The Real Deal on Refrigerant: What Is Refrigerant Used For?

What’s the deal with refrigerant, you ask? Also, where is it used and how does it work?

These questions pique everyone’s curiosity at some point. It seems so impossible and contrary to nature when you don’t understand how it works.

After all, everyone knows how easy it is to generate heat. You can use fire, electrical energy, friction, and even a magnifying glass under the sun.

But how in the world is refrigerant used to generate coldness? You’re about to find out.

We’ve written you the following guide to demystify the science behind this process. Read on to learn the answers you’ve always wondered about.

The Science Behind Refrigeration

The process of refrigeration is not a human invention. It’s based on the natural laws of our physical universe, the laws of thermodynamics, to be exact. 

What humankind has done is to discover these laws and figure out ways to harness them. Here’s how the process works.

Put simply, matter gets hotter when it’s compressed and colder when it expands. Since solids aren’t very subject to expansion or contraction, we use liquids or gasses in refrigeration devices.

The Refrigeration Cycle

To harness the refrigeration process, we trap it in a loop. In one part of the loop, the gaseous or liquid refrigerant is compressed and gets hotter. Then, the heated refrigerant cools off a little as it transfers some of its heat to the air around it.

Next, the refrigerant is released into a wider area of the loop, where it depressurizes and gets colder. This cold part of the loop is usually shaped like a coil.

The coil cools the warmer air around it. Or, more accurately, it absorbs the heat from the air. Lastly, this heat is transported to the hot part of the loop and the process is complete.

What Is Refrigerant?

Refrigerant is the vital component that allows the modern-day process of refrigeration we just described. To be specific, though, it’s merely a liquid or gaseous compound that’s ideal for the process.

The refrigerants we use today are primarily hydrofluorocarbons with unremarkable names like R410A and R134. These have replaced many commonly used refrigerants of the past that are now deemed unsafe.

What Is Refrigerant Used For?

Refrigerant is used in refrigerators, freezers, and most air conditioners. For example, refrigerators use the cooling coil to make the air inside the refrigerator colder.

Centralized air conditioners use a fan to blow air through the evaporator coil. The refrigerant pulls the heat from the air and the cooled air is blown through the building.

The heat is then deposited outside. There, the refrigerant is compressed, wind-cooled, and then sent back to the evaporator coil.


Some air conditioners, however, do not use refrigerant. Swamp coolers, for instance, use evaporating water to cool the air.

Are You Experiencing Refrigeration Problems?

If your air conditioner or refrigerator isn’t cooling as it should, you might be low on refrigerant. If so, we can help. 

Call A1 Refrigeration and Air Conditioning at 409-207-1709, so we can inspect and fix your faulty cooling device. Or, contact us here to schedule service.