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What Is Freon and How Is it Used in HVAC Systems?
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What Is Freon and How Is it Used in HVAC Systems?

You don’t need to do much more than look at your HVAC system to know that it runs on power—that it’s a machine. Indeed, you’d be right in most senses of the word; your HVAC does need an outside source of energy to keep doing its job. However, many HVAC systems also make use of continuous chemical reactions to heat and cool your home. One particular substance of note in this context: Freon.

Below, Furnace Doctors, your Saint Paul park HVAC contractors, discusses Freon and how it’s used in present-day HVAC systems.

What Is Freon in Heating and Cooling Systems?

Freon is actually the brand name of a certain patented substance that acts as a refrigerant in your HVAC system. It’s therefore often used interchangeably with the term “refrigerant,” but this of course isn’t accurate. Refrigerant describes the role Freon plays—something that facilitates cooling in your A/C system—while Freon itself is a specific substance.

Why the confusion? According to Refrigerant HQ, a hub of cooling industry info, “The reason the Freon brand is so commonly used and referred to in today’s world is that the Freon brand was the first mainstream refrigerant that was used across the world.” So the term has history, even if that specific substance isn’t used much today (more on that in a second).

What Does Freon Do in HVAC Systems?

While it originally facilitated cooling in HVAC systems, Freon actually contributed to the depletion of the Ozone layer. In 1987, the USA signed the Montreal Protocol, a treaty which is “gradually eliminating the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances to limit their damage to the earth’s ozone layer,” per the EPA.

This means that, today, Freon is hardly used at all in HVAC systems. You’d be hard-pressed to find one in use that runs on the substance, as the industry now favors more environmentally friendly alternatives. Plus, the import and production of the stuff is banned in America.

What’s Used Today Instead of Freon?

Quite a few viable alternatives have been found that serve the exact same purpose—one of note being a refrigerant called R410A, or Puron. Bright Hub Engineering details the scientific specifics of these newcomers on the scene.

If you’re a homeowner, just know that these alternatives exist to protect the planet, and you should seriously consider upgrading to a new unit if yours uses Freon. As supplies of the stuff dwindle, cooling units that use these alternatives become much more feasible options financially.

Furnace Doctors: For All Your Heating and Cooling Needs

Ready to modernize your air conditioning? Our HVAC contractors are here to help. Reach our Saint Paul Park office today at 651-789-3082.

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