Government Regulation / Refrigerant Limbo
Right now in my residential HVAC world 410a is the refrigerant of choice. But, of course, this is not my choice. The government and whatever large entities are privy to the decision making process made that decision. I am sure in my blissful ignorance I could not even begin to tell you how much clout large companies have over these processes. There is one thing I know for sure, though. The decisions that our made will not have the technicians’ interest in mind. I don’t think they will even have product reliability in mind.
Global Warming Makes my Globe Warm
Let’s take a closer look at 410a. Why was it the best choice to replace 22 in the HVAC market? It does have that alluring 0 (or nearly zero) ozone depletion potential. That’s great right? But, what about that other figure they like to throw around? GWP…….global warming potential. That is one hot subject these days. Did you know that the global warning potential of 410a is HIGHER than 22? How does 410a become the new refrigerant if it is environmentally worse than the last one? What about 407c? That is very similar to 410a except that it’s composition includes 134a which lowers the running pressures. The lower pressures allow 407c to be used in R22 retrofit applications as well. 407c has a lower GWP than 22 and 410a. Taking this information into account why not use 407c then? The test equipment would be rated for the same pressures as r22. The leak rate would decrease compared to 410a, which has a 60% higher pressure.
I guess I just don’t get it. Government regulation.
HVAC refrigerants of the future may pose more risks to technicians than ever before. We have refrigerants proposed for future use that have varying degrees of flammability. These include R290 and R32. 32 is a great refrigerant but it requires special modifications to the refrigerant circuit due to the high head temperatures. 290 is propane. Yea…..propane. What could go wrong there? Carbon Dioxide is used as a refrigerant as well, but it has much higher pressures than anything used in the past. In fact, CO2 requires special refrigerant components too because it has trouble condensing under certain conditions.
The end thought is this; speak out against government regulation. Nobody looks out for the working guy. Politicians want power no matter what party they belong too. The EPA has made it clear from their decisions that our safety is not their concern. Manufacturers are compelled by the government to build the most efficient products they can. The issue is that people have the same amount of money on hand as they did when 10 SEER was the rule. The manufacturers then produce efficient, cheap heaps of metal that leak more of the precious refrigerant out than their predecessors. Ironically, the 410a machines are spewing refrigerant out at a higher rate than ever before.