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How do I Tell the Difference Between Refrigeration and Type L Copper Tubing?

Kurt Erickson

Identifying the difference between Type L copper tubing and the copper product used for refrigeration can be somewhat tricky because both are identified by the same color coding - blue - used where copper is being sold.

Measuring the open ends of a copper tube can help identify which type it is.

However, there are some easily identifiable traits for each of these types that can help a remodeler make sure they are using the correct copper for the job. Type L copper pipes are typically used for residential water systems. Copper, used for refrigeration, is designated as ACR copper.

  1. Measure the inside and outside diameter of the end of the tube. The outside diameter of Type L is always 1/8-inch larger than the size marked on the tube. The size marked on the outside of an ACR tube is the same as the outside diameter.

  2. Check the shape of the tubing. Type L copper is typically sold in straight lengths. ACR tubing is typically sold in a coil.

  3. Identify whether there are rubber or plastic caps on the end of the tubing. ACR is designed to be sold with no moisture inside the tube. It is therefore capped after it is manufactured. If there are no caps, it is generally a Type L pipe.

  4. Check the price. Because ACR is manufactured to be free of moisture, it costs more than Type L.