For an air conditioning unit to work it needs to have a refrigerant added to it. This works within the coils of air conditioning units to cool and dehumidify indoor air – which is exactly what we want air conditioning units to do. As you might expect, the refrigerant we use has changed over the years – after all, technology is always bringing us new options and air conditioning units are certainly no exception.
Previous Refrigerant: R-22
In the past air conditioners have used a refrigerant called R-22. Most (if not all) air conditioning units used to use this refrigerant. However, it was discovered just a few years ago that R-22 contains an ozone-depleting chlorine. The fact that it is a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) means that the government took steps to phase out the use of this type of refrigerant. Now you won’t find any new units with this type of coolant and even older units are having this phased out. Now thanks to the Clean Air Act of 2010 the manufacture of systems that need this has been prohibited. In fact by 2020 the production of R-22 itself will stop, so all of these systems will need to be replaced.
What We Use Now: R-410A.
Since R-22 is no longer seen as a viable option, it makes sense that there needed to be an alternative. Now you’ll see that most cooling systems now use R-410A as their choice of refrigerant. This refrigerant has no chlorine and therefore is seen as ozone-friendly – great news!
Another great thing is that this type of refrigerant used in the right way can actually be much more efficient that previous coolant products so as well as being great for the environment; it can be great for your bank balance too!
Buying a Unit
If you’re looking to buy an air conditioning unit then make sure you buy an R-410A system now. It is not possible to buy R-22 units new but there could be some second-hand systems out there. What you need to remember is that over the next few years R-22 will stop being made altogether and this could mean that you’re left with a system that doesn’t work. Instead it is far better to look ahead and buy a system that you know is going to work in the long term.