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How A2L Refrigerants Contribute to HVAC Decarbonization

May 30, 2024
How A2L Refrigerants Contribute to HVAC Decarbonization

As federal, state, and local policymakers work to find ways to make the heating and cooling industry more sustainable, new regulations are being put in place to lower emissions, increase efficiency, and take verified steps toward decarbonization. One of those regulations is the switch to A2L refrigerants, which goes into effect January 1, 2025.

Here’s what you need to know about A2L refrigerants and how they contribute to decarbonization in the HVAC industry.

What are A2L refrigerants?
A2L refrigerants are characterized by mild flammability, low toxicity, and a low global warming potential (GWP).
A2Ls have a lower flammability rating compared to A3 refrigerants, such as hydrocarbons, propane, and isobutane, and lower toxicity rating than B series refrigerants such as ammonia.
In fact, A2L refrigerants are considered the second safest class of refrigerants. They can be a single refrigerant or a blend of multiple refrigerants in specific amounts.


How do A2L refrigerants contribute to decarbonization?
As the industry embraces sustainability and decarbonization efforts, A2Ls have emerged as a replacement for older, high-impact refrigerants like hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in air conditioning and commercial refrigeration systems.

In 2020, the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act (AIM) was enacted into law, which authorizes a 15-year phasedown of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) across of a variety of applications, including HVAC.

On October 24, 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the final rule under the AIM that sets global warming potential (GWP) limits for air conditioning. It sets a GWP limit of 700 for new AC/HP equipment by January 1, 2025 (and January 1, 2026, for variable refrigerant flow HVAC systems).


How does the transition to A2L refrigerants impact HVAC system installs?
Packaged equipment needs to comply with the new A2L standard based on the date the unit was manufactured, and split systems need to comply based on the date that systems are installed.

“The date of installation compliance was not something we were expecting for AC, and it effectively shortens the time we have to comply because it applies to existing inventory,” says Allison Skidd, Director of Global Regulatory Affairs at Rheem. “For that reason and others, the industry pushed back heavily on the surprise aspects of the final rule. This resulted in EPA amending the final regulation to allow for installation of higher-GWP HFC equipment manufactured or imported before January 1, 2025, to be installed until January 1, 2026.”


Rheem will continue to update contractors on the latest A2L refrigerant information as January 1, 2025, gets closer. You can also stay up to date on the latest industry changes at