All modern HVAC systems rely on refrigerant to transport heat out of a building and exhaust it outside. For decades, R22 was the refrigerant of choice for most HVAC systems around the world. The trouble was that R22 wasn’t very good for the environment. It contributed to the greenhouse effect that’s now altering Earth’s climate. Therefore, governments acted to ban R22 and replace it with a less-dangerous refrigerant. R410A is emerging as its replacement. Here’s everything you need to know about the two.
All About R22
Although you may not recognize the name R22, you might be more familiar with its common brand name, Freon. It served as the primary refrigerant in HVAC systems and other refrigeration equipment beginning around 1931. It features excellent heat absorption properties and is colorless, odorless, and non-flammable. That made it a perfect fit for air conditioning systems, which were just beginning to become popular back then.
Unfortunately, R22 also does serious damage to the Earth’s ozone layer when released into the atmosphere. It also has a high global warming potential, making it even more of a risk to the environment. That’s why governments around the world began to ban its use beginning in 2004. The ban allowed for a slow phase-out of R22 use, culminating in an end to R22 production in the U.S. by 2020. Today, only the oldest HVAC systems still use R22, and it’s getting harder to service them by the day.
R410A Is an Environmentally Friendly Alternative
As a replacement for R22, a newer refrigerant called R410A — or Puron — emerged. It’s now the most commonly used refrigerant in HVAC systems built after the R22 ban. It has a much lower potential to harm the environment because it doesn’t destroy ozone when released. It does, however, still contribute to global warming just like its predecessor.
The good news is that it’s also a far more efficient refrigerant because it absorbs and releases heat better than R22. R410A can also work in systems at a higher pressure and features a synthetic oil base. That means systems built to use R410A tend to be sturdier and suffer less wear and tear during routine operation. Altogether, the properties of R410A make for more efficient cooling and decreased overall costs for owners of HVAC systems.
However, R410A is far from perfect. It does still pose a risk to the environment and will exacerbate global warming over time. So there’s already some movement toward phasing out its use in the years to come. In the U.S., a law known as the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act, passed in late 2020, begins that process. It calls for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take steps to lower the consumption and production of R410A. As a result, most experts expect a complete ban of R410A within the U.S. by 2026 at the latest.
Right now, the leading potential successor to R410A is a refrigerant called R32. It features a far lower global warming potential, which is approximately one-third of the threat posed by R410A. That should make it a far safer option for wide-scale use in HVAC systems. There are already some HVAC systems for sale that use R32 as their primary refrigerant. It isn’t known, however, if R32 will take over as the most common HVAC refrigerant or if a newer, even better replacement will emerge.
Consult an HVAC Expert
Of course, it’s understandable if you don’t want to take the time to become an expert in HVAC refrigerant technology. And the good news is that you don’t have to. Instead, you can turn to the IBBOTSON Heating & Air Conditioning Co. team to help you with all of your HVAC needs. We’ve got the experience and expertise necessary to handle HVAC jobs both large and small.
IBBOTSON Heating & Air Conditioning Co. has served the Arlington Heights, IL, area for over 75 years. In that time, we’ve built a reputation for quality service that we take great pride in. So when you turn to us for your AC installation, repair, or maintenance needs, you can count on getting what you pay for. We always have specials that can save you money, and we also offer financing. Contact the professionals at IBBOTSON Heating & Air Conditioning Co. today if you need help selecting a new HVAC system or have an existing one that needs repair in the Arlington Heights area!