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Understanding R-454B Refrigerant

Learn the science behind R-454B refrigerant and why the HVAC industry is transitioning to using it in newly manufactured cooling products.

What Is Refrigerant?

In a nutshell, refrigerant is a fluid that runs through the refrigerant lines of your HVAC system to cool warm air. The refrigerant changes from liquid to gas during this process. The refrigerant gas is then condensed to a liquid to start the cycle again.

Refrigerants have traditionally contained hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) or hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are potent greenhouse gases. As scientific research has shed light on the damage HCFCs can do to our ozone layer, stricter environmental regulations mean older refrigerants such as R-22 (also known as Freon or HCFC-22) were phased out and replaced by HFC R-410A.  HFCs are now being phased down under the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act of 2020 because they have high GWPs.

Because of our commitment to sustainability and a greener planet, Trane has led research to find alternative refrigerants with a lower global warming potential (GWP) and no ozone depletion potential (ODP).

What is R-454B?

R-454B is the newest refrigerant, which will gradually replace R-410A, the refrigerant used in current HVAC manufacturing. 

R-454B is a blend of R-32, a hydrofluorocarbon (HFC), and R-1234yf a hydrofluoroolefin (HFO). R-454B has a lower GWP than previous refrigerants, meaning it has a much lower climate impact. 

Trane is phasing in the transition to R-454B in 2024, starting with the adoption of R-454B refrigerant in its residential products, beginning with the XR15 SEER2 heat pump

Environmental Impact of R-454B

New systems using R-454B refrigerant are more energy efficient, reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the use of electricity, and the refrigerant itself has lower GWP. 

  • R-454B has no ozone depletion potential (ODP) and has low toxicity.
  • R-454B  GWP is more than 75% lower than its most recent predecessor, R-410A, and surpasses the EPA requirements for low-GWP refrigerant (<700 GWP). 
  • It’s more energy efficient.

Although you may have never heard of it until today, the R-454B refrigerant has already demonstrated exceptional performance during Trane’s field trials in the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Cold Climate Heat Pump Challenge

R-454B refrigerant is quickly becoming the HVAC industry standard for use in air conditioners and heat pumps and you can expect to see it increasingly used in newly manufactured units.

What Kind of Refrigerant Is in My HVAC System?

Depending on the age of your system, you may have R-22 (HCFC-22) refrigerant (2010 or earlier) or  R-410A refrigerant (2010 or newer). Your HVAC technician can tell you which one your system uses. You can also find the information in your system’s owner’s manual. If you don’t have a physical copy of your owner’s manual but you know the make and model of your AC unit, you will be able to look up the manual online.

You could also check the unit outside and look for the data plate. It is sometimes located on the back of the unit near the refrigerant lines or on the side of the unit. It will give you the model number, the type of refrigerant the system uses, and more information specific to your unit.

Even with the new regulations regarding refrigerants, you will still be able to get HVAC service on your AC unit that uses an older refrigerant. Your HVAC technician will have access to stockpiled supplies. 

And when the time comes to replace your HVAC system, you will be able to choose one using the new, more sustainable, energy-efficient R-454B refrigerant. 

Questions about the refrigerant transition and how it will affect your HVAC system? Check out our resources guide, or contact a Trane Comfort Specialist.

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