Hydrocarbon refrigerants, are they good or bad?
So my wife’s car needs an AC repair and I got looking into refrigerants. Based on what I’ve read, it seems most cars use R134a as a refrigerant. Many companies sell R12a refrigerant, a hydrocarbon-based product, that they claim is much better for the environment than R134a. Not only do they claim it is less harmful to the environment, but they also claim it uses less energy for a given amount of cooling as the required pressure difference from high to low side is less.
An R22a product is also available as a replacement for older residential/commercial R22 based cooling systems, and similar claims are made.
Does anyone have any factual and/or experience-based input on these hydrocarbon refrigerants? How does R410a compare both efficiency and environmentally?
From what I can gather they start life as something resembling conventional propane gas, but are then treated and purified for use as a refrigerant. They are apparently non-ozone depleting and have very low Global Warming Potential, and are used around the world.
According to the manufacturers, the main reason they are not widely used in North America is fear of flammability, which is apparently an unfounded risk as all refrigerants become flammable when mixed with lubricants under high pressure.
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