How Much Freon Does an AC Unit Hold Based on Tonnage?


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In 1913, one of the most intense heatwaves in history hit Furnace Creek, California. Just like the name Furnace, it was so hot, the temperature at the time hit 57 degrees Celcius; the highest atmospheric temperature recorded yet in a habitable environment. 

Over the years, situations like this have risen where the atmospheric temperature goes insanely high. With the depletion of the ozone layer resulting in global warming, it is not that hard to imagine why this occurrence has become more common.

Fortunately, Willis H. Carrier made an important invention called Air conditioners that has reduced the effects of these heat waves and created more comfort for users.

Air conditioners popularly called AC are cooling systems that work to control the temperature of a given space. They comprise of various components: a compressor, condenser coil, thermostat, evaporator, air handler and blowing unit. ACs also have different types such as window AC, split units, portable ACs, etc.

AC unit.

See also: Does a dehumidifier cool a room? The answer is strange

ACs generally function when components of an AC system work together with the help of a chemical called a refrigerant. A number of gases are used as refrigerants but for the purpose of this article, we will be focusing on the chemical Freon. 

If you are interested in knowing what a Freon is, how it works and how much is needed for optimal functioning of an AC, please read on.

What is a Freon?

Freon refrigerant.
Freons are usually held in gas cylinders.

A Freon is an air conditioning chemical commonly called a refrigerant. It is used to control room temperature and humidity. Despite its use in improving the temperature of confined spaces, there is a lot of controversy surrounding this chemical.

Freon has been deemed hazardous by many. It has also been linked with environmental concerns, such as having a negative impact on the ozone layer. Due to these environmental concerns, The FDA in 1992 began a ban on the manufacturing and importation of Freon which took effect from the 1st of January 2020. 

Since 2020, freon has been replaced with R-410A and other less harmful chemicals.

How does Freon work?

Freon is basically a cooling gas. It cools a room by releasing heat that has accumulated in the room. To achieve this, It circulates via a series of refrigerant lines and undergoes a series of processes. 

First, the compressor presses the freon gas to make it hot. This hot gas travels through a couple of coils that cool down the gas and converts it to liquid.

The converted gas travels to evaporators and is converted back to low-pressure freon gas. This low-pressure gas is then released through the air condition unit to cool your home. 

How is a Freon measured?

Freon is measured in pounds. Knowing how much is required to effectively run an air conditioning system involves some complexities.

The amount of freon required to run your cooling system depends on the tonnage of your AC unit. Tonnage is a measurement used to determine how much cooling an AC unit can give.

Residential ACs usually have between 1 to 5 ton units. Each ton is equivalent to 12000 British Thermal Units. BTU refers to the volume of heat needed to raise a pound of water’s temperature by one degree Fahrenheit.

This means that one ton of air conditioning can remove 12000 BTUs of heat from a room in 1 hour. 

Size (capacity), equipment choice, and length of the refrigerant piping usually determine how much Freon an AC will require.

Generally, home ACs hold between 5-20 pounds of freon depending on their tonnage which could range from 1-5 tons. This means that each ton could hold about 3 pounds of Freon.

So back to the big question, how much Freon will one unit of AC unit hold?

The answer will depend on the size of your air conditioning unit. If you have a 3 ton AC, then you’ll need 9 pounds of freon whereas, if you have a smaller AC of 1 ton, you will need about 3 pounds of Freon.

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