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Refrigerant is a chemical cooling compound that absorbs and releases heat at different points in the heat exchange cycle as it runs throughout an HVAC system.

What is refrigerant?

Refrigerant is a chemical cooling agent used in refrigeration and air conditioning systems to transfer heat from one area to another. Different types of refrigerants have different properties and capabilities, and it's important to be aware of any applicable regulations before using them. Refrigerant runs through several components in an HVAC system, collecting and transferring heat energy as it goes. 
During your HVAC system’s heat exchange cycle, refrigerant changes states from liquid to gas and back again. This allows refrigerants to absorb heat energy and transfer it away from the refrigerated space, cooling it down in the process. Refrigerants can be divided into two main categories: HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons) and CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons). HFCs are currently the most commonly used type of refrigerant, while CFCs have been phased out due to their ozone-depleting effects.

How does refrigerant work?

In an HVAC system, refrigerant is found inside the copper coils and runs through several components such as the condenser, compressor, evaporator, and expansion valve. The refrigerant absorbs heat energy from the refrigerated space and then transfers it outside through a condenser coil. It then passes through the compressor, where it is compressed into a high-pressure, high-temperature vapor before being passed through an evaporator, which cools the refrigerant down again. Finally, it is passed through an expansion valve to reduce its pressure before being sent back into the refrigerated space to start the cycle over again.

Which refrigerants are banned?

CFC refrigerants were commonly used in refrigeration and air conditioning systems, but their use has been phased out due to their ozone-depleting properties. As such, HFC refrigerants are now the most widely used refrigerants. Additionally, some refrigerants have higher global warming potentials than others, so some countries have implemented regulations on certain refrigerant types. It's important to be aware of any local regulations before purchasing refrigerant. 
Questions about your HVAC system? Check out our resources guide, or contact a local technician.

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