Air Conditioning FAQ 2: Types of Refrigerant

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Your air conditioner depends on a chemical called refrigerant to transfer heat from inside your home and into the warm Florida air outdoors. In the early days of electrical ACs, the chemical used for refrigerant was usually propane, ammonia, or methyl chloride. These gases are either toxic or flammable, and made primitive air conditioners potentially dangerous. In 1928, ACs got their first non-flammable, non-toxic chlorofluorocarbon gas, known as “Freon.” Although the term Freon is still used to describe refrigerants in general, many different mixtures have been used since 1928. In this post we’ll talk about the two most commonly found in home air conditioners, R-22 and R-410A, and what you should know about them.

R-22 and R-410A may sound like robots from the Star Wars universe, but the names actually designate their molecular composition. Although they may sound similar, the differences between them are significant.

R-22 is a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) and is the older of the two mixtures. For 40 years, it was the top choice for air conditioner refrigerant. Although it has a lower ozone-depleting level than the compounds used before it, its level is now considered unacceptable. In accordance with the Montreal Protocols, the U.S. has started a phase-out program for R-22. Manufacturers have not been permitted to make new units using R-22 since 2010, and by 2020 the compound should be completely phased out, with chemical companies no longer permitted to provide it to service existing air conditioners.

R-410A, trademarked under the name Puron, was created as a replacement for R-22. It is a mix of difluoromethane (R-32) and pentafluoroethane (R-125). Unlike R-22, it contains only fluorine and poses no danger to the ozone layer. If you have an air conditioner that was installed after 2009, the chances are high that you have R-410A moving through its coils.

Your AC unit will have a listing on its cabinet that details what refrigerant it contains. If your air conditioner uses R-22, don’t worry yet. You might consider a replacement system, but you should weigh your long term housing plans and the warranty on your current system. The best advice you can get regarding replacing an air conditioner that uses R-22 is from a professional HVAC company that deals with refrigerants every day. AC Designs Inc. is ready to give you the help you need and your air conditioning in Daytona Beach top-level maintenance.