What You Need to Know About the R-410A Phase OutDave Hays
Almost as soon as R-410A was being implemented in HVAC equipment across the United States, manufacturers and government agencies began to realize that it was horrible for the environment. The GWP or Global Warming Potential of R-410A was higher than it was for R-22, but also 5 times higher than R-32 and 3 times higher than R-454B.
For the record “environmentally friendly” is a misnomer. We don’t know of any refrigerant being used anywhere in the world that is “friendly” to the environment. It is more a matter of degrees (to what degree is this or that refrigerant causing harm) as no refrigerant that escapes into the atmosphere is good for or friendly to the environment.
We all know that the planet is warming—why not pick a refrigerant that is less likely to accelerate that warming by using a more environmentally friendly refrigerant?
Myths About the R-410A Phase Out
The Phase Out Will Happen Overnight
Originally the phase out of R-410A equipment was slated for January 1, 2023—for many reasons that goal is not going to be reached. For most HVAC applications (excluding VRF), the goal seems to be a ban on any refrigerant with a GWP greater than 750 by 2025. This would exclude manufacturing equipment using R-410A (GWP of 2088). Much like the phaseout of R-22, the government is taking its time on eliminating it to avoid drastic spikes in costs. The price of R-22 was relatively stable until the complete ban on manufacturing/imports went into effect in 2020.
R-410A Price Will Increase
It will go up in price, but if it skyrockets, it will be unlikely to be caused by the phase out alone. Most of the expected increases in the costs associated with R-410A are likely to be caused by the same inflationary pressures that a lot of products are experiencing.
The metal containers used to contain the refrigerant now cost more due to the price of metals going up.
The labor market is tight everywhere meaning the labor needed to manufacture the containers and the refrigerant has gone up.
While some R410A is manufactured in the US, we have gotten a lot of it from… you guessed it, China. Shipping costs to move the refrigerant across the Pacific Ocean have soared recently. That container ship carrying all those jugs of R410A has seen costs quadruple in recent history (fingers crossed that prices come down in the near term)!
I Will Have to Replace My Equipment to Avoid Bans
No, you won’t. We will be able to repair your systems well into the expected life of your new 410A system. The current phase out on R410A lasts well into 2037 according to the phase down schedule enshrined in the AIM Act (Dec, 27, 2020), and since most air conditioner life expectancy is 10-15 years, the system you bought this year will be able to be repaired for years to come.
What Will Replace R-410A?
R-32 and R-454B refrigerants are slated to begin replacing R410A in U.S. HVAC equipment starting 2023. Here’s what you need to know about R-32 and R-454B:
- Zero Ozone Depletion
- 1/3 GWP of HFC 410A
- Superior energy efficiency
- High refrigeration capacity & thermal conductivity
- Low pressure drop
- Single component refrigerant easy to handle and recover
- Low toxicity
- Readily available (R32 is used in the manufacture of R410A which is a blend of 50% R32 & 50% R125
- R-32 is currently used with other refrigerant gasses to make R-410a. R-410a is the current refrigerant choice for all manufacturers of HVAC equipment (Until January 1, 2023)
Note: R-32 is technically listed as flammable. Studies have shown, however, that the conditions needed to ignite R-32 are so specific and extremely unlikely to exist and as such it is not something concerning in the vast majority of residential or commercial applications.
- Higher efficiency for heating than R-32
- Requires less refrigerant by 5-10% than equipment using R-410a uses
- R-454B has a lower GWP (Global Warming Potential) at 465-GWP than does R-32 at 675-GWP
- The close operating pressures and temperatures of R-454B when compared with R-410a allows manufacturers to build equipment using parameters that are very close to that of equipment that uses R-410a
Note: R-454B is technically listed as flammable much like R-32, although to a lesser degree. Studies have shown, however, that the conditions needed to ignite R-454B are likewise so specific and extremely unlikely to exist and as such it is not something concerning in the vast majority of residential or commercial applications.
Stay Up-to-Date With Legacy Air
Manufacturers have made a decision in most cases as to what refrigerant they will be moving to as government mandates and environmental pressures force them into action. Due to many factors, not all deadlines for these changes have been met, and we imagine some of them will be moved again as larger issues influencing the decisions change. The team at Legacy Air is here for you to stay up-to-date with the R-410A phase out and will continue to do so as new information is released.