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The 2025 HVAC Refrigerant Change: What to Know

2025 refrigerant replace or repair air conditioning tune-up refrigerant

Our customers in Oswego, Yorkville, Naperville, Aurora and Plainfield (IL) quickly become familiar with how much we care about helping them maintain indoor-air quality for their homes and businesses. Beyond that leading goal for us, we aim to be your resource for knowledge and information that impact HVAC system costs and operation.

By now you might be aware of the industry’s effort to help protect the climate and the environment. In recent years, a major initiative within HVAC has been to phase out refrigerants determined to be environmentally harmful.

Notable changes involving refrigerant will be on the way in the next 18 months, so we want to make sure you know about them well ahead of time. Being up to date will help you make informed, potentially money-saving decisions should you need AC repair or installation before the new standards go into effect.

HVAC Refrigerant Change: New Guidelines

The major shift in AC system manufacturing and refrigeration is being driven mainly by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as part of its focus on sustainability and climate change.

Starting on January 1, 2025, all newly manufactured residential and light commercial air conditioners and heat pumps will be required to use new refrigerant approved as having low global warming potential (GWP).

Any equipment made before January 1, 2025, will have a one-year installation grace period. It must be installed by January 1, 2026, or it will become non-compliant and therefore obsolete.

Beginning on January 1, 2026, all new AC systems and heat pumps in all applications –commercial, industrial and residential alike – will be mandated to use the new class of refrigerants.

Equipment that doesn’t require field assembly, such as window AC units, will have a final date of sale set at three years after the compliance date for manufacturing – in other words, non-assembly equipment will have a sales deadline of January 1, 2028. There will be no compliance date for installation of that equipment.

AC and heat pump equipment that is manufactured and installed before the compliance dates will be not subject to the new EPA regulations and can remain in use until its expiration or replacement.

Components used for service and repair of those existing systems – including the refrigerants needed for them – also will not be subject to the new regulations.

HVAC Refrigerant Change: GWP Rating

The EPA defines GWP as a measure of how much energy the emissions of one ton of a gas will absorb over time, relative to the emissions of one ton of carbon dioxide. A refrigerant’s GWP is identified by its numeric value.

A product with a GWP of 750 or lower will be usable in new equipment for Oswego, Yorkville, Naperville, Aurora and Plainfield. One that is over 750 will not be usable.

Current available refrigerants before the final phase-out have a typical GWP between 1,800 and 2,220. R-410A, which has been the most popular refrigerant since 2010, has a GWP of 2,088, far excluding it from inclusion in new AC systems in 2025 and beyond.

HVAC Refrigerant Change: A2L Classification

Refrigerants are further required to be grouped according to their flammability and toxicity. In 2025 and after, the most common low-GWP refrigerants will be classified as mildly flammable, or A2L refrigerants. These products can be a single refrigerant or a blend of different ones.

An A2L refrigerant’s flammability rating is lower than that for A3 refrigerants such as propane, isobutane and hydrocarbons. As the second-safest class of refrigerants, A2L products are difficult to ignite. If they do catch fire, they have a lazy flame and typically go out as soon as the heat source is removed.

Their toxicity rating also is lower than that of B-series refrigerants such as ammonia.

Manufacturers have been using A2Ls for years in items such as small HVAC appliances and packaged terminal air conditioners (PTAC). They’ve also been used in HVAC equipment in other countries.

HVAC Refrigerant Change: R-32 & R-454B

While multiple A2L refrigerants will be in use, the two primary ones you’ll see with AC maintenance, repair and installation in Oswego, Yorkville, Naperville, Aurora and Plainfield will be R-32 and R-454B.

The changes also will mark the first time that manufacturers include different refrigerants for different residential applications. R-454B will be used for central air conditioning units and R-32 will often be used for systems such as mini-splits.

HVAC Refrigerant Change: System Design for A2L

The A2L refrigerants require a redesign for AC systems. For example, many manufacturers are adding a leak-detection sensor in the air handler. In the event of a refrigerant leak, the sensor will activate the main fan quickly to circulate air throughout the home or business space to reduce refrigerant concentration.

Other safety features may include shut-off valves that also are prompted by the leak-detection sensors. For systems that do not have the sensors, the amount of refrigerant in the system will need to be precisely measured so that a leak into the smallest space with a direct vent, such as a half bathroom, will not exceed the concentration limit.

The A2L refrigerants will be compatible only with systems manufactured after the compliance dates. They will not be usable in older systems, nor will the former A1 refrigerants such as R410-A be usable in the new systems.

HVAC Refrigerant Change: Impact on Costs

The change to low-GWP refrigerants will increase air conditioning prices, with some equipment expenses expected to rise by 20% or more. The greater costs also will be a long-term investment in environmental and economic returns that can benefit all of us.

Having this information now will potentially help you plan to make greater use of your HVAC budget if needed. For example, if you have an air conditioner that is aging (12 years or older) or you have been spending more on repairs in recent years, replacing it between now and December 31, 2024, could provide you with a new high-efficiency system before it becomes notably more expensive on January 1, 2025.

After the compliance dates, demand for older parts and refrigerants will likely go up with increasingly limited availability. This may lead to longer waits and higher prices for repairs or replacements.

The new AC systems also will require new tools for installation, making them a cost item that may be factored into service providers’ long-term pricing schedules. The regulations will have newly mandated installation practices that will extend installation times as well, which may raise labor costs.

Your Resource for Refrigerant Knowledge: Contact Us Today

At Air Dynamics, we are always here to help ensure you enjoy the greatest air comfort and quality with the wisest use of your finances. If you would like to further discuss the upcoming changes to AC systems and refrigerants, just give us a call at (630) 731-1550!

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