R-410a, its properties and possible alternatives

The text below offers you, an operator of refrigeration or air-conditioning equipment who may have switched from R-22 to R-410a, a brief overview of R-410a and possible alternatives to this refrigerant. You will also learn what actions you need to take under the EU F-Gas Regulation when using R-410a and where to go for further information and assistance.

Information about R-410a

R-410a is a refrigerant that consists of equal parts R-32 (difluoromethane) and R-125 (pentafluoroethane). The blend was developed as a substitute for R-22, a HCFC refrigerant that has been banned for several years, and behaves in practically the same manner as R-22.

R-410a is a synthetic refrigerant used in refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat pump equipment. It and R-134a, another popular refrigerant, have been used in roughly 90 percent of all air-conditioning and chiller systems for years. R-410a is not ozone-depleting but has a GWP (global warming potential) value of 2,088, which makes it a greenhouse gas.

Current situation

The GWP value of under 2,500 means that R-410a is not affected by many upcoming prohibitions under the EU F-Gas Regulation. However, the regulation’s phase-down scenario and resulting gradual volume restriction of high-GWP refrigerants will create shortages of these refrigerants. This will likely increase the price of R-410a significantly.

In addition, mini split air conditioners and heat pumps with a refrigerant charge size of less than 3 kg may not be filled with refrigerants with GWP values over 750 starting in 2025. That effectively bans R-410a from being used in those units.

Possible alternatives to R-410a

There is already talk about replacing R-410a with a drop-in refrigerant with equally favorable properties but a significantly lower GWP value. R-32 (GWP of 675; even less taking into account the refrigerant charge) is being widely discussed as a potential drop-in solution for R-410a and is already in use in places such as Asia. R 32, which makes up one half of R-410a, is mildly flammable but has a low burning velocity and ignites only under certain, avoidable circumstances (A2L safety classification). It is therefore classified as low-hazard. Other than the much lower GWP value, its benefits include a smaller refrigerant charge and excellent cooling and heating efficiency.

Furthermore, Honeywell has developed “Solstice L-41”, a refrigerant with a slightly lower GWP value than R-32 (583). It is based on the manufacturer’s HFO-1234yf technology but also contains some R-32 and R-125, which are both HFCs. Like R-32, it also falls under the A2L safety classification (mildly flammable). The new refrigerant is already available and intended to replace R-410a in residential and small commercial air-conditioning systems and heat pump equipment. According to the manufacturer, it satisfies all the requirements currently met by R-410a.

Conclusion

R-410a can be freely used as a refrigerant at least until 2025 but will become less available and likely much more expensive in upcoming years as volumes are increasingly restricted. Operators using this refrigerant in their equipment should at least consider switching to an alternative refrigerant in the foreseeable future.

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

If are currently using R-410a, you should have the GWP value calculated. We will use this value to recommend concrete things you can do.

Please fill in the following fields.

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.

Your message to us

Do you have any questions? If so, simply fill out our contact form. We look forward to hearing from you!