North America

California Contractor Calls for Increased Focus on NatRef Training

The natural refrigeration industry needs to place a greater emphasis on training qualified technicians to speed up adoption of natural refrigerants, according to AJ Milbes, Director of Operations. for Calwest Refrigeration, a commercial contractor based in Grand Terrace, California (U.S.)

“One thing I’m noticing is the lack of training, or availability for training, especially with COVID-19, now training is almost non-existent,” Milbes told the audience at the online ATMOsphere America conference on October 20. ATMOsphere America, organized by shecco, publisher of this website, was held online October 20 and 21 and concludes with a Latin America-focused program in Spanish on October 22.

Operating in four states, Calwest has installed micro-distributed hydrocarbon, glycol and CO2 systems, said Milbes.

“How do we expect to really push this technology and expect our [retail] customers to jump onboard with CO2 when we don’t have enough qualified people?” he asked.  “I know that if we were to get contractors trained, and they all understand the system, they would sell more of it, but you can’t sell something that you don’t know.”

Milbes observed that natural refrigerant technology is not being taught at trade schools yet.  “It’s all great on the front end, everybody’s pushing this technology, but on the back end, there’s a kind of neglect.”

Another reason to speed up the adoption of natural refrigeration systems is their ease of maintenance, according to Milbes. “I can tell you this, one of the big differences I’ve noticed, from a regular store and HFC versus CO2, is that serviceability [of CO2] is a lot easier, and there’s a lot less problems.”