R-32 Is the Easy Choice for Contractors

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Here we are, on the cusp of yet another refrigerant transition. During the transition away from R-22, R-410A emerged as the replacement refrigerant. Today, manufacturers are deciding between two leading choices to replace R-410A for various light commercial, applied, and residential products. In this article we’ll share seven key reasons why only R-32 is the proven, easy choice for contractors.

But first: why are we transitioning?

The transition to R-410A focused on shifting to non-ozone depleting substances (ODP < 1). Today’s transition focuses on reducing Global Warming Potential (GWP) from greenhouse gases. With expected accelerating emissions of greenhouse gases and demand for air conditioning tripling by 2050, transitions in the HVAC sector alone will make a significant contribution in reducing global warming by moving towards more efficient low GWP refrigerants.

That’s where we come in. Manufacturers are making commitments today to develop product lines using lower GWP refrigerants. Daikin, Goodman and Amana HVAC brands have committed to R-32 as the easy choice to replace R-410A for upcoming light commercial, applied and residential products.  Here’s why.

1) R-32 has more thermal capacity than R-410A. In an independent study, the COP efficiency and volumetric capacity of single-component refrigerants were mapped against that of R-410A within a simulated HVAC system, and only R-32 exceeded R-410A on both simulated measures.[1] In fact, most new blends depend on R-32’s excellent thermodynamic characteristics to effect efficient heat transfer.

Table 1. Composition of R-410A and some new Low GWP refrigerant Blends

2) R-32 is easy to use: When used properly and in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions, R-32 can provide a number of advantages. Being a pure, single-component refrigerant could save you valuable time. R-32 can’t lose its composition like a blended refrigerant and is well suited to retain its quality over time. It can be topped off and recharged in the field in both liquid and gas phases; because the composition doesn’t change, it’s easy to clean and reuse on site. R-32 can be reclaimed and recycled with a simple cleaning process, as compared to blends with less stable HFOs that must be distilled to their pure compounds and then remixed. R-32 can help us make the 3Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – a new reality in the industry.

3) Because of R-32’s excellent thermodynamic characteristics, an R-32 system could have up to 40% less charge than R-410A in certain applications, meaning you could reduce refrigerant usage in the equipment and potentially also reduce quantities leaking to the environment. Besides that, using less refrigerant can reduce refrigerant replacement and top-off costs for you and your customers.

4) R-32 is widely available. R-32 is a commodity, manufactured by numerous refrigerant producers, and distributed globally. There are no active patents on the basic molecule. Some alternative low-GWP blends can be proprietary to the companies that own the patents, potentially limiting access and supply and driving up cost.

5) R-32 historically has a lower price per pound than R-410A and a much lower price per pound than most available proprietary low GWP blends.

6) Both current leading replacements for R-410A are A2L refrigerants, classified as mildly flammable. That makes R-32’s track record even more important: contractors around the world have been using R-32 for nearly a decade. In 2012, R-32 was introduced in Japan in split AC systems, followed by VRF systems and chillers. Companies across Europe, India, Thailand and Australia followed suit in 2014. In 2016, the United States introduced R-32 in window air conditioners and today, building codes in the US are beginning to include R-32 in larger equipment. With more than 140 million R-32 units already in operation worldwide and more than 34 million new installations annually, R-32 has become the de facto global standard. And most important for you – it has been tested and proven by contractors.

7) R-32 has a GWP of 677, about a third of the GWP of R-410A (2033). However, GWP is only one property used to calculate a refrigerant’s impact environmental impact when used in HVAC systems. To accurately estimate the total emissions-related effects of a refrigerant’s use in HVAC systems, we have to consider the total direct effect (from the refrigerant) and indirect (from the electricity used to operate the system) greenhouse gas emissions over an HVAC system’s lifetime, including manufacturing, operation, decommissioning and recycling. Because the majority of climate impact from HVAC systems is from the power generation for electricity used over the equipment’s lifetime, a refrigerant with a lower GWP but less efficiency when used in an HVAC system could actually lead to more global warming. Don’t let the numbers fool you.

It’s important to note:  to meet upcoming regulatory requirements for A2L usage, all R-410A HVAC systems will need to be redesigned, regardless of which A2L is selected. All installers of A2L systems will have to follow A2L safety precautions and procedures. R-32 should not be used in systems designed for R-410A.

Like all transitions, this one is going to take time to implement. Building codes are changing, manufacturers are developing new products, and the marketplace is getting ready. Daikin has prepared training courses to educate all contractors and dealers on safe handling of A2L refrigerants including detailed information on the service and maintenance tools/equipment and best practices. When you’re ready to make the switch, remember the clear case: performance, handling, cost, availability, and global adoption make R-32 the easy choice for contractors.

Learn more at www.R32reasons.com.

[1] McLinden, M.O., Brown, J.S., Brignoli, R., Kazakov, A.F., Domanski, P.A., 2017. Limited options for low-­global-­warming-­potential refrigerants. Nat. Comm. 8, 14476

Nathan Walker
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