Different types of refrigerant? gases? why does it matter?

Confused by air conditioning refrigerants? Unsure what you need and why?

This guide reveals the current types of refrigerant on the market and how they work in your heating and cooling systems. Get more from your HVAC units and cut your heating and cooling bills, while reducing your environmental impact and avoiding penalties.

Why refrigerant is important and why you need to get it right

Refrigerants used in air conditioning and heating applications are restricted by law, because many of these systems use ozone depleting gases which are harmful to the environment. Not only does environmental irresponsibility carry a heavy sense of personal guilt, but it could also land your business in hot water with the authorities.

Changes in legislation: which refrigerants are now banned?

Over the years, the rules surrounding HVAC refrigerants have changed. Research has given us a greater understanding of different gas compounds and their properties, so we now know which substances are most harmful to the planet and which pose a risk to consumers. We also know how to make better use of the gases available to us, allowing for cost-effective, efficient blends of refrigerant that are suitable for any commercial or domestic application.

For many years, most AC and heating systems used R22 (Freon) for standard operations. However, it was discovered that gases in this category contain hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which are highly damaging to the environment. As a result, legislation was passed to phase out their use in HVAC systems.

Along came replacement refrigerant R410a (Puron) to fill the gap. R410a is relatively safe and low cost, but it has an astronomical Global Warming Potential (GWP) compared with similar refrigerants. As a result, researchers have brought previously dismissed R32 back to the table.

HVAC Refrigeration Gases

HVAC Refrigeration Gases

Looking after the planet with environmentally friendly refrigerant

The newest F-Gas legislations will judge refrigerant gases on their GWP rather than their efficiency rating. Testing shows that R32 has a much lower GWP than R410a. Reducing your business’ impact on the environment is not only great for your conscience: it can also boost your profits in the long term through lower energy costs and raised efficiency across your HVAC systems.

So why are we only just talking about R32 as an alternative? The refrigerant has been raised before as a viable alternative to R22, but it was dismissed previously due to flammability concerns. Refrigerants need to be safe and risks to consumers and operators need to be kept as minimal as possible. However, recent research shows that when safely used in HVAC applications, the benefits of R32 seem to outweigh any small risk. R32 is better for the planet, better for our pockets and sufficiently safe for almost any operation.

What is R32 and is it right for you?

R32 is part of a series of refrigerant blends that offer zero ozone depletion potential. This makes them highly attractive for use in commercial and home HVAC operations. The compound of Difluoromethane is not as GWP-friendly as carbon dioxide, but it does provide a safer, more efficient performance at a budget-friendly cost.

Now for the science. How does R32 perform in testing, compared to its predecessor R410a?

  • 14% higher evaporation operation capacity (45-55°F) for air conditioning
  • 16% higher evaporation operation capacity (-10° – 30°F) for heat pump systems
  • Potential for even greater performance in optimised R32 system
  • Suitable for larger operations of over 1 ton
  • A2L-rated with an improved actual relative compressor EER

In real terms, this means that using R32 refrigerant could cut costs while improving HVAC performance – which will make you a happy business owner!

HVAC on a budget: cost considerations

R290, CO2 and propane are typically cheaper options and might initially suit those on a budget for smaller operations, but poor efficiency and A3 flammability safety risks make these unwise choices in the long term. HFO blends are comparable to R32, but they cost much more than the average refrigerant and are not currently being cited as a valid alternative to R410a.

Surprisingly, 50% of R410a composition matches that of R32. The two compounds are very similar, so production and application methods will not need to change too much. The switch to R32 is not only cost effective for suppliers, but studies suggest the cost difference is also beneficial to consumers. If budget matters but quality still counts, then R32 is shaping up to be an attractive solution to your heating and cooling refrigerant requirements.

Seek advice from a professional: call the heating and cooling specialists

There will be a number of factors which ultimately come into play when it comes to choosing the right refrigerant for your HVAC systems. If you want to be sure that you have made the right choice, you can contact the specialists here at D-Air today and arrange a consultation. We can also offer advice and information on HVAC installation for commercial and residential properties, plus maintenance and servicing for your existing units. Call now for your free quote!