The Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPS) have consistently pushed to enhance the energy efficiency of HVAC units and make them more environment-friendly. In the past decade, certain refrigerants used in HVAC systems have been banned, and the minimum efficiency standards for AC units have been changed too.
Keeping up with the efforts, the DOE has planned to further raise the minimum efficiency requirements of air-based heat pumps and central air conditioners in 2023. As a result, all the new systems sold in the US from January 1, 2023, will have to meet the new minimum standards.
One of the most critical aspects of the new requirement is the switch to R-454B refrigerant. Here’s everything you should know about the new EPS refrigerant requirement for 2023.
In 2010, EPS started phasing out HCFC 142b and HFC R-410A, two popular types of AC refrigerants, due to the rising concerns about how HCFC (Hydro chlorofluorocarbons) damages the ozone layer. The next stage of phasing out these refrigerants began in 2020 when the manufacture and import of such refrigerants were banned entirely in the US.
The switch to the new R-454B refrigerant in 2023 aligns with the Environmental Agency’s goal of completely banning HCFC production by 2030.
The new R454-B refrigerant belongs to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 34’s new A2L flammability and toxicity matrix. It means that the new refrigerant has lower flammability and toxicity than older refrigerants.
As the new refrigerant is significantly harder to ignite, it’ll not be ignited through a water heater pilot or static electricity. If there is a significant R454-B leak and it is ignited in an unfortunate event, it’ll have a very low resulting energy and burning velocity of around 2 inches in a second. So, R454-B is safer and has a lower global warming potential than older refrigerants.
You don’t have to worry about replacing any equipment if they use older refrigerants like R410-A. It’ll mostly remain available in the US for at least a few decades to repair and upkeep older equipment. However, newer units will only use R454-B from January 1, 2023.
So, if you’re planning to purchase an HVAC unit soon, it’ll be better to wait until January 2023, when models with the new R454-B refrigerant are introduced.
No. It is not practical to retrofit an older AC using R410-A with the new R454-B refrigerant as they work at different pressures. While technically, it is possible to calibrate older systems to be compatible with various refrigerants, such upgrades prove very costly.
As a matter of fact, the cost of such upgrades will almost be equal to the price of purchasing a new air-conditioning system. So, it is not worth the investment. But, more importantly, you’ll also void the equipment’s warranty.
Contact Beeson Mechanical Service at 317-535-9338 today. Our HVAC Experts will share all the latest information related to the new efficiency standards and refrigerants to help you make informed decisions.