3.3 Identifying Refrigerants

Identifying Refrigerants

There are various methods available to identify refrigerants.

In this chapter, refrigerants will be identified by their nomenclature, classification and type.

Later, we will discuss how to properly identify refrigerants located in equipment and containers.


Since the early 1970s, when it was first discovered that refrigerants were the root cause of ozone destruction, the chemical make-up of refrigerants has been gaining increased importance.

As a result, the nomenclature, or numbering and lettering system used to identify refrigerants, has changed.

This change has resulted in the letter “R” in front of the numerical designation of halocarbon refrigerants being replaced with the more descriptive letters:

  • CFC for chlorofluorocarbon
  • HCFC for hydrochlorofluorocarbons
  • HFC for hydrofluorocarbons
  • HFO for Hydrofluro-olefin (R-1234yf) 11 day AL/ GWP 4

The numerical designation identifies the classification of the refrigerant.

(R-1234yf) is a compound – 1,1,1,2 tetrafluropropene or CF3CF=CH2

HFO stands for Hydrofluoro-olefin which indicates that the molecule contains Hydrogen, Fluorine and Carbon and an unsaturated double bond between 2 of the carbons.