Types of freon for home ACs & cooling refrigerants

Freon has an important role in your home, but many people know little about it. However, if you say “refrigerant,” they may know it’s important.

AC unit

Your air conditioner requires this chemical compound to do what you need it to do. If not, you’ll soon be walking around in your underwear at home just to be able to have a bearable temperature. 

The middle of the summer will have some challenges you won’t have during the winter. If your air conditioner doesn’t turn on, it could be that you need to check it for this chemical compound.

There could be many other reasons why it’s the case, but a lack of freon is just one of them. Dirty air ducts are another possibility. 

There are some types of refrigerants that have been banned. We’re here to take you on a journey and learn about the various types. 

They have unique properties that let them provide cool air when they do their magic in evaporators and compressors. Environmental heat is absorbed, and a cool breeze follows. 

There’s a chance you’re confused when it comes to this subject. Which type do you need? Which types have been banned? What are you replacing your current refrigerant with when it becomes time? 

Are there any types you can use instead of the one you currently use? 

If you’re not using the right type, it can damage your unit. They’re not all interchangeable, so you must find the appropriate replacement if yours has been phased out. We’ve included a table further down in the article that can help you find the right replacement refrigerants for R22, R12, R404, and others.

Let’s get on with the article and explore the various types and their properties. 

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)

It’s a type of refrigerant that was used in the past. However, it damaged the ozone layer that protects the earth, which is why they are no longer used. The world came together to ban these substances rather quickly. 

If we were only capable of coming together equally quickly today, it would be a great thing. Regulations were proposed in May 1977. The proposed regulation involved the control of certain types of aerosols. Within a year, the proposed regulation was promulgated. It took effect in December 1978, less than two years after the proposed ban. 

It was originally in 1974 when scientists notified the general public that these gases were a problem. The research was published showing how these chemicals were causing issues to the ozone layer by depleting it. Worse, it was used in a bunch of products like aerosols and packaging. It became clear by 1985 that the scientific community was onto something. A massive hole was discovered that scared the world. 

Without the discovery of this hole, the world wouldn’t have been able to act as fast as it did. 


The great news is that the ozone layer is doing better than it previously was. However, it required action worldwide to get it done. A worldwide ban was introduced in 1987 that would slowly encompass all the different countries. Developing countries were given until 2010 to enact the ban fully. However, developed countries had to live up to the Montreal Protocol by 2000.

The Montreal Protocol was introduced in 1990 when it strengthened measures against using CFCs.

It’s impressive that this was managed in roughly 10 years since it’s been said to help completely avert a crisis. In comparison, there are still countries out there using leaded gasoline, like North Korea and Afghanistan.

In the US, leaded gasoline was banned in 1996 under the Clean Air Act. However, few exceptions included aircraft and racing cars.

R-11

Its production was used in cooling hotels and office buildings. Low-pressure centrifugal chillers used a vast amount of this in their systems. You can sell it for money if you have any of this lying around. Despite its ban, reclaimed R-11 remains available after being phased out in 1995.

R-12

There is still a vast range of units out there that are using R12. It’s although its production is illegal. What it means is you can use it and sell it. You can just not manufacture it. You can still find cans of this stuff around, however.

R-12 refrigerant replacement

The best replacement for your R-12 requiring unit is R-134a. We’ll go more into detail in its section.

R-115

The R115 CFC was banned under the Montreal Protocol. Along with the two previously mentioned types, it was extremely bad for depleting the ozone layer. It’s another type that distributors and resellers are happy to buy from you if you have any available. 

R-114 Freon

R114 is another type of high-ODP freon. ODP stands for Ozone Depletion Potential. For that reason, it is among the types of freon with high global warming potential, or GWP. It has good chemical stability. This feature is especially useful for shipboard chillers and other highly corrosive applications. 

R-113 Freon

It’s used as a cleaning agent for electronic components and an aerosol propellant. Its low-pressure features can also be used as a foam blowing agent. 

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)

The list of HFCs refrigerant gases is pretty substantial. However, we’re not going to delve into every single one. However, we will touch on some of the more popular ones people search for. 

List of HFCs
R-23R-236eaR-347mccR-422CR-508B
R-32[16]R-236faR-347mmyR-422DR-448A
R-41R-236meR-365mfcR-423A
R-125R-FE-36R-404AR-424A
R-E125R-245caR-407AR-425A
R-134R-245cbR-407BR-426A
R-134aR-245eaR-407CR-427A
R-E134R-245ebR-407DR-428A
R-143R-245faR-407ER-429A
R-143aR-245mcR-407FR-430A
R-143mR-245mfR-410AR-431A
R-E143aR-245qcR-410BR-434A
R-152R-254cbR-413AR-435A
R-152aR-254pcR-417AR-437A
R-161R-263R-417BR-438A
R-227caR-272R-419AR-439A
R-227ca2R-281R-421AR-440A
R-227eaR-329ccbR-421BR-458A
R-227meR-338eeaR-422AR-507[A]

Here’s a list of the HFCs that we’ll be going through:

R-410a

If you’ve ever seen AZ-20, ECOFuor, or Puva, these are all names under which R-410a are being sold. It was first invented in 1991 by the company now known as Honeywell. It’s been a gas that has replaced R-22 in air conditioning units across a range of countries in the world. 

Air conditioning units that use this type of gas must be equipped with the necessary spare parts. It’s one of the preferred gases to use in residential and commercial spaces.

It became the natural replacement when R-22 was phased out due to the Montreal Protocol. It prohibited its use in air conditioning units made after 2010. The phase-out of R-22 varies across countries.

What is R-410A being replaced with?

R-410A is being phased down, and units will start using R-32 instead, replacing it. The process is a prolonged one that will take place in the 2020s. 

R245ca

In 1993, publications suggested that R-245ca could potentially be a replacement for R-11 as it resembles it a lot, along with R-123.

R-245fa

Avoid skin contact with R-245fa refrigerant as it will cause frostbite or significant skin irritation. It’s popular in industrial air conditioning and systems, making energy recovery at high ambients. 

R-125

R-125 is popular as a fire suppression agent besides being used as a refrigerant. It’s important to know that it’s not a gas without issues as it has a GWP of 3450. It means its global warming potential is many times higher than carbon dioxide. The good news is that it doesn’t deplete the ozone either.

R-404A

It’s compromised of R-125, R-134a, and R-143a. This freon is an HFC blend used in commercial refrigerators requiring low-temperature ranges. Ice makers and refrigerated vehicles also commonly use this gas. 

R-407C

With this high–performance blend, the R-407C offers a great alternative to the R-22. It can be used in compatible AC units, whether residential or commercial. It offers great features for applications with evaporator temperatures above 20F. 

Its A1 safety classification and R-matching cooling capacities to R-22 have many benefits. 

R-507A

R-507A is a refrigerant suitable for flooded system conversions and a good replacement for R-22 or R-502. It’s an azeotropic HFC blend that is being used in industrial refrigeration. Ice skating rinks and food processing are just some places to use this. 

R-508B

It’s a great Freon for replacing R-13 and R-503. It’s commonly used in medical freezers because of its considerable cooling capacities. Medical facilities often need the very low-temperature features that this gas offers. 

R-134a

R.134a replaced R-12 and R-22 in medium and high-temperature applications. It is a great option for automotive air conditioning, which is its most popular use. 

car

R-32 refrigerant

It’s a gas that has been around for some time. It’s included as 50% of R-410A. R-125 is the other half of R-410A. It has various benefits, including its lower GWP numbers.

Portable and window air conditioner units are places where you will see R-32 being used. 

These are all part of the most popular refrigerants that people search for. Wikipedia has a full list that includes a vastly great number.

Replacement refrigerant table

Replacement refrigerant & alternativesAlternative
R-22R-407c or R-410A
R-12R-134a
R-404aR448A, R449A, R452A, or R134a
R-410aR-32 and R-454B
R-32HC32
R-134aR-1234yf, R-152a, and R-744
R-407cR32 and R444B
R-507R502 and R22

R404a refrigerant replacement

R404A is being discouraged, especially in Europe, where it’s being affected by the current rules in place. The EU has strict phase-out rules affecting substances with GWP levels above. R404A’s GWP is 56% higher, standing at 3922. The best replacement for R404A refrigerant is R448A and R449A, and R452A or R134a. R513A can be used in settings involving medium back pressure applications. 

However, it’s a newer alternative. 

HFOs

These have several benefits over HFCs because of their lessened GWP numbers. The most used one in the category is the R-1234YF. Its GWP number is only 4 times higher than carbon dioxide, substantially lower than all the other gases we have covered here. 

R-1234yf

If you want a great replacement for your vehicle, R-1234yf refrigerant is a good option to look into. It is assuming it currently takes R-134a. However, you should not be mixing the two. R-1234yf is corrosive, and specific lubricants are important to protect your investment. 

Mixing different refrigerants is a recipe for disaster and will only cause damage to the system. DIY fixes can be done when it comes to repairing dents or getting the smell of smoke out of a car. However, it is not recommended when dealing with the more intricate parts of the vehicle. 

HC

Hydrocarbon is a classification that’s often used in small refrigeration devices. Various sources believe that hydrocarbon may soon be what domestic refrigerators use. They’re great because they’re very leak-resistant in their deployment. 

It’s unlikely that hydrocarbons will play a significant role when it comes to air conditioning systems. Here are a couple of examples that we’ll cover. 

R-290 refrigerant

It’s free of ozone-depleting properties as well as non-toxic. It’s also a good alternative to R-22 in various situations. It’s used in some commercial refrigeration units while having a low GWP.

R-600a refrigerant

R-600a is a hydrocarbon and is becoming increasingly popular in the market. Whereas R-290 is generally used in commercial settings, R-600a is more typically used in residential refrigerators.

Which is the right one to use?

You may have found this article because you suddenly found your AC unit not working anymore. It’s important to know that a lack of freon is not the only reason your unit may not work. 

Your air conditioner will be equipped with a large sticker or plate that provides more information on the type you need. It can normally be found on either the compressor or the evaporator. As mentioned, the gases are not interchangeable.

As you have seen, they serve very different purposes. It also means that the parts that are used for them differ. 

Banned refrigerant

R-22 and HCFCs are being phased out. CFCs are already part of a category of refrigerants that have been banned with the use of the Montreal Protocol. 

Air conditioner freon refill cost

It usually costs somewhere between $200 and $400 to refill freon in an air conditioner.

Is R22 refrigerant still available?

R-22 is still available, but it’s no longer being manufactured. Older HVAC units may still use it, and your contractor may be able to get recovered supplies of R22 from other sources.

What refrigerant is replacing R22?

A safer material is replacing R22. Instead of using R22, R-410A will be used moving forward. Another alternative is R-407C. Make sure to ask a professional, licensed contractor for advice. 

How do I know if my AC needs Freon?

There are various signs that your AC is running low on freon. A high energy bill is one sign to look for. If your AC is on but blowing warm air, you could also be running low. 

Why is R22 being phased out?

R-22 poorly affects the ozone layer, and its production was limited in 2010 for that reason. Only recovered, recycled, or reclaimed supplies are available in today’s market. Those changes went into effect in 2020. 

How much does a Freon refill cost for an AC unit?

A refill of Freon will typically require a couple of pounds of gas. It means you will probably end up spending $200 to $400 for a refill because the per-pound cost is roughly $150.