For years, R-22 was the only viable refrigerant option for air conditioners. However, as technology advances and we learn more about the environmental impact of the resources we use, we learn to do better. Since the early 1990s, people have begun switching over to R-410a. In fact, since 2010, newly-manufactured air conditioners have not been allowed to use R-22 as their refrigerant.
However, if your air conditioning unit is older than eight years old, there’s a chance that it still uses R-22. That alone may be a good reason to switch to a new air conditioning unit, particularly one that uses R-410a.
How is Refrigerant Used?
Refrigerant is perhaps the most important part of your air conditioning, the very thing that allows your AC to cool your home. Refrigerant is gas contained within the coils of the air conditioning unit that cools and dehumidifies the air on a hot summer day before filtering it into your home. Every central air conditioning unit and window unit requires refrigerant, but as we’ve come to learn, it matters what kind of refrigerant you use.
The Problem With R-22
R-22, sometimes called freons, originally replaced a mixture of carbon, fluorine, and chlorine known as CFC that was deemed unsafe for the home. By comparison, R-22 seems like a dream and that was the common sentiment for years. R-22 is not flammable like CFC, nor was it toxic or corrosive for the home. However, it is still a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC), which means it contains chlorine, and over time has been shown to contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer.
Besides that, it’s actually not the most effective refrigerant available. R-22 does not absorb and release heat as effectively as 410a, so it needs to work a little harder in order to keep your home cool. This makes it less energy efficient and means you’ll probably pay more than is necessary on your monthly HVAC bill. Finally, because R-22 is outdated and thus the demand has gone down, the price in R-22 has gone up. It’s a lose lose situation.
The Benefits of R-410a
Not only is R-410a a legally acceptable option, it’s also as superior to R-22 as R-22 once was to CFC. It’s an HFC rather than an HCFC, so it’s safer for the environment and doesn’t contribute to ozone depletion. R-410a is more energy effective and thus energy efficient than R-22 and is most compatible with tougher, more durable air conditioning units that are much less likely to break down. It’s for these reasons that R-410a has been the standard refrigerant for new air conditioning units since 2015.
How can you tell what kind of refrigerant your air conditioning uses? Well, one way to tell is to consider the age. If it’s less than 10 years old, there’s a good chance it uses R-410a. If it’s somewhere between 10 and 30 years old, it could be a toss-up. One way to tell is by checking the label of the unit for R22 or R410A. If you’re still not sure, contact Air Solutions in Bryan-College Station. With 50 years of combined experience, we can help you find an efficient air conditioning unit that uses R-410A.