First and foremost let me state right now that the word ‘Freon’ is not a generic name for all refrigerants on the market today. In fact Freon refers to a specific type of refrigerant and is a specific brand of refrigerant. Confused? Well let me explain it this way. Using the name Freon to refer to all refrigerants is like using the term ‘Accord’ to refer to all cars. Obviously, there is a large difference between a Camry, Accord, and a Fusion. They are all different cars and all have different capabilities. It is important to realize that the same applies when it comes to refrigerants.
The term Freon is a registered brand name by the DuPont company and the Chemours company. The name was trademarked all the way back in the 1930’s when the first mainstream CFC refrigerant was invented. This refrigerant known as R-12 was the first ‘Freon’ refrigerant. That is also why the name stuck. It was the first major refrigerant used widely across the world and so everyone referred to it as it’s brand name of Freon. Not much later another refrigerant was developed by DuPont known as R-22. The R-12 and R-22 refrigerants in tandem are responsible for the revolution of the refrigerant industry and were used in nearly every automobile and home air-conditioner for decades and decades.
Sometime in the 1980’s a problem was found with these CFC and HCFC refrigerants that had the Freon brand name. These refrigerants contained Chlorine and Chlorine was found to be damaging the Ozone layer in the Stratosphere. This Ozone layer is what protected us from the ultraviolet rays from the sun. Without it the world would heat up, we would be exposed to more radiation, along with a host of other problems. Because of the world’s demand for refrigeration a hole began to form in the Ozone layer. Scientists found this hole and sounded the alarm. Soon after a treaty was signed across the world announcing the ban of CFC and HCFC refrigerants. This included the Freon branded refrigerants known as R-12 and R-22.
So, What Kind of Refrigerant Do I Need?
Ok, so the old Freon refrigerants are nearly gone nowadays. Yes, there are still some R-22 units out there and some people still need them but R-22 machines were phased out in 2010 so that means at their youngest an R-22 unit is already eight years old. They are quickly approaching the end of their life. The term Freon will be going away with it. So, now the question is what kind of refrigerant do you need? Let’s take a look:
- Automotive Application – Nowadays nearly every vehicle is using R-134a refrigerant for their vehicles. In recent years a new refrigerant known as HFO-1234yf is being used on newer models. If you car is a few years old you will need to check if it takes 1234yf or not. Otherwise you are fairly safe to assume that your car is taking R-134a.
- Home or Commercial Air Conditioner – These ones can be a little tricky. Depending on when you got your unit you most likely either have an R-22 unit or a R-410A unit. As I said before R-22 was phased out in 2010 for new units. R-410A has been around since 2010 but it’s popularity didn’t really take off until the 2010 deadline hit for R-22.
- Refrigerators and Freezers (Home and Commercial) – The go to refrigerant for these applications has been R-404A. There are some other alternatives out there such as CO2 (R-744), R-502, and some other new HFO refrigerants coming out soon.
Alright, so I hope that I was able to clarify as to what kind of refrigerant you need. The number one point that I have to make to you though is to be SURE that you are purchasing or using the right refrigerant. The points I mentioned above are guidelines. Always check your unit or call your manufacturer to ensure that you are making the right decision.
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