Background on Split System Refrigerants

There are 3 different types of refrigerants which are commonly used in split system air conditioners. They are:

  1. R-32 (Difluoromethane)
  2. R-410A (Mix of Difluoromethane and Pentafluoroethane)
  3. R-22 (Chlorodifluoromethane)

Refrigerants are an integral part of the vapour compression refrigeration cycle, as they enable the transfer of heat from one space to another. Contrary to popular opinion, no air is transferred inside or outside in this process. Refrigerant flowing through the system changes state (from a vapour to a liquid - then back to a vapour again) inside the split system, enabling it to absorb and reject heat.

If you would like more information on how a vapour compression refrigeration system operates, please click on the link 'How does a split system work?' if you have not already.

The reason why there are 3 different types of refrigerants in split systems is because ongoing research and development has produced refrigerants with higher efficiency and lower toxicity over time. A timeline of refrigerant use is below:

  • R-22 was used from 1980 through to the late 1990's.
  • R-410 was used from late 1990's to circa 2017.
  • R-32 is the current refrigerant at the time of writing.

With each evolution, each refrigerant got more efficient and better for the environment, so much so, that reverse cycle split systems are more efficient, safer and cleaner than burning Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and Fossilised Methane (Natural Gas) for heat.

Multiple Generations

As each of the 3 primary refrigerants are different generations, their composition, performance, behaviour and system requirements are all different. This is a very important consideration for an end user who may be replacing an old split system with a newer, more efficient one. If you are replacing a split system, please click on this link here, which will explain the considerations when replacing and old split system with a new one.

Other Refrigerants

Please note R-32, R-410 and R-22 are used in split systems due to their low toxicity and low flammability, however if you check out this page, you will see that ammonia, sulfure dioxide, propane and iso-butane are alternative refrigerants used to transfer heat in other vapour compression applications.

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At EZYAIR, we always endeavour to provide our customers with the most interesting and relevant information to help them to make an informed decision. If you would like more information on the subject above:

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