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

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Comparing Refrigerants Side-by-Side

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

Compare R-22 and R-410A refrigerants

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

  1. i have installed mini split unit out door 24000 btu, indoor unit 18000 btu, compressor hermatic 73 lra 220v colpland>>>>freon 22 brand LG
    any problem in future to get troubleshooting >

  2. If I have an R22 unit and need to install a new unit with the R410 coolant. Do I need to install just the compessor or do I need to install a new air handler?

    • The evaporator coil and metering device (indoor) are specifically designed and matched for the condenser coil and compressor (outdoor). If the outdoor unit is being replaced (including the compressor) it is recommended to replace the indoor unit (air handler) as well for best performance and efficiency.

      • Your (indoor) R22 Evaporator Coils are not designed to work with 410A in them. They will also have residual oil from the R22 in them that is hard to fully remove, as do your current copper lines running from the inside unit to the outside unit. The oil from the R22 Freon will damage a new 410A (outdoor) Condenser, so you should not mix equipment that has held R22 in it with equipment that will be using 410A. You are also legally required to have an EPA HVAC license to evacuate R22 Freon, since it is harmful to the Ozone layer.

    • Condensation from the coil is normal and should collect in the evaporator pan and drain down the PVC condensate line, or pumped out using a condensate pump. The amount of condensate is dependent on many factors, the main one being humidity. This is not dependent on the refrigerant type.

  3. Pingback: Air Conditioner Compressor: What to Do When It Breaks Down

  4. I have an over 20 year old Lenox heat pump (33,000 BTU) that I have been using down to zero degrees with no problems. (I had to modify it by getting the lowest pressure sensor switch provided by the manufacturer as acceptable and then putting a delay timer on the low pressure error signal to disable it for about 43 seconds to allow the compressor to get up to full pressure which takes longer when near zero degrees.) It worked very well for over 20 years. I have a back up gas furnace, but it only is used during some of the heat pump’s defrost cycles at low temperatures and a few days a year when it gets below zero degrees. It only costs about fifty dollars per month to heat the house in winter months including both the costs for electricity and gas. I use about the same amount of electricity to heat in the winter time as I use to cool in the summer time, but it is much cheaper because the winter electric rate is much lower and I also get about a ten dollar per month decrease during those months for having all electric with the heat pump. My Freon 22 compressor just went out this year and I looked for a new unit to replace my old system with. I was told by the dealer that the new R410 refrigerant machines will not work below about 20 degrees. I found an article on the internet that said that Freon 22 works in low, medium, and high temperature environments, but R410 is for medium and high temperature environments. I am, therefore, planning on just replacing the compressor and trying to get another ten to twenty years from my current system. The R410 refrigerant is scheduled to be phased out in the 2020’s, so the new R32 refrigerant machines may be out by the time I need to replace my system and I hope it will work better at low temperatures than the R410.

    • A Heat Pump is an air conditioner that can redirect the refrigerant to the indoor and outdoor coils via a reversing valve and check valves at each coil that allows flow in one direction only, they are no different than physically installing a window AC unit backward so that in the Heat mode it will reject heat indoors.
      As it is rejecting heat indoors the outdoor coil is removing heat, effectively air conditioning the world.
      An AC evaporator coil operates at 40F to supply 60F air to an 80F room thus giving a temperature differential (Delta T) of 20F according to design conditions.

      The condenser coil condenses about 30F above ambient, so a 95F day will get a 125F condensing temperature.

      These are ballpark figures as in reality the temperatures and humidity both indoors and outdoors are infinitely variable, and higher efficiency condensing units,
      (with larger coil surface area) will condense closer to ambient, say + 25F rather than ambient + 30F.

      If we run an AC evaporator coil much below 40F, the condensate freezes up and obstructs the coil, in higher humidity it will ice quicker.

      A Heat Pump is an AC unit in every way other than having a reversing valve, 2 check valves , defrost timer & thermostat/thermistor.

      In the heat mode a Heat Pump’s outdoor coil is in the AC mode, we cannot run an AC unit with the evaporator much colder than 40F, when we do it often ices up, in the heat mode a Heat Pump will also ice up the same way, if it is cold and humid you can almost watch the frostline creep up the outdoor coil shortly after a defrost termination, the more you operate below 40F the closer you get to very little temperature differential to have an ability to remove heat (boil), at the point the refrigerant is the same temperature ir above the ambient temperature the coil is actually sub cooling liquid refrigerant rather than boiling it to a vapor by removing heat.

      Heat pumps operate much better with ambient temperatures above 40F for this reason, at 0F ambient the outdoor coil will have to be operating at – 40F to give a 20F Delta T.
      A condenser coil condenses around 30F above ambient, we have to fully evaporate refrigerant and get some superheat to fully reject heat which in a Heat Pumps heat mode is rejecting heat indoors.

    • The evaporator in the indoor unit might be approved for use with R410a, however, the expansion device in that unit is likely not approved and would need to be replaced. It is recommended that you contact an authorized dealer/contractor of the indoor unit manufacturer to determine compatibility.

  5. I had new out door of 410 and new indoor of r22 can I use it in one set. It is advisable or not to use it. Reply me immediately please.

    • The indoor unit would need to be designed for use with R410a as it would have a different expansion device for the higher pressure refrigerant.

  6. If I plan to upgrade my heat pump for increased efficiency and R410A, What parts of my evaporator inside must I consider changing?
    Currently on an R22 system

    • If you’re aiming for higher efficiency, it might be best to upgrade the entire evaporator. But I wonder, how old is your heat pump? It might be new enough that an upgrade wouldn’t make a big difference.

      Also, changing to R410a shouldn’t be a reason for upgrading. It’s hard to find concrete numbers but I remember hearing that an R22 heat pump might be able to extract more heat than an R410a model. At any rate, and I say this for both AC and heat pumps, if an R22 system still works well then you should keep it.

      • My system is a Goodman 13 seer, 3 ton heat pump. It still perform well. The only maintenance issue has been a compressor motor start capacitor. It is over 10 years old.
        The air handler includes a variable speed direct drive blower. I have posted a question to Goodman to find out if the air handler can be retrofitted for R410A.
        Will let you know.

        • keep in mind that if you mix any of the R22 and R410 the refrigerant will turn into a slush and block the filter

      • I agree with HCB, if it were me I would invest in new R30 ductwork, making sure it has no sags or bends or leaks, this is a better investment in 90% of the homes I see, certainly before investing in a high efficiency unit.

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