On a hot day, we want to find a cool escape inside. We turn on our air conditioning units and expect cool air to come out of our vents. How does your system cool down your home? Refrigerants play a major role in making this possible.
In the past, the HVAC industry has seen various types of refrigerants. There are three most common refrigerants used in HVAC: chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). CFCs and HCFCs have been phased out due to their negative impact on the environment and the earth’s protective ozone layer. HFCs are still used today such as R-410A and R-32.
A refrigerant is a chemical compound that produces a cooling effect when it’s paired with compressors and evaporators and shifts between a gas and liquid state. The refrigerant cycle involves changing the physical state of the refrigerant as it passes through the components in your HVAC unit. Starting as a low-pressure gas, the refrigerant passes though the compressor, and heads into the condenser. Here, it is turned into a high-pressure liquid. As it passes through the expansion value, it produces a low-pressure liquid where the evaporator absorbs the heat, and it becomes a low-pressure gas. Finally, it flows back to the compressor where this process repeats.
A refrigerant that is increasing in popularity is R-32. It was previously a difficult refrigerant to handle but has since become more practical. Leading manufactures across the globe, such as Daikin, have chosen R-32 to be the refrigerant of the future. Here are the top three reasons why R-32 is different than other refrigerants:
Easy to Work With
One of the major advantages to R-32 is that it can be charged in both its liquid and gas forms. It’s a single component that doesn’t change its composition over time. This characteristic makes it “easier to clean, reuse, recover and reclaim than non-azeotropic blends.” According to ACHR News, an azeotrope is “a mixture of two or more refrigerants that acts as a single fluid” and “will not separate under normal operating conditions.” This means that during service calls, it’s easy to top off. R-32 is also widely available and easy to install.
Environmental conservation has been an increasing concern. As past refrigerants have been linked to a negative environmental impact, mitigating the impact refrigerants have on the environment is crucial. R-32 retains a zero-ozone depletion potential and is coupled with a global warming potential (GWP) of 675. When compared to other refrigerants, R-32 only has approximately 1/3 of the GWP of R-410A. It is also more energy efficient as it allows reduced refrigerant charge and has a higher cooling seasonal performance factor (CSPF) than R-410A and R-22. All these factors contribute to a reduced carbon footprint.
Many refrigerants are highly flammable and pose toxicity concerns. They can be dangerous if there are any accidents due to equipment failure, installation error or maintenance neglect. R-32 has the highest, which is the safest, Acute Toxicity Exposure Limit (ATEL) of 220,000 ppm when compared to other lower toxicity Class A refrigerants. R-32 is also less flammable as it is classified as an A2L refrigerant. It takes 100 times more energy to ignite than propane found in household appliances. R-32 remains efficient in extreme climates. Daikin mentioned that their “engineers have found that R-32 can be used in heat pump and cooling applications, as well as extreme cold and hot climates with improved performance over R-410A.” The improved performance and use in extreme climates not only demonstrates its efficiency but increases the safety for those using R-32.