Does a dehumidifier use Freon? The answer is that it depends on the dehumidifier you’re using, though most of them use a refrigerant of some sort. However, if your dehumidifier uses Freon, you may not be allowed to repair or recharge it for long.
What types of refrigerant are used in dehumidifiers?
The first dehumidifiers used Freon just as many air conditioners do. Both Freon and R22 have been phased out in favor of R-104A and Puron. These refrigerants are more eco-friendly because they don’t deplete the ozone layer the way Freon does.
What refrigerant is inside of my dehumidifier?
Very old dehumidifiers may still use Freon. For units built between 1990 and 2010, it is more likely to be based on R22 than Freon. The EPA wants to completely ban HCFCs by 2030, and it is only allowed today when they’re recharging an existing device like a dehumidifier or air conditioner.
This means that any dehumidifier built after 2010 will only use environmentally friendly refrigerants.
Therefore, a dehumidifier that’s ten years old or less won’t contain Freon or R-22.
If I have a Freon dehumidifier, can I get it repaired or recharged?
As time goes by, your existing HVAC or appliance repair tech may not be able to get Freon to put in your old dehumidifier. If they can get it, the fact that it is becoming scarcer increases the cost of the refrigerant.
The costs will skyrocket after January 2020 when the production of Freon completely stops. HCFC-22 production stops then, too, forcing everyone who has a Freon system to use another refrigerant or compete for the dwindling supply of recycled Freon.
Furthermore, you may have a hard time finding people who know how to recharge Freon systems and want to deal with the hassles of disposing of Freon waste.
This will increase the cost of recharging or repairing Freon dehumidifiers until it becomes necessary to replace the unit altogether. Fortunately, many older dehumidifiers can use new refrigerants, though it may not operate as well as before.
This means you don’t have to buy a new dehumidifier, though there are other reasons you may choose to ditch the old one.
What refrigerants do they use in dehumidifiers now?
The standard replacement for Freon and R-22 is R-410A. R-410A or R410A is also called Puron. It is a hydrofluorocarbon or HFC that doesn’t contain chlorine. (Chlorine is the main catalyst for ozone depletion.)
Dehumidifiers that use R-410 are also more energy efficient by design. That is aside from the fact that R-410A absorbs and releases heat more efficiently.
This means the compressor in the dehumidifier will run cooler than the original designs. That reduces the risk of the compressor overheating and failing. You’ll see that benefit even if replacing HCFC-22 with Puron.
How else do new dehumidifiers differ from older designs?
Not only do new dehumidifiers not contain Freon, but they use different synthetic lubricants, as well. This extends the life of the dehumidifier’s compressor and other moving parts.
This is done to improve its performance and reduce its energy usage.
The newer models of dehumidifiers are not allowed to use HCFC and other ozone-depleting refrigerants because of the Montreal Protocol treaty.
This is why Puron or R410A became the standard for residential air conditioning and dehumidifiers since 2015. Every new dehumidifier is designed to use Puron or a similar refrigerant.
They also tend to be “smarter”, automatically slowing down or shutting down when the desired humidity level is reached to save power. The energy savings alone may make it worth your while to replace the unit.
Do dehumidifiers have to dispose of as hazardous waste?
Because dehumidifiers contain refrigerants, you can’t just toss them in the trash. The refrigerants inside of them – whether it is Freon, R-104A or R-22 – means it has to be disposed of as hazardous waste.
They need to be handled in the same way as refrigerators and air conditioners. The refrigerants will be sucked out and recycled or safely disposed of before the appliances are recycled for the metals inside of them.
Should I buy a new dehumidifier if mine uses Freon?
As time goes by, the answer is yes, but that doesn’t mean you have to immediately throw out the dehumidifiers you own. If you junk a working unit sooner than necessary, you’re wasting resources.
However, the new unit will cost more, and resources are used to make it. Yet the cost of the new dehumidifier may be offset by rebates and incentives offered to get rid of the old ones because of the environmental impact of the original ones.
For example, your local government or utility company may give you a rebate or reward for turning in the Freon-using units.
It won’t be as great as when you replace a 10 SEER air conditioner with a more energy-efficient unit, but it will offset the cost of buying a new one.
The sellers of new dehumidifiers will typically take the old one for free so that it can be safely disposed of, eliminating the fee you may pay if you call for hazardous waste disposal with the local trash service.
Can I buy refrigerant myself and recharge my dehumidifier?
You are legally required to repair a leaking dehumidifier instead of endlessly getting it recharged. This is why it became essentially illegal for homeowners to buy Freon off the shelf to recharge their units themselves.
Though it may not be illegal for you to own it, it is still illegal for a homeowner or unlicensed handyman to handle the substance, since we don’t want it leaking into the atmosphere.
Purchases of R410A are limited to licensed HVAC technicians for the same reason. After all, the financial cost of recharging the unit for a couple of years rivaled the cost of repairing the unit, regardless of the environmental harm it caused.
All of this means that homeowners are now allowed to recharge their own dehumidifier or air conditioner with the same or a different refrigerant. This can only be done by a qualified HVAC tech who will almost certainly use a new, approved refrigerant. And that will almost never be Freon.