A Closer Look at Refrigerants and How They Help Your AC

Your Ac’s refrigerant is perhaps the one component of the cooling system that you do not usually think about. However, it is one that plays a crucial role in the optimum functionality of your system. Without it, or the proper amount, your AC simply would not do its job.

To keep your air conditioner in the best condition and ascertain that it operates properly for a long time, it is important to understand the basics of how it functions. So, keep on reading to know the essential role that refrigerants play, the common types and even the potential issues that can arise.

So, What is a Refrigerant?

Most individuals think of refrigerant as one liquid, but it is actually a combination of various heat transfer fluids that are utilized in all heat pump and air conditioning units. The refrigerant of your AC runs between two units: the interior and exterior unit.

Inside a typical AC is a coil known as the evaporator unit. It evaporates the refrigerant so that it can absorb heat from the surrounding air. If you have a conventional AC, this would be the heat in your house. However, if you are dealing with a heat pump system, the process can be reversed to draw heat from the outside during winter season.

After this stage, the gas is sent to another coil, where it condenses back to liquid form. From here, the heat is released, either inside or out of the house, thus helping the AC to function effectively.

The Common Types Of Refrigerants Used in Residential and Commercial Settings

There are numerous types of refrigerants which we shall discuss in this section of the read. As a home or facility owner, it is imperative that you know and understand these refrigerants so that you can be able to make an informed decision for the air conditioning system for your home or commercial setting. We are going to list the primary differences between these common refrigerants and why having the right one matters.

Refrigerant R-22

This is is a refrigerant that usually goes by the name Freon. It was discontinued for use in new systems in 2010, and by 2020, its use must be halted across the board. It’s one of the most popular refrigerants, but its contribution to the depletion of the ozone layer warranted its discontinuation.

Refrigerant R-410A

R-401A usually goes by the brand names like Suva 9100, Puron, Genetron AZ-20 and it’s also a hydrofluorocarbon like R-22. However, it does not contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer and has been approved for use in new air conditioning systems. It’s also the most common for new light commercial and industrial unitary AC systems. Its operating pressures are 50% higher than freon and that calls for components that are able to operate at these higher pressures.

Refrigerant R-134a

This is another HFC refrigerant that doesn’t contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer and also the first non-ozone depletion type to be commercialized. It is currently used in numerous air conditioning and refrigeration systems worldwide.

Refrigerant R-407C

Usually referred to by brand names like Genetron 407C and Suva 407C, R-407C is an HFC refrigerant mainly used in commercial applications and does not contribute to ozone layer depletion. It is one of the higher temperature hydrofluorocarbon options and closely matches the properties of Freon.

It is known to have a lower efficiency, but it offers the simplest conversion from Freon due to its similar pressures.

So, Which is The Best Refrigerant?

According to Emerson Climate Technologies, R-410A is an ideal long-term solution for residential as well as light commercial air conditioning. That’s because it not only has high-efficiency performance, but it does not contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer. Numerous system manufacturers have had success with this refrigerant due to its energy-efficient properties, coupled with ease of use. Not only that, but the components for designing efficient systems that utilize this refrigerant are now widely available.

Newer AC models are made to be used with refrigerant R-410A for more efficient and reliable functionality. Since the substance can absorb and release more heat than Freon, AC compressors ca run at a cooler temperature, thus reducing the risk of burnout as a result of overheating.

The refrigerant R-410A ideally operates at higher pressures compared to Freon, and so, the new compressors are designed to withstand more stress, thus minimizing the chances of cracking. That also means that systems designed for R-22 cannot work with R-410A due to the pressure differences.

ACs ideally utilize an oil to lubricate the compressor during operation. Freon AC units usually use mineral oil while the newer R-401A units utilize Polyol Ester Oils, which is generally more soluble than its counterpart. What this implies is that R-401A systems operate more efficiently, reducing compressor wear and tear.

Temperature glide is also a feature of some refrigerant mixtures or blends that is unsuitable. Since the composition changes as the phase changes, there is a small change in the condensing and evaporation temperature at constant pressure. However, systems that utilize higher temperature glide refrigerants are designed to work around this issue with meagre or no effect on the performance of the system.

One of the biggest problems that can happen in regards to refrigerants is a leak. ACs, despite what most people think, don’t consume refrigerants. Instead, they recycle the substances during normal operation. And so, it a leak occurs, the system will be drained of the fluid. This not only leads to a reduction in system efficiency, but it can lead to a complete breakdown if the repairs are delayed.

In some states, rebates or tax incentives are offered for buildings and AC systems that meet green codes. LEED, developed by the United States Green Building Council in conjunction with other agencies is the most popular rating system. Its goals include numerous economic benefits for building owners and facility managers. As such, it imperative that you assess your current air conditioning system and make the switch to better refrigerants which not only benefits your organization but helps sustain the environment.