Polycold Refrigerant Update

Phase Out of R22 and Older Polycolds

Why You Should Be Concerned

The refrigerant commonly used in air conditioning systems until 2010, R22 Refrigerant Gas, is being phased out of production and imports in the USA starting January 1, 2020. For Polycolds manufactured before 2008, new refrigerant will become unavailable as that refrigerant contains some R22. Models of Polycolds affected end in 00 such as PFC 1100HC, PFC 550HC and PFC 670HC.

Blog Post Article on R22 Phase Out

These Polycolds will need to be rebuilt to take the new refrigerants or replaced with new units. Rebuild costs are approximately 30% the cost of a new unit. Once rebuilt, Polycolds should have a similar maintenance life as a new unit.

Should You Wait Until 2020 to Rebuild for New Refrigerants

Since the rebuild expected lifetime of a rebuilt Polycold is 8-10 years, units rebuilt in 2018 with the old refrigerant will be obsolete if they need new refrigerant after the phase out. Thus we recommend rebuilding units now to take the non-HFC blends. Contact us for questions, quotes and info at the link below.

Visit the Our Polycold Dashboard for Info on Refrigerants, Rebuilds & Field Service

Schoonover represents companies for Polycold Service and Vacuum Equipment. Visit us at or call 800-331-2808

Bubble Leak Testing- Cheap But Good?

TLD.1000 Hydrogen Leak Detector
TLD.1000 Hydrogen Leak Detector

Does anyone still remember the Yugo? In the 1980's the Yugo automobile was produced in Yugoslavia and sold in the USA. Turned out it was one of the worst cars in history. Today, they have all but disappeared to the shredder as scrap steel. What was cheap in that case was not necessarily good. My experience in leak checking applications is that it is thought, if a product will not form a bubble (either being dunked in water or sprayed with a soap solution) the product is leak tight. What is not understood is the leak rate that bubble really represents. In reality, every product leaks. The leak check determines if the leak is below the acceptable leak rate.

Bubble testing is cheap. It is also visual. So the cost and training is minimal to get into operation. Operators understand a bubble forming, and thus can quickly get up to speed in finding leaks. Because it is visual, the operator gains confidence quickly that leaks in the product are found.

Is there a better method available?

The next method up the leak checking food chain is getting rid the soap bottle or tank of water and replacing it with a handheld sniffer leak detector. Traditionally, a helium leak detector is chosen for consideration. These helium detectors start at several thousand dollars and can end up at $15k or more if a mass spectrometer is required. Helium gas is needed to fill the test object.

The new technology available is with a hydrogen leak detector. Before you think Hindenburg...wait.... the tracer gas is a mixture of only 5% hydrogen & 95% nitrogen. In nitrogen, hydrogen does not become combustible until the concentration is 5.7%. So this is green label gas. The hydrogen leak detector cost is right at a $1000, so much less than helium. Cost of the gas is 1/4 that of helium.

And how much better than bubble testing is sniffer leak testing?

1000 times better or more....hydrogen leak detectors will find leaks that will not even form a bubble.

Visit the website page below for more information. There you can ask us for our 30 day money back guarantee if not satisfied.

Schoonover TLD.500 and TLD.1000 Hydrogen Leak Detectors

The author of this article Greg Vaughan is a Technical Representative for Schoonover Inc. and has 20 years experience in helping customers find leaky product. His email is

Dry Vacuum Pumps and Less Electricity

A few years ago, I was able to make a sale to a Plant Engineer who told me that each year he was responsible for saving the company xxx amount of money and that year my project with him checked that off his list. From that experience, I realized that if you can get "ROI- Return on Investment" on your side, the sales pitch becomes a less necessary step.

I recently outlined the "Real Cost of a Vacuum Pump Oil Change" (CLICK TO READ ARTICLE) where I was able to detail the total cost in securing, changing and disposing vacuum oil. Oil is certainly one piece of the cost puzzle but may not provide that total ROI bump to start replacing vacuum pumps.

One other piece of that cost savings puzzle is in the electricity cost to generate that vacuum environment in your system or tool. If you enjoy reading dry pump literature, you will find one of the bullet points in most all literature to be "costs savings in electricity". But to know the true reality is hard to determine.

In research to answer this question, turns out the Department of Energy-Lawrence Livermore Labs has used tax dollars to research the validity of the claim. If you wish to review their entire report here is the link but I will highlight their research:

High efficiency dry pumps available today can provide savings of up to 60% over older conventional oil sealed vacuum pumps
Frequency control on modern pumps allow for turn down during process times that do not require full pumping performance . This idle/controlled mode results in energy savings.

High efficiency dry vacuum pumps produce less heat that results in less air conditioning needed and a reduction in cooling water costs.
Lower noise levels and smaller footprint in these dry pumps allow for closer integration to the tool or chamber resulting in less evacuation time.
Finally, lower power requirements allow for smaller electrical infrastructure in new plants.

In summary, if you can isolate the electricity cost of your present older vacuum pumps, the 50-60% savings in replacing older pumps with modern energy saving designs, can be documented with research by the Department of Energy. Adding in the factors like the cost of oil changes only add to that savings.

The ROI in vacuum pump technology may be closer than you think.

For more analysis on developing the ROI for your pumps, check out our Dry Pump ROI Calculator where you get data for your pumps and pump systems.

At Schoonover, we represent major vacuum equipment companies in technical sales and support. We also have our own Apex Vacuum Brand of high vacuum equipment. For more information visit us at and

The Real Cost of a Vacuum Pump Oil Change

The Real Cost of a Vacuum Pump Oil Change

In working with customers on whether they should make the change to oil-less or dry vacuum pumps, the low cost of the oil is usually a stumbling block to making the plunge to a more modern technology. The "Go Green" idea is met with great fervor but can it meet the cold water plunge when the boss asks "What is the cost to make this switch?"

To find the "real" cost of an oil change, one must consider more than just the cost of the oil. Taking the standard vacuum oil cost for a production size industrial vacuum pump (23 liter oil capacity) , the cost is a mere $323. But the oil did not walk itself to the plant and you can't send the old oil down the drain. So....there's more to this equation. What is the expense of the oil expense including all the extra's? A little research revealed.... 

  • Cost of issue of the Purchase Order for the Oil- Purchasing websites say
  • Freight Cost of the Oil to the Plant -Pittsburgh- Atlanta..UPS says
  • Receiving and Storing the Oil - 0.5 hr x $35 comes to
  • Labor of getting the Oil to the Pump another
  • Changing the Oil- The Dirty Job- 1 hr x $35=
  • Cost of Purchase Order for dispose of the oil another
  • Labor to prepare the shipment of disposed oil- 0.5 hr x $35
  • Shipping to Local Disposal Site- UPS says
  • Finally the Cost to Dispose of Dirty Rotten Oil- Cost from is $0.50 per liter or 

So add it all up and we get the real cost of $943 per oil change. If you figure 3 oil changes per year the total yearly cost is $2,829.

Replacing perfectly good vacuum pump out  to save oil costs may not make sense from a pure dollar standpoint(in some applications it would), but the days of "wet" or oil vacuum pumps are numbered for most processes.  Today you can get a "dry" or oil-less vacuum pump for 25% additional cost or in this example chosen about $6,000. So for new installs, going dry is an easy payoff. For existing pumps, I hope this gives some insight of the "real" cost of oil changes.

For more questions about this subject or other vacuum equipment questions, contact Schoonover Inc. at 800-331-2808 or online at


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The Real Cost of a Vacuum Pump Oil Change

Return on Investment- Go with New or Rebuilt?

Return on Investment- Go with New or Rebuilt?

Return on Investment- Go with New or Rebuilt?

Today, I was doing a return on investment (ROI) for a customer looking to purchase a new Polycold for his vacuum coating chamber.  In my mind, I was running the numbers to see if I had a strong case for selling him my rebuilt Polycold instead of the manufacturers new Polycold. Rough numbers were $28K for new and $12k for my rebuilt Polycold (with a 12 month warranty). Another known variable was that I knew if the customer had to send the unit in for service, today that would be about $8500 to completely rebuild the Polycold unit. 

Most of the time I know if the unit has a new mechanical compressor, that is the major expensive moving part that will dictate a large repair. Once I sell this unit, I would not expect to see it come in for the next rebuild for 8-10 years.

So lets run the numbers.... a $16,000 price difference and the rebuild cost every 8 years is a about a 15 year ROI new over rebuilt. Even if they are rough on equipment, I would not expect to see it before 5 years. That makes the new Polycold a 9 year payback. And that is assuming the new Polycold never has to be rebuild. I think that is a pretty poor assumption. 

So maybe keep the future rebuild cost in mind when deciding to purchase new or rebuilt vacuum equipment. 



Buddy Do You Have a Spare?

Apex Mass Flow Controller TFT Screen Option

Spare Equipment – good or bad word??


Is a SPARE a good or bad thing to have around??

Answer to this simple question is could be either.

If you have a piece of equipment down, it is good but if you have capital tied up in lots of spare equipment, it is bad.We are going to look at how your spares situation can be optimized in the next series of blog posts starting with mass flow controllers.

At Apex Vacuum our mass flow meter or controller can provide a low cost spare for all your mass flow controllers (or meters) with one spare unit. 

So if you have a competitor unit or an Apex MFC/MFM, one Apex can provide  a spare for many units. Simply choose the gas on the gas library and you're done. With our high accuracy calibrations, it is possible to cover extended flow ranges with this spare. For example, our 500 sccm units can measure down to 2.5 sccm and with a high accuracy version, the inaccuracy can be managed.

For details, call us at 800-331-2808, email to or visit online at or


Avoid the Lemon- 10 Factors to Consider in Choosing a Helium Leak Detector

Leybold Phoenix L300i Helium Leak Detector

Avoid the Lemon- 10 Factors to Consider in a Helium Leak Detector

Avoid Buying a Lemon – 10 important things to consider when----

-Choosing a Helium Leak Detector -

Or otherwise known as what I have learned from my customers that ask the right questions.

  1. What warranties are available with the unit- Manufacturers provide warranties to either meet market demand or if they are convinced the warranty will never be claimed. For example, helium leak detectors with filament warranties are there because the manufacturers know their failure rate is zero for the first few years. So a warranty can be an indicator of known quality and we all love a good warranty!
  2. Roughing pump size- This can be important if you need to evacuate a volume to begin the leak check. Of course , if your system pumps handle the evacuation, then you might want a smaller pump for portability and compactness. Provide the volume to your technical contact so the roughing capability can be evaluated.
  3. Popularity of the unit- There are not a lot of models out there anymore so choosing the most popular brands is a good idea….everyone can’t be wrong can they? Choose models with a long history with lots of helium leak detectors of that model or linage.
  4. Helium pumping speed – Especially important if used in production applications. More helium pump speed helps for faster helium clean up which improves production.
  5. How compact is the unit- Do you want to have to lug around a cart, separate rough pump and leak detector- enough said.
  6. Wireless Remote- Does the helium leak detector have one and is it any good? Hiring someone to stand by the leak detector and holler out a leak is so 1990’s.
  7. Age of the present design- I told you earlier to buy a popular model as everyone can’t be wrong. But watch out for the model that is 5 years old as good chance a replacement is on the fast track for development. Parts and service are only available for a period of years after the unit becomes obsolete. So buy the new model in a linage of a great leak detector and you might have 12 years of factory parts and service. Buy the old geezer and 7 years you’re scouring Ebay for that board you need.
  8. Support – Ask who to call if something goes wrong because it will at some point. Call your sales person on his cell at 6pm and see if he answers. Of course evaluate the service network.
  9. Evaluate the components – If the company is known for making less than stellar vacuum equipment, don’t expect the same parts to work any better in your leak detector.
  10. Buy from the better looking salesperson- Good luck meeting this criteria in the vacuum or helium leak detector market.

 If you have questions about helium leak detection, we are glad to assist. Just call 800-331-2808 or contact us at Visit our helium leak detector page page online at :

Hydrogen as a Leak Detection Tracer Gas in Underground Pipelines

Hydro-Lok Underground Hydrogen Leak Detector

Hydrogen as a Tracer Gas for Underground Pipe Leaks

The tracer gas method for locating underground pipe or pipeline leaks has been around for many years. Original technology was with a helium leak detector. Helium tended to be difficult to justify using as the helium mass spec is a very complex instrument that is very expensive. Helium while a small molecule is expensive as it is a gas that is mined along with natural gas.

In the 1990's telecom rush to lay optical fiber for broadband internet, technology for hydrogen was improved to provide an alternative for helium. Once that boom ended in the early 2000's the hydrogen detection method cooled due to the lesser demand. At the time, cost was a factor and only the most lucrative applications could justify the equipment. Several companies, mostly in Europe, also developed less expensive detection equipment, to fuel the demand for locating water leaks.

Hydrogen is a very good gas for tracer detection. As hydrogen leak detectors improved in technology, the ability to reduce the concentration to 5% H2/95% N2 fueled the change from helium. The 5%H2/95% N2 is approximately 25% the cost of helium. To reduce cost, always ask for industrial grade 5%H2/95%N2 with no certificate needed. It is not important that the tracer gas be 99.999% pure nor do you need that certified. Always ask though as gas companies tend to provide the research grade gas. the 5%H2/95%N2 is completely non-flammable and non-combustible. It is a totally environmentally friendly gas.

Hydrogen as a tracer is an ideal gas. Hydrogen is high energy and tough to contain. This works well for leaking from an underground pipeline as the hydrogen can penetrate both asphalt and concrete. Hydrogen also moves straight up and the leak should be able to be located above ground in a 3ft. circle. Depending on the depth of the pipeline, the hydrogen mixture may need to be put in the pipe the night before. For water pipes near the surface, 30 minutes can be sufficient.

Feel free to call us with any questions. Schoonover provides a low cost hydrogen leak detector called the Hydro-Lok. Cost of the Hydro-Lok kit including regulator, probe stick and lines are priced at $1499. Our aim is to provide a quality low cost hydrogen leak detector priced for all leak detection professionals to be able to take advantage of the technology.

Schoonover Inc.

How are Leak Rates Pressure Dependent

Hydrogen Leak Detector

Pressure and Your Leak Rate- Helium Leak Detection

 Pressure and leaks go together. More leaks cause you stress and for that Dr. Phil may be the answer. But what about test gas pressure in your test object.

 Will not being concerned about pressure in your test object give you leaky parts that fail in the field? The answer is yes and that should be cause concern or an increase in pressure of the Dr. Phil variety.

When visiting production leak testing customers, everyone seems to have a good idea of their leak rate. I visit a lot of customers sniffing for helium and/or hydrogen. At these visits I ask them their leak rate specification and are commonly told “ Our leak rate is 0.10 oz/yr of R410A”. But in reality, what they should have said was “My leak rate specification is 0.10 oz/yr at 400 psi”.

 It makes total sense that as you increase the pressure,in the test object, the leak rate increases. Most of the time in sniffing the tracer gas, the pressure is kept to a maximum of 150 psi as a safety concern. But many times, the operating pressure of the unit is up to 400 psi. As you increase pressure, the volume of test gas used increases. With the cost of helium rising there is a temptation to reduce the test pressure to save money. So how much difference can pressure make?

For sniffing the leak rate equation is based on “Poiseuille’s” equation for viscous flow where Q is the flow or leak rate:


Q = D4 (P12 - P22)




Q= Leak rate in atm. cc/sec.

D= Leak Diameter in cm.

n= Gas viscosity in bar sec.

L= Length of leak in cm.

P1= Test pressure on one side of leak (bar).

P2= Test pressure on other side of leak (bar).  


Looking at the equation, you see that pressure is squared, thus a product in operation at 400 psi (27.2 bar) compared to testing at 150 psi (10.2 bar) is quite a difference.

 Taking 27.2- 10.2 = 17 bar squared -= 289 times greater leak

 So the product operating at 400 psi, that leak shown at 150 psi is now 289 times larger.

 Moral of the story is that if your product passes a 0.10 oz/yr leak test at 150 psi, in the field running at higher pressures, the real product operating leak rate is much larger than the low pressure test leak rate.

Schoonover Inc. ( ) represents companies for helium leak detectors and helium leak testing systems. For further questions on your application contact us at 800-331-2808 or at

Value of a Polycold

Value of The Polycold on a Vacuum Coating System 
How is a Polycold similar to a shot blocker in the NCAA Basketball Tournament


One principal of high vacuum that is easily understood is the concept of water vapor in a vacuum chamber. If you live where I live in the deep south part of the USA, humidity or water vapor in the air is easily understood. Obviously, this water laden air is also in the vacuum coating chamber, lining the walls and surfaces of the vacuum chamber. 

When a chamber is pumped to a pressure of 10-3 torr or below, most of the chamber’s volume gas has been pumped away and water vapor becomes the predominant gas within the chamber. At this point the reduction in pressure is controller by the rate of water being desorbed from the surfaces inside the vacuum chamber and that water molecule finding its way to the inlet port of the high vacuum and being pumped out of the chamber. More than likely, a water molecule desorbing will simply find its way to another surface inside the vacuum chamber to again re-sorb on the surface.

So where is the basketball shot blocker reference? 

Imagine a three point shooter in basketball. The best player makes 40% of his shots and he is highly skilled. Compare that to a water molecule in a vacuum chamber that is not highly skilled at all to find the inlet to the "basket" in a vacuum system or better known as the inlet to the high vacuum pump. So what we need is better skilled water molecules able to land in the inlet? Well yes but scientifically not practical.

The Polycold coil inside the vacuum chamber acts as the shot blocker. With the coil cryogenically cooled, any water molecule moving off the surface has a much better chance to hit the Polycold coil than the inlet of the pump. The more surface area of the coil, the better chance to be "blocked" and trapped by the cryogenic Polycold coil. Once trapped on the Polycold coil that water molecule is no longer "in play" inside the chamber and stays on the coil until the next regen cycle.

Installing a Polycold in your high vacuum system pays great benefit in reducing the high vacuum pump down time of the chamber by up to half. This can result in extra coating runs per day and thus more $$ profit.

Schoonover can work with you to provide a turn key solution that includes, rebuilt Polycold, coil design, coil fabrication and installation.  Utilizing a rebuilt Polycold instead of new provides a long-term "good as new" solution with a total price (Polycold, coil and install) usually at or less the cost of a new Polycold. So more bang for your vacuum pumping buck. Visit us at and contact us for more information on this cost saving addition to your coating system.