AC (Air Conditioning) is refrigeration where thermal energy is taken away from the air in large surroundings such as rooms, houses, buildings, cars etc. in a bid to control temperatures, regulate humidity levels and filter the air. Refrigerants are mainly either in fluid or gaseous states. They provide air conditioning when applied with compressors and evaporators.
Refrigerants are the mainstay for refrigeration, without them there can be no air conditioning to talk of. Refrigerants absorb heat from the surrounding air and it is changed from low pressure air to a high pressure liquid. Hot air is then blown over the copper coils cooling the refrigerant and turning it into low pressure gas. The air is subsequently blown over the cool coils into the surrounding area to distribute cold air. This cycle happens repeatedly.
Selecting the best Air Conditioning options is more than the mere price comparisons as we are going to see. There are a lot of other functions to consider besides the numbers with money signs on the invoice, the efficiency and cooling capacity. How does the air conditioning refrigerant of your choice affect the environment?
This had not always been a consideration to pay any attention to until the mid-1980s when it was discovered that the commonly used air conditioner refrigerant, CFC (chlorofluorocarbons) and HCFCs hydrochlorofluorocarbons), were dealing adverse effects on the Ozone layer. The culprit, Of course, being the chlorine in these alternatives. These have since been targeted for a phase out by 2030. There are four refrigerants including Bluon’s R458A refrigerant that can be found in the market:
- CFCs chlorofluorocarbons
Production of CFC was halted in the year 1994 as CFC is known to contribute to the green gas effect. These refrigerants are harmful to our respiratory systems and the ozone layer. The production was stopped since 1995 but they are still being used widely in residential air conditioning units that had already had them installed before this time. Most of the refrigerants used today are from reclaimed units that are no longer in use. The common ones still used include:
- a) R-11 CCl3F
- b) R-12 CCl2F2
- c) R-113 CCl2FCClF2
- d) R-114 CClF2CClF2
- e) R-115 CClF2CF3
These air conditioners refrigerant are considered partially halogenated since they contain a mixture of ethane and methane together with fluorine and chlorine. They are shorter lifespan and have less destructive potential to the ozone.They provide an interim solution to the refrigerant currently under development that’s free from chlorine.
- a) R-22 CHClF2
- b) R-123 CHCl2CF3
- HFC Hydrofluorocarbons
This is a much safer bet and has gained a lot of popularity in the industry as they are safer to the environment. Air Conditioners that run on this refrigerant have registered more efficiency, better AQI (Air Quality Indices), increased comfort for users and uncompromised reliability levels. They contain no chlorine and they don’t pose any threat to the ozone layer though they have a small contribution to global warming. R-134a is used in new systems that are specially designed for its use. The common HFCs are:
- R-134a CH2FCF3
- R-125 CHF2CF3
- Refrigerant Blends
Also known as “azeotropic” and “zeotropic”, they have increasingly become popular as they are environmental friendly, with the only downside being that, the total air conditioning systems production cost is higher. That is however poised to change and prices set to come down as more manufacturers switch to this type of refrigerants. The common refrigerant blends used in the air conditioning industry are:
- R-410A CH2F2/CHF2-CF3
In as much as R410 is the best bet owing to its gentleness to the environment, it isn’t completely safe. Let us look at these AC refrigeration options separately.
- a) R-134A
This one is the only approved refrigerant to replace R12 Air Conditioning from motor vehicles. its effects to the ozone have been considered negligible and is therefore considered safer for the environment. This refrigerant requires larger coils to measure up to its counterpart R410A. It has been ranked to perform lower than r410A performing at a dismal 33% difference to the south.
- b) R-407C
This is mainly used in manufactured appliances and new equipment that use nitrogen as their holding charge are mostly best suited with R-407C. It can be retrofitted on R22 air conditioning systems as long as long as the procedure includes an oil change to polyol ester oil. It is considered safe for the environment owing to its Zero Ozone Depletion Potential.
- c) R-404A
This alternative exhibits Zero Ozone Depletion Potential and therefore enjoys general acceptance in the industry. It is most commonly used in Air Conditioning refrigeration systems that that require -450 C to 150 C. These wide temperature ranges endear it to commercial and industrial transport industry.
Direct contact with this refrigerant can potentially cause frostbite and therefore precautionary safety steps are necessary. It is non-flammable but exposure to fire or extreme heat can result to exploded tanks.
- d) R-410A
This is achieved after a blend of two hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants. Difluoromethane and pentafluorothane making it transfer heat more efficiently than other refrigerants. It is the industry’s new standard when it comes to commercial and residential refrigerants enjoying wide acceptance and used because of its high pressure and refrigeration capacity. High pressure yields better efficiency levels and enhanced thermodynamic capabilities.
It is a perfect zero ozone depleting refrigerant and compares much better in regard to efficiency than R407C. R410 systems offer greater energy efficiency at very affordable price ranges and have are quieter giving more serene environments, especially indoors. It is the leading technology in humidity reduction, indoor cooling and heating.
Whatever option you go for it is very important that you always remember;
- Air Conditioners and other appliances that use refrigerants need to disposed of safely and deliberate venting of refrigerant is prohibited by law.
- All refrigerant leaks need to be addressed as soon as they are discovered.
- To engage licensed and trained technicians in your air conditioning refrigeration needs as only those are allowed to purchase refrigerants.
- Violation of regulations and policy that guide the industry attracts harsh penalties.
Refrigerants are used in various commercial and residential buildings worldwide. Choosing the right refrigerant depends on many things as mentioned above. Having a thorough understanding of what you need is the first step.