Refrigerant: R-22 vs. R-410A
In the HVAC business, we get a lot of questions about refrigerant/Freon/Puron and what they all mean! We have compiled a quick guide to answer all your refrigerant questions, so keep reading to find out how this affects you.
**Disclaimer: This applies only to residential HVAC systems. There are dozens and dozens of types of refrigerant used in the broad HVAC industry, and we only use a few in the residential branch.**
Refrigerant is the general name for the coolant “fluid-turned-gas” that goes into your HVAC system. In very simplified terms, this substance is responsible for the cool air flowing into your home. Your unit could hold more or less refrigerant depending on its size. For reference, a 3-ton system can hold anywhere from 6 to 12 pounds of refrigerant (generally 2 to 4 pounds per ton). But what is all this about Freon and Puron, you ask? Many people use the terms interchangeably with refrigerant, but they are actually trademarked names of two distinct types of refrigerant. Freon is a popular trademark of R-22, while Puron is a popular trademark of R-410A. We are going to separate the two and explain what’s happening in the AC industry within the next decade.
This is the most common form of refrigerant used for air conditioning systems. Even though it is better for the environment than previously used forms of refrigerant (R-11 and R-12), there has been evidence that it can do long-term damage to the ozone layer. The EPA has issued the Clean Air Act, in which Freon will be phased out on a strict timeline. In the U.S., HVAC systems using Freon started phasing out of production in 2010. As of 2015, the only allowed use of R-22 is for servicing existing units. By 2020, it will be illegal to produce and sell Freon, even for existing systems.
This is the up-and-coming replacement for Freon. Most systems that have been installed since 2010 are made for Puron, and can hold about the same number of pounds as that of a Freon-based system. That being said, the phaseout is not simply a matter of removing one and replacing it with the other. Freon and Puron contain different chemicals, and Puron runs at significantly higher pressures than Freon. Replacing the old with the new will cause parts of your AC system to burst. What must happen is all HVAC systems that are made for Freon will need to be replaced with full systems that are made for Puron. It’s a substantial change.