Air conditioners use different types of refrigerants, which are called R-22 or R-410A. The type of air compressors used for each type of refrigerant are also different. The R-22 compressors are the older model, while the R-410A compressors are the models being installed on all new air conditioning units.
Though it’s been the industry standard used in air conditioners and heat pumps for decades, R-22 refrigerant is on its way out. In its place, however, is R-410A, but this change doesn’t have everyone’s full support quite yet. Though it’s required by law for new HVAC systems to use this new refrigerant, the transition is still being met with some doubt. For both HVAC contractors and consumers alike, there is still a lot to learn about R-410A refrigerant, namely, how it stacks up to its predecessor and how it will affect the HVAC market moving forward.
Laws and Safety
Starting in January, 2004, R-22 began being phased out in the United States. Because of its potential to deplete ozone, R-22 and other hydro-chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are considered unsafe and unfit for the environment. The Montreal Protocol, a treaty created to protect the ozone, required that HCFC consumption is reduced in the US by 75% below baseline in 2010. In 2015, that number expanded to 90% below baseline and by 2020, it will reach 99.5%.
R-22 may still be used to service existing equipment, but cannot be used in new systems. Instead, R-410A is substituted.
In new air conditioners, R-410A can be used for more efficient and reliable operation. In comparison to R-22, R-410A can absorb more heat, meaning your AC compressor will run cooler and reduce potential overheating. R-410A functions at a much higher pressure than R-22, too, so much so that if you used it in a unit designed specifically for R-22, it would cause damage from the abundance of stress.
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