AHRI’s New Guideline Displaces Color Designations for Refrigerant Containers


Some important changes to refrigerant paint color designations in the updated version of the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigerant Institute (AHRI)’s Guideline N, Assignment of Refrigerant Container Colors have been announced by AHRI. The amendments now designate that all refrigerant containers should have a uniform paint color, a light green-gray (RAL 7044), and also, current individually assigned container paint color should be changed to that color by 2020.

AHRI Guideline N once required that certain paint colors be used for refrigerant containers as an added means to identify refrigerants. However, because of the increasing number of refrigerants approved for use, a concern over the possibility of misidentification of same colored containers arose. More than half of the respondents to an AHRI survey regarding refrigerant handlers said that container colors had caused confusion. This confusion would probably increase as new refrigerants are added to the market.

Maureen Beatty, the Chair of the AHRI committee that supervised the revision said, “Misidentifying refrigerants can lead to serious safety issues since refrigerants have different operating pressures and, in some cases, flammable properties. It can also cause equipment damage if refrigerants are used in the wrong applications. Therefore, we decided the best course of action for the industry was to update the guideline to ensure that refrigerants continue to be used correctly and safely based on the required product markings and labels.”

The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 49 for hazmat transportation regulations and CFR Title 29 for occupational safety and health regulations demand that all hazardous material containers, which include refrigerant cylinders and drums, must be correctly labeled to properly determine the contents. The container labels and markings must always be used as the main method to identify the kind of refrigerant in a container. The majority of the industry members use Guideline N even though AHRI guidelines serve as suggestions for the industry and are not required by law. All refrigerant users should also know that the label will now act as the main way of positively determining the kind of refrigerant in a drum or cylinder.

AHRI mentioned that it will continue to designate individual PMS ink colors only for printed materials. It includes the product label on container cartons and containers. Presently, the guideline demands that all flammable refrigerants include a red band on top of the container. As with all AHRI guidelines and standards, Guideline N can be downloaded from AHRI’s website.

AHRI is the trade association that represents manufacturers of HVACR and water heating equipment globally. It is also regarded as a resource for industry shipment data, workforce information and education, and research.