What Kind of Refrigerant Do I Need?

There are many types of refrigerant available and it can be rather confusing as to what type of Refrigerant your home HVAC or your vehicle takes. There are four major kinds of refrigerant today. You have your R-410A and your R-22 for your home/commercial units. You also have your R-134A and your R-12 refrigerants for your vehicles.

Below is a quick guide on how to identify what type of refrigerant you need:


There are a few types of refrigerants used in vehicles. The most common type today is the R-134A. In the past R-12 was the go to refrigerant for vehicles. R-12 was phased out from production in compliance with the Montreal Protocol in 1995. (Montreal Protocol is an international treaty designed to protect the O-Zone layer by phasing out production of chemicals that are harmful to the O-Zone.)

Vehicle manufacturers begin switching to R-134A between 1992 and 1994. If your vehicle was made after this date (Which was twenty years ago, so I would hope so!) then your vehicle is using R-134A refrigerant. Since R-134A is an HFC you can purchase and use it without having to be licensed with the Environmental Protection Agency. R-134A can be bought in 12 ounce cans or in thirty pound jugs.

If you are in need of R-12 Refrigerant you are going to end up paying an arm and a leg to get a hold of some. Since R-12 was phased out almost twenty years ago the price have gone up exponentially. I’ve seen some thirty pound jugs sell for over a thousand dollars. Also, in order to purchase and handle R-12 Refrigerant you need to be certified by the Environmental Protection Agency. You will not be able to buy this without providing your certification number to a seller.

Home Units

There are two possible types of refrigerants that are used in your home air conditioning unit. The most common refrigerant is R-22 Refrigerant and other is R-410A. Most units made prior to 2010 will be taking R-22 Refrigerant and ALL units made in 2010 or newer are required to take R-410A refrigerant. So, it is just a matter finding out when your machine was manufactured.

R-22 has been the standard HVAC refrigerant for many years but in recent years has begun to be phased out due to the ‘Montreal Protocol.’ (Montreal Protocol is an international treaty designed to protect the O-Zone layer by phasing out production of chemicals that are harmful to the O-Zone.) The short version is that R-22 falls into the chemical group of Hydrocholoroflurocarbons, or HCFCs. HCFCs contain the chemical Chlorine which negatively affects the O-Zone layer.

In compliance with the Montreal Protocol the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency mandated that no new R-22 machines can be manufactured after 2009. Any new HVAC unit built in 2010 or greater will now take the R-410A refrigerant. If you have a unit that takes R-22 Refrigerant you are still able to buy some on the market today, but you will need to be certified with the EPA before your can purchase or handle R-22. If you are not certified you will need to have an HVAC company service your unit. Lastly, in 2020 the production R-22 will be banned in the United States. You will still be able to purchase it but you will see the price sky rocket over the next few years. If you do find that you need R-22 in the future it may make more sense to just purchase a new R-410A unit instead.

R-410A is a Hydroflurocarbon, or HFCs, and has no negative affects on the O-Zone layer. It is the future of Refrigerant for home and commercial air conditioning units. Although HFCs are an improvement from the damaging R-22 they are not perfect. They may not damage the O-Zone but they are greenhouse gases and have a higher Global Warming contribution then it’s predecessor R-22.

R-410A is not widely spread today as most units prior to 2010 were using R-22 Refrigerant. However, as the years go on R-410A is going to be the dominant Refrigerant in the marketplace. Since R-410A is an HFC refrigerant you do NOT need to be certified to purchase or handle it. This gives all you do-it-yourselfers the ability to purchase Refrigerant online and not have to worry about breaking any regulations.

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