Since 1992, a major shift in the air conditioning industry has been underway. R-22 refrigerant, often called by its brand name Freon, has been being phased out in favor of a new type of refrigerant, R-410A, often called by its brand name Puron. This has some big implications for homeowners who are repairing or replacing their air conditioners. Also, as a homeowner considering a purchase, it is important that you understand the difference between these two refrigerants in order to make the best decision for your system.
R-22 has been the standard refrigerant used in air conditioners for many years now. The problem with this refrigerant is that it is both less efficient and less environmentally friendly that R-410A refrigerant. In 2010, R-22 was outlawed for use in new units. The government-mandated shift away from R-22 refrigerant is an attempt to make homes more efficient and reduce the emissions of greenhouse gasses into the environment.
Although R-22 was outlawed, some companies are taking advantage of the law by producing what is known as “dry charge” units. These are new units that don’t have the refrigerant installed at the factory. Instead, a technician is required to come to your home to install the R-22 refrigerant. While this practice is technically legal, this is not the best option. Here is why:
- There is a limited supply of R-22 and the price will increase as the supplies diminish.
- R-410A offers greater efficiency, saving you in energy costs, and is much better for the environment.
- Dry charged units typically offer much shorter warranty periods.
R-22 vs. R-410A
- Often referred to by its brand name, Freon®
- As of 2010, this refrigerant is no longer allowed to be used in newly manufactured air conditioners.
- R- 22 is a Hydro-chlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) which contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer.
- It is less capable of absorbing and releasing heat than R-410A refrigerant, making it less efficient.
- It is becoming more and more costly as its use is phased out.
- Often referred to by its brand name, Puron®
- R-410A has been approved for use in all newly manufactured residential air conditioners.
- In 2015, R-410A will become the new standard for U.S. residential air conditioning systems.
- It is a Hydro-fluorocarbon (HFC) which does not contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer.
- It is better at absorbing and releasing heat than R-22 refrigerant, making it more efficient to use.
- Requires the use of tougher, more durable air conditioner parts, which reduces the risk of your system overheating and breaking down.
Although R-22 refrigerant is still available to replenish older systems that have refrigerant leaks, the cost of that repair is on the rise. Because R-410A requires different air conditioner components than R-22, you cannot replenish a system that uses R-22 refrigerant with R-410A.
Newer air conditioning models are designed to be used with R-410A for reliable and more efficient operation. Because R-410A can absorb and release more heat than R-22, your air conditioning compressor can run cooler, reducing the risk of compressor burnout due to overheating.
R-410A functions at a higher pressure than R-22, so new compressors are built to withstand greater stresses, reducing the chance for cracking. If you were to put R-410A refrigerant into a system designed for R-22, the pressure would be too much and the unit would break.
All air conditioners use an oil to keep the compressor lubricated during operation. R-22 air conditioners use mineral oil and R-410A systems use synthetic oil. The synthetic oil is generally more soluble with R-410A than mineral oil is with R-22. This means the R-410A system operates more efficiently reducing wear and tear on the compressor.
In order to reap the efficiency, performance and environmental benefits of R-410A refrigerant, you will need to install a new system that is designed to use the refrigerant. If your air conditioner is nearing the end of its operating life, R-410A refrigerant might be a good reason to replace your system sooner rather than later so that you can avoid the rising costs of repairing a refrigerant leak with R-22 refrigerant.
If you have questions about R-22 or R-410A refrigerant, or if you would like to have a new cooling system installed or your current system serviced, call ACE HI PLUMBING, HEATING & AIR at 970-667-0300 today to make an appointment. We have NATE-trained technicians and provide 24-hour emergency service. Ace Hi Plumbing services the Northern Colorado area including Loveland, Fort Collins, Berthoud, Longmont, Windsor, Greeley, and Estes Park.