What freon is used in refrigerators and how to determine its type

In this publication, we will tell you which freon is used in refrigerators, modern and old. Let us describe the features of freons, their prospects. You will learn how to determine what kind of refrigerant your refrigerator is filled with.

What freons are used in refrigerators

Domestic and commercial refrigerators have used their own refrigerants at different times. Here is the complete list:

In some refrigerators, rarer gases can be found. They are artisanal replacements for traditional ones. Sometimes craftsmen use them with a little system upgrade. The most common refrigerants are:

  • R-22 (difluorochloromethane);
  • R-502;
  • R-406.

Obsolete refrigerants from the 19th century

Since the 19th century, refrigerators and freezers have used refrigerants based on efficiency and availability. But they were toxic and caused poisoning when leaked. Three gases were used in total:

  1. R-717 (Ammonia);
  2. Sulphur dioxide;
  3. R-40 (Chloromethane).

Some manufacturers produced refrigeration equipment on these gases until the 70s of the 20th century. But the majority switched to a more modern (at that time) R12 freon.

Banned R-12

Freon R12 is one of the most efficient refrigerants. It has been used in automotive air conditioners in the west. It was also used in almost all Soviet refrigerators, such as:

  • Dnieper;
  • Minsk;
  • ZiS and ZiL;
  • Smolensk;
  • Biryusa;
  • And in many others.

This refrigerant has a high ozone depletion potential. Therefore, its use was regulated by the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

According to the protocol, the production of refrigerant has been banned in developed countries since 1996, in developing countries since 2010. It is allowed to be used only as a fire extinguishing agent in submarines and aircraft.


R-134a was developed as an alternative to the banned R-12. It does not have such good characteristics, in particular cooling capacity. For its operation, not mineral, but more expensive, synthetic oil is required.

R134-a is non-flammable, non-toxic. Its Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) is 0. Global Warming Potential (GWP) is 1430. This is 5.65 times less than R12 Freon. Applications for R134a refrigerant:

  • Car air conditioners;
  • Refrigerators;
  • Medium temperature freezers;
  • Solvent in organic chemistry;
  • foaming agent for plastics;
  • Aerosol filler.

R-600a, isobutane

This refrigerant has been used since the early 20th century in refrigerators and freezers. But after the appearance of the R12, it was forgotten for many years. It has been reused since 1993. According to its characteristics, it is similar to R134a refrigerant. But it has a number of differences. Previously, we considered the topic of which refrigerant is better, R134a or R600a.

The refrigerant R600a has an Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) of 0. The Global Warming Potential (GWP) is less than 0.001. It also works with mineral oils. The only drawback is the relatively high flammability.

Interesting fact

In some countries, it is illegal to use isobutane to fill refrigerators, such as the United States. All refrigeration and freezing equipment manufactured there runs on R-134a or R-290. The ban is being lobbied by the producers of these refrigerants in order to seize markets.


Under the R290 freon mark, ordinary propane is hidden. Recently, it has begun to be seen as an alternative to traditional refrigerants. The properties of R290 refrigerant allow it to be used in domestic and commercial refrigeration applications.

The Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) of R290 is 0. The Global Warming Potential (GWP) is 3. It is used with polyolester synthetic oils. Similar in characteristics and chemical activity to R600a.

In 1994, the production of household refrigerators on freon R290 or its mixture with R600a began. More than 1000 pieces were produced in Germany. Since then, they have been actively produced by the following countries:

  • Argentina;
  • Brazil;
  • India;
  • China;
  • Turkey;
  • Chile.

R-1234yf (2,3,3,3-tetrafluoroethane)

This refrigerant has replaced R134a and is its modification. Chemical difference in the arrangement of atoms. For both freons, the ozone depletion potential of the ODP layer is 0. The global warming potential GWP for the R1234yf refrigerant is 4. This is 350 times less than that of R134a.

R1234yf is used to fill air conditioners in new brands of cars. Over time, R134a will leave the market under the Kyoto Protocol. There is a good chance that R-1234-yf will be used in refrigerators and freezers.

Under US law, isobutane gas (R-600a) is prohibited from being used in refrigerators. The reason is its flammability. Therefore, when R134-a is banned, there will be few alternatives. In addition, both refrigerants are interchangeable.

How to determine what freon the refrigerator is filled with?

It doesn’t matter which refrigerator you have – LG, Indesit, Atlant, Orsk, Samsung, Stinol, Biryusa or another. In 95% of cases, two refrigerant options are used: R600a or R134a. You can find out which one is filled on a special nameplate (see photo).

Label show you, which freon is used in refrigerators

This nameplate is located on the inside walls of the refrigerator. Usually on the side where the door opens. Less commonly, it is glued to the back panel, behind the vegetable drawers. Even less often – from the back of the refrigerator. Often the same nameplate is glued to the compressor.


The nameplate indicates the type of refrigerant and its quantity. But if the refrigerator was repaired or refilled with freon, there may be problems. Some craftsmen upgrade the system to a different refrigerant. Others simply change freon to another type. This is usually indicated on a sticker that is glued to the compressor.

In this publication, we talked about which freon is used in refrigerators. They described their features, the past and future of freons. We hope it was helpful to you. Don’t forget to share this post with your friends and colleagues !

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