Did you know that most US households have an air conditioning system installed? Many homeowners rely on AC units to keep their homes cool when temperatures rise for the summer.
Air conditioners work by first removing the heat from the air in the house and blowing cool air back into your home. This process is enabled by the refrigerant, which absorbs the heat from the air to cool it down. Just like there are several types of AC units, there are also several types of AC refrigerant fluids.
If you’re looking to install a new air conditioner but aren’t sure which refrigerant it will have, this post is for you. We’ll explain what AC refrigerant is and explore the types of AC refrigerant you can use in your home.
What is air conditioner refrigerant?
Before we can break down the types, let’s look a little more in-depth at what refrigerant is.
Several components of your AC system work together to cool down the air in your home. Among the essential parts are the evaporator coils that hold a liquid or gaseous compound known as refrigerant. The refrigerant’s role is to remove heat from the air when temperatures are high.
Every AC unit needs a proper refrigerant to function effectively. Otherwise, your air conditioning unit will just blow hot air into your home. If your AC unit isn’t working properly, contact an HVAC professional to inspect your cooling system, as this could indicate a problem with the unit.
Normally, air enters the AC and passes over the evaporator coils, containing the refrigerant. The refrigerant absorbs the heat, and the unit blows cool air into your home through the ductwork and vents.
As the heat is absorbed, the refrigerant becomes liquid. It’s then sent outside to the outdoor AC unit to cool and return to its gaseous form. Fans in the AC unit help to cool the refrigerant so it can repeat the heat absorption process.
Five types of AC refrigerant
Refrigerant is a crucial component of your AC system. Here are different types of refrigerants for AC units worth noting:
1. R-22 refrigerant
If you have ever heard of Freon, this is also called R-22 refrigerant. This is one of the oldest types of refrigerant in AC units, and is often found in units over 10 years old. The R-22 refrigerant is no longer manufactured or used due to its hazardous effects on the ozone layer.
After researchers discovered its effect on the ozone layer, a government agreement was signed to phase out the use of this refrigerant. The official ‘Freon Ban’ began in 2010, and now AC manufacturers can no longer use R22 in their air conditioners. As of January 1, 2020, US companies are prohibited from importing or manufacturing R-22 refrigerant.
2. R-32 refrigerant
Since the freon ban, R-32 has been used as a replacement. This is seen as a safer and more effective option for air conditioners. The R-32 refrigerant is an odorless gas that can be found in most modern AC units. The effect of R-32 on the environment and ozone layer is significantly reduced compared to its predecessor.
With the recent global push towards fighting climate change, this is seen as a significant solution for AC units. However, it is worth noting that R-32 is potentially flammable.
3. R-410A refrigerant
When research came out about the harmful effects of R-22 refrigerant, there was a need for a better alternative. This led to the creation of the R-410A as a possible replacement to keep air conditioners functional.
After the freon ban, R-410A refrigerant was used in air conditioners across the country. However, almost as quickly as it was implemented, there was a call for it to be phased out. The reason? R-410A refrigerant also has adverse effects on the environment.
This refrigerant is still in the process of being phased out. The original goal was to accomplish this by January 1, 2023, but that hasn’t been possible. Fortunately, with the spike in the price of the R-410A due to its scarcity, experts are hopeful that this refrigerant will soon be history.
4. R-454B refrigerant
The R-454B refrigerant is set to replace the R-410A while it is being phased out. Most of the new AC units being manufactured will use R-454B.
The R-454B refrigerant works best in heat pumps and commercial chillers. It’s an excellent replacement for cooling systems still using R-410A refrigerant, and it also has a better performance record.
A benefit of R-454B is that it doesn’t have as much of an impact on the ozone layer as the other refrigerant types.
5. R-134a refrigerant
Our fifth type of refrigerant for AC units is the R-134a refrigerant.
This is one of the most popular types of refrigerants in AC units worldwide, and the best part is that the HFC (hydro-fluorocarbon) gas hasn’t been considered a direct contributor to the depletion of the ozone layer.
This refrigerant is seen as a better alternative to R-22 and R-410A because it lacks a chlorine atom. Previous refrigerants with the additional chlorine atom caused massive depletion of the ozone layer.
What does low refrigerant charge mean?
Now that you know the different home AC refrigerant types, let’s take a quick look at what low refrigerant charge is and how to fix it.
If you’ve ever had an HVAC professional service your unit, you may have wondered what they meant by a low refrigerant charge. When an HVAC professional says low refrigerant charge, they’re not referring to the cost; it just means your unit is low on refrigerant.
Every air conditioner needs refrigerant to cool an indoor space. Low refrigerant levels can lead to cooling issues. A refrigerant leak will lead to low levels (a low charge), and your home will get warmer.
If your air conditioning unit is blowing warm air into your home, contact an HVAC professional. If they notice a refrigerant leak and a low charge, they can fix it and refill it. At times, evaporator coils develop cracks that lead to refrigerant leaks and low charge.
Leaks require immediate repair because the refrigerant gas is toxic to humans and pets. Additionally, any gas leaks can harm the environment. Besides learning about the best types of refrigerant for AC units, it’s also good to know the dangers so you can stay vigilant.
Need a new refrigerant? Let Anderson Air help.
AC refrigerant is a crucial part of air conditioning systems, and over the past decade, scientists have discovered more environmentally friendly types of AC refrigerant for residential and commercial use.
If you don’t know the type of refrigerant in your AC and suspect you need an updated one, contact us, and one of our professionals will check it for you. If your unit is leaking, a technician will repair it and refill it for you.