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does coolant affect air conditioningDoes coolant affect air conditioning? Oh, yes! Without coolant, an air conditioner couldn’t function. If an HVAC was a living breathing creature, coolant would be its blood. As the coolant circulates through four components in the HVAC system, the AC functions to effectively remove heat and moisture from your indoor air.

Coolants, like any other chemical, require regulation in order to ensure public safety and environmental protection. A number of them are being phased out and replaced. 

It’s critical to understand how coolants function and which alternatives are the safest and most effective. Depending on what chemical compound your system uses, It may be necessary to upgrade your AC. 

What Makes a Coolant a Coolant?

Coolant, also known as refrigerant, can be any number of substances. Even air and water can be used as a coolant! 

What makes a coolant proficient is a low boiling point. This allows the substance to move from a liquid to a gas with ease. 

The main mission of the substance in any cooling system is to evaporate and condense continuously to pull heat into and release heat from the refrigerant. 

This cycle manipulates the refrigerant’s temperature and helps to change the indoor air temperature and relative humidity in the area we want to cool.

This is why water isn’t used as a refrigerant for HVAC systems. The boiling point of water is 212 degrees Fahrenheit; however, coolants such as the R22, have a boiling point of around 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit depending on how pressurized it is.

How Does Coolant Work in an AC? 

When the refrigerant absorbs heat from the air, it boils and becomes a gas. That hot gas is pressurized and the heat is transferred outdoors. The substance returns to a cool liquid to start the cycle all over again. 

The cycle of refrigerant moves between four components in an HVAC system:

  • Compressor
  • Condenser
  • Metering Device
  • Evaporator

The compressor increases pressure on the substance. Then it moves to the condenser where its heat is discarded into the environment. The metering device reduces the pressure, and then finally, the coolant moves through the evaporator coils to absorb heat before traveling back through the compressor. 

So, yes, coolant does affect air conditioning. Now, let’s have a look at the different kinds of coolants!

Types of Coolant 

As cooling systems change, so do the coolants we use. In 1851 Dr. John Gorrie patented the very first air conditioner system. It was devised to help yellow fever patients right here in Florida! His coolant was simply water and air. But it wasn’t a very efficient system. 

The use of water and air as coolants persisted up into the 20th century until it was replaced with sulfur dioxide and ammonia, but they were hazardous. So a group of chemists set out to find a solution to this potentially deadly problem. That’s when our current refrigerants came into being. 

But even though they are non-toxic and “safer” for us, they aren’t good for the environment. As the search for a better alternative continues, refrigerants are being developed and phased out left and right.

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)

CFCs or chlorofluorocarbons are made up of carbon, chlorine, and fluorine. This chemical was most notably known as “Freon.” They employed chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) as a coolant in a variety of applications including aerosol spray.

Then they realized that it harmed the ozone layer and governments stepped in to put a stop to CFCs. Years after emission, CFC molecules can break into chlorine atoms and combine with ozone molecules, destroying them. 

We need the ozone layer for life to continue existing on earth as we know it so CFCs have to go.

Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)

To make CFCs kinder to the ozone, they added hydrogen. This causes the chemical to hang in the air for a shorter amount of time and reduces the damage it can do to the environment. But it’s still not a perfect solution, and the search is on for better alternatives. 

By 2030, all HCFC manufacturing and imports will be banned and the EPA will destroy any leftover R-22.

Coolant Alternatives

A true winner has yet to be determined, but we have a few decent candidates to choose from currently.

  • R-410A
  • R-134A
  • R-407C

Although the type of coolant may not affect how well your air conditioner works, what type of coolant your AC uses is important. You must never mix different refrigerants. Only a professional cooling expert should add or remove these chemicals from your HVAC unit.

What’s in Your AC?

Your air conditioner’s coolant is usually indicated on the system label placed on the outside of the condenser unit. You can also check your owner’s manual. Some manuals can be found by using a search engine. If all else fails, you can call the manufacturer and give them the model number.

Determining which coolant is used by your HVAC system can help you to plan for a future upgrade or replacement. Some refrigerants have been banned from circulation and are being phased out. 

Eventually, it will be impossible to service equipment that uses these chemicals. If one breaks down, you’ll need to buy a new one.

Where Can I Find HVAC Replacement Near Me? 

Now you know more about how coolant affects your air conditioning. If your coolant is phased out, retrofitting is an option for some units, but it is costly and time-consuming. Depending on your unit’s make and model, it may not be an option. In most circumstances, upgrading to a new model is the best option.

If you need to determine what coolant your AC uses and what options you have, we can help! Contact us and speak with one of our friendly and knowledgeable representatives today!