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Our Guide: Types of Refrigerant Used in HVAC

refrigerant pressure gauge tool

All central air conditioning systems use various refrigerants to remove heat from the air and cool down your space. But many of us don’t understand how this works or even the types of refrigerant.

There are two main categories of refrigerants that residential AC systems use. These are R-22 (Freon) and R-410A (Puron). There are other refrigerants that are used in the commercial HVAC industry, but today we’re focusing on the types used in residential HVAC.

Lucky for you, the best AC service under the sun is here with a complete guide to air conditioning refrigerant and the two types that are used in HVAC equipment. First, let’s look at central AC refrigeration and how it works.

Air Conditioners: How Cooling Works

Pardon our pun – but air conditioner refrigerant is pretty cool. In fact, it is the key component to providing refrigeration or air conditioning in your home. Circulating through the copper coils, refrigerants change from a low-pressure gas to a high-pressure liquid as it moves through the closed system.

Traveling through the indoor portion of the AC system, absorbing heat from the surrounding air, this liquid or gas component acts as one of the main cooling agents for the system. Then, it releases the heat as it moves to the outdoor unit. The HVAC system repeats this process, constantly cooling the air inside your home.

Luckily, there is no loss during this process. You’ll never have to call a company to replace it unless your refrigerant leaks.

Refrigerant Types for New and Existing Systems

Every part of your AC unit is important for cooling your home. Refrigerants work in tandem with other components to make it happen!

As we said before, there are two types of refrigerant that you can find in existing ACs: Freon and Puron.

condenser and green freon container

Freon (R-22)

R-22 is a “non-flammable refrigerating fluid” produced in 1928 by Thomas Midgley, Albert Henne and Robert McNary. It was a standard for residential AC systems for decades and decades.

R22, also know as Freon, was eventually discovered to be damaging to the ozone layer and have a high global warming potential (GWP). It’s now been replaced by new refrigerants.

This type of refrigerant can be easily recognized by it’s green container. However, you won’t see many of these lying around. R-22 is no longer produced, and refills can only be done with stockpiles and recycled refrigeration liquid.

container of r410a puron and refrigerant gauge

Puron (R-410A)

Puron is an blend HFC refrigerant that is free of chlorine. It was created in 1991 by Allied Signal, and AC units use different parts in order to run R-410A through the system because it operates at a higher pressure.

In addition to it’s lower global warming potential, it is also used in new ACs that have better energy efficiency, are more reliable, and offer better air quality.

Out with the Old, In with the New

For a long time, R-22 was the most common refrigerant, and it was used in every residential system. However, after we discovered that R-22 has a high GWP and ozone depletion potential, manufacturers discontinued its production in favor of more environmentally-friendly refrigerants.

technician checking freon levels on condenser

EPA regulations are responsible for the phase out of refrigerants with chlorine compounds (CFC and HCFC) in favor of hydro fluorocarbon-based Puron. With the Montreal Protocol of 1988 and the Clean Air Act, R-22 has been officially discontinued after 2020 and new air conditioning systems will only use R-410A.

There are many benefits of paying attention to CFC production, carbon dioxide production, and minimizing the ozone depletion impact on the ozone layer. The downside of the phase changes from R-22? Older air conditioning systems can’t switch to using environment-friendly Puron, meaning that they will have to be replaced.

Next-Gen Refrigerants

HFC refrigerants like Puron still have a significant global warming potential and aren’t non-toxic to the environment, however. In the 2020s, we can expect to see a phase out of HFC refrigerants in favor of next-generation refrigerants like R-32 and low-GWP blends.

Get Ahead of the Game with a New System

Ready to get the most efficient, responsible equipment for your home? Then it’s time to consider a new AC! Save money by switching over to an air conditioner that runs on R-410A and get better results every time you turn on your air. (You can even improve your air quality while you’re at it!)

If you want to look at your options or find out what kind of AC is in your home, call Cool Rays AC and schedule a service call with an expert HVAC technician. We handle any and all residential systems across Brevard – so call today to beat the summer heatwaves!

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