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

  1. If it’s burnt, your tech also needs to flush the system to remove contaminants, and install an acid filter to capture the traces that remain, otherwise you will be replacing components again very soon. And the system should be checked for acid and the filter replaced until no acid remains. It would also be advisable to determine why the compressor failed; a common issue on a unit of that age would be a plugged evaporator causing the compressor to work harder. R-22 prices right now are about $350 to $600 for a 30 lb. jug, so your tech is getting a very high markup. You may want to find another company.

  2. My 16 year old 4 ton Carrier heat pump quit. The serviceman advised that I needed a new compressor as the main breaker was tripped and resetting it, it tripped again. He ordered a new compressor. He advised the existing R22 refrigerant could not be reused because it smelled burnt. CAn that be? I’m under contract with American Home Shield and they now limit R22 to 10.00 a pound. The service company is Comfort First and they quote 1000.00 to recharge the 10.3lbs of R22. Advice ? Recover existing R22? Get another contractor to recharge the system? Buy R22 on line at about $30 a pound? Is charging for 11 lbs and using 10.3 lbs ethical in the trade?

    • Typically the reclaimed refrigerant is not reused unless it goes through a recycling process. It could be contaminated by the failed compressor, which could possibly have a nonconforming motor resulting in the ‘burnt’ smell. On average, AC systems in the US are about 14 years old when they are replaced. You may want to consider replacing the unit considering the amount it will cost to service existing unit. You will probably realize a benefit from higher efficiency since the government regulated minimum ratings have gone up since your old unit was installed, and it would be using a different type of refrigerant that will be more readily available in the future. You might look into some higher efficiency options like 16+SEER which also offer some comfort advantages. There are many articles on this site which discuss these options.

  3. R 22 was simple because it is one chemical . New refrigerant R 410 A complicated things way more , because it is a blend mixture of chemicals and every time things are complicated more problems are created .For one if you have small leak in R 22 SYSTEM you can simply add what leaked out and you are good to go , not so with 410 a leak means you should replace all refrigerant and that means vacuuming system and that means more time labor and money . REPLACING 6 POUNDS OF 410 CAN COST 3 times more THAN SIMPLY ADDING A POUND OF R 22 . R 410 is more unforgiving if proper procedures are not followed and in real world it is quite common – PEOPLE ARE IN A HURRY ,PEOPLE WORK UNDER STRESS OR ARE OVERWORKED or you have a boss idiot yelling “faster” all the time .So all those disaster stories about 410 are just a RESULT OF COMPLICATING THINGS , also having improper proportions or (% of ingredients ) in a 410 blend can be impossible to detect with gauges SO HERE IS AN EXPLANATION WHY SO MANY PEOPLE ARE DISSATISFIED WITH 410 .ANOTHER POINT HERE —-WORKING WITH 100 – 200 PSI HIGHER PRESSURES CERTAINLY IS MORE DANGEROUS BUT DO POLITICIANS CARE ABOUT THAT ?

  4. dear sir i have abig proplem in our air condition unit which ambient temperature to high froms45 to 55 c so as soon as the 4 hermatic comprossores work it failed although the refrigerant is ok so we want to chang refregerent 407 to R22 please advice me

  5. hi! I read all your question and answers , very good information.I just replace my outside unit a goodman 3 tons I had it for around 11 years. I just got a 31/2 same brand 14 seer but it’s not cooling like the r22 before, maybe could be the coil inside.I call the tech and he says that it could be the inside coil but he told that he is going to lower the speed of the fan that according to him you could set at a lower speed is that logical.

    • Hi Larry – it is difficult to tell exactly what is going on with your system without being on site with you but based on what you said in your post I could see how this might work. If it does not work out the contractor would need to keep checking for things like proper charge and air-flow, etc. Make sure to explain to the contractor exactly when (time of day or night) and the temperature and humidity at those times and also where (which rooms, etc.) you are not getting adequate cooling. I hope you have good luck with your HVAC project. Thanks for visiting our site!

  6. This is a bogus article.
    410-A is a Hydrofluorocarbon adding to global warming tremendously, just like 134A and CO emissions. Plus it uses more energy per cooling unit, having higher operating pressures than an old more efficient R22 system.
    As long as the R22 system is sealed anyone should keep it operating.
    Best options to replace R22 is a mix of R290 And R600, thats propane butane (Hydocarbon Refrigerant).
    Fridges in Europe and Asia run on R600 already. The mix is being used in aircons all over the world and in cars.

    • Hi Pete – thanks for your comments on R-410A. Here are just a few points for clarification.

      Since most of our readers are from the U.S. we develop a lot of our content in support of those systems and related regulations. For example, R-290 and propane are not currently approved for use as refrigerants in unitary AC systems in the U.S. due to concerns about flammability. In U.S. there are charge limits on equipment with R290 that limits its usage to very small applications. Also, R22 has also been banned from use in new equipment in the U.S. although it is still available for service.

      R-410A is the most common refrigerant used in the U.S. today and has only slightly higher global warming potential (GWP) than R-22 and much lower ozone depletion potential (ODP). The higher pressure R-410A refrigerant also actually has superior thermal properties relative to R-22. However, refrigerants are not the only factor in determining system efficiency. Other components like compressors, heat exchangers, expansion devices and controls all contribute to the rated efficiency of the system.

      We will continue to update information on this site as the industry begins to develop low GWP refrigerants for use in the U.S. Thanks for using our site.

  7. I just today had to replace my 17 yr old outside unit with the new 410a system. Actual dimensions of the unit are twice as big as the old one. I had to have the inside coil replaced 5 years ago and it is 410a compatible. This is actually the first time I have heard of the new systems. I hope I am not going to regret replacing the old unit instead of repairing it. I guess I will find out with the high temps we are having in Texas now.

  8. This article is a bunch of baloney. The sheer fact that R410a operates at much MUCH higher pressures ( as much as 1.6 times the pressure – that’s 160 % MORE ) means that the compressor will be doing a GREATER amount of work and that translates into MORE ELECTRICITY – the bottom line… higher electric bills.
    An R22 unit will run up to as high as 375 to 400 psi which is an incredible pressure to be sure, but a 410a unit will run as high as 600 psi or more ! This astronomically higher pressure is what contributes to a GREATER instance of refrigerant leaks and system failure. Neither the greater use and cost of electricity Nor the higher instance of system failure are benefits to using Refrigerant R410a ! it is a constant headache and a systematic disaster. In summary – a real snow job has been done to us all – consumers and maintenance people alike. Stay with R22 as long as you possibly can.
    Tell them you heard it From Jim in Buffalo who has 30 + years of experience working on Heating and Air Conditioning Units.

    • Hi Jim in Buffalo,

      The compressor in a system provides a differential pressure in order to cause movement of refrigerant within a system. This movement of the refrigerant allows for heat to be transferred from one desired location (coil) to another. This differential pressure is the true “work” on a compressor, and is described as the compression ratio. Compression ratio is defined as absolute discharge over absolute suction pressure, basically the ratio difference between compressor inlet and outlet pressures at atmospheric pressure (14.7).

      Air conditioning application conditions are currently defined by ARI as 45°/ 130°
      Using a pressure-temperature chart for R-22 this is: 76psig / 297psig
      Using a pressure-temperature chart for R-410A this is: 132psig / 474psig

      Therefore the compression ratio formula for each refrigerant is as follows:

      For R-22: (297+14.7) / (76+14.7) = 3.437

      For R-410A: (474+14.7) / (147+14.7) = 3.331

      An R-410A system actually has a lower compression ratio, when compared to R-22 at the same ARI conditions. So even though the pressures are higher with R-410A, the pressure ratio from suction to discharge is lower than with R-22.

      Hope this helps to clear things up,
      Thanks
      Scott

    • I AGREE R 22 was simple because it is one chemical . New refrigerant R 410 A complicated things way more , because it is a blend mixture of chemicals and every time things are complicated more problems are created .For one if you have small leak in R 22 SYSTEM you can simply add what leaked out and you are good to go , not so with 410 a leak means you should replace all refrigerant and that means vacuuming system and that means more time labor and money . REPLACING 6 POUNDS OF 410 CAN COST 3 times more THAN SIMPLY ADDING A POUND OF R 22 . R 410 is more unforgiving if proper procedures are not followed and in real world it is quite common – PEOPLE ARE IN A HURRY ,PEOPLE WORK UNDER STRESS OR ARE OVERWORKED or you have a boss idiot yelling “faster” all the time .So all those disaster stories about 410 are just a RESULT OF COMPLICATING THINGS , also having improper proportions or (% of ingredients ) in a 410 blend can be impossible to detect with gauges SO HERE IS AN EXPLANATION WHY SO MANY PEOPLE ARE DISSATISFIED WITH 410 .ANOTHER POINT HERE —-WORKING WITH 100 – 200 PSI HIGHER PRESSURES CERTAINLY IS MORE DANGEROUS BUT DO POLITICIANS CARE ABOUT THAT ?

  9. R410 is less efficient and more damaging to the ozone than R22. That is fact! The ever looking out for the little guy Democrats did it for the money and served you a heaping helping of syrupy feel good BS. And it works every time.

  10. Well my Air conditoning unit went out last week it cools at first then 2nd time around it warm air only. I had a tech come out and check to see waht was wrong. Needless to say after he inspected the unit for a out 30 min trying to figure out what was wrong. He noticed that the main unit upstairs was an R22 the problem that was brought up is that the compressor is a 410 A this is a newer home we bought all he could say was if our AC was working properly. Well we were like it cooled it was working until now. So now we have to get a hold of the builder and installer get it fixed and hopefully this problem is solved.

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