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A2L Refrigerants : Right now you have a choice, after 2025 you will not

Air Condition

The AC World is Changing in 2025: Be aware while you can make a choice

American Weathermakers wants to keep our customers aware of the changes coming that will affect us all. There is an Air Conditioning refrigerant change coming in 2025. We want to start the conversation now, so you’ll be ready to make a well-informed decision in 2024.

What is going on (History):

Congress has given the EPA a mandate to regulate HFCs over the coming years due to their high “global warming potential” (GWP) in the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act of 2020 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. According to the EPA, HFCs are “potent greenhouse gases developed and manufactured as replacements for ozone-depleting substances” used in aerosols, A/C’s, refrigeration, and similar cooling applications. The impact of HFCs on the climate can be hundreds to thousands of times greater than the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide (CO2). The EPA measures this impact by a substance’s GWP. Whereas CO2 has a GWP of 1, one kilogram of HFC with a GWP of 700 has an impact on the climate that is seven hundred times greater than one kilogram of CO2.
The AIM Act mandates the phasedown of certain HFCs by 85 percent of their historical baseline by 2036. The Act authorizes the EPA to address HFCs through three main mechanisms: (1) phasing down of production and consumption of listed HFCs, (2) managing HFCs and their substitutes, and (3) facilitating the transition to modern technologies that use alternatives to traditional HFCs through sector-based regulatory restrictions. The EPA has finalized a rule that will phase down production by establishing an allocation and trading program for HFC producers and importers. This past October, the agency began a new rule making the managing of HFCs with the stated aim of maximizing reclamation and minimizing releases of HFCs through equipment leaks.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will require new equipment to use refrigerants with a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 750 or less, starting January 1, 2025. This means that R-410A, which has a GWP of 2,088, will no longer be used in new equipment. The new refrigerants will be R454B or R32, which are A2L refrigerants.
The EPA will also require split systems using refrigerants above 700GWP to be installed before January 1, 2025. Residential dehumidifiers, variable refrigerant flow systems, and light commercial and residential air conditioning will be limited to 700 GWP.
The EPA has also proposed that all high-GWP Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), including R134a, R404A, and R410A, will be banned in most new refrigeration equipment effective January 1, 2025.
The new regulations may lead to more frequent inspections and audits to ensure adherence to the new regulations and proper refrigerant handling. The EPA may also impose strict fines and penalties on businesses found to be non-compliant.
We experienced a similar change in 2010 when Freon (R-22) was phased out, But the EPA has learned some from the mistakes made in that ramp down and has made an effect not to repeat the past.

I just bought a new air conditioner! now what?:

R410a will be available for the foreseeable future, however, production will begin to be phased down. The goal is to have an 85% reduction of manufactured R410a by 2036. Manufactures will still have a commitment to have coils, compounds, and repair items for the full life of your new air conditioner. Going back to 2010, when R-22 began being phased out, we have learned that the effort made to recover old refrigerant and recycle it to a pure state makes it possible for it to be resold for use in the older units. This enables the market to maintain inventory and control pricing as the phase down of the refrigerant happens.

The Myths & Truths of A2L refrigerants that are coming:

  • Myth 1: A2L refrigerants are likely to cause a fire.

Despite the mildly flammable classification of A2L refrigerant, it is hard to ignite. The amount of A2L needed in the air to ignite is great and a tremendous amount of energy is needed compared to A3 refrigerant (Butane or Propane). Extensive testing with A2L and numerous heat sources, which includes cigarettes, lighters, power drills and various household appliances, has been done, has shown that none of these heat sources produced ignition.
In fact, compared to propane and natural gas, A2L refrigerants have a much lower flammability risk due to:
Higher Lower Flammability Limit (LFL): A2L must reach a higher concentration to become flammable.
Higher Minimum Ignition Energy (MIE): A2L is harder to ignite.
Lower Heat of combustion (HOC): There is less energy released if burned.
Lower Burning Velocity (VC): When lit, the flame spreads slowly.
In the unlikely event that an ignition event does take place, “A2L has a very lazy flame, and as soon as the heat source is removed, the flame extinguishes itself,” De La Portilla says with Rheem Manufacturing.

  • Myth 2: If a leak occurs, I need to remove the entire charge, fix the leak, and start again.

R-454B is classified as a zoetrope, like R-410A (current standard). It has a glide (1.4°F), but it is so low, it can be topped off without the need to recover the entire refrigerant charge.

  • Myth 3: I need to take another EPA exam.

Currently anyone that uses refrigerant of any kind is required to have a certification from the EPA called the 608.
A2L is regulated by the EPA, but additional certification is not needed to work with it. Contractors and technicians who hold an EPA Section 608 certification are grandfathered in and will not need to take an additional exam.

  • Myth 4: I will need to buy all new tools.

Many tools we use daily will not need to be replaced since they have been A2L approved. Check with your tool manufacturer to find out which tools have been approved.

  • Myth 5: I can add A2L refrigerants to a system designed for A1 refrigerants.

It is extremely important that A2L refrigerants are used only in equipment designed for A2L refrigerants. They cannot be used in existing A1 (like R410A and R22) systems under any circumstance.

The following components have been redesigned for use with A2L refrigerants:
Compressor, Expansion Valve, Electrical Components, and Refrigerant Charge Size

It is American Weathermakers’ recommendation to consider replacing older equipment this year while R410A equipment is still available. We can maintain it and keep it working at top performance for the next 20 years. New units come with a 10-year parts and compressor warranty from the manufacturer which shows their commitment for your satisfaction and investment in your new air-conditioning system. Plus, this will help ensure you will not pay for the additional safety requirements of a slightly flammable refrigerant, which will be the norm next year and beyond. Call us at 847-509-7777 to schedule your free estimate or schedule your appointment on-line today. Call US if you ever have a question, we are always here to help.

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