Since the Lithuanian manufacturer Refra started making propane (R290) chillers roughly 10 years ago and heat pumps in 2018, not a single accident has been recorded during the operation of its propane units, said Ilona Pavšukova, Marketing Manager at Refra, in a company document.

This shows “the attention to safety and the high-quality of the devices,” she said.

Although propane is flammable, “modern propane systems incorporate advanced leak detection systems and safety protocols to mitigate potential risks,” noted Pavšukova, adding that proper installation of propane systems and regular maintenance are “essential” to safe operation.

In 2022, the company saw a 150% increase in propane systems sales, which Pavšukova described as “surprising” given that in the last seven years the company has had stable sales growth of natural refrigerant units, including its CO2 (R744)-based systems.

In response to the 2022 propane sales jump, Refra released three standard lines of air-to-water propane heat pumps last April for commercial and industrial applications “[We] decided to release a standard product selection heat pump line to help customers choose the right product faster and easier,” the manufacturer said in a statement.

With its ultra-low GWP (20-year value of .072, 100-year value of .02), propane helps companies reduce environmental impact and comply with regulations; it also improves operational costs through energy savings over synthetic refrigerant systems.

Propane’s “excellent” thermodynamics transfers heat more efficiently than synthetic options, reducing system workloads to “increase equipment lifespan, lower electricity bills and reduce maintenance,” Pavšukova said. This together makes up for the “slightly higher initial investment.”

“For this very reason, Refra changed the course of its production 10 years ago by incorporating natural refrigerants into production,” she noted. “Right now, CO2 and propane systems make up the majority of the products we manufacture.”

In early 2021, Refra added a new 12,000m2 (129,167ft2) factory in Vievis, Lithuania ‒ doubling its production capacity ‒ to keep up with the increased demand for natural refrigerant products. 

Headquartered in Vilnius, Lithuania, the company believes, according to its website, that ecological solutions are the future of production.

“Modern propane systems incorporate advanced leak detection systems and safety protocols to mitigate potential risks.”

Ilona Pavšukova, Marketing Manager at Refra