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

  1. Hi Luis – a properly installed system should not leak refrigerant and you should not have to add refrigerant as part of regular maintenance. So it might last a while before needing a repair that requires refrigerant. If you do need R-22 it might get to be expensive over time but should still be available for repair use. Some OEM’s do not allow the use of “drop in” R-22 replacements and if they do they sometimes have special instructions regarding the oil so to you might need to check with them about that question. For example, R407C is a popular R22 replacement but you need to change to oil to POE instead of mineral oil with R22.

    Retrofitting an R-22 system to run on R-410A is an expensive and complicated job. In addition to the expense, the outdoor coil will not be optimized for R-410A which is also runs at higher pressures than R-22. Systems typically run 16 years (more or less depending on geography and run time) so maybe yours can last that long without needing more R-22. I hope this helps answer some of your questions.

  2. After 18 years as a homeowner, I finally had my entire 3-ton Hiel system (furnace, E coil, & compressor) replaced a few years ago with American Standard equipment – it runs on R22. Will I run into R22 “recharge” maintenance issues in the future and/or will MO99 fill that gap? I’m looking at my options as it applies to my scenario. Also, I’m probably a few years away from selling my house and am thinking about potential show stoppers. Since I have newer equipment, not converting from R22 to R410A shouldn’t be a problem when it’s time to sell? To change it over to 410A, I’m probably looking at around $3500 (new line set, evaporator coil, and compressor)… not cost effective at this time.

    • You have to use the refrigerant, for which the compressor and all the other components were designed to be used. Using the wrong refrigerant will probably cause initial performance issues and could make it inoperable over time. R22 and R410A also use different oils so that could make it even worse for you in this scenario.

  3. I had a system installed 4 yrs ago. It’s an R410a Rheem unit. It stopped cooling at all this past weekend, would run for hours and not drop one degree. I just had a tech come by and barely top it off with R410a. He said even if it’s slightly low the system stops working (or just stops cooling). Any reason why? My old system (R22) would just take longer to chill. We were unable to find any leaks but suggested, since it’s still under warranty to have the evaporator coils replaced. Says they aren’t made like they use to be.

  4. Question related to my Previous post
    The Sticker of the outdoor unit says
    Suction pressure max 4.20 MPa- can the .655 mm thickness copper pipe can sustain this pressure?
    Another pressure max is 1.99 Mpa
    Plz help

  5. I got a 24000 BTU Split where the manual says I need to use 1mm thickness 5/8 copper pipe but in my area I could get only 0.655 mm copper pipe. As the R410 pressure is 1.6 time higher, can I use the 0.655 mm copper pipe for the unit. The 1/4 pipe I got with a thickness 0.50 mm. Plz suggest.
    Plz help me

  6. I had R22 put in my 17 yr old Trane today. He told me R410A was causing a lot of issues in the new units and would be phased out soon. He advised me to buy a new unit the took R22. why would I buy a phased out product?

    • Hi Craig,

      R-22 has not been allowed in new AC systems since January, 2010 as part of the Montreal Protocol which was dealing with the depletion of the ozone layer. There may still be some partial systems (outdoor units) that can be used with R-22 and these are called “dry” units because they come without a refrigerant charge – and use recycled R-22 or other stocked refrigerant. R-22 dry units can still be used for repair situations but a recent regulatory guideline from DOE stopped the production of most R22 dry charge units in February, 2016, so these will be hard to get as inventory in the channel is depleted.

      One of the main reasons to use these R-22 dry units would be to avoid the cost of replacing your indoor air handler if it is still in good shape and will not need to be replaced in the near future. Our research shows that on average, people in the U.S. replace their systems when they are about 14 years old – sooner in the south and for heat pumps and a little later in the north where the cooling season is shorter. You might compare the age/run time of your system to those statistics as part of your decision process.

      On the other hand, a new, R-410A system would provide a complete upgrade to your HVAC system and would probably provide higher efficiency and possibly some comfort benefits along with a full OEM system warranty. R-410A systems have been the industry standard for US residential HVAC since 2010 and they have had a good quality record, which in many cases has been superior to what was experienced with the older R-22 systems. In general it is always a good idea to have a few quotes from various contractors before making any repair or replacement decisions

      As for the future of refrigerants, there are discussions and testing going on now with the government and industry to develop refrigerants and equipment for HVAC applications which might improve the potential impact on global climate change. However, at this time, there has been no specific timeline established for replacing R-410A in U.S. residential applications. We will be updating the articles on this site as more information comes out on this topic so check back from time to time to see what has changed.

      I hope this answers some of your questions.

  7. What is the difference in charge of refrigerant with the same capacity air conditioners for R-410 and R-22 for new system. I mean what charge is required for R-22 and what charge is required for R-410a for new systems. For example for a new system of R-22 it is probably 1.2 kg for 1.5 ton air conditioner. I understand that the charge of R-410a is more for the same new 1.5 ton air conditioner. How much more? What will be the cost difference for the same capacity of air conditioners? in my case I am interested for 1.5 ton air split air conditioner.
    Another question is why only R-410a is used in inverter technology and why not R-22?
    Having a negative impact on climate with R-410a, what will be the fate of the air conditioners bought today. I hope there will be new refrigerants coming in. If it is so shall I think of buying something which is more recent i.e. the air conditioner with a new refrigerant that is both ozone friendly and environment friendly?

    • Hi Mosuf – When comparing R-22/R-410A, if the systems are the same size and same SEER, the R-410A will typically have a smaller charge amount due to the R-410A being able to “carry” more heat per lbs of mass flow. Also, when some OEM’s developed their R-410A systems they made other changes in those designs which reduced the charge so in general, the newer R-410A systems use less refrigerant to meet the same capacities as similar, older R-22 systems.

      As far as the actual system charge amounts required, these will vary based on the liquid and suction line lengths, along with of size and efficiency of the system and refrigerant used. A contractor can use gages to insure that any re-charging is done to the proper level. Getting the charge wrong (high or low) can lead to problems with your system.

      On the question of inverter technology, there are some R22 inverter systems available in those regions that still allow R22 to be used. In the US, new systems can’t be sold with R22 so that might be why you have only seen R-410A in newer systems designed with inverter drives.

      The industry is currently considering what the next new refrigerants will be but this has not yet been determined in the U.S. For most residential applications, R-410A systems are the only ones available.

      We are hoping that there is going to be an orderly phase down of R-410A after the new refrigerants are determined and released – like there was with R-22. This would allow for service, repairs and re-charge situations for some period of time. For example, R22 was phased out in new equipment in 2010 but it is still available for service and recharge today.

      I hope this helps to answer some of your questions.

  8. I AM A HVAC CONTRACTOR, HAVE BEEN FOR 48 YEARS. WE HAVE
    RECCOMENDED REPLACEMENT SYSTEMS TO BE COMPLETED IN
    FULL, CONDENSER, EVAPORATOR COIL AND LINE SET ON EVERY JOB. ALSO PERFORMING AN INSPECTION OF THE DUCT SYSTEM, SIZING ETC.

  9. I have a split system installed(and not very well) with pipes behind the plasterboard when built, the R22 system has blown up and needs replacing but so far 5 technicians have not been able to come up with a suggestion on installation as it seems it is not easy to install new pipes for the gas. 2 have suggested they clean out existing pipes and fit something or other so I can install a new 410a. Is this possible or would I eventually wreck the new split system. ANY suggestions on how to tackle this would be appreciated. It is my only form of heating and cooling.

    • Hi Lucille,

      Cleaning, flushing and reusing the existing pipes would be an easier and faster option, but this might also lead to a slightly higher risk of leaks in the future. So installing new piping for an R-410A system would be a better alternative in the long run. However, people have been re-using existing line sets with good success over the past few years as long as they follow the required process but it is important to make sure you hire a contractor who understands how to do this and knows what to look for.

      Also, the outdoor coil and compressor are designed for a specific refrigerant and should be matched with an indoor coil and metering device that are designed for that same refrigerant. The metering device (e.g. expansion valve) would need to be replaced to work with R-410A if your old outdoor unit was designed for R-22. For the coils, we would suggest that you contact the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) who built your current system and ask them (or your contractor) if your coil is suitable for R-410A and advise you on this matter. We would also suggest to get at least 2-3 separate contractors to quote your job before deciding what to do. Most contractors can quote you on both approaches – partial or full replacement of the system and the line sets (or piping).

      Kind regards,
      Scott

  10. R-22 is the one MOST efficiency for AC unit, compared with others.
    If R-410A or else were more efficiency than R-22, why still have so many people and Factory in many countries prefer to using R-22 in their new AC system. Even though R-22 will Deterioration of the Ozone layer. Why ?
    These all actually are merchants politicized to make $$$.
    All people know, plumping the Higher pressure will using extra energy or electricity. Means extra $$$, to get the extra efficiency. Save Cost ???

  11. & now with the “environmentally friendly” R-410A you can’t just add more if your AC is low, you will have to empty it and then do a full refill!!! What a waste of $$$ for the consumer!! Hey, but who cares about the consumer, right? As long as the companies are raking in the dough thanks to the environmental nuts it’s all good!……….NOT!!!….what a bunch of CROOKS!!

  12. “…with R-410A for reliable and more efficient operation…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…” Really? That’s BS! It has nothing to do with efficiency and all to do with the environmental nuts pushing their agenda on consumers to have companies RIP THEM OFF!! give me a break! I’ve NEVER had an AC compressor go out on ANY of my ACs!!!! NEVER! no cracking!! Absolutely NOTHING like that. I’ve had the switch, breakers, fan, other things go out but not the compressor.

  13. Just got a new GOODMAN 5 ton 16 SEER System replacing my 15 year old Rheem in South Florida . System components are : GSX160601FD Outdoor and ASPT61D14AA Indoor unit.
    The yellow label outside states a 14 to 16 SEER depending on the matching indoor unit; the indoor unit doesn’t has a yellow label, I’ve unable to find the SEER for that unit even call to the manufacturer and they claim I have to ask my contractor. How efficient and
    What SEER is my system?

    • We looked up the outdoor and indoor unit model numbers in the AHRI Industry directory and it looks like that match would yield 16 SEER efficiency. You should probably ask your contractor to confirm this if possible in case we missed something or if the OEM specs had changed, etc. The contractor should know for sure what the installed efficiency would be in your application. I hope this answers your question.

  14. Our apt. has a leaking coils area 1969 very old central air unit. The coils are in the apt. ceiling and the condenser? is up rooftop. The landlords are cheapskates not fixing properly. They claim they removed freon from roofside but man who went up had zero tools or tanks in hand. Is there any explanation for our halogen tester still detecting freon, and floor-level matching signs such as burning eyes/nose/throat/palpitations, to explain this if they truly “evacuated” freon from the roof portion? This is a bad leak showing solvent corrosion of paint in the hallway directly below the unit, accompanied by a rusty colored oil coming down. Thanks for any help. Its the older r22 freon. The sys required 5 refills of freon that didnt help any, no air blows from the vents so 80 one side of apt, 70 directly inside the vents not cooling place properly.
    Also…it would not be safe to use same unit unrepaired for heat as the air goes thru same channels, correct?

    • Hi Tina – Any refrigerant leak should be repaired and proper charge level established to have the system run properly. Also, the liquid leaks below the unit could be condensate (condensed moisture that collects in a pan under the unit) which might be leaking from an overflow point. This should also be diagnosed and corrected. I can’t comment on health related issues due to leaks but changing the air filter at the beginning of each heating and cooling season might help with any dirt or debris that might be coming through the duct work. Also, our survey data shows that on average, people in the US replace their HVAC systems when they are about 16 years old – more or less, depending on where it is located i.e. units in the south get replaced at about 14 years old due to the longer cooling season which drives run time. I hope this helps to answer some of your questions.

  15. Hi, i was told by the air conditioner seller that old model of air conditioner run with R22 can be switch to R410 by changing the piping only without changing the outdoor unit, is that true?

    • Hi Frankie – Outdoor units (and compressors) are designed for a specific refrigerant. The unit will not operate properly and may not operate at all if used with a refrigerant it was not designed for. R-410A is not a suitable replacement refrigerant for R-22. I would suggest you get 2-3 other contractors to advise you on this matter.

      Hope this helps.

  16. R-22 is sufficient for comfort cooling, as like DX, Air Cold and Child Water Cooling.
    R-410 is sufficient for precision cooling like Up flow, Down Flow & in-row.

    The refrigerant gas type recommend by principle. any have more info please share with us and gain the knowledge.

  17. I need an outside unit/ condensor using r22 replaced. The cost in refrigerant alone with save me $800.00, if I were to switch to the new refrigerant. . It is covered by warranty for the unit outside but not the refrigerant, Does the inside unit/evaporator need to be replaced if I were to ask for the new outside unit to use the new refrigerant? If so, do you feel it would be an advantage to pay for the new inside unit if I have to?

    • Hi Jeff – The outdoor units need to use the same refrigerant as the indoor unit. If you go to R410A on your new outdoor unit you might be able to replace the expansion device on the R22 indoor unit so you can use the new R410A refrigerant but only if it was designed for this modification as the pressures are different. Your contractor or the OEM who built your system should be able to help with this.

      However, our research shows that, on average, HVAC systems in the US last about 16 years before they are replaced but the replacement age might vary due to geography (e.g. more run time in the south) and whether it is a heat pump (runs both winter and summer). So, if your system is near or over 16 years old and/or has had a lot of run time you might want to consider replacing both the indoor and the outdoor units to avoid having to spend more money for future repairs on the old indoor unit. Also, a failure of your old indoor unit might actually end up damaging the new outdoor unit you just replaced.

      Another reason for replacing both is to get the full energy savings from the new outdoor unit – which probably has a higher SEER (Seasonal Energy efficiency Ratio) of 13 or 14 SEER. If your indoor unit is/was a lower efficiency you will probably not realize the rated efficiency of the new outdoor. If you match the efficiency and the refrigerant on the indoor and outdoor units you will get a matched set with the right efficiency and you will probably get a full, new warranty on both if something happens in the future.

  18. I have a R22 copeland scroll type compressor. The unit that needs a compressor replacement needs a R410 compressor as it was running on R410 system. The R410 compressors are not available locally but R22 compressor is available. After changing the oil in the R22 compressor to suit for the R410 gas, will the compressor work, if at all it will not work, please give reasons why it will fail to work.

    • Hi Athailus

      It is virtually impossible to retrofit a system designed for R-410A to be suitable for use with R-22. The compressor and other major components operate on a totally different pressure/temperature correlation and you would have to change all of them. As you stated, not only does it require you to change the oil in the compressor, but all of the compressor internal protection devices would not allow the compressor to function properly. Another reason would be based on the efficiency of the heat transfer of R-410A being about 40% better than R-22, the displacement is lower on an R-410A compressor. Basically all the pressures required for R410A are totally different than those required for R22. If the wrong refrigerant is introduced, the pressures that the compressor delivers to the rest of the system will not provide the right conditions for proper cooling.

      I would suggest checking with a qualified contractor to advise you on your options.
      Hope this helps,
      Scott

  19. having trouble with my system cooling. keep freezing up and leaking R22. this is the 5th time within 6 months with 3 different companies charging me for freon. I was told yesterday that i have a goodman 2.5 ton 13 steer R22 compressor and a 3 ton system. i was told that i needed to change to a american standard 3 ton 14 steer 410A to get the maximum amount of air in home to match my 3 ton system and the best price for coolant in the future. is this necessary? i was also told that the system is not sealed to RA, system air not filtering, no txv unit, no overflow on system and LL dryer leaking. Suggestion- purchase American Standard 3 ton 14 seer 410A, txv, and 20X25X4 honey well filter.

    • Hi Tammy,

      A Leaking coil causes pressure drop within the system. Since the indoor coil temperature is directly affected by pressure, this causes the normal condensate to freeze. Air conditioning systems (unlike Heat pumps) do not have a defrost cycle to clear this ice. Blocking the airflow with ice, can cause future problems with the system. Since several service calls have been made, it sounds like you are experiencing one or more refrigerant leaks in this system. In this case, the proposed replacement might be the best solution. We usually recommend that homeowners to get at least 3 quotes from qualified service companies before making their final purchase decision.

      Hope this helps,
      Scott

  20. I have a 4 year old 5 ton Fedder system that died. Technician says it is the compressor which is under warranty. I am being told the 3/4″ lines that are inside my walls are too small for the R410a refrigerant and that I need to upgrade my pipes to 7/8″ pipes that they want to run up the outside of my house to my attic where my air handler is located. The vertical hight is approximately 30′ and about another 10′ of horizontal to the handler in the attic.
    Does this make sense? The increase from 3/4″ to 7/8″ will make that big a difference?

    Any help appreciated!!!!!

    • Hi Andrew,

      Generally it is a good practice to ensure that all components are compatible for the refrigerant being selected. This refers to not only the indoor coil, outdoor coil, compressor, and metering device, but to the line set as well. The system line sizing is typically based on the unit type, location and capacity being selected. As always, I would be sure to get multiple quotes on any “new” installation before deciding on a particular A/C investment.

      Hope this help,
      Scott

  21. This article is senseless nonsense falsely promoting 410A.

    1) 401A being able to absorb more heat is only a benefit to the HVAC industry, increasing their profit margins. They are not passing any savings on to the consumer except if you count the increasing rarity of R-22 due to the phase-out.

    If anyone actually cared about efficiency they would use high efficiency compressors, larger coils, high efficiency fan motors and blades. They do not, it’s just whatever is cheapest that’ll last a warranty period.

    2) That R-410A operates at a higher pressure is not in any way some good thing, not some assurance that compressors are built better. On the contrary it just means the system has more stress and built to the same price point (remember, it’s all about profits) it will fail sooner. To try to spin the opposite is foolish and naive.

    3) Trying to claim the difference in mineral oil and synthetic is arbitrary and just plain wrong. Synthetic oil can be used with equal, actually better results due to the lower pressure mentioned above, in R-22 systems. This point in the article is probably deliberately ignoring facts if not deliberately misleading. You’re merely assuming that if an old system used mineral oil that a new R-22 would too, while most industries have moved to synthetic any time wear is a concern.

    4) The Dry Charging paragraph. It just repeats the myths propigated previously. Yes the price of R-22 will go up so why do people still pick it? Because they aren’t duped by nonsense like this article contains, know that if it weren’t for R-22 depleting the ozone layer and so being restricted in use, THAT WE WOULD STILL USE IT AS THE SUPERIOR SOLUTION.
    If it was actually inferior in use then the industry would switch to R-410A with no mandates needed, just to stay competitive.

    In closing, R-410 offers no real advantage from a technical standpoint. Energy costs completely swamp the production costs of refrigerant so it is irrelevant that it’s more efficient per volume because a larger volume of R-22 would be a trivial cost difference, and is actually cheaper over the long run because its lower pressure system takes longer to leak so it needs replaced, and refrigerant bought, less often.

    • Gerome,

      There are several Mobile apps available for Pressure/Temperature conversion for different refrigerants.
      Looking at a Pressure Temperature chart for R-22 for 60 psig = 34F degrees, 34F degrees for R-410A = 105 psig

      Scott

      http://www.emersonclimate.com/en-us/Resources/Mobile_Apps/Pages/emerson_ptpro.aspx

  22. Hi, i like to seek your opinion on whether R22 can use a R410 compressor exchange valve. I have an old A/C with R22. Recently, i hired an A/C company to redo the coiling and duct work in the attic. Without knowing, they put in coil and compression exchange valve that works with R410A even though i still use R22 compressor and condenser.

    This month, the AC compressor crapped out and was replaced. However, the AC company that was provided by the warranty company noticed we are using a R410A valve and claims that would cause the compressor to break. Is that possible? The a/c company i hired said the reason they replaced the old coiling with R410A was due to R22 being phased out and that R410A valve can work with R22. Who’s right? Thank you!

    • Some coils are compatible with both R-22 and R-410A but in most cases the thermal expansion valve is changed to match the refrigerant being used in the outdoor unit to insure proper performance of the system.

  23. Hi,
    I have an 2007 Amana 16 SEER that was serviced in 2010. The tech added 3lbs of R22 instead of using R410-A. What are the consequences of this action and what can I look for to be replaced now that the AC needs service (6-2015) and the tech that put the R22 is coming back to fix this issue?
    thanks,
    James in California.

    • James.

      Air Conditioning systems are designed, tested and approved for a certain combination of components (e.g. refrigerant and oil) so the system and compressor along with controlling devices inside the system may not function properly if the wrong refrigerant is used. I would recommend getting any leaks fixed, removing the old refrigerant and recharging with the proper refrigerant at the right charge level and then ask the Service technician to check the compressor amp draw and run some diagnostics to make sure it is running ok.

      Hope this helps,
      Scott

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