The HVAC industry is continuously evolving to meet changes in technology, regulations and environmental impact. One of those major changes is the R410-a phase out, and the adoption of new refrigerant standards in 2023.
In this article, we discuss all the refrigerant changes set to take effect in 2023.
R410a Phase Out
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will begin the first part of the HFC phase out based on the American Innovation & Manufacturing (AIM) Act, which stipulates the transition from harmful hydrofluorocarbons to more environmentally friendly alternatives. As part of this stage, R410-a refrigerant will be phased out in new HVAC systems.
HFCs are recognized as greenhouse gasses that contribute to global warming. The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol aims to reduce HFC consumption by over 80% by 2047, in order to slow down the rise in global temperature by 0.5 °C before the end of the century.
In the US, the AIM Act authorized the EPA to set standards for the gradual phase out of HFC. The EPA released the first guideline for HFC production reduction in 2021 and will continue until 2036.
R410-a will be replaced by A2L refrigerants, which are a class of refrigerants that have higher efficiency and lower GWP (Global Warming Potential). The two foremost R410a replacements are R-32 and R-454B.
- Zero ozone depletion
- Possesses 1/3 the GWP of R410A (675 vs 2,020)
- Better energy efficiency
- High refrigeration capacity
- Improved thermal conductivity
- Less pressure drop
- Lower toxicity
- Easier to handle and recover
- Even more efficient for heating than R32
- Requires 5-10% less refrigerant to service the same equipment compared to R410-a
- Lower GWP (465) compared to R32 and R410a
- Close operating pressures and temperature with R410-a, making transition easier
Other approved R410a replacements
In addition to these two refrigerants, the EPA’s SNAP Rule 32 identifies four more A2L refrigerants as approved alternatives to R410-A:
Note that these refrigerants are approved only for new self-contained and split-system air conditioners specifically designed for A2L refrigerants.
What is the Impact for Consumers?
Existing air conditioners cannot simply switch from R410-A to the new refrigerants. A2L refrigerants may only be used for new AC and HVAC units specifically built for them.
This means that consumers can continue to use their existing AC and HVAC units and not have to replace them, or replace the R410-A refrigerant that they use with A2L. However, the EPA has proposed banning the use of R410-A in new air conditioners and heat pumps by January 1, 2025.
As R410-a production gets gradually reduced and phased out, the refrigerant will likely become harder to find and get more expensive. Therefore, if you are installing a new AC or HVAC unit, or replacing your old system, we recommend future-proofing your investment by purchasing one that uses the newer A2L refrigerants.
Eco-friendly Air Conditioners that Use R32
Friedrich CCF08B10A 8000 BTU Chill Premier Smart Window Air Conditioner, 115V – Energy Star
This 8,000 BTU window AC has cooling coverage of approximately 300 – 350 sq. ft.
It features 3 cooling speeds, plus 3 fan-only settings and auto fan, 8-way air flow control and a new one-piece frame for fast, easy installation. Of course it includes the standard installation hardware and expandable side curtains and it is lightweight – about 50 lbs.
As part of Friedrich’s Chill Premier Series of “smart” room air conditioners, it boasts WiFi connectivity and Amazon Alexa support, enabling you to control by smartphone or voice commands. Once you download the Friedrich Go App, you can easily create and set a custom cooling schedule that fits your schedules and preferences.
The premium line also features QuietMaster technology which results in quieter cooling operation, as much as 25% quieter than competition. This is accomplished through heavy duty insulation on the inner wall for sound absorption, as well as a stiffened sheet metal casing to help block external noise. Vibration reducing counterweights also help to reduce the sound. Additionally, the wide discharge vents optimize airflow and minimize front panel noise.
Price: $449.00Friedrich CCF08B10A 8000 BTU Chill Premier Smart Window Air Conditioner, 115V - Energy Star ... View Product
Price: $449.00Friedrich CCF08B10A 8000 BTU Chill Premier Smart Window Air Conditioner, 115V - Energy Star
Friedrich CCF12B10A 12000 BTU Chill Premier Smart Window Air Conditioner, 115V – Energy Star
The CCF12B10A provides 12,000 BTUs of cooling power, enough to service 450 – 550 sq. ft. It has 3 cooling speeds, plus 3 fan-only settings and auto fan, 8-way air flow control and a new one-piece frame for fast, easy installation.
Like its smaller 8,000 BTU cousin, it packs WiFi connectivity and Amazon Alexa integration as part of the brand’s Chill Premier smart AC line. Other features include a dedicated remote control, 24-hour timer, Sleep setting, and washable, antimicrobial filters to help prevent mold and bacterial growth. A Money Saver® setting saves money by operating the fan only when cooling.
Price: $599.00Friedrich CCF12B10A 12000 BTU Chill Premier Smart Window Air Conditioner, 115V - Energy Star ... View Product
Price: $599.00Friedrich CCF12B10A 12000 BTU Chill Premier Smart Window Air Conditioner, 115V - Energy Star
Amana PTH153J35AXXX 15000 BTU Class 10.4 EER PTAC Air Conditioner with Heat Pump
Amana’s “J” Series uses R32 refrigerant, which is up to 12% more efficient than R410A. This PTAC unit offers 14,400 / 14,600 BTUs of cooling power, a 14,000 / 14,300 BTU heat pump and a 3.5 kW electric heater, providing approximately 9,900 / 12,00 BTUs of electric backup heat. It features an EER of 10.6 / 10.4 and will cool a space that is about 450 – 575 sq. ft.
This new series is even quieter than previous units. The new, improved design reduces operating noises from entering your guest rooms with an STC (Sound Transmission Class) of 29. They also come equipped with RF and Bluetooth connectivity but do require a wall thermostat to operate the unit.
Amana’s advanced condensate dispersion system throws excess condensation onto the outdoor coil for fast evaporation. This results in maximum cooling efficiency with minimum condensate run-off. The built-in 30-second fan-off delay allows for more cooling efficiency, using the unit’s fan to disperse the heated or cooled air into the room after the compressor stops, instead of leaving the conditioned air on the coils.
Price: $1,289.00Amana PTH153J35AXXX 15000 BTU Class 10.4 EER PTAC Air Conditioner with Heat Pump - R32 - 3.5 kW - 20 Amp New, Quiet, Re-designed and Re-imaginedThe PTH153J35AXXX is for residential and commercial use with 208 / 230 volt electricity. This unit offers 14,... View Product
Price: $1,289.00Amana PTH153J35AXXX 15000 BTU Class 10.4 EER PTAC Air Conditioner with Heat Pump - R32 - 3.5 kW - 20 Amp
New, Quiet, Re-designed and Re-imaginedThe PTH153J35AXXX is for residential and commercial use with 208 / 230 volt electricity. This unit offers 14,...
California’s Final Regulation Order
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is set to ban refrigerants with a GWP of 750 or higher for new residential AC equipment starting in 2023.
The first phase will cover new small AC units and dehumidifiers, while chillers will follow in 2024. Larger AC equipment and variable refrigerant flow systems will also follow in 2025 and 2026, respectively.
|Equipment||Prohibited refrigerant||Implementation date|
|Room/wall/window air conditioning equipment, PTACs, PTHPs, portable air conditioning equipment, and residential dehumidifiers (new)||GWP of 750 or higher||January 1, 2023|
|Chillers (new) designed for chilled fluid leaving the chiller at temperatures > +35°F (2 °C)||GWP of 750 or higher||January 1, 2024|
|Chillers (new) designed for chilled fluid leaving the chiller at temperatures ≤ +35°F (2 °C) and > -10°F (-23 °C)||GWP of 1,500 or higher||January 1, 2024|
|Other air conditioning (new) equipment, residential and non-residential||GWP of 750 or higher||January 1, 2025|
|Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) system (new)||GWP of 750 or higher||January 1, 2026|
Nine other states are set to implement CA’s GWP regulation in 2024. These include Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.
California’s R4 Program
For California, 2023 also represents a change in refrigerant recycling with the Refrigerant Recovery, Recycle and Reuse Program, also known as the R4 Program. The R4 Program requires AC and VRF manufacturers to use reclaimed R-410A refrigerant in new equipment, or in the servicing of existing equipment.
Under Section 95376 of the R4 Program:
- AC manufacturers are required to use 10% reclaimed refrigerant annually for 2023 and 2024.
- VRF manufacturers are required to use 15% reclaimed refrigerant annually, for 2023 and 2024, rising to 25% refrigerant by 2025.
The annual reclaim use is calculated by using the number of units of equipment that entered the state in 2018 and 2019 as the baseline. If no equipment entered during the period, then projected values can be used instead. Manufacturers of AC and VRF equipment must submit the Initial Baseline report by July 1, 2023, and every year on the same date thereafter. Here’s a sample baseline report for manufacturers.
These regulatory changes also coincide with the new SEER2 energy efficiency standards for 2023, which you can read about more here.