Best Refrigerant Recovery Machines

They say that time is money, and the right recovery machine can help you gain more of both! Recovering refrigerant is a fundamental step of many HVAC repairs. A technician’s recovery machine is the key factor in how quickly and effectively this step can be accomplished. Below we will discuss what recovery machines are and look at which one might be right for you.

Quick Take: Top 3 Refrigerant Recovery Pumps

Here are the 3 best refrigerant recovery pumps:

  1. INFICON 714-202-G1 Vortex Dual Refrigerant Recovery Machine
  2. Bacharach Stinger 2006-3801
  3. Appion G5 Twin Cylinder Recovery Unit

Keep reading the article for a more in depth look at these scopes as well as our review on them.

What Do Refrigerant Recovery Machines Do?

Recovery machines are used to remove refrigerant from HVAC systems prior to maintenance or repair. They work by using an electric pump to create a vacuum. The removed refrigerant is usually pulled through a filtration system on its way out of the system. It then passes into an approved storage tank.

Recovery machines became a necessary tool of the HVAC technician after the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty signed by almost every country in the world, was enforced by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This protocol’s goal is to eliminate the use of ozone-depleting substances worldwide.

Previous methods of venting refrigerants into the air were banned. These bans carry with them the threat of massive fines. Depending on the nature of the repair, the refrigerant may be reused, but “may only be returned to the equipment from which it was removed or used in another device owned by the same person,” according to EPA regulations.

What to look for when buying a recovery machine

Here are some of the most important factors to look for in a refrigerant recovery machine.

Portability

If you do HVAC work for a living you know the importance of taking everything you need to the job. There is nothing worse than getting in an attic or under a house and realizing you need a tool out of the truck. At the same time, experienced HVAC technicians will often take only exactly what they need into hard to reach places. Lugging around a bunch of unnecessary equipment is just no fun!

While you likely won’t be taking recovery machines in the attic or under the house, you may find yourself carrying them up ladders to get on the roof. Or maybe you’ll be climbing over fencing, bushes, and other interesting obstacles homeowners use to hide their air conditioning units. Every technician should consider their typical work environment and factor that into their recovery machine selection. It’s worth thinking about before you’re on your way down an extension ladder with one of these things!

Twin-cylinder Vs. Single Cylinder

As you might have gathered from the title, twin cylinders are more powerful than single cylinders and will ultimately save you time. The real question at hand is your budget, as twin cylinder recovery machines are typically more expensive. Whether you decide to go with the faster, but more expensive, twin cylinder or the more economical single cylinder, make sure you compare the recovery times of the models in your price range.

Take All Factors Into Consideration

Price is usually a big factor in determining the options you’ll be choosing from. At that point you may have to make decisions to give up portability for speed in your price range, or vice versa. If you do find a couple of perfect combinations in terms of price, speed and portability, but can’t decide between the two, don’t forget to compare warranties and check customer reviews online for reliability and ease of use. If you go the used route, make sure you do your research, as older machines may not be oil-less and do not perform as well as modern recovery machines.

Quick Comparison Chart of the Best Refrigerant Recovery Machines

Product

Our Rating

Price

Robinair RG3 Portable Refrigerant Recovery Machine

Robinair RG3

Appion G5 Twin Cylinder Recovery Unit

Appion G5TWIN Twin Cylinder Recovery Unit

INFICON 714-202-G1 Vortex Dual Refrigerant Recovery Machine

Inficon 714-202-G1

Yellow Jacket 95760

Yellow Jacket 95760

Bacharach Stinger 2006-3801

Bacharach Stinger

Reviews of Five Great Refrigerant Recovery Machines

The recovery machines reviewed will be listed from top to bottom based on estimated price and then a short summary of each model will be given based on manufacturer specifications and unique features.

Robinair RG3 Portable Refrigerant Recovery Machine

Robinair RG3

The Robinair RG3 comes in as the most affordable model of the five we reviewed. It has a compact design and is lightweight, but sacrifices some performance for its convenient size.

This unit would be ideal to have in the truck to handle rooftop units or any scenario where a lightweight recovery machine is more suitable. It might also be attractive for technicians on a budget looking for a very affordable recovery machine to primarily use on residential units. Some of the specifications and key features of the Robinair RG3 are:

  • Only 18 pounds!
  • Single Cylinder
  • R-22 Vapor Recovery Rate of 0.20 lb/min
  • R-22 Liquid Recovery Rate of 6.32 lb/min
  • R-410A Vapor Recovery Rate of 0.17 lb/min
  • R-410A Liquid Recovery Rate of 3.54 lb/min
Appion G5TWIN Twin Cylinder Recovery Unit

The Appion G5 is slightly more affordable than the next three recovery machines reviewed but comes in at the top in recovery times. The twin-cylinder feature of the machine makes it a great bargain for the price.

It’s also right in the middle of the five reviewed machines for portability with the third lightest weight. Some of its specifications and key features are:

  • 26 pounds
  • Dual Cylinder
  • R-22 Vapor Recovery Rate of 0.62 lb/min
  • R-22 Liquid Recovery Rate of 10.36 lb/min
  • R-410A Vapor Recovery Rate of 0.55 lb/min
  • R-410A Liquid Recovery Rate of 17.20 lb/min
Inficon 714-202-G1

The INFICON recovery machine has the second-best recovery times of the five machines reviewed. This machine is a nice combination of performance and price but is the heaviest machine we reviewed.  It’s very dependable and always gets the job done in a timely matter. This model is one we had previous experience with. It continued to work great after some serious wear and tear and several years of service.

Some of the specifications and key features of the INFICON 714-202-G1 are:

  • 29.75 pounds
  • Dual Cylinder
  • R-22 Vapor Recovery Rate of 0.62 lb/min
  • R-22 Liquid Recovery Rate of 8 lb/min
  • R-410A Vapor Recovery Rate of 0.55 lb/min
  • R-410A Liquid Recovery Rate of 10.06 lb/min


Yellow Jacket 95760

Yellow Jacket is one of the most-recognized names in HVAC industry and is synonymous with durability, quality, and standing behind their product. This recovery machine comes in around the lower middle of the pack on affordability and recovery times. It’s also the second heaviest of the machines we cover here. Remember, though, we try to only review top-flight machines, so despite these critiques, it’s a decent machine.

Some of the specifications and key features of the Yellow Jacket 95760 are:

  • 28 pounds
  • Single Cylinder
  • R-22 Vapor Recovery Rate of 0.29 lb/min
  • R-22 Liquid Recovery Rate of 8.77 lb/min
  • R-410A Vapor Recovery Rate of 0.32 lb/min
  • R-410A Liquid Recovery Rate of 8.14 lb/min
Bacharach Stinger

This Bacharach Stinger recovery machine comes in as the second lightest of the five reviewed and features a vacuum shut-off operation that allows you to walk away from the unit during recovery. The Bacharach is the least affordable of the five recovery machines reviewed but does come with a one year warranty.

Some of the specifications and key features of the Bacharach Stinger 2006-3801 are:

  • 24 pounds
  • Single Cylinder
  • R-22 Vapor Recovery Rate of 0.29 lb/min
  • R-22 Liquid Recovery Rate of 3.53 lb/min
  • R-410A Vapor Recovery Rate of 0.22 lb/min
  • R-410A Liquid Recovery Rate of 3 lb/min

Reclamation Requirements

Above we mentioned that recovered refrigerant “can be returned to the same system or other systems owned by the same person without being reclaimed”, according to EPA regulation.

The recovered refrigerant cannot be sold or used for another job or unit. If the recovered refrigerant is not put back into the unit it came from or another unit owned by the same person, it must be returned “to a consolidator (such as a refrigerant manufacturer, supplier, wholesale distributor, or refrigerant recovery company) for packaging and preparation prior to reclamation, or in some cases directly to an EPA reclaimer.

Legal Requirements from the EPA

The Clean Air Act was passed by the U.S. government to comply with the Montreal Protocol. The Montreal Protocol was an international treaty that was signed by all members of the United Nations. It was put in place a plan for all developed nations to eliminate the use of ozone-depleting substances. The Clean Air Act gives the EPA authority to regulate the use of refrigerants and enforce these regulations through heavy fines.

Section 608 specifically addresses refrigeration and air conditioning regulations. It states, “except for equipment manufactured before November 15, 1993, the recovery or recycling equipment must have been certified by an EPA-approved equipment testing organization.” It goes on to define specific guidelines for the recovery, handling, and reclamation of refrigerants. The EPA can fine violators of these regulations up to $37,500 per day.

If outside the US, technicians should consult local laws to find out exact requirements for the region they will be working in.

Conclusion

We hope you gained a better understanding of what refrigerant recovery machines are, why we use them, and what to look for when buying one. Keep in mind that many technicians keep more than one kind of recovery machine on their truck based on different situations they encounter.

This may not be possible if you are just starting out but as time goes you will find that having a variety of equipment will enhance your abilities as a technician. Life is always a little easier when you have the right tool for the job!

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