What role does refrigerant play in keeping your air conditioner operational?
Without refrigerant, there would be no air conditioning, refrigeration or freezing technology. Refrigerant is a compound found in either a fluid or gaseous state. It absorbs heat from the environment, uses compressors and evaporators to cool the air back down.
Refrigerant has undergone changes in the past few years. While R22 was once an acceptable refrigerant to use in AC systems, today it has been phased out in favor of R410A refrigerant, which doesn’t have the same damaging impact on the environment.
Air conditioners contain refrigerant inside copper coils. As the refrigerant absorbs heat from the indoor air, it changes from a low pressure gas to a high pressure liquid. This liquid is sent outside to the AC unit where a fan blows hot air through the coils and exhausts it to the exterior.
As the refrigerant cools down, it turns back into a low pressure gas. Another fan located inside the house blows air over the cool coils to distribute the air throughout your home.
Then the cycle repeats.
Refrigerants have changed over the years:
R12 – Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) – these were known to contribute to the greenhouse gas effect, ceased in 1994.
R22 – Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) – slightly less damaging to the ozone, yet still causes some damage. Scheduled to be phased out by 2020.
R410A and R134 – Hydrofluorocarbons (HCFs) – zero chlorine in the mix means it’s safer for the environment, provides more efficient, better air quality and reliability.
Is it time for an upgrade? If you are still using R22 in your current air conditioning system, it’s time for an upgrade. The EPA doesn’t require you to upgrade your equipment immediately, but if your system springs a refrigerant leak, replacing it with more R22 is going to be a bigger challenge over time as the amount of R22 on the marketplace is depleting.
You can’t replace R22 with R410A because the system parts aren’t compatible. Which means in the long run, it’s more efficient and more cost effective to replace your air conditioner with a new unit.
Ready to explore your options with a new air conditioner?
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