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A2L Refrigerants: Everything You Need to Know

2023 marks the first phase of the Environmental Protection Agency’s phase out of R410-a refrigerant in new HVAC systems. The aim is to replace it with more environment-friendly alternatives, specifically A2L refrigerants.

In this article, we discuss what A2L refrigerants are, their pros and cons, and what it means for you and your AC unit.

What are A2L Refrigerants?

A2L refers to a class of refrigerants that possess lower flammability and toxicity levels compared to other classifications. The name is derived from the ISO 817 standard, “Refrigerants —Designation and safety classification”:

A = Non-toxic

2 = Flammable

L = Low burning velocity

A2L refrigerants have a lower Global Warming Potential (which measures the harmful impact on the ozone layer), lower flammability rating, and less toxicity. This class of refrigerants are considered to be the second safest refrigerant category.

A2Ls are seen as the replacement for the popular R410-A refrigerant, as passed by Congress’ American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act. In line with the AIM Act, the use of R410-a refrigerant will be phased out in new HVAC systems in 2023 in favor of A2L refrigerants.

For more information on R410-a phaseout and its replacement refrigerants, check out our guide to the New 2023 Refrigerant Standards.

A2L Refrigerant List

Below is the list of refrigerants classed as A2L, along with their respective Global Warming Potential:

Refrigerant Global Warming Potential
R1234yf GWP 4
R1234ze GWP 6
R454C GWP 146
R455A GWP 145
R454A GWP 238
R454B GWP 466
R447A GWP >500
R32 GWP 675
R452B GWP 676

To know more about the differences between R410-A and its leading replacement R32, check out our detailed guide: R32 vs R410A AC Refrigerant: What’s the Difference?

What are the Advantages of A2L Refrigerants?

✓ More eco-friendly

The biggest benefit of A2L refrigerants are drastically reduced GWP levels. For example, R1234yf boasts up to 99% less GWP than R410-A, while R32 has one-third the GWP of R410-A. This means they are much better for the environment and have much lower impact on the ozone layer.

✓ Less flammable

A2L refrigerants have lower flammability than R410-A, making them easier to store and transport.

✓ Less toxic

A2L refrigerants are less harmful to health, which makes for easier handling and refilling.

✓ More efficient

Some A2L refrigerants have higher cooling efficiency, so that less refrigerant is needed to service an AC unit compared to R410-A. This translates to more savings.

What are the Drawbacks of A2L Refrigerants?

Not designed for older ACs

A2L refrigerants CANNOT be used with AC or heat pump units designed for older refrigerants like R410-A.

Still mildly flammable

Not all A2L refrigerants have lower flammability compared to R410-A. For instance, R32 is moderately more flammable than R410A.

Higher cost

Since the ban on using R410-A in new AC units only started this year, R410-A is still predominant in the cooling market and enjoys lower manufacturing costs. 

However, that cost advantage is only temporary: as older units that use R410-A get phased out, the refrigerant will be superseded and become harder to source. Meanwhile, A2L refrigerant production is ramping up and will bring costs down over time. 

Some A2L refrigerants like R32 are also made from a single compound, making them easier to manufacture.

Is It Possible to Switch Refrigerants from R410A to A2L?

Unfortunately, you can NOT just swap refrigerants in your existing air conditioner. An AC designed for R410A must only use that refrigerant. You will need to upgrade to a new air conditioner if you wish to take advantage of A2L refrigerants.

The good news is that AC units designed for A2L provide many benefits that offset the initial cost of buying a new air conditioner. These include better efficiency (which translates to lower utility bills), lower refill volume required, and lower cost per refill, all of which result in substantial savings in the long run.

If I’m Buying a New AC, Should I Choose A2L?

Air conditioning systems are designed to last for years. If you have a relatively new or recently purchased AC unit that uses R410-A, there’s no need to go out and immediately replace it with a newer A2L model.

However, if you are looking to replace an old air conditioner, choose one that is already A2L compliant. As R410-A production is gradually reduced and eventually phased out, the refrigerant will be harder to find and become more expensive. Therefore it makes sense to future-proof your system by choosing an AC unit that uses the newer refrigerants.

The EPA also mandates that new air conditioners manufactured after Jan 1, 2023 should not use R410-A. These newer AC models also adhere to the stricter SEER2 standards for 2023, which makes them more efficient.


Does It Matter Which A2L Refrigerant I Use?

YES. Because A2L refers to a whole class of refrigerants, you must use the A2L refrigerant specifically listed in your AC or heat pump unit.

As a general guideline:

Most residential air conditioners: R32

Mid-sized units from 2-40 kW: R454C, R455C and R1234yf

What States Allow A2L Refrigerants?

As of January 2023, the following states have updated their building codes to allow for the use of A2L refrigerants in air conditioning units:

State Note
California Anticipated, based on the PTAC ban on refrigerants with a GWP greater than 750. The California Mechanical Code is set to be updated based on the pending 2024 IAPMO Uniform Mechanical Code.
North Carolina
South Carolina
West Virginia

What is the Outlook for A2L Refrigerants in 2023?

The adoption of A2L refrigerants as the primary refrigerant in air conditioners and heat pumps is set to accelerate in 2023. As R410-A and older refrigerants with higher GWP get progressively phased out, manufacturing will shift to A2L. This will bring down costs and increase adoption rates even faster.

The two code bodies recognized by jurisdictions in the US, the International Code Council (ICC), and the International Association of Plumbing & Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), are set to update their A2L requirements and codes in the 2024 edition. The ICC’s International Mechanical Code (IMC) and the International Residential Code – Mechanical (IRC – M) are adopted by many US states. For western states, the IAPMO Uniform Mechanical Code (UMC) is used by the California Mechanical Code, Nevada, New Mexico, and Austin, Texas.

In areas where statewide codes do not exist, the EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy, more popularly known as SNAP, allows for the state to pass legislation to allow products that have lower GWP. The SNAP program calls for air conditioners with UL 60035-2-40 certification to use lower GWP refrigerants approved by the EPA.

Eco-friendly Air Conditioners that Use A2L Refrigerants

R32 Window AC

Friedrich CCF08B10A 8000 BTU Chill Premier Smart Window Air Conditioner, 115V – Energy Star

This 8,000 BTU window AC has cooling coverage of approximately 300 – 350 sq. ft.

It features 3 cooling speeds, plus 3 fan-only settings and auto fan, 8-way air flow control and a new one-piece frame for fast, easy installation. Of course it includes the standard installation hardware and expandable side curtains and it is lightweight – about 50 lbs.

As part of Friedrich’s Chill Premier Series of “smart” room air conditioners, it boasts WiFi connectivity and Amazon Alexa support, enabling you to control by smartphone or voice commands. Once you download the Friedrich Go App, you can easily create and set a custom cooling schedule that fits your schedules and preferences. 

The premium line also features QuietMaster technology which results in quieter cooling operation, as much as 25% quieter than competition. This is accomplished through heavy duty insulation on the inner wall for sound absorption, as well as a stiffened sheet metal casing to help block external noise. Vibration reducing counterweights also help to reduce the sound. Additionally, the wide discharge vents optimize airflow and minimize front panel noise.


Amana PTH153J35AXXX 15000 BTU Class 10.4 EER PTAC Air Conditioner with Heat Pump

This R32 PTAC unit offers 14,400 / 14,600 BTUs of cooling power, a 14,000 / 14,300 BTU heat pump and a 3.5 kW electric heater, providing approximately 9,900 / 12,00 BTUs of electric backup heat. It has an EER of 10.6 / 10.4 and will cool a space that is about 450 – 575 sq. ft

This updated version is even quieter than previous units. The new, improved design reduces operating noises from entering your guest rooms and boasts an STC (Sound Transmission Class) of 29. In addition, the new series Amana PTACs are equipped with RF and Bluetooth connectivity as well as Eden Energy Management System connectivity, allowing for easier troubleshooting and diagnostics as well as unit setting and configuration time.

Lastly, this new series eliminates the user-operated control panel, giving it a sleeker appearance. The front panel can be fixed to the chassis with a concealed screw. This helps avoid unauthorized tinkering with the unit.

Amana PTH153J35AXXX 15000 BTU Class 10.4 EER PTAC Air Conditioner with Heat Pump - R32 - 3.5 kW - 20 Amp
Price: $1,272.00 Amana PTH153J35AXXX 15000 BTU Class 10.4 EER PTAC Air Conditioner with Heat Pump - R32 - 3.5 kW - 20 Amp

  New, Quiet, Re-designed and Re-imagined The PTH153J35AXXX is for residential and commercial use with 208 / 230 volt electricity. This unit offers 14,...

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R32 Smart Window AC

GE AHY08LZ 8000 BTU Smart Window Air Conditioner with Remote – 115 V – Energy Star

The AHY08LZ features 8,000 BTUs of cool air, capable of servicing 250 – 350 sq. ft or a space that is about 17′ x 20′. It is an Energy Star Rated unit with an 11.4 CEER and has convenient, easy to use features such as an electronic thermostat and a remote control. There are 3 cooling and 3 fan speeds.

New for 2020 is Built-In WiFi – to easily allow you to control your room’s comfort level from anywhere you have an internet connection. The AHY series offers an energy saver mode to further enhance your savings. To remind you to clean the filter, the AHY series has a filter reminder light. The filter on the AHY08LZ is a one-touch lift-out filter, making it easy to clean and maintain

Its 24 hour on/off timer gives you the option of setting your unit to turn on before you arrive home. By using the on/off timer, your space is cool and welcoming when you walk in the door and there is no need to blast the air conditioner, ultimately saving energy.

GE AHY08LZ 8000 BTU Smart Window Air Conditioner with Remote - 115 V - Energy Star - R32 Refrigerant
Price: $429.00 GE AHY08LZ 8000 BTU Smart Window Air Conditioner with Remote - 115 V - Energy Star - R32 Refrigerant

General Electric is world-known for making appliances and air conditioners that are built to last. They are a leader in the appliance industry and are always lo...

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Mickey Luongo

Mickey is the resident heating and air conditioning expert with over 15 years of experience in the industry.

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