A variety of different types of coolants are used in newer models of commercial air conditioning systems. It’s important to understand coolants, to be able to make informed decisions regarding maintenance, repair, and updating of HVAC system. Three of the most popular refrigerants currently in use are R-407C, R-410A, and R-134a, but there are others in use as well. The various types of coolants and their main properties are described below, including the older R-22 that must be replaced with newer coolants.
- This coolant has been approved for use in new HVAC systems.
- It is common to identify R-410A by a brand name rather than its generic description. It may be called Suva® 9100, Genetron® AZ-20®, Puron®, or another brand name.
- Since it is a hydro-fluorocarbon (HFC), it does not cause ozone depletion.
- It is the most commonly-used refrigerant for newer, light-commercial and home unitary air conditioning systems.
- The operating pressures for R-410A are significantly higher than R-22, requiring that R-410A systems have components that can work at pressures over 50% higher than R-22 systems.
- R-22 is no longer used for new air conditioning systems, a change that became effective in 2010.
- A common brand name for R-22 is Freon®.
- This coolant is a hydro-chlorofluorocarbon (HCFC), a type of coolant that is no longer used because it causes ozone depletion.
- Use of this coolant is prohibited in all HVAC units after 2015.
- This coolant is used in many different refrigeration and air conditioning systems around the world.
- Because it is a hydro-fluorocarbon (HFC), it doesn’t cause ozone depletion, as older coolants did.
- It is the first non-ozone-depleting fluorocarbon coolant to have been successfully commercialized.
- This coolant has a single component and no glide, and is used in many big commercial screw chillers.
- This coolant goes by the brand names Genetron® 407C and Suva® 407C, among others.
- R-407C is a hydro-fluorocarbon (HFC), and is preferred because this type of compound doesn’t lead to atmospheric ozone depletion.
- R-407C is the closest match to R-22 of all the higher-temperature hydro-fluorocarbon coolant options.
- This is a high-glide coolant and has lower efficiency than others, but because it has similar pressures to R-22 it provides the simplest conversion.
A Great Option
R-410A is a good choice as a long-term coolant option for both light commercial and residential air conditioning systems. The reason for this is that it combines highly efficient performance with a direct GWP value that is close to the value of R-22. It is also energy efficient and easy to use in most air conditioning systems, plus many components are now available that contribute to the ease of designing R-410A systems that operate efficiently.
R-410A is often the coolant of choice for new system designs because it absorbs and releases a greater amount of heat than R-22, allowing the A/C compressor to run cooler, and thus decreasing the risk of the compressor burning out from overheating. Because R-410A operates at higher pressures than R-22, use of this coolant also requires that compressors be built to withstand these increased pressures. The result is that the system is better made and less likely to crack.
R-410A air conditioning systems use Polyol Ester oil (POE) for lubrication, an oil that dissolves better than the mineral oil that had been previously used did. This means that the newer cooling systems operate better, thus minimizing the amount of compressor wear and tear and allowing the equipment to last longer.
A final consideration regarding any air conditioning system is how environmentally friendly it is. In some areas, it’s possible to get tax incentives or rebates for systems and buildings that meet state or local utility green codes. Systems that use R-410A are more sustainable and easier on the environment. As such, these systems can have a rapid payback period and may earn rebates as well, making them an economically sound choice as well as a positive choice for the environment, and this difference can make these systems the first choice for new installations.