The construction industry is filled with all sorts of language that can make the layman cringe at the thought of it. Freon, CFCs and halocarbons – so when you ask a question like “what is Freon made of,” getting a direct answer is hard. I am sad to say that the HVAC industry is probably one of the worst offenders in the construction industry. That being said, we are nevertheless often asked by our clients what some of these terms mean, like what is a condenser, or what does HVAC stand for? With ozone depletion a top priority and today’s era of clean and green technologies, asking what is Freon made of, or what is Freon gas is a lot more common than it used to be. I remember what it was like when I started in the HVAC industry and I felt like people were speaking a foreign language – a language I didn’t understand. As such, I figured that our blog was the perfect forum for answering some of these questions. If you can believe it, one of the most frequent questions we are asked on installations is, “what is freon made of?”
What is Freon and what is Freon made of?
More from DuPont on, what is freon gas?
The long answer: What is Freon gas? Freon is the name of a registered patent for a commercial refrigerant manufactured by DuPont. Although Freon is a brand name, it has come to be referred to in the HVAC industry as a synonym for “refrigerant.” Freon is a medium toxic but stable halocarbon – what this means, I have no idea but that is why I write articles for the everyday person and leave the smart-talk for my partner, Mike. Joking aside, this means that it is slightly toxic though, which I will address below, but that it is chemically stable and will not react when mixed with other substances. We use Freon because it has a rather useful property that is important to the air conditioning industry – it creates a cooling effect when it evaporates.
See more about how it does this in How does an air conditioner work? How Freon works.
So, now we know that Freon is just a common term used to refer to a commercial AC refrigerant. This also means that when people ask “what is Freon gas,” they should instead be asking, “what is refrigerant and what is it made of?”
What is refrigerant, and what is it made of? What are CFCs?
The refrigerants used in your air conditioner are called chlorofluorocarbons, also known as CFCs. Examples are R-22 and R-410A, both used heavily in the HVAC industry although people are in the process of changing to R-410A (known as Puron, which will not deplete the ozone layer). Chloro-what? Don’t worry, I think the same thing and I do this for a living. To those in the know, these CFCs may sound familiar because they are better known for their controversial roll in the ongoing debate about ozone depletion, which is why all licensed HVAC contractors are required to harvest it upon the recharging of an AC unit instead of letting it empty into the atmosphere. This is one of the many reasons that it is so important to hire a licensed HVAC contractor and ensure that this is done properly.
For more on choosing the right AC contractor, read 5 Tips You Must Know When Choosing an HVAC Contractor
Harvesting Freon gas.
The harvesting of Freon is not a challenging task, but there are a lot of “old-school” contractors who just let it vent into the atmosphere. Now, regardless of which side you sit on with regards to the ozone debate, if your contractor gets caught venting Freon without a good reason then he, and in Santa Clarita you could be held liable. I would wager that most licensed contractors do this properly, but just so you’re in the know, it wasn’t always done this way. Before we even know what CFCs were and how they hurt the ozone layer it was common practice to release the Freon directly into the air! Kind of scary when you think about it, but how often do we look back at how things used to be done and cringe?
Freon and other refrigerants are short lived though, because there are new and exciting technologies which will be hitting the air conditioning industry in the next few years which are completely safe for the environment, and the great part is that they also lower your electric bill by around 40 to 80 percent! If you are interested in this new DEVAP technology and more environmentally friendly refrigerant technology, take a look at this:
In the end, Freon is just the name of a commercial refrigerant manufactured by a company, and even though it is kind of like calling all chicken nuggets “Chicken McNuggets,” it has become a part of the air conditioner lingo – at least now you know. You also know that asking “what is Freon made of,” should actually be rephrased as, “what are refrigerants made of?”
Don’t be afraid to contact ASM with any additional questions you might have – we are always happy to help with any of your air conditioning or heating needs. If you have a question that you’d like answered in our blog, please contact ASM and we’d be happy to write you an article.