The Clean Air Act of 1990 mandated a gradual phaseout of the R-22 refrigerant used in many cooling and heat pump systems. Testing deemed the R-410A refrigerant as a superior replacement for industry standards because of performance and energy efficiency.
In 1991, Allied Signal (now Honeywell Corporation) patented the new refrigerant, which mixes with a synthetic lubricant rather than oil in refrigeration units. This allows R-410A to circulate more efficiently to keep the compressor running smoothly.
Manufacturers of air conditioning units that formerly utilized R-22 have been updating product lines since 2004 to accommodate the new refrigerant. The first company to jump manufacture a residential air conditioner using R-410A was the Carrier Corporation in 1996. The deadline for manufacture of R-22 systems was January 2010.
The heat-transfer properties available in R-410A refrigerant units offer consumers higher-efficiency performance and rating. Upgrading to a new system provides future cost savings as R-22 refrigerant continues to be phased out and increases in price.
Production of R-22 has a complete phaseout plan of 2020. Conversion of units is possible, but both indoor cooler coils and outdoor condensers must be replaced when switching the units over.
Refrigerants R-410A and R-22 cannot be cross-matched in units. Lines used for the R-410A refrigerant must be properly sized for the system.