What is a refrigerant in an air conditioner, and why is it used?
Refrigeration, air conditioning, and freezing are all powered by refrigerant, which is normally found in a liquid or gaseous state. A refrigerant absorbs heat from the environment and produces cool air when paired with other components such as compressors and evaporators
Air conditioners include refrigerant inside inner copper coils, which converts from a gas to a liquid as the refrigerant absorbs heat from the inside.This liquid is pumped outside where a fan blasts hot air over the coils and exhausts it. From there, the refrigerant cools and turns back into a gas. A fan then blows air over the cooled coils, resulting in cool air being blown out of the unit and throughout your home. This cycle is repeated over and again during the cooling process.
What Is R410A?
In 1991, an American company by the name of Allied Signal invented and patented the R410A refrigerant.
Five years later, the gas found its way into residential air conditioning units, replacing R22 in the US, Japan, and Europe.
In 2010, the US completely phased out R22. Since then, R410A has been the standard for all new air conditioners in the country.
Unlike other refrigerants, R410A operates at much higher pressures. Therefore, handling it requires the use of equipment that is suitable for such conditions.
Even though it consists of two different gases, it still has a constant boiling point. Because of that, refilling a pressure vessel with R410A should be relatively easy and without any leakage.
In contrast to haloalkane refrigerants, R410A does not contain chlorine or bromine.
Instead, the gas contains only fluorine, hence its non-existent ODP. That is the reason why R410A became widely available, replacing R22 in the process.
While R22 has a global warming potential of 1810, R410A exceeds it with a GWP of 2088.
However, the latter largely reduces power consumption. Therefore, its environmental impact is drastically lower than that of R22.
What is R32?
R32, better known as difluoromethane, is an organic gas, much like R410A. With an ODP of 0, the two gases are also equally harmless to the ozone layer.
Still, R32 has a GWP of 675, which is significantly lower than those of R22 and R410A. That makes it a seemingly better alternative.
R32 performs well in terms of pressure drop and heat transfer. It’s a grade A2 gas, which means it is mildly flammable.
In spite of that, R32 has been successfully used for many years now, most notably in China, India, and Japan.
In order to mitigate the risk related to its flammability, experts recommend using heat transfer equipment that has a low refrigerant charge.
Interestingly enough, R32 is a component found in other refrigerants. For example, by combining it with R125 and R143a, we can create refrigerants R407A and R407B.
R410A and R32 — Which One Is Better?
R32 is clearly the victor in our comparison, based on everything we’ve written thus far.
R32 is more convenient to work with and recycle because it is a single-component gas.
Furthermore, its low GWP and high COP make it an ideal contender for driving R410A out of the market.
Most countries plan to phase out R410A by 2025, according to multiple sources.
Despite this, some individuals argue that R32 is the refrigerant of the future.
Still, it all comes down to the type of air conditioner and air conditioning installation you choose for your home.
They do say, however, that R32 is merely another step toward discovering the ultimate environmentally benign refrigerant.
Furthermore, many individuals are concerned about R32’s flammability.
Why switch from R410A to R32?
R32 is quickly becoming the refrigerant of choice for many AC manufacturers, including Perfect Aire. While there are many reasons for this switch, the main benefits of R32 are:
- R32 has a GWP of 675, roughly 30% lower than that of R410A
- R32 systems use up to 20% less refrigerant than R410A, making them more efficient and cost less to operate
- Ozone Depletion Potential of 0
- Easier to recycle than R410A, as R32 is a single component refrigerant
Is it possible to upgrade refrigerant in an existing unit?
Please note that it is not possible to transition an R410A refrigerant unit to an R32 unit. Refrigerants should only be handled by trained, qualified technicians. These experts can assist you in finding an R32 capable system.