What’s the Difference Between R-22 and R-410A?

AC Heating Connect Service Tech uses an iPad 6 for important HVAC information

One of the hottest discussions (pardon the pun) within the air conditioning and heating industry is the difference between two refrigerants – R-22 and R-410A. As a homeowner considering a purchase, it’s important that you understand the difference so you can make the best decision for your system. We’ve outlined below the main differences and why they matter.

R-22

  • Often referred to by a brand name like Freon®
  • As of 2010, R-22 was discontinued for use in new air conditioning systems
  • R-22 is a hydro-chlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) which contributes to ozone depletion

R-410A

  • Often referred to by a brand name like Puron®
  • Has been approved for use in new residential air conditioners
  • Is a hydro-fluorocarbon (HFC) which does not contribute to ozone depletion
  • Will become the new standard for U.S. residential air conditioning systems in 2015

Performance Differences

Newer air conditioning models are designed to be used with R-410A for reliable and more efficient operation. Because R-410A can absorb and release more heat than R-22, your air conditioning compressor can run cooler, reducing the risk of compressor burnout due to overheating.

R-410A also functions at a higher pressure than R-22, so new compressors are built to withstand greater stresses, reducing the chance for cracking. If you were to put R-410A refrigerant into a system designed for R-22, the pressure would be too much and the unit would break.

All air conditioners use an oil to keep the compressor lubricated during operation. R-22 air conditioners use mineral oil and R-410A systems use synthetic oil. The synthetic oil is generally more soluble with R-410A than mineral oil is with R-22. This means the R-410A system operates more efficiently reducing wear and tear on the compressor.

Dry Charging

While R-22 was outlawed in 2010 for use in new units, some companies are taking advantage of the law by producing what’s known as ‘dry charge’ units. These are new units that don’t have the refrigerant installed at the factory. Instead, a technician is required to come out to your home and install the R-22 refrigerant. While this practice is technically legal, this isn’t the best option for the following reasons:

  • There is a limited supply of R-22 and its price will increase as supplies diminish
  • R-410A offers greater efficiency, saving you in energy costs, and is much better for the environment
  • Dry charged units typically offer much shorter warranty periods

What have you heard about these two refrigerants? We can help give you unbiased answers!

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353 thoughts on “What’s the Difference Between R-22 and R-410A?

  1. I have two LG Minisplit systems in my house. Both systems have the LG LMU369HV cold/Heat Pump outdoor unit and both systems were purchased in 2014 and installed in 2016. The problem system has 3 LMN097HVT and one LMAN127HVP Art Cool wall inverters. I have had multiple refrigerant leaks in this system. Two weeks ago one of the 9K BTU units blew a huge leak at 3am. Refrigerant gas leaked into the bedroom for about 2 hours until the condenser was depleted. Five days before, the coils on this unit had been replaced because of a leak. All of the wall inverters have had at least one leak, some at the connections and some in the coils. Does anyone have any ideas why? Also, do all these leaks mean that I might have to replace ALL my wall units??? I sure hope not. I have wondered if one of the dumbbells here mixed the refrigerants. I live in Florida and we have an over abundance of dumbbells here. My units are supposed to get R-410A but, if a technician doesn’t have any on his truck he may have thought R-22 would suffice. Could I be wrong?

  2. I have two LG mini split systems in my house with the same LMU369HV Condensers. One that pairs with a LG 12K BTU Art Cool and three 9K BTU LMN097HVTs. I have had numerous leaks in all the wall inverter units. One just had the coils replaced and blew a leak at the connection at 3am 5 days later. I had Freon leaking into my bedroom for about 2 hours until the condenser emptied. My units were bought in 2014 and installed in 2016. I have had numerous problems and improper functioning with the one condenser and all the units connected to it. The other system works like a charm. Same purchase and install dates. Can anyone lend some advice? I am thinking there is technician error involved. I know the flares on the connections are tricky and wonder if that could be the problem. Also, some dumbbell (I live in Florida and we seem to have an abundance of them here) might have loaded the wrong refrigerant. Could this have caused the leaks? Or, air in the line, or moisture?

  3. I have found that R410a charged equipment does not last near as long as air-conditioners charged with R22. I own several commercial buildings and all of the newer 410a systems are prone to leaks. 410a systems also require that they be precisely charged otherwise they have lost all of their so-called efficiency. Goodman recently lost a class action lawsuit over leaks in their 410a coils. The AC companies love the higher pressure 410 systems because they will be replacing units sooner. The consumer is the looser all around.

    • I definitely agree with your statements. The central unit in our home (Whirlpool “green wedge”) just turned 40 years old this year and we’ve been in the house for over 18 years and I’ve NEVER had to call an HVAC guy to service it. In those 18 years all I’ve done is oil the bearings in the fan motors (yes, the motors have oil ports), keep the evap and cond units clean and I’ve replaced a couple capacitors and contactors/relays and it just keeps chugging along with an in/out air differential of 22° with little difference on the hottest days. I am not fooled by the R410 rhetoric and when I need a new compressor I’ll get a new one and replace the R22 with AC77 which operates at a slightly less manifold pressure than R22. Done deal.

      The new HVAC system our church had installed is a DISASTER!! And yes, it used R410.

      The best advice I ever received regarding central A/C systems is to keep technicians away from it if it’s working normally and do as much of the maintenance you can do YOURSELF. I’ve followed this advice to the letter and so far it has proved to be the most valuable advice I’ve ever received regarding HVAC systems. Oh, and I don’t have any electronics in the system. The thermostat is still the original White Rodgers that came with the house when it was built in 1979.

  4. Is R-410A significantly more hygroscopic than R-22 – more prone to pick up moisture? Is it more likely to deteriorate in presence of moisture? If so, are HVAC techs likely to be updated and competent on keeping systems dry on installation?

  5. Is it true that in 2020 all R22 units will be illegal to repair and you have to get the 410 or whatever?

  6. I have several rental properties, so I have had to deal with this problem many times.

    1) It is quite expensive to go from R-22 to R-410A, as most of the time, you must change out the inside and outside units. I have had terrible luck with R-410A replacements as well. I don’t know if they are built poorly, have not gotten rid of the design flaws, or what the problem is.
    2) I am quite bothered that the ozone layer seems to be okay; but, somehow R-22 is still a problem. I cannot believe that there have been enough change-outs to have changed the ozone layer in this short amount of time.
    3) What about the various R-22 “equivalents” which operate under the same pressures, and therefore, can be used in R-22 machines? I think there is 407-C and some refrigerant from China.
    4) Perhaps another article needs to be written so that the choice is not simply a binary one.

  7. Why HVAC businesses continue to lie that R22 is ultra expensive and charge $90-$100 per pound, while it can be bought easily for $17/lb including shipping even in small amounts (30lb). It is even cheaper if bought in larger amounts like a HVAC business would.

    It seems like the HVAC “technicians” are realy only salesmen for new systems. They lie that leaks can’t be found and repaired and refuse to even try. They would either gladly recharge a leaking system at $100 a pound plus labor, or even more gladly sell a new one that would inevitably start leaking after several years. The whole industry is a scam.

      • My local Ferguson supply store sells 30 lb bottles for $475 = $15.83/lb, while my local HVAC guy said it costs him $875. I wonder why he would like to me like that, too..

        • So tell me what type of work do you do. Must be nonprofit charity. You by a ceiling fan at Walmart you pay 65.00 plus tax. They paid 20.00 do whine and expect people to just give there efforts away. Yes there are bad ones out but don’t expect us to give it away. Do we come on the weekends? Nights? Do you on your job? We carry a lot of inventory to get our customers up and running as soon as poss that costs money.
          So if you work for free I take it all back but if you don’t, don’t blast the industry. And yes last fall prices were hitting 900 per 30 in the south. Also if you are buying or selling refrigerant with out a lic you are violating epa law with has huge fines. Only an idiot would by from eBay drums are not 100% tamper proof if you know what you are doing.
          Think before you speak next time.

        • Our HVAC company charges about 125. for a run capacitor that I was able to buy new for 18. Dollars. There mark up is insane.

  8. I had approx. 2lbs. slow leak per season in my R22 unit… I had a service tech come to top off my R22…. I later realized he used R 407 replacement INSTEAD to make a cocktail. Everything I’ve read says it won’t mix however I also hear it’s done all the time and frowned upon…. Now my unit doesn’t work at all. I believe he blew open the slow leak with the extra pressure. Now I’m looking at having to replace my entire unit because of that dumb tech. Should I try to make them fix the leak and recharge?

    • It depends on where the leak is. If it’s in the tubing between the condenser (outdoor side) and evaporator (indoor side), then by all means fix/replace the tubing. Otherwise, if the unit itself is compromised then you’ll need another. They have used ones if you don’t want to buy new equipment.

      Before recharging, I’d recommend doing a vacuum test by drawing a vacuum and then turning off the pump. If the vacuum remains after several hours then everything is good. Otherwise, the leak isn’t fixed. This will save you money, especially if you buy genuine R22.

    • Most of the the older units. Leak at faulty o-rings at the compressor attachments to the system.. they have come out with neoprene seals to replace a rubber seal.

  9. i have r410 voltas ac ,if we fully filled with this gas what happens to the ac component and environment, what are all the defects.

  10. Very interesting page, thanks
    My questions:
    Is it true that R410A-systems are more critical to tube sizes than R22? (my dealer told this to me)
    At the moment I have a R22 18000 Btu LG non inverter split ac (SEER = 10). The tubes are smaller than the producer specification says (liquid line -29%, gas line -21%)
    My tubes: liquid line 4,2mm, gas line = 10mm diameter
    my elevation difference = 5,8m, tube length 9m
    LG specification: liquid line 6,35mm, gas line = 12,7mm diameter
    max elevation difference = 7m, max tube length = 15m
    the ac run for my opinion o.k.
    Now I want change to a more efficient ac TGM optima 18000 Btu inverter split ac (SEER = 23). I do not want change the tubes (only clean), because they are installed under plaster.
    TGM specification: liquid line 6,35 mm, gas line = 12,7mm diameter
    max elevation difference = 20m, max tube length = 30m
    What do you think,
    – will the tubes for a new TGM optima 18000 Btu inverter split ac (SEER = 23) also o.k? How much power will I probably loose?
    – What other things could happen?
    – what could happen in the worst case?
    Why install the producers the capillary tube in the outside unit and not in front of the evaporator? Why this pressure reduction at this place? The system loose max elevation difference and max tube length (and efficiency?).
    Thanks in advance for your answers!

    • We recommend contacting the unit manufacturer to review your tubing request with the engineering group and determine the potential capacity reduction you incur.

    • It is not only refrigerant that determines line set sizes. Keep in mind that on mini split systems there is no “Liquid” line between the indoor and outdoor unit. The metering device is in the outdoor unit. Best practice is to follow the manufactures guidelines. If you want to argue with the contractor over line sizes and beg the manufactures engineers for clarification good luck getting anything done in a timely manner. Follow the installation instructions or if you do find someone that will do it your way don’t expect a warranty. Those that don’t care…don’t care.

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