Air conditioning systems have components whose maintenance is very important for them to function efficiently. One of these essential components is the refrigerant. It is a liquid or gaseous compound that absorbs heat and provides conditioned air.


It is an element without which the air conditioner cannot work. There are chances that due to various reasons there may be a problem of Freon leakage. In such a case, it is proper to identify the cause, troubleshoot it and replenish the missing refrigerant.


Note that due to the nature of this compound, you should not attempt to troubleshoot such a malfunction yourself. If you suspect a refrigerant leak, contact an air conditioning technician immediately.


In this article, we'll discuss exactly how air conditioner refrigerant works.


How does air conditioner refrigerant work?

We'll trace the path of the refrigerant in the system so you understand the nature of how it works:


Step 1: Compressor

One of the most important components of an air conditioner is the compressor. It propels the refrigerant around the other components in the system. The refrigerant then continues into the system as saturated steam in the form of a low-temperature, low-pressure gas.


The Freon is then drawn in by the compressor, which compresses it quickly. Under the influence of this process, energy is generated which is converted to heat and the pressure is increased.


Step 2: Condenser

The refrigerant is then moved to the condenser of the air conditioner. When it enters the condenser, its temperature must be higher than that of the surrounding air and heat transfer takes place.


The refrigerant enters the condenser tubes as steam. Fans begin to blow through the condenser to eliminate unnecessary energy.


As the air passes through these tubes, the heat associated with the refrigerant is removed. As the heat is eliminated, it condenses into a high-pressure liquid.


Step 3: Expansion valve

Once the refrigerant enters the expansion valve, the latter begins to measure the flow of refrigerant into the evaporator. The valve regulates the flow of the refrigerant, which is now part liquid and part gas.


After passing the valve, the refrigerant further reduces its pressure and temperature. Freon leaves the expansion valve and is directed to the evaporator.


Step 4: Evaporator

Once the refrigerant has made its way into the evaporator, the evaporator receives it with the help of a fan that blows warm room air out through the coil. Since the temperature of the air from the room is higher than the temperature of the refrigerant, this allows it to receive more energy and turn completely into steam.


Step 5: Refrigerant evaporation

Once the refrigerant exits the evaporator as low-pressure vapor, its low temperature changes only slightly. The reason it does not increase is the phase change from liquid to vapor.


The most popular refrigerants:


Refrigerant R-22

R-22 is hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC). As it has a strong impact on the ozone layer, its use in new air conditioners has been discontinued since 2010. Since 2020 it has only been used in recycled or stored units.


R-410A refrigerant

This is a hydrofluorocarbon (HFC). It does not have as much impact on the ozone layer. Because R-410A can be more than 50% higher pressure than R-22, R-410A air conditioners require components that can handle these conditions.


R-32 refrigerant

R-32 is used in many air conditioning and refrigeration systems around the world. It is a hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) that does not directly contribute to ozone depletion. R-32 is slightly flammable. Air conditioners running on it are about 10% more energy efficient than models running on the other two types of refrigerant.


Many more useful articles can be found on the our blog. Here you can find some of the best models of air conditioners that work with environmentally friendly Freon, at affordable prices.