Polycold- Upgrading R22 Systems

End of this year 2019, the R22 Refrigerant Gas is being phased out of production. This phase-out will affect users with older Polycolds have the older refrigerant that Kyoto Protocol in reducing the emitting of greenhouse gases. Polycolds ending on a zero such as PFC 1100HC, are the older units affected. This does not mean that come 2020 we cannot support your older Polycold but that the older refrigerant will not be produced and over time stockpiles consumed.

What We Recommend

  1. For Polycolds manufactured over 25 years ago, we think replacement is in order. Options are our rebuilt Polycolds or our new MegaCold Cryo-Traps
  2. We can rebuild your older Polycolds to run with the newer refrigerant mixtures found in the Polycold models ending in 02 (such as PFC 1102HC). Cost of this upgrade is about 40% the cost of new. Watch a video detailing our rebuild process of Polycolds. Polycold Rebuild Video

Feel free to contact us for quotation and more information.

Phone 800-331-2808

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How a Polycold or MegaCold Works In Vacuum Coating to Increase  Production

How a Polycold or MegaCold Works In Vacuum Coating to Increase  Production


Water vapor trapping with a Polycold was a concept developed by Dale Meissner in the 1970's as a way to speed pump down of vacuum chambers and to reduce the base pressure to enhance vacuum coating. In pumping a vacuum system, you can either remove molecules of gas from the chamber or as in the case of water vapor change the state of the gas by condensing (trapping) the water vapor molecules on a cold surface.

Some Science Principles

When pumping a chamber from atmosphere, between ~10-3 to ~10-8 Torr, 65% to 95% of molecules in the chamber are water vapor.  Whenever a vacuum system is opened to air, the internal surfaces of the chamber will be covered with layer upon layer of water molecules. The thickness of the layer will depend on the relative humidity of the air, the exposure history, etc. As vacuum pressure is lowered in the chamber this water vapor releases from the walls and surfaces of the chamber and then must be pumped or trapped to further reduce the pressure in the chamber.

A mechanical trap like a Polycold or MegaCold, uses refrigerant to cool a stainless steel or copper coil in the chamber. Ability of this coil to trap water vapor is mostly based on the amount of cryogenically cooled surface area in the chamber. As water vapor is released off the walls or other internal chamber surface, they must be either pumped or trapped to further reduce the vacuum pressure in the chamber. If you increase the amount of coil in the chamber the ability to trap water vapor molecules as they "bounce " around the chamber increases.

High Vacuum Turbo or Diffusion Pump Vs. Polycold or MegaCold Unit

Once a chamber is into the millitorr range, the high vacuum pump starts becoming effective to lower the vacuum pressure. In molecular flow, these gas molecules must intersect the opening of the turbo or DIP and be pumped away. This takes time as the pump opening is small.Many times these pumps are on elbows and not directly on the chamber. This results in up to a 50% loss of pumping efficiency due to conductance. So lets do the math.....

A 50,000 l/s high vacuum pump reduced in efficiency by 50% provides maybe 25,000 l/s in pump speed. So to get to 100,000 l/s, you need 4 of these pumps which is not practical due to cost and space concerns.

A Polycold PFC 1100HC or MegaCold 50Ain conjunction with a 5/8" coil design of about 120 ft in the chamber can produce in excess of 100,000 l/s of water pumping speed or 4X the high vacuum pump. Compared to the small inlet of the high vacuum pump, the coil in your chamber is a great target for the water vapor molecules to hit! So without the Polycold, it could affect the time to pump the chamber 4x or more!


Polycolds or MegaColds are vital to quickly evacuate vacuum chambers for production applications. In addition to speed the elimination of water vapor molecules in the chamber reduces the vacuum base pressure and in many applications improves the quality of vacuum coating. Increasing the surface area of the copper or stainless coil with the proper size Polycold or MegaCold, can result in increased production.

Saving Money on Vacuum Equipment-#1 – Hardware Savings on Projects

Vacuum Hardware, Mass Flow, Rotary Seals & More

Saving Money on Vacuum Equipment No. 1

Bundle Vacuum Hardware Items on Projects

I have found when customers have bigger projects, first equipment to get quotations on are the bigger items like vacuum pumps. This makes sense in that a vacuum pump can be a longer lead time item that is critical to acquire to meet project time frames. After the first "big ticket" items are purchased, customers work their way down until the last items ordered are all the miscellaneous hardware items that are usually in stock.

Many have heard the saying GOOD FAST can get two but not all three. Good and Fast..... is not Cheap. Fast and Cheap..... is not Good. Cheap and Good.... is not Fast.

So one way we have found cost savings for customers is to concentrate on the smaller items upfront. If we can get a list of vacuum pump hardware items early in the project, we can provide the GOOD hardware at a CHEAP less expensive cost. 

Send us your Bill of Materials for your project.

- Pricing should be 15-25% less than you would find anywhere else
- Quality is same or better
- Lead time is 8 weeks

To get started, visit our Vacuum Components Page or to send us your list for quote, go to Contact Page and upload.

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

See on LinkedIn:

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 :