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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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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