R-404a, its properties and possible alternatives

Operators of equipment that use R-404a or R-507 as a refrigerant will find a brief overview of R-404a and R-507 and potential alternatives to these refrigerants in this article. We also briefly describe what actions to take when using R-404a / R 507 and explain where to go for further information and assistance.

Basic information about R-404a / R-507

The F-Gas Regulation (EU) 517/2014 came into force on January 1, 2015. It is stricter than the previously applicable F-Gas Regulation of 2006. It applies in all European Union member states and is part of the European roadmap for a low-carbon economy. Its central goal is to significantly reduce fluorinated greenhouse gases in order to protect the climate and environment.

Current situation

It became illegal to sell new systems containing R-404a refrigerant on December 31, 2019. Since then, the current F-Gas Regulation (EU) No. 517/2014 has made it illegal to market stationary refrigeration equipment containing F-gases with a GWP (global warming potential) value of 2,500 or more. This prohibition affects R-404a since it has a GWP of 3,920.

However, refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat pump equipment that was already placed on the market and is still in operation may be filled with recycled and virgin R-404a refrigerant until December 31, 2029.

Another measure required by the F-Gas Regulation as part of the phase-down is a gradual, significant quantitative limitation of high-GWP refrigerants by 2030. The foreseeable result: refrigerant scarcity and much higher prices.

Given this situation, we strongly advise against buying new R-404a equipment. If you are planning to keep an existing system running for a long time, you should consider having it retrofitted for an alternative refrigerant. It should be a refrigerant with the lowest-possible GWP that also falls under the A1 safety classification (no flame propagation, low toxicity), offers close to the same cooling capacity and equally high system efficiency, and has a similar working pressure. In addition, the new refrigerant should not require component replacements or an oil change.

Possible alternatives to R-404a / R-507

Most manufacturers have developed alternative refrigerants with significantly lower GWPs that already meet the stated requirements, at least for special products. Substitutes for R-404a include:

  • R-452a (GWP 1,945)
  • R-407f (GWP 1,825)
  • R-449a (GWP 1,397)
  • R-448a (GWP 1,387)

The refrigeration capacity is about the same as R-404a or slightly lower in the case of R-449a. All possible alternatives are blends with a high temperature glide. R-448a and R-449a should be given preference due to their low GWP values. The better energy efficiency ratio of R-448a can also help to cut operating costs.


Operators using R-404a as a refrigerant in their equipment will have to switch to an alternative in the foreseeable future.

More information: The GWP value of refrigerants and its importance for operators

Use our GWP value calculator to easily find out what you need to do and find suitable alternatives.

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Regulation (EC) No 1005/2009 has banned the use of hydrochlorofluorocarbons since January 1, 2015. Urgent action is needed! The CO2 equivalent is below the limits that currently require regular leak testing. Nevertheless, as an operator, you should perform regular leak tests and maintenance to avoid risking machine breakdowns. CO2 equivalent is above the limits. In this range, regular leak testing (every %s months) is mandatory! In addition, there are record-keeping obligations regarding the charge size, the CO2 equivalent and the recycling or reclamation facilities.

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