Category - Air Conditioning
Guide author photo

Will Scholfield, Engineer

31 Jan : Updated 9 Apr ● 6 min read

What is air conditioner refrigerant?

Your air conditioning unit is filled with different components, each as important as the next, to ensure your system runs as efficiently and effectively as possible. A key ingredient to the smooth running of your system is refrigerant. To put it simply, refrigerant helps create the cool air that circulates your home through your air conditioner. Without it, your system wouldn’t work.

What is air con refrigerant? How can you spot a refrigerant leak? This guide will explain why refrigerant plays a crucial part in the home air conditioning system, how to check your refrigerant levels and also what to do if you ever spot a refrigerant leak.

What is air conditioner refrigerant?

The refrigerant used in air conditioning systems is usually found in either a gas or liquid form. It is a crucial component for a working system as it absorbs heat from the environment and converts it into a cool air flow when combined with the other components of your air conditioner.

What type of refrigerant is used in air conditioning systems?

There are many different types of refrigerant used in a variety of refrigeration products, but for air conditioning systems, there are two main types; R-22 or more commonly known as Freon, and R410A, also known as Puron. Puron is said to be much more environmentally friendly than Freon, and is the most popular choice for modern AC systems.

The type of refrigerant in air conditioning will depend on how old a system is. Manufacturers of air conditioning systems are actively looking to replace Freon with Puron entirely by 2020. Not only will it be kinder to the environment, but it will also have the same effective cooling properties. However, the only downfall is that Puron cannot be used with Freon systems, meaning that eventually, you’ll have to replace an old system.

Freon has been used as the main refrigerant in central air conditioning systems for many years. Its use has been shown to be harmful to the environment, so, as a result, has been banned from being manufactured.

What are the benefits of using R410A?

Aside from being the modern choice for air conditioning systems today, there are many benefits of switching to a Puron refrigerant, including the following:

  • Using a Puron refrigerant in your system provides much greater efficiency. Unfortunately, older air conditioning systems will have to be replaced as they will not work with this type of refrigerant.
  • The production of R410A is much cheaper than R22. It’s more cost-effective for you in the long run too.
  • As mentioned previously, this type of refrigerant is much better for the environment. Being more environmentally friendly means that there will be less damage to the atmosphere. As there are still some harmful chemicals within this type of refrigerant, the damage will be significantly less than if we all continued to use Freon.

How does air con refrigerant work in an air conditioning system?

Air conditioner refrigerant is the crucial part of the air cooling process and is situated inside the system’s copper coils. The job of the refrigerant is to travel through the system to the different parts of the air conditioner, changing from a low-pressure gas to a high-pressure liquid. As it does so, it absorbs heat and then releases it along its journey, helping to bring cool air to the rooms of your home.

When the refrigerant travels to the outdoor unit, it releases heat through condensation, which then forces it to cool down. When it reaches the indoor unit, the refrigerant causes evaporation because of the reduced temperature coming into contact with the warmer air. The process repeats itself which constantly blows out a steady stream of cool air, blown into a room by fans and vents.

The refrigerant cycle in air conditioning is continuous and the refrigerant itself will always stay at the same level all the way through your system’s life. However, this is only upon the assumption that your system doesn’t encounter a leak.

How to spot an air conditioner refrigerant leak.

Freon leaks in particular can be harmful, not only to the environment, but to anyone who comes into contact with the substance. There are a number of signs you should look out for, some more obvious than others:

  • Warm air and low airflow - Is your air conditioning system blowing out warm air? If there is warm air being produced from the vents of your system, or if the airflow isn’t what it should be, then this could be an indicator that you have a refrigerant leak or low air conditioner refrigerant pressure.
  • Increase in electricity bills - You may notice that your electricity bills are higher than usual. This could mean that your system has to work much harder to provide the right amount of cool air from the loss of refrigerant.
  • Noisy AC system - Your system may be much noisier than usual. These bubbling or gurgling noises can indicate a fault within the system and if there is a leaking of refrigerant somewhere along the way.
  • Refrigerant poisoning - If someone in your home is suffering from dizziness or nausea, or if they are struggling to breathe, then you should seek medical help immediately. This could be due to refrigerant being released into the atmosphere.

What to do if you spot a refrigerant leak.

It’s very important to fix a refrigerant leak as soon as it is confirmed. If you’re not sure, you should get in touch with your air conditioning manufacturer and have an engineer run a series of tests to check for a leak. If your system runs on Freon, then it is even more important to get in touch with a qualified engineer; exposure to the refrigerant chemicals can be very dangerous.

Choose the right air conditioner refrigerant for your system.

Air conditioner refrigerant is an essential part of the running of an air conditioning system. It’s needed to ensure you receive cool air to the right areas of your home and, by choosing the right type, it’ll be cheaper for you and kinder to the environment.

If you need more information about your air conditioning system, use our online live chat to speak instantly with a qualified engineer. If you suspect you have a refrigerant leak or any other problem with your system, contact your air conditioning manufacturer as soon as possible for expert advice and guidance.

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