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

  1. I`m a HIC Contractor. Recently finished a job and 8 days after completion, homeowner calls & says she had to have her AC replaced due to a snapped off copper pipe leading to unit. 4 of those 8 days was Memorial Day weekend with temps from 40-60 range. Now, my job was 18k and change, & I ask for Zero down on my proposals & pymt 3 days after completion. 11 K out of my pocket, for job, labor & material. Was accused of stealing pipe for scrap. Been in business for 40 yrs & never been sued. Until now. And I dont steal. I could report to my Insurance co. , Have a 1 million $$ policy. But, I`m being scammed and so will my ins co., Taking the court route. My question is, Could that pipe be replaced instead of whole unit ?? I`m Not a HVAC Tech. Any feed back would be greatly appreciated. I`m a Good Contractor, caring about quality & the homeowner. Thanks for reading & your time

  2. We are replacing the 18 yr. old outdoor heat pump (compressor failure) which utilized r22 refrigerant with a new model using r410A . An installer informed us they can flush out the existing line in the drywalled area, replace indoor coil and reconnect them where they are exposed in the basement area to the existing old air handler. Another installer informed us that they will not do the job unless all lines are replaced. After reading a letter on this site dated July 29, 2014, it would seem that the right method is to install all new lines/pipes even if it means cutting areas in the drywall. At the same time should the air handler be replaced with a new compatible model for the new heat pump?
    Natalie

    • Hi Natalie,

      It seems you have several replacement options. The best case would be to replace everything: indoor system, outdoor system, line set. This would give the best chance for a worry free system for years to come. Another option would be to replace both the indoor and outdoor coils, and flush the current line set thoroughly. This method (using the current line set) does have some risk. Depending on the age of the copper lines, they could have become work hardened over the years of service due to heat and vibration. This could result in future problems to your new system that would probably not be covered under a contractor or manufacturer’s warranty. Please keep in mind, it always a good idea to be aligned with your contractor on whatever you decide to do.

      Hope this helps,
      Scott

  3. HOW is it posies to pump 401A to TWICE the pressure required to make r-22 systems function without using twice the electricity??????

    • Hi Joe,

      In order to understand this better we need to look at compressor compression ratios. Compression ratios are the true amount of work a compressor must perform. In an R-22 system at ARI design (45F/130F) the system will have absolute pressures of 312 psia / 91 psia, which equals a 3.428 compressor ratio. In an R-410A system at designed ARI (45F/130F) the absolute pressures are 489 psia / 147 psia, which is equal to a 3.326 compressor ratio. The compression ratio is actually LOWER for the R-410A system, which means the compressor is actually doing LESS work due to the lower compression ratio than the R-22 system. Less work equals less energy.

      Hope this helps,
      Scott

  4. i want to change R22 refrigarent by R407 refrigarent in split type air condition..how can i do it…please reply with details

  5. The argument for R410 vs R22 is pretty clear from an environmental standpoint. R410 does have higher greenhouse effect, but that is offset by the lower net greenhouse emissions due to higher energy efficiency. More importantly, even if the net CO2 effect is greater for R410, CO2 buildup can be reversed or offset by other factors. Ozone depletion cannot be offset. Get it? It’s not “politics” or some kind a conspiracy, but simple science.

    • Global warming is science? Really, I thought this had been put to rest as nothing more than gibberish contrived by a select group of “scientist” when the planet was found to be cooling. Now it has been renamed something weather related, I can’t recall the exact term.

      • “Climate change” may be the term you seek. “Global warming” has been debunked so many ways that the “Warmers” had to adopt a new term. After all, who can argue with “climate change,” which we see every day and have had forever!

  6. If you have a system running R-22, is it possible to only replace the compressor unit with one that runs R-410a? I really can’t afford an entire new system right now.

    • You have several options to keep your existing R-22 indoor. One is to just replace the compressor if that is all that is wrong with your outdoor unit. R-22 compressor replacements are pretty common. You can also replace the whole outdoor unit with a new “dry charge” unit that was designed to work with R-22 refrigerant. The contractor will just have to re-charge it with his own R-22 refrigerant or some other replacement refrigerant like R-407C. You can use R-22 for repair situations like this but since 2009, the manufacturers can’t produce pre-charged R-22 systems – just replacements without refrigerant in them. This is also a common repair scenario for an R-22 system. The third option is to buy a whole new R-410A outdoor unit. You can only to this if the indoor coil is certified for both R-22 and R-410A , and many were built like that since the manufacturers knew this change was coming. If it is certified for R-410A, the contractor can simply upgrade the expansion valve on the indoor to match the new refrigerant to get it running. The lines and the indoor coil should also be flushed and cleaned well before the contractor recharges the system to remove any residual oil or debris.

      You might go ahead and get a quote on a whole new R410A system. Depending on how old your old system is you might realize a nice reduction in your energy bill from the newer unit as the minimum efficiency levels are higher now. The new system might also come with a better warranty.

  7. If the indoor coil is designed for R-410A then you should be able to use it when you replace your outdoor unit with an R-410A unit. However, you should have the contractor change the expansion device on the indoor evaporator coil so it can be properly set up for the new refrigerant. You should also have them clean and flush the old coil and also the refrigerant lines running to the outdoor unit (if you are going to keep those) to remove any residual R22 oil. If you keep the old refrigerant lines you should make sure they are also compatible with the higher pressure R-410A refrigerant and also have them checked for leaks. You might just want to have the lines changed out anyway to make sure you don’t have problems down the road.

  8. I just bought a house and the sellers said the ac unit was replaced two years ago, they only replaced the evaporator inside the unit but they went with a goodman unit that can take r22 or 410a, the condenser and compressor out side are shot. My question is can I evacuate the r22 and install 410a if I buy a new condenser that is 410a or do I need to flush the system somehow.

  9. It is difficult for us to say anything about your copper refrigerant lines without being on the job site. They could have had problems due to either pressure or fatigue over time or something else entirely. You might contact the company that manufactured your new system to see what they have to say about it. We also recommend getting multiple quotes from separate contractors for any large HVAC investments, including repair jobs like the one you are facing.

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