Published On: August 19, 2022
Heat pumps pass refrigerants through the different components to remove unwanted heat and improve energy efficiency. Since refrigerants are toxic and flammable, there are heavy regulations in place to ensure they don't cause harm to people or the environment. But how does refrigerant in heat pumps work, and are there any that have zero ozone depletion potential?
This liquid (or in some cases, gas) is used in the refrigeration cycle to remove unwanted heat from locations such as the compressor, condenser, evaporator, and expansion device. The most common refrigerants have a low boiling point (at least when compared to water) and can evaporate quickly. This is why they are so efficient; because they use minimum thermal energy to cool the components.
Most refrigerants are not just toxic; they are also flammable and have a significant global warming potential. This is why these liquids are heavily regulated by authorities.
The short answer is yes! The ideal refrigerant is non-toxic and non-flammable, as well as eco-friendly and recyclable. Older heat pump systems required refrigerants made with sulfur dioxide, methyl chloride, or ammonia. The next generation of products, however, see compounds that lack chlorine and have a much lower environmental impact.
Certain refrigerants were commonly used in heat pumps. Two main earlier blend examples are CFCs (or halocarbons) and HCFCs (or hydrohalocarbons). Unfortunately, both substances have been proven to be harmful to the environment and are now listed on a phase-out plan under the Montreal Protocol implemented in the 1990s.
Refrigerants that use substances that exist in nature are called natural refrigerants. These natural chemical compound liquids usually have a lower impact and are excellent options for long-term cooling system refrigerant replacement.
All refrigerants can be divided into specific groups. This is done based on their toxicity or combustibility. For example, R410A and R134A both have low toxicity and are non-combustible. Propane (R290), on the other hand, needs to adhere to several safety measures because it is both.
Newer heat pump refrigerant options produce less fluorinated greenhouse gases, but this is not their only advantage. Other benefits of using refrigerants that don't damage the ozone layer include:
If you notice your heat pump has short cycles, an ice build-up, or is becoming less efficient, you might be facing a refrigerant leakage issue. By being aware of this problem, you will be able to take preemptive measures and keep your heat pump in good condition.
Common signs of refrigerant leakage include:
Hawthorne PHC is a company based in Nevada and specializing in plumbing and HVAC systems. If you have issues with your heat pump refrigerant or air conditioning, don’t hesitate to contact us. We offer same-day service to all customers. Call (844) 236-0190 to get a free quote.
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