Since the 1920s, air conditioners were charged with R-22, or Freon. It was considered efficient at the time. But the refrigerant was later discovered to be depleting the ozone layer. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) in the refrigerant also became known for their potential to contribute to climate change.
The phase-out of R-22 began in 2010. Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency didn’t ban it entirely for existing air conditioners, no further Freon production means resources have been getting scarcer. It’s becoming more difficult and expensive to purchase. You’ll have to replace your AC system or significantly modify it to use the latest alternatives, but here’s a look at newer refrigerants preferred for their safety, efficiency, and minimal ozone depletion potential.
This refrigerant blends difluoromethane and pentafluoroethaneis, chemicals known for theirnon-ozone-depleting properties and energy efficiency. It has a higher pressure and refrigeration capacity, so it supports improved cooling performance. Trademarks include Suva 410A, Puron, AZ-20, Genetron R410A, Forane 410A, and EcoFluor R410. While it does not deplete ozone, R-410A has a high Global Warming Potential, so it is being phased out at the beginning of 2023. It won’t be included in new units, but these probably won’t need a refrigerant change for many years.
An unblended refrigerant, R-134A contains only Norflurane. It’s a haloalkane compound commonly used in vehicle AC systems and can be used to retrofit R-12 air conditioning systems. The refrigerant has a single component, so only one recovery machine is needed to recycle it (as with any refrigerant, recovery, and retrofitting must be done by an experienced professional). If a vehicle’s cooling system is cross-contaminated with R-22 and R-134A, high pressure can cause the system to fail. Retrofitting also requires a special oil blend to be used in the vehicle.
R-407C is often used as a replacement for Freon. It has similar thermodynamic properties and is a popular choice for manufacturing new machines. Commonly used in packaged air conditioners and ductless split systems, R-407C also works in various types of refrigeration systems in residential, commercial, and industrial applications. It is best used in appliances that include nitrogen as a holding charge and polyol ester oil. Any equipment retrofitted to accept R-407C will require an oil change to work properly.
Similar to R-22 in content, R-404A has no ozone-depleting potential and a wide temperature range, suiting it for the commercial and industrial transport industries. It is suited for refrigeration systems that operate between -49℉ and 59℉. Non-flammable, colorless, and odorless, it’s considered safer than other alternatives. Yet, safety cautions are recommended when handling it. Exposure to high heat or fire can cause the tank to rupture, in which case the refrigerant can be highly explosive. Otherwise, it has no rapid reaction to air or water.
Other Alternatives to Freon
These aren’t the only Freon alternatives available. Others that can be used as a replacement for R22 include F438A or MO99 (does not require an oil change). It is used in residential air conditioning systems, commercial refrigeration, industrial systems, and vending machines. A replacement for R22 in refrigeration systems, RS-44b has the same flow rate as R22 and lower pressure than R407A (it requires no oil or component changes and reduces energy consumption).
Does Your AC Still Use R22? Call Monarch Home Services Today
Freon-based air conditioners are likely to be 10 to 15 years old. Therefore, attempting to retrofit them may be cost-prohibitive. We can help you save over time with a high-quality AC replacement using the latest equipment and a system sized perfectly for your home. Our licensed, NATE-certified contractors will calculate load capacity, perform an airflow analysis, and help with ductwork design and any electrical upgrades needed. For help installing any type of air conditioner, and details about specials, financing, and our maintenance agreements, call (661) 215-6745.