The New Refrigerants

An article by David Debien (2003)

Several years back, it was determined that the refrigerants that we are presently using in our air conditioning systems are damaging the upper atmosphere. The EPA made a move to reduce that problem by requiring newer, less ozone depleting refrigerants be manufactured and be phased in over the next 10-15 years.

About 5 years ago, the newest refrigerant came out, was called R410A – or some called it Puron – because Carrier branded it as Puron and took that name. Basically it is all R410A. The good news is that the refrigerant is very efficient, is very reliable, and is very dependable. It’s been out long enough to have a track record now. The amount of problems with it has been near zero – its reliability has been extremely high. And, it seems to do a little better job of de-humidification. The initial reports are that it takes out a little more humidity than the older designed systems. This is a positive for our area. However, the refrigerant won’t be required until about the year 2010 – 2015, somewhere in that range. So, you don’t have to buy the new refrigerant. Most manufacturers’ newer equipment, that is higher efficiency, uses the R410A.

We’ve been basically forced into using this refrigerant to get the higher efficiency because the manufacturer doesn’t manufacture the highest efficiency equipment without it. That being the case, if you do put an R410A system in, you should put in a completely new coil, and a new refrigerant line and a new condenser because it’s not compatible with the old refrigerant or the old oil. Mixing those two together could cause problems down the road. It requires a little higher skill level to put it in, requires a little bit more preparation to make it right. But, once it’s installed, it should run trouble free for many, many years. We don’t really see any problems on the horizon with it, we’ve started using it ourselves in our company and have had zero problems with it and have been very satisfied with the results. So, don’t be afraid, the new frontier is here and we all must participate if we continue to want to be comfortable and efficient.

In the meantime, the old refrigerants R-22, which is the most commonly used refrigerant used in the past 30 years, is extremely reliable, dependable and will be available until about the year 2030 in some limited quantities. However, as it gets phased out, it may become scarce and more expense. So, just keep that in mind when you make a decision. Talk it over with the person who is helping you and do what is best for your situation.