Manufacturers Eye R-32 To Replace R-410A (2023)

Manufacturers Eye R-32 To Replace R-410A (1)

The HVACR industry has been debating how to handle replacing R-410A in comfort cooling equipment ever since the courts ruled in 2017 that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not have the authority to phase down HFCs. After that ruling, EPA promised to issue phasedown guidance regarding HFCs, but when that did not happen right away, many states started implementing their own HFC phasedown schedules. California has been the leader of this movement, proposing a GWP limit of 750 for all new stationary air conditioning systems (residential and commercial) starting Jan. 1, 2023. Other states like Colorado and New York are looking to adopt the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program Rules 20 and 21 for a variety of end uses, including new centrifugal and positive displacement chillers, but are not currently pursuing unitary equipment.

In order to meet this deadline, OEMs started exploring lower-GWP alternatives to R-410A, and R-32 and R-454B are two of the refrigerants that several have chosen to use. (R-454B will be covered in a subsequent article.) However, both are A2L refrigerants, meaning that they are mildly flammable, and model codes do not allow their use in many types of cooling equipment. OEMs are hoping that changes to the code will allow its use in time to meet California’s deadline, which is not that far away.

Operating Characteristics of R-32

R-32 is an attractive alternative to R-410A because it offers an excellent balance of cost, performance, and low environmental impact, said Scot Swan, global market manager at Arkema. In addition, it is already widely used in Asia and Europe, so it has the potential to become a popular choice for R-410A replacement in the U.S. as well.

“R-32 is already approved today in the U.S. for a few applications such as portable air conditioners, PTACs, and window air conditioners,” he said. “Globally, it has already been adopted in many more applications and is becoming the most prevalent refrigerant in HVAC. It has been widely adopted in systems and has been operating safely and efficiently in many other countries for several years.” In fact, Daikin estimates that across the industry, over 100 million units have been sold globally using R-32.

Manufacturers Eye R-32 To Replace R-410A (2)

BALANCING ACT: According to Arkema, R-32 is an attractive alternative to R-410A, because it offers an excellent balance of cost, performance, and low environmental impact.

When compared to R-410A, R-32 offers several benefits, including higher capacities and lower mass flow rates, said John Maiorana, product support manager at Arkema. It is also a single component fluid, which means there are no glide or fractionation concerns that exist with blended gases such as R-410A or R-454B (another potential alternative for R-410A). In addition, single component refrigerants have one pressure/temperature relationship, which allows technicians to more easily become familiar with its properties, he added.

“Depending on the equipment designer, capacity gains of up to 10 percent and efficiency gains of over 8 percent can be achieved with R-32, while the amount of refrigerant charge is reduced when compared to R-410A or R-454B,” he said. “This means that smaller heat exchangers to transfer the equivalent Btu are possible. In addition, new R-32 compressor designs have been introduced that very closely match the design and footprint of R-410A compressors, yet offer increased capacities and eliminate any past concerns with high-discharge pressures without liquid injection.”

One OEM that has announced its intention to replace R-410A with R-32 in its ducted and ductless light residential, light commercial, and applied products is Daikin, whose North American companies include Goodman Mfg. Co., Daikin North America LLC, and Daikin Applied Americas Inc. The reason for this, explained Philip Johnston, PEng, general manager/low-GWP program leader at Daikin Applied Americas Inc., is that no other refrigerants have overall performance benefits that exceed R-32, and therefore, no other refrigerants bring the same customer and economic benefits.

(Video) R-454b Will Be The New Refrigerant Of The Future Starting 2025

“Let’s think about this in practical terms: A customer buys equipment capacity for cooling and heating of their space and also chooses whether they want minimum or higher efficiency levels,” he said. “In a given unit to deliver nominal capacity, we can run the compressor motor slower with R-32, meaning lower power consumption. Whereas for R-454B, the motor must be run faster to achieve nominal capacity, translating to additional power consumption, which negatively impacts efficiency.”

When testing R-32 and R-454B in certain applied variable-speed systems, Daikin has recorded up to 11 percent efficiency benefit for R-32. R-454B can make up for its efficiency loss by using more efficient motors and larger heat exchangers, said Johnston, but these technology updates could come at a cost to users.

Another benefit of R-32 is that its operating characteristics are similar to R-410A. Take, for example, condensing system pressure; if the condensing temperature is 115°F, the pressure of R-32 is 416 psia, while R-410A is 407 psia, resulting in a pressure difference of only 9 psi, said Johnston. While discharge temperatures for R-32 may run hotter in a drop-in test, he said, OEMs need only to reselect the expansion device to meet the limits set by the compressor manufacturers to ensure reliable equipment.

“For owners and operators who must balance both upfront costs with lifecycle operating costs, R-32 is a winner, with the bonus of environmental benefits,” he said. “Because R-32 is a single component refrigerant, its composition and quality will not change during recovery and can be easily reclaimed and recycled. R-32 can also potentially be reused more easily than zeotropic blends that may require additional steps to ensure composition and quality.”

Charging and R-32

R-32 has the ability to deliver more capacity at similar and/or better efficiency levels when equipment and components are optimized for use with the fluid, but it does have a higher GWP than R-454B, said Shane Angle, vice president of sales and technical services at Emerson Air Conditioning.

Manufacturers Eye R-32 To Replace R-410A (3)

LESS CHARGE: For new systems that are optimized for R-32, the charge level could be as much as 40 percent less than R-410A. Courtesy, Daikin

“The GWP of R-32 (675) is higher than R-454B (466), but it is still much less than R-410A (2088),” he said. “In addition, R-32 and R-454B have been used successfully in other parts of the world in a number of applications, and both refrigerants have been further assessed to Emerson standards for use in future compressor solutions for various global applications.”

Indeed, for a new system that is optimized for R-32, the charge level could be as much as 40 percent less than R-410A, said Johnston. In drop-in tests in certain applied unitary equipment for which piping and heat exchangers have not been changed, there is an approximately 20 percent reduction in charge.

(Video) R32 Vs R410A Refrigerant Gas Comparison🔥Which Refrigerant Gas Is BEST in AC? Safest AC Gas?🔥🔥

“Not only is the actual GWP on a pound-for-pound basis about one-third that of R-410A, but less refrigerant means less can leak over the product lifetime, so really, R-32 has a direct GWP benefit of about one-quarter that of R-410A,” he said.

As for charging a system with R-32, Johnston noted that as a single-component refrigerant, a system can be topped off in gas or liquid phases without worrying about composition changes. He noted that R-454B has glide of 2.7°F/1.5K, so it’s not recommended to refill R-454B due to the possible change in composition. In addition, when filling R-454B, the cylinder must be upside down to charge in the liquid phase.

It is important to note that as a mildly flammable refrigerant, R-32 (or R-454B) cannot be retrofitted into an existing R-410A or R-22 system. Cooling equipment must be specifically designed for use with mildly flammable refrigerants, as it is required to have protection and mitigation features that are not applied in systems that use nonflammable (A1) refrigerants, said Angle.

Tools and Training

In order to work safely with A2L refrigerants such as R-32, technicians will require some new tools and test instruments, as well as training.

Manufacturers Eye R-32 To Replace R-410A (4)

NEW TOOLS: It is likely that technicians will need some new equipment such as gauge sets and leak detectors in order to work with new refrigerants, such as R-32. Courtesy, Emerson

“Gas/leak detectors and recovery machines are the major tool changes technicians will need to purchase,” said Maiorana. “Recovery cylinders will also require proper labeling, and technicians will need to be trained by the OEM specific to the systems they are working on. Aside from flammability, servicing an R-32 system will not differ from servicing existing R-410A systems.”

Johnston stressed that it is also very important for technicians to ensure that the recovery machines they are using are approved for use with A2L refrigerants.

Training is probably the most important consideration for the upcoming transition to mildly flammable refrigerants, and contractors and their technicians should be educated on the safe handling, transport, storage, installation, and recovery of A2L fluids, said Angle. They should also be aware of the status of state and local building codes relative to the use of mildly flammable A2L refrigerants.

(Video) R32 Part 01#R32 #R32 Refrigerant

“AHRI has formed a Safe Refrigerant Transition Task Force to evaluate and address gaps across the entire supply chain in the safe refrigerant transition to low GWP refrigerants,” he said. “One of their focuses is the safe handling, transport, and storage of A2L refrigerants, and their evaluation in this area is scheduled to be completed in the next few months.”

In addition to AHRI, manufacturers such as Daikin plan to offer their own training programs that cover the safe handling and installation of A2L refrigerants, while Arkema is partnering with ACCA to do the same. Johnston noted that ASHRAE, North American Technician Excellence (NATE), and others are also developing new training and testing programs for contractors and technicians to learn how to safely handle A2L refrigerants.

Ready For Install

The only remaining question is, when will equipment containing R-32 be available on the market? Basically, it all comes down to the adoption of codes and standards that allow the use of R-32 in comfort cooling equipment.

There has been some movement as of late, as the EPA just recently prepublished its new SNAP Rule 23, which would deem R-32 as acceptable for use in many types of new residential and light commercial cooling equipment. Specifically, the rulemaking is “proposing to find R-32 acceptable, subject to use conditions, for self-contained air conditioners that are typically larger than room-size (e.g., rooftop units, water-source heat pumps, and ground-source heat pumps) and split systems, which are part of the residential and light commercial air conditioning and heat pump end-use.”

As for safety standards, ASHRAE 15-2019 and UL 60335-2-40 (third edition) already recognize A2L refrigerants for human comfort applications, but the uniform and international codes do not. Given that the 2021 code cycle has closed, and the new code development cycle for 2024 is now underway, some states are looking to amend their laws to allow the use of A2L refrigerants. Washington state, for example, has already done this, and California is looking to do the same.

“Jurisdictions like states, cities, or municipalities need to adopt the latest model building codes that reference the ASHRAE and UL standards,” said Johnston. “We need to develop products to these standards and train our sales teams and customers. I suspect certain products will launch in time for California's deadline of January 2023.”

And those new products will use R-32, which Daikin believes to be the best alternative to R-410A.

“Pure, single component R-32, a single carbon molecule, a widely available commodity refrigerant, is the most balanced and ideal refrigerant solution to replace R-410A because it outperforms R-410A,” said Johnston. “R-32 provides the best situation for our contractor customers and end users because of its incredible thermodynamic characteristics that allow for improved energy efficiencies as well as smaller equipment — that’s real value for every end user, whether the low-income sector or the environmentally conscious.”

The second part of this article series will cover the use of R-454B.

FAQs

Is R32 a drop-in replacement for 410A? ›

No. R32 is not suitable as a drop-in replacement for R410A and must only be used in systems specifically designed for R32.

What are they replacing 410A with? ›

RS-53 (R470A) is a new non-flammable Drop-in replacement for R410A with a low Global Warming Potential (GWP) less than half that of R410A. RS-53 (R470A) has a similar thermodynamic performance to R410A with matching energy efficiency and cooling capacity.

Who manufactures R32 refrigerant? ›

Aiming for widespread use throughout the world, Daikin not only manufactures and sells R-32, but it also provides technical assistance in emerging countries in cooperation with governments and international organizations.

Is R32 newer than R410A? ›

R32 is a newer refrigerant gas becoming more popular in air conditioners. It is known for being more energy-efficient than r410a, which will save you money on your energy bill! R32 is also less damaging to the environment, which is important to many people.

Which is better R32 or r410? ›

R410A has a high VCP, which requires larger pipes. Thus, it's not as efficient as R32, whose VCP is significantly lower. Moreover, R32 has a higher pressure ratio than R410A. Overall, R32 is much more efficient than R410A.

Can anyone buy R32 refrigerant? ›

A refrigerant handling licence is required when using R32 refrigerant, and a refrigerant trading authorisation is required to acquire, possess and dispose/sell it.

Is R32 refrigerant available in USA? ›

Our approach has always been to use our expertise to choose the right refrigerant for each application. R32 is the right low GWP refrigerant choice for many of our residential, light-commercial, and applied products in North America.”

What refrigerant is compatible with R410A? ›

You can mix R-22 and R-410a refrigerant in the same system.

How long will 410A be available? ›

The R-410A phasedown is on its way, are you ready for it? The HVACR industry is on the cusp of yet another refrigerant phasedown. R-410A is scheduled for elimination from all new systems in 2023.

Is R32 refrigerant banned? ›

F-Gas regulation

Not only does R32 offer operators the ability to comply with F-Gas for the foreseeable future, particularly on smaller split systems– the F-Gas rules will ban refrigerants over 750 GWP in single split systems from 2025, where charge sizes are under 3kW – but it offers a clutch of other benefits too.

What refrigerant can be used instead of R32? ›

MULTICOOL-HC32 is a high purity mixture of propane R290 and R170 ethane. It is a refrigerant with a reduced global warming potential (GWP). It is designed to replace R410a and R32 in most stationary residential and commercial air conditioning systems.

Is R32 the same as R410A? ›

R410A is a refrigerant mixture of R32 and R125 with 50/50 wt. %, and R32 is a pure fluid. The molecular weight of R32 is 28% lower than that of R410A. Critical pressure and temperature of R32 are 850 kPa and 6.0 K respectively higher than those of R410A.

What is the new refrigerant for 2023? ›

Beginning next year, new cooling systems will contain a refrigerant called R-454b with a lower global warming potential. This refrigerant is more environment-friendly than its predecessors but also mildly flammable. You can rest assured our ACS Air Conditioning Services technicians know how to handle it safely.

Which is more flammable R32 or R410A? ›

Flammability of R32 has 80% burning velocity less than R290 and slightly flammable when compare with R410A. Although, R32 discharge gas temperature is higher than R410A around 20°C and this can damage compressor's motor at some heat pump condition especially at high compression zone.

Which is the best refrigerant for AC? ›

R32 and R410A are the most commonly used refrigerant in the residential air conditioners having zero ODP, R410A is having higher GWP than R32. R32 is slightly flammable and because of risk of hazard, R410A was developed with lower flammability hazard with the mixture of R32 and R125.

Can you use R410A pipes for R32? ›

Can a R32 system be charged with R410A or vice versa? Daikin The simple answer is no. The operating characteristics of both refrigerants are different and the systems have been designed accordingly.

How much does R32 refrigerant cost? ›

The local price of R32, the low GWP air conditioning refrigerant and blend component, recently rose by 35% to around US$3500/ton.

Is R32 more energy efficient? ›

Daikin's R32 refrigerants provide energy efficiency, lower power consumption, lower conversion costs, sufficient supply capabilities, better life cycle climate performance, and lower GWP. They are also of top quality to ensure that your air-con is always in optimal operating conditions.

Do you need a special vacuum pump for R32? ›

Vacuum Pumps

Although there should be minimal refrigerant in a system ready for vacuum, it is not guaranteed and with the pending increase in the size of R32 units on the market, Heatcraft recommends you use a R32 specific vacuum pump.

Do you charge R32 as a liquid or gas? ›

Working pressures for R32 are very similar to R410A and, when charging, R32 is easier to handle, says Daikin, as, unlike R410A, it can be charged in both a gas and a liquid state.

What pressure should R32 run at? ›

The working (operating) pressure of R32 is about 12 – 26 Bar (174-377 Psi).

What refrigerant does Trane use? ›

All Trane units manufactured since 2010 use R-410A.

Is R32 hazardous? ›

Asphyxiation and freeze burns are also a risk. For transportation purposes, R32 is classified as a dangerous goods class 2.1 flammable gas under the Australian Dangerous Goods Code and therefore requires additional handling and storage safeguards compared to class 2.2 non-flammable gases.

Does R32 gas smell? ›

Hydrogen fluoride has a very foul odour. It would be expected that if a R32, R22 or R410A leak occurred in a room with a combustion source the smell would alert occupants to leave the room before they are exposed to dangerous levels of hydrogen fluoride.

Does Home Depot sell 410A? ›

Amana 7,700 BTU R-410A Packaged Terminal Air Conditioning + 2.5 kW Electric Heat 230-Volt PTC073G25AXXX - The Home Depot.

Can 407c replace 410A? ›

Will it work, yes.

Why is R-410A refrigerant so expensive? ›

The increased cost of transporting goods between countries, layered on top of dozens of industries competing for a limited supply of goods has led to huge price increases for the inputs necessary for production.

Will HVAC prices go down in 2023? ›

HVAC industry alerts are now warning of significant price increases for 2023. There are four reasons for this increase: The cooling equipment components will perform higher to achieve a high-efficiency rating. This is a good thing as these components generally have higher quality and will last longer.

Is R-410A refrigerant being phased out? ›

Starting in 2023, new HVAC systems will no longer use R-410A. These systems will also be subject to new energy efficiency standards.

Can you buy 410A without license? ›

Are you required to have a license or to be certified to handle and purchase R-410A? You are required to have an EPA Section 608 Type II or Universal certification license to handle R-410A, but no license is legally necessary for purchase.

What is the new refrigerant for 2023? ›

Beginning next year, new cooling systems will contain a refrigerant called R-454b with a lower global warming potential. This refrigerant is more environment-friendly than its predecessors but also mildly flammable. You can rest assured our ACS Air Conditioning Services technicians know how to handle it safely.

Which refrigerants are being phased out? ›

To protect the Earth's protective ozone layer, the United States is phasing out R-22, along with other chemicals. As the United States phases out refrigerant R-22, you will need to make informed choices when servicing, repairing, or replacing an existing air-conditioning unit or when purchasing a new unit.

What refrigerant is carrier going to use? ›

Carrier has selected the lower global warming potential (GWP) refrigerant R-454B as the optimum solution for use in rooftop applications across Europe. With a GWP of 466, R-454B's overall carbon footprint is more than 80% lower than HFC R-410A, the refrigerant it replaces.

What is the difference between R404a and R-410A? ›

As expected, R410a operates at a higher compressor discharge pressure and temperature than R404a. After the EES model is verified by comparison to the experimental study, the model is used to predict refrigeration cycle behavior in the case of the heat exchanger component geometry being slightly altered.

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