yellow hose will also remain the same and have ¼ x ¼ connections to fit bottles, vacuum pumps and recovery units.

Can I use my R32/R410a manifold to nitrogen pressure test?  No

​You wouldn't believe how often we hear excuses from engineers about why they used a standard refrigerant manifold to nitrogen pressure test. We have written numerous articles on the reasons why standard refrigerant manifolds should not be used for pressure testing.

The main reason is that sight glasses can rupture under excessive nitrogen pressure.

The reason they can rupture is that manifolds have rubber seals, rubber seals need to be lubricated to work efficiently. Nitrogen blasted through a manifold will dry these seals out, dry seals will then split, crack and move thus exposing the valves and sight glasses to 40+ bar of nitrogen! Not good!

Use the right pressure testing manifold

PVR Manifold Javac - ACR Journal
There are now manifolds available which are specifically designed for nitrogen pressure testing.

The JAVAC PVR is specifically designed for this as it uses Teflon style piston valves and also does not incorporate a sight glass. The PVR also comes with stainless steel braided hoses rated to 250bar with adaptors for R410a systems. This also eliminates the chances of over pressuring the manifold to almost zero.

​Will digital manifolds incorporate the new gases?  Yes

Some Digital manifolds for 2016 will now incorporate the new flammable refrigerants this includes R32, R600, R290, R1234YF, R1234ZE plus other non-flammable new refrigerants.

Basically, if the refrigerant is on the manifold database then the manifold and its hoses are completely safe to use. Subcritical CO2 is also now a standard refrigerant on digital manifolds.

​Please be aware that Transcritical will not be featured on any digital manifolds unless otherwise stated. This is due to the operating pressures in excess of 100 bar.

What hoses can I use for the new mildly flammable refrigerants?

Manifold hoses Javac - ACR Journal
Refco manifolds for the new mildly flammable refrigerants including R32 will be supplied with standard refrigeration hoses, the only difference been that the hoses will have 5/16th connections on one end.

Hoses are now also designed to fit into tight areas when the hose has a ball valve fitted. These hoses are standard hoses 36”, 60” or 72” long. On one end there will be a ball valve, this ball valve will however be located 6” back from the end of the hose connections.

This offers the user better access into valves on A/C systems where space is an issue. Hoses with standard ball valves directly on the end of the hose can sometimes be tight when connecting to the valve. Where possible I would also use ball valves as extra safety from refrigerant burn on hands even though apparently every engineer wears Gloves!!!!!

For any technical questions regarding manifolds and the new gases which they are compatible with, please contact Scott Davies: scott@javac.co.uk