Air Conditioner Refrigerants (R32 vs R410A vs R22 vs R290) Explained!

Last Updated on 20 January, 2023 by Sourav Roy

You are on the right page if you are learning to know the difference between air conditioner refrigerants (R32 vs R410A vs R22 vs R290).

R32 vs R410A vs R22 vs R290

While you are looking to get your hands on the best air conditioner, it will be only wise to be well informed about all the types of AC refrigerants. The reason being, an air conditioner is incapable of cooling the room without a refrigerant. Also, the refrigerant can efficiently absorb all the heat from the surroundings and lower down the temperature in no time.


Working principle of a Refrigerant

Working principle of a Refrigerant

An air conditioner refrigerant is responsible for cooling down the room temperature. In the process of absorbing and releasing heat, the refrigerant alters from the state of liquid to gas and back. Let me explain to you the working of a refrigerant in the simplest language.

The air conditioner compressor transmutes the liquid refrigerant into a high temperature and pressure gas. The refrigerant then moves to the outside of the unit, which is the coil, and releases all the heat through the process of condensation. In this transmission, it cools down. Once it reaches the indoor coil, the refrigerant has already cooled down. It then causes evaporation once it meets the warm air which is present indoor. This draws all the heat from the air, cooling it down. The refrigerant, once again a liquid, moves back to the compressor and begins the cycle again.

In the earlier times, refrigerants were certainly combustible and toxic. However, the invention of non-toxic refrigerants has made the appliance environmentally friendly.

This refrigerant advancement certainly deserves a well-elaborated discussion.


Why is it Important to choose the right refrigerant?

  • Harmful refrigerants can lead to ozone depletion.
  • Emission of greenhouse gases.
  • Global warming potential can be a serious concern.
  • Refrigerants can be flammable and explosive.


Air conditioner refrigerants – R32 vs R410A vs R22 vs R290: Which one is the best?

1. R22 Refrigerant

R22 Refrigerant

Commonly known as Freon, R22 is one of the oldest refrigerants. However, its use is not very high now and is also banned in a few European countries. The reason being, it has a high global warming potential and is also capable of damaging the ozone layer. Therefore, once the Clean Air Act of 2010 was passed, most manufacturers stopped using it. Also, the Indian Government has decided to phase out the R22 refrigerant by 2030. The refrigerant’s global warming potential is 1810.

Advantages of R22 refrigerant

  • It is non-flammable and non-toxic.
  • The R22 refrigerant is not a mixture of two gases. Therefore, replacing it is very easy.

Disadvantages of R22 refrigerant

  • The global warming potential is on the higher side, and hence it can be hazardous.
  • The refrigerant is low on efficiency.
  • It is not an eco-friendly option.


2. R410A Refrigerant

R410A Refrigerant

Also known as Puron, R410A has a high global warming potential of 2088. This figure is the highest amongst most other refrigerants. The R410A refrigerant is a mixture of R125 and R32 gases. So, in case of any leakage, refilling cannot be done yourself at home. It has to be looked into by an expert. This means that the cost of repair will always be on the higher side.

The R410A refrigerant can be a safe option because of being low on chlorine. Hence, you can expect a good amount of efficiency, comfort and air quality.

Advantages of R410A refrigerant

  • It is non-flammable and non-toxic.
  • Ozone depletion potential is NIL.
  • The working pressure is 1.6 times R22.
  • Compared to R22, R410A is more efficient and eco friendly.
  • The existence of chlorine is negligible.

Disadvantages of R410A refrigerant

  • The efficiency and cooling capacity is lesser than that of R32.
  • It is not as eco friendly as R32.


3. R290 Refrigerant

R290 Refrigerant

R290, also known as propane, is a new age refrigerant used in the best air conditioners. The refrigerant has a very low global warming potential of around 3. It also has zero effect on the ozone layer and is one of the most eco-friendly options. The refrigerant is highly energy efficient but also highly flammable. R290 is one of the greenest refrigerants.

Advantages of R290 refrigerant

  • R290 is a great option for the environment because of its low global warming potential and zero ozone depletion.
  • The refrigerant helps in the performance of the system.
  • It is easy to recycle.

Disadvantages of R290 refrigerant

  • R290 refrigerant is highly flammable.
  • It requires special handling.


4. R32 Refrigerant

R32 Refrigerant

Last but not the least, R32 is one of the best choices for refrigerants. It does not deplete the ozone layer at all and is not toxic. The refrigerant also has the highest lower combustible limit (lower ignition limit). It is relatively incombustible, however, still mildly flammable and explosive.

R32 is also very high on efficiency and not expensive. Hence, it has become a popular choice amongst modern air conditioners. The refrigerant also has high latent heat. It means that the cooling capabilities are great.

Advantages of R32 refrigerant

  • Compared to R22 and R410, R32 is an eco-friendly option.
  • R32 has great cooling capabilities.
  • It is non-toxic.
  • The refrigerant is affordable and low on maintenance.
  • It is easy to repair.

Disadvantages of R32 refrigerant

  • It is mildly flammable.


R32 vs R410A vs R22 vs R290: Comparison Table

RefrigerantsEco FriendlyGlobal Warming PotentialOzone Depletion PotentialType of RefrigerantFlammability
R32 High675NILHFCMildly flammable
R22Very Low1810MediumHCFCNon Flammable
R290Very high3NILHCHighly Flammable


What should you look into while deciding upon a refrigerant?

  • The latent heat of vaporization should be high.
  • The refrigerant should not be toxic.
  • It should be non-reactive to lubricant oils.
  • The refrigerant should be non-flammable and non-toxic.
  • It should be low on viscosity.
  • The refrigerant should be low on cost and maintenance.
  • It should be able to liquefy at low pressure as well.


One Last Thought

All types of refrigerants come with a different set of pros and cons. However, it is our responsibility to ensure that the use of refrigerant should lower the global warming potential and eradicate ozone layer depletion completely.

The demand for the best AC is increasing speedily. And why not? The humidity and heat are intolerable. Being a responsible citizen, each one of you must look into the aspect. Let us make the world a better place to live in by contributing to this decision.

R32 vs R410A vs R22 vs R290: You are now ready to make a smart choice.

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