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Having been in the industry for over thirty years, I’ve seen my share of refrigerant changes. I lived through R-22 being phased out for R-410A and, more recently, R-123 being phased out for R-1233zd. Both changes were due to the Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) of the phased-out refrigerant. But this new transition strives to address a different concern: global warming. And in view of the higher Global Warming Potential (GWP) of R-410A, it’s important for our industry to do its part in helping limit the temperature rise that could result from emissions due to the increasing demand for air conditioning.

In the switch from R-410A, the industry is faced with the added complexity of choosing between two leading alternatives: the single-component refrigerant R-32 or the blend R-454B. Both refrigerants are classified as A2Ls and both satisfy the under 750 gwp threshold determined by carb and the aim act regulations. in fact, almost 69% of r-454b is r-32. regardless which low-gwp refrigerant used, all new equipment needs to be re-designed accommodate that refrigerant.

From my purview, that’s where the main similarities end. R-32 has excellent thermodynamic properties that can give it an advantage. On capacity, an R-32 unit’s theoretical system capacity1 is around 10% higher than an equivalent R-410A system’s. And, based on publicly available information2, other lower GWP refrigerant options show theoretical capacities equal to or less than an equivalent R-410A system’s. On efficiency, R-32 not only indicates a theoretical system efficiency that is higher than R-410A, it indicates a higher theoretical system efficiency than either of the other low-GWP candidates3. Thus, while other low-GWP refrigerants may have a lower GWP value, GWP alone is not the full measure of emissions potential. The lower GWP value will reduce potential direct CO2 equivalent emissions associated with a system. Better system capacity and efficiency can help reduce indirect CO2 equivalent emissions due to electrical power consumption—which is a far greater source of CO2 equivalent emissions from a HVAC system. Thus, a lower GWP refrigerant deployed in a system that renders lower performance and efficiency could actually create more global warming effect over its lifecycle.

As a single component refrigerant, R-32 also offers many benefits not seen since R-22 was phased out. That’s because single component refrigerants are simpler to handle than most blends: they do not have a temperature glide; they can be charged in liquid or gas phase even with an upright cylinder; there is no change in the refrigerant characteristics over a system’s lifetime; and they can be easily reused and reclaimed. R-32 has the added benefit of NOT being restricted by patents, which is expected to give R-32 both a price and availability advantage over proprietary blends like R-454B.

For the simplest validation, look to the global installed base. More than 40 manufacturers around the world have made R-32 their choice to replace R-410A and utilized it in over 160 million units in 100 countries. R-32 components have a proven history in a wide range of applications including residential split systems, VRF, scroll chillers, rooftops, and window units. And now it’s available in Daikin’s new Atmosphera mini-split products.

Proven. Easy. Efficient. Available. It takes more than a single number to sum up the benefits of R-32.

The comparison chart can help you identify the characteristics that are most important to you, in order to determine the R-410A replacement that fits your customers’ and your own needs. Review the facts and make the choice that’s right for you.


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Author: Lee Smith, Vice President Strategic Marketing, Advocacy and Application Development, Daikin U.S. Corporation.