New R-410A Freon for HVAC systems

August 3, 2009 | by Ethan (email) |

Rusted air-conditioning coilI just found out that my indoor air-conditioning coil is quite rusted (see pic). A small amount of water is pooling in front of the unit because it’s not draining properly. My HVAC buddy and I opened up the unit and found a lot of rusty water clogging the drain pipe. The fix is simple; I need a new air-conditioning coil. The only problem is that new freon regulations are in the works.

R-22 Freon Regulations

Right now, residential and light commercial AC units use R-22 freon. Unfortunately, it’s been identified as an ozone depleter and will be phased out by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The phase out began in 2004 and will wrap up by completely ceasing production by 2020. Even though there’s still time, installers are beginning to push the new freon equipment rather than service equipment that will soon be outdated.

New R-410A Freon

R-410A (aka Puron, Genetron R410A, and AZ-20), the new freon of choice, was created and patented by Honeywell. It does not deplete ozone and can be identified by its pink container (the R-22 container is green). Another difference is that R-410A is more expensive for the time being. But, as R-22 supply dwindles, the price difference will shrink. Lastly, the equipment for each is not cross-compatible. R-410A systems need thicker tubing and compressors capable of withstanding higher pressures. That means that if you replace your outdoor unit, the indoor coil needs to be replaced too.

Decision Time

This information is important because now I have a choice.

    • I can purchase an R-22 coil and hope for the best. If problems arise, it may be difficult / expensive to get replacement parts or R-22 freon in the next decade. Furthermore, any freon leaks will damage the ozone layer. However, most of my equipment is in good shape and may last a while longer.


  • I can purchase a whole new air-conditioning system. This option carries a much higher up-front cost, and I’d be replacing equipment that is in good, working order. But R-410A units have been available in the U.S. since 1995. It’s proven to be efficient and even more reliable than R-22 systems.

What do you think? Would you upgrade? What freon does your AC unit have?

6 Responses
  1. Jason Todd says:

    We’re in a similar boat. I’m pretty lost when it comes to HVAC, so thanks for the clarifying article. We just bought this house in May. The central air equipment inside the house is only five years old, and although not top quality equipment, it’s in good shape. The outside unit (the compressor?), however, is an ancient Sears thing. It’s so old, the metal plate with all the specifications on it is blank. So chances are very good that we’ll have to replace the compressor some time in the next few years, but because of the switch to R104A, we’ll also have to replace the completely good equipment inside the house. Should we hurry up and by an R22 compressor now and hope it operates well for the next 15 years, or wait a replace the entire system?

    I’m planning on waiting–and saving–and converting the whole system when the old compressor dies. It will cost a lot more up front, but the environmental impact of keeping the R22 system going for another decade or more troubles me.

  2. Ethan says:

    @Jason, I’m also planning on waiting and hoping my system lasts a while longer yet. The indoor coil I’m replacing is one of the cheaper parts, so if I do have to switch in the near future, I won’t have lost too much.

    I’d suggest you look at the price differences. Replacing the entire outdoor unit is one of the pricier jobs. If you think that’ll happen soon, it might be worthwhile to do the whole system. Let me know what you decide. I’d really like to hear how it goes.

  3. Travis says:

    It is important to have general maintenance on your air conditioner to maintain the quality of your appliance. With this, it would make your air conditioner perform up to its best.

  4. billy says:

    canyou charge a 410a unit by vapor charge

  5. Ron says:

    I need to change my old R22 system to the new R-410 A unit. And, it is my understanding that it is at a higher pressure and the copper lines are larger. I have obtained a proposal to have my system replaced and the company wants to use the existing line set. This just doesn’t sound like the right thing to do. They still will give a warranty. Any suggestions? Thanks.

  6. Ethan says:

    Hi Ron,

    I’m not a professional but contractors I’ve spoken w/ said the lines need to be updated with the new 410A freon. Is this a reputable company? Can they provide references? Did you ask them about these concerns?

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