The Future of HVAC Refrigerants in Commercial landscape.

The landscape of commercial heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) is undergoing a transformative shift as the industry grapples with the pressing need to adopt environmentally sustainable practices. At the forefront of this change is the evolution of refrigerants, the lifeblood of HVAC systems.

In this blog post, we will explore the emerging trends and regulations shaping the future of refrigerants in commercial HVAC, as the industry takes bold strides towards a greener and more sustainable future.

Environmental Imperatives.

The HVAC industry has long been associated with the use of refrigerants that contribute to global warming and ozone depletion and the environmental impact of refrigerants has been a growing concern for decades. As the world grapples with the effects of climate change, there is an urgent need for the sector to embrace eco-friendly alternatives.

The transition to environmentally sustainable refrigerants has become a global imperative, with a particular focus on mitigating the impact of greenhouse gas emissions.

Technicians and consultants in the HVAC industry must have a thorough understanding to be well-prepared for the new era of refrigerants. As always, to help you understand what’s coming, let’s delve into the major changes that will be made to the lifeblood of HVAC systems.

Why You Should Care About HVAC Refrigerant Trends in 2024.

Regulations and policies concerned with the environment are always global, not limited to one single industry or region.

The European Union’s F-Gas Regulation is a testament to its commitment to environmental protection. This regulation seeks to curtail the use of fluorinated greenhouse gases, commonly known as Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by 95% by 2030 compared to 2015, going down to zero by 2050.

Starting in 2027, plug-in and other self-contained systems under capacity 50kW will be prohibited from using F-gases with a Global Warm Potential (GWP) of 150 or more. Additionally, single-split systems containing less than 3 kilograms of F-gases with a GWP of 750 or more will be banned in 2025.

Further restrictions will be implemented, Air-to-Water Split systems will be limited from 2027 and Air-to-Air Split Systems from 2029 to using F-gases with a GWP below 150. All split systems with a capacity of 12 kW or more are limited to using F-gases with a GWP below 750 from 2029.*

*According to the recent announcement of the F-gas regulation revision, the final agreement has not been concluded.


Across the Atlantic, North America has been equally proactive. The EPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency) SNAP (Significant New Alternative Policy) program set forth clear guidelines to phase out ozone-depleting substances. The EPA is mandated to reduce the production and usage of HFCs by 85% by 2036.

Starting in 2025, the EPA will prohibit the sale of new domestic and commercial air conditioning and heat pump equipment that utilizes refrigerants with GWP of 750 or higher. This ban will extend to VRF systems on January 1, 2026. For air conditioning chillers, the ban is proposed to take effect even sooner, starting on January 1, 2024.

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Next-Generation Refrigerants.

So, which future refrigerants would you have to consider using in the coming years? We did our best to break them down into three categories according to their compositions, and in order of which highest to lowest GWP.

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and hydrocarbons (HCs) are more prevalent, each offering different benefits and challenges in terms of efficiency, environmental impact, and safety. R32 is a good example, offering a trifecta of benefits: enhanced efficiency, reduced GWP, and recyclability.

Hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs) are emerging as frontrunners in the race for sustainable refrigerants. These compounds, often blended with other substances, boast a much lower global warming potential than traditional HFCs. R454B, is also emerging as a pivotal refrigerant in the HVAC industry, with a lower Global Warming Potential (GWP) alternative to the widely used R410A.

Natural refrigerants are the real game-changers. Substances like CO2 (R744), ammonia (R717), and hydrocarbons such as propane (R290) and isobutane (R600a) are making waves in the industry. Their minimal GWP makes them standout candidates for future HVAC systems. Many heat pump manufacturers like Vaillant utilise R290 for their products. The aroTHERM plus for example, is one of the most eco-friendly and efficient heat pumps on the market with an extremely low Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 3.

HFC Phase-down and the Rise of Low-GWP Refrigerants.

One notable development in the regulatory landscape is the phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) due to their high Global Warming Potential (GWP).

Governments and international bodies are introducing stringent regulations to limit the use of HFCs, pushing the industry to explore alternatives with lower GWP. Low-GWP (Global Warming Potential) refrigerants, such as hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs) and natural refrigerants like ammonia, carbon dioxide, and hydrocarbons, are gaining traction as viable substitutes.

The Advent of Natural Refrigerants.

Natural refrigerants are emerging as front-runners in the race towards sustainable HVAC solutions. Ammonia (R290), for instance, has been used for decades in industrial applications and is gaining popularity in large-scale commercial HVAC systems. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is another natural refrigerant making waves, particularly in supermarkets and cold storage applications.

Hydrocarbons, including propane and isobutane, are also making a comeback due to their low environmental impact and high energy efficiency.

Energy Efficiency and Technological Innovations.

Apart from environmental considerations, the industry is also witnessing a growing emphasis on energy efficiency. Manufacturers are investing in research and development to create HVAC systems that not only use environmentally friendly refrigerants but also operate with higher energy efficiency. This trend aligns with the broader global commitment to reduce energy consumption and combat climate change.

Smart HVAC Systems and IoT Integration.

The future of refrigerants in commercial HVAC is not only about the substances themselves but also about how systems are designed and managed. The integration of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and smart HVAC systems allows for more precise control, monitoring, and optimization of refrigerant usage.

This not only enhances energy efficiency but also enables proactive maintenance, reducing the environmental impact over the lifespan of the HVAC system.

Stay Ahead of HVAC Refrigerant Trends.

As the HVAC industry transitions to new refrigerants, the industry will experience several notable changes. Falling behind this upcoming refrigerant trends with lower Global Warming Potential (GWP) will inevitably require implementing new systems or replacing the existing systems which will accompany difficulties financially and physically.

It is important to stay ahead and lead with the trends and regulations as soon as you can. If you’re one of the first to bring natural refrigerants to the table, for example, not only the HVAC systems will be compliant with the new environmental policies but also as some newer refrigerants are often more energy-efficient, it can lead to lower energy bills and improved system performance.


As the commercial HVAC industry navigates towards a greener horizon, the future of refrigerants plays a pivotal role in shaping sustainable practices. The ongoing shift towards low-GWP and natural refrigerants, coupled with advancements in energy-efficient technologies, marks a positive trajectory for the sector.

Manufacturers, regulators, and stakeholders must collaborate to accelerate the adoption of eco-friendly refrigerants, ensuring a resilient and sustainable future for commercial HVAC systems worldwide.

If you are looking for a reliable installer and maintenance provider, Mid-Tech Services has been designing and installing HVAC systems for industrial, commercial, and residential properties for over 13 years. Our wealth of experience means we understand the variety and scope of various premises and their requirements. Our expert team is always hands-on to help you through every step of the process. Contact us to learn more about our systems by contacting our friendly expert team today. You will be thanking us in your dreams!

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