R404A replacement

R404A/R507 replacement Your main questions answered

In Europe R404A and R507 refrigerants are already banned in many new refrigeration equipment and for service only recycled refrigerants can be used. Here is a list of replies to the many questions we have received related to the best refrigerants to replace R404A / R507 in refrigeration applications, to the impact on the system performance, on the components and their availability, and to the best practices.

Commercial Refrigeration applications are very diverse regarding systems types and refrigerants used. It includes cold rooms, glass door merchandisers, and display and islands cabinets, either in centralized or plug-ins – hermetic or autonomous cooling circuits with condensing units. Commercial Refrigeration applications are grouped into three main categories: hermetically sealed applications, condensing units and centralized DX systems.

What are the best refrigerants to replace R404A in any application?

  • There are several viable options which depend on the application, operating conditions, and whether it will be used in a new or existing system. In centralized systems, CO2 has become a viable refrigerant and can be used in different system setups.
  • In existing systems mid-size refrigeration applications, between 2 to 40 kW, we recommend R448A, R449A or R452A. The same applies for new installations at medium temperatures, including R134a. We can see A2L-R454A, R455C and R1234yf emerging for new systems.
  • For smaller refrigeration systems, below 2 kW, R134a and R1234ze are well established as well as hydrocarbons (R600a and R290) offering high efficiencies.
Refrigerant R404A Alternatives

In new low-temperature systems below 2 kW, propane (R290) is an interesting, long-term option, depending on the refrigerant charge needed.

For the existing mid-size systems, R448A, R449A and R452A are good options with moderate GWP levels while emerging A2L-R455A, R454C and R1234yf should only be applied in new systems.

In larger systems, the same apply on top of the CO2 option.

Link to the HC pages / CO2 pages

The best options depend on the unit’s size and type.

In centralized systems common in supermarkets and hypermarkets, CO2 is the main ultra-low GWP and natural refrigerant used in new equipment. A lot of progress has been made to enhance its efficiency – even in high ambient temperatures. It also complies with Article 13 usage and service ban of the EU F-gas regulations.

In small installations such as glass door merchandisers (GDMs), depending on the application temperature, new systems should preferably use hydrocarbons for high performance, which relate to Article 11 of the EU F-gas regulations.  

In mid-size installations such as cold rooms, milk tanks, display cabinets, and blast freezers, there are several options which relate to Article 12 of the EU F-gas regulations. The best choice will depend on the type of application.

For further information, please refer to question 1.

-> For more information about the impact on system performance and components, access the Retrofit Tool in Coolselector.

It depends entirely on the application. In low temperature applications, R452A provides a wider operating map without additional system components – such as for vapor injection – and unables a simpler design.
R448 and R449A deliver good energy performance and have a lower GWP than R452A.
Each refrigerant complies with Articles 11 (self-contained units), 12 (condensing units), and 13 (centralized systems) usage and service ban of the EU F-gas regulations.
However, it’s important to remember that under Article 11, none of these refrigerants can be used in self-contained units after 2022.

Even more important than the bans, the F-Gas regulation requires our industry to reduce the GWP level of all refrigerants used in general by means of a quota system on high GWP refrigerants until 2030 . Several A2L refrigerants (e.g. R454A/C, R455A) offer very low GWP levels and are suitable for new low temperature refrigeration systems.

-> For more information about the impact on system performance and components, access the Retrofit Tool in Coolselector.

R452A better for low temperatures (LBP)

You will notice similar efficiency and cooling capacity when switching from R404A to R448/449A or R452A.

However, if you select the correct piping, settings, valve dimensions, and condensing and evaporating sizes, it’s possible to improve seasonal and part-load efficiency in new installations.

On top of the A1 class and natural refrigerants, A2L refrigerants offer even higher GWP reductions with good performance and efficiency.

The refrigeration systems need to be designed to comply to the requirements for flammable refrigerants. Please only use components which are approved for your specific refrigerant. To ensure best performance and reliable operation of your new A2L installation, please use Coolselector for component and pipe size selection.

-> For more information about the impact on system performance and components, access the Retrofit Tool in Coolselector.

Retrofit Tool in Coolselector

About component selection and best practices

Standard best practices in Europe are detailed in the EN 378-1:2016 standard, Pressure Equipment Directive (PED) 97/23/EC, and Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Directive 2014/30/EU.
Appropriate leak control and detection are also required in retrofits for traceability.

!!! Please note that only A1 class refrigerants should replace R404A, R507 or R134a in an existing system. A2L and A3 should never be used for retrofit in an installation using a A1 refrigerant.

-> Refer to the retrofit guideline and article

For recommended low and medium temperature refrigerants, refer to question 1.
In all circumstances, use compressors with the refrigerants they are approved for.
Due to the thermodynamic properties of R448A and R449A, both have high discharge temperatures, which will limit the operating map of any compressor.
To increase the operating map, vapor or liquid injection are required. However, both are more expensive options.

First of all, use compressors only with the refrigerants they are approved for.
It’s important to ensure that system oil is compatible for each component and every alternative option.
Danfoss POE oil must be used with any Danfoss commercial compressor, including subsequent future models. When changing oil, it’s also a good opportunity to change the filter dryer. to help ensure system longevity.

-> Retrofit guideline

-> Reciprocating compressors use Danfoss POE oil from 160 to 175 PZ
Scroll compressors no longer use PVE oil and now use POE oil. 

Refer to the technical note for more information

-> We do have such valves.

There are TU, T2 and TE valves for R452A with MOP available.
You can find all relevant information at Coolselector.danfoss.com

Components qualified for new refrigerants

Due to the refrigerant properties, not all components will necessarily be compatible with new refrigerant. Especially when it comes to flammable refrigerants.
To help match the right components to each refrigerant, refer to the Danfoss Coolselector®2 calculator and Danfoss technical data sheets. Coolselector versions after October 2019 include a Retrofit Tool that provides details about the impact on each system components.

Light commercial compressors are already available for R448A, R449A and with R452A. In addition, our range of scroll compressors are also compatible with these refrigerants for both medium and low temperature applications but with liquid injection.
Danfoss Maneurop reciprocating compressors won’t be available for R448/R449A as the operating map is smaller than for R404A / R507.
Instead, we recommend using R452A – which is the same advice given by all reciprocating compressor manufacturers.
 Ongoing qualification for A2L-ultra-low GWP refrigerants are planned for most of the models such as NTZ 1 cylinder reciprocating compressors, LLZ scroll compressors.

-> For more information, see at Coolselector.danfoss.com

-> It depends on the type of refrigerant.
Due to the refrigerant properties, not all components will necessarily be compatible with new refrigerant. This is particularly sensitive with A2L alternatives to R404A.

To help match the right components to each refrigerant, refer to the Danfoss Coolselector®2 calculator and Danfoss technical data sheets.

All material Danfoss uses are compatible with the refrigerants the product - e.g. an expansion valve - is approved for.

Refrigerants not approved for a product might not be compatible with some of the raw material e.g. polymers in this product.

For a save and reliable operation, please make sure the products you use are approved for the refrigerant in your system.

To see valve compatibility with refrigerants, check in Coolselector®2 

For retrofit, read our retrofit guideline.

EPEE External resources:

R404A replacement

Using flammables