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R290 Heat Pumps vs R32 Heat Pumps: A Comprehensive Guide for 2024

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Two prominent heat pump refrigerants in the field of heat pumps are R290 and R32, each of which has unique qualities that affect how they’re utilized in heating solutions, effectiveness, and influence on the natural world. R290 is considered a more ecologically friendly benign alternative due to its reduced global warming potential (GWP), however its efficiency is lacking. In contrast, R32 has a higher GWP but is more efficient, creating a conundrum for producers and consumers looking for ecologically conscious heating options.

The debate between R32 vs R290 heat pumps underscores a broader challenge in the heating sector: balancing efficiency with environmental stewardship. This article aims to navigate this intricate landscape by examining the characteristics, energy performance, costs, and regulatory landscape surrounding R290 and R32 heat pumps. Understanding the subtleties of R290 and R32 is essential for stakeholders who want to make educated judgments in this environmentally sensitive period as the manufacturing sector moves closer to 2024.

What is R290 Heat Pumps?

A particular kind of cooling and heating machine that uses propane (R290) as its refrigerant is called an R290 heat pump. R290 is a naturally occurring material that is both extremely effective at transporting heat and friendly to the environment. Its Global Warming Potential (GWP) is only 3, while its Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) is 0. This makes R290 refrigerant a viable selection for air source heat pump(ASHP), as does its capacity for taking in more heat energy because of its greater heat capacity of vaporization. Since R290 has an extremely low risk for warming the globe and no negative impacts on the ozone layer, they are excellent for lowering greenhouse gas emissions and saving resources.

Despite its green crdentials, R290 is flammable, necessitating specific safety measures during installation, maintenance, and disposal. However, R290 compressor heat pumps are built with safety in mind, with R290 monoblock systems that house the complete refrigeration circuit outside the residence, lowering the risk of flammability inside residential areas.

R290 heat pumps

What is R32 heat pumps?

R32 Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHPs) are heating devices that utilize the refrigerant R32 (difluoromethane) to transfer heat. As a member of the Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) family, R32 refrigerant is notably environmentally friendly, making it a preferred option for ASHP systems. With a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 675, R32 leaves a significantly smaller environmental footprint compared to the typical refrigerant R410A (GWP of 2088). Its higher volumetric cooling capacity enables R32 to deliver more cooling power per unit volume of refrigerant. Renowned for its enhanced energy efficiency and compatibility with existing air conditioning systems, R32 systems outperform similar R-410A systems by 12%, rendering them an ideal choice for retrofits. Despite its low flammability, R32 carries mild toxicity risks if inhaled in large quantities. Nevertheless, owing to its minimal environmental impact and energy efficiency, R32 has garnered widespread popularity in air conditioning and heat pump systems worldwide.

Differences between R290 Heat Pumps and R32 Heat Pumps

Refrigerant Properties:

  • R290 (propane) and R32 (difluoromethane) have differing chemical compositions, resulting in different thermodynamic features.
  • The former is a natural refrigerant with no Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) and a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 3, making it extremely eco-friendly.
  • R32 has a higher GWP (675), although it is still considered more environmentally friendly than previous refrigerants such as R410A.

Energy Efficiency:

  • Both these two types of heat pumps offer excellent energy efficiency and heat transfer capabilities, making them effective solutions for heating and cooling needs. Compared to traditional heating solutions like those using R410A refrigerant, both R290 and R32 heat pumps demonstrate superior environmental performance, with lower Global Warming Potentials (GWPs) and reduced impact on the ozone layer.

Related Article on hydrocarbons21: ATMO Europe: R290 Heat Pump Beats R32 on Efficiency

System Design and Compatibility:

  • Heat pump systems using them may have different designs and configurations based on the specific characteristics of each refrigerant.
  • Manufacturers may optimize system components differently for R290 and R32 heat pumps, affecting factors such as compressor efficiency and heat exchanger design.
  • R32 heat pumps are often designed to be compatible with existing HVAC infrastructure, so it may be more readily available and easier to find replacement parts, simplifying retrofitting and installation processes.

Environmental Impact:

  • R290 is favored for its lower environmental impact, as it is a natural refrigerant with minimal GWP and ODP.
  • While R32 has a higher GWP compared to the former, it still represents an improvement over older refrigerants and is considered a more environmentally friendly option in many cases.



  • Initial Investment: The cost of these two heat pump systems may vary based on factors such as equipment size, brand, and installation requirements. Generally, R290 systems may have slightly higher upfront costs due to specialized components and safety measures.
  • Long-Term Savings: While R290 systems may have higher initial costs, they can offer potential long-term savings through lower energy consumption and reduced environmental impact.


  • Flammability: R290 is classified as a highly flammable refrigerant, requiring strict safety protocols during handling, installation, and maintenance. Specialized training and equipment are often necessary to ensure safe operation.
  • Mild Flammability: R32 is classified as mildly flammable, posing lower safety risks compared to R290. However, safety precautions are still required to minimize the risk of accidents.

Adaptive temperature:

  • R290: these heat pumps may exhibit slightly better performance in colder temperatures compared to R32 due to its lower boiling point and higher latent heat of vaporization. If you want to know more, pls check r290 pressure temperature chart.
  • R32: While R32 heat pumps are efficient in various climates, they may experience reduced performance in extremely cold conditions.


  • The appearance of both these two heat pump units will vary by manufacturer and model. These systems are typically designed to be compact and unobtrusive, while the outdoor units often feature sleek, modern designs to allow for easy integration into a variety of indoor environments and blend seamlessly into outdoor spaces. At the same time, there are many leading heat pump manufacturers whose heat pumps are designed with Rust proofing and Hidden screws.

Smart Control:

  • Both R29 heat pumps and R32 heat pump systems typically offer smart controls that allow the heat pump system to be remotely controlled for temperature via an app, and settings that can be adjusted based on ambient conditions and user preferences to improve energy efficiency and comfort.

Noise Level:

  • R290: Generally quieter than R32 due to differences in compressor technology and system design.
  • R32: Slightly higher noise levels, but still relatively quiet during operation.
  • Considerations: Noise levels can impact user comfort, especially in residential settings. Factors like compressor type and unit placement should be considered to minimize noise disturbance.

Installation Difficulty:

  • Because propane is flammable, installing an R290 heat pump system often demands specialized training and equipment. Safety precautions, including adequate ventilation and leak detection, are crucial during installation to mitigate potential risks. Consequently, an R32 system could present a more straightforward installation process.

Maintenance requirements:

  • Routine maintenance for both R290 and R32 heat pumps is generally similar, encompassing tasks such as regular filter cleaning and replacement, inspection and cleaning of heat exchangers, and checking electrical connections and control systems. However, the maintenance needs may vary based on the specific heat pump system and manufacturer recommendations.


In conclusion, while R290 and R32 heat pumps share similarities in energy efficiency and performance, they differ in cost, safety considerations, operating pressures, efficiency in colder temperatures, energy consumption, and environmental impact. The choice between R290 and R32 heat pumps depends on factors such as safety requirements, climate conditions, regulatory compliance, and budget constraints, necessitating careful evaluation to determine the most suitable option for specific heating and cooling needs.

Throughout this comprehensive exploration, the contrasts between R290 heat pumps and R32 heat pumps have been thoroughly dissected, pointing to pivotal decisions in the wake of 2024. Adopting R290 or R32 heat pumps transcends mere preference, evolving into a decision deeply rooted in an understanding of environmental mandates, safety protocols, and cost considerations shaped by the evolving regulatory landscape and market dynamics. As the industry strides toward sustainability and efficiency, the insights garnered from this analysis beckon further research to refine and expand upon the comparative merits of these refrigerants. This ongoing exploration will undoubtedly play a crucial role in informing future decisions, ensuring they align with both immediate needs and long-term environmental objectives, thereby fostering a greener, more sustainable future in heating and cooling technologies.

We Are the Best Heat Pump Manufacturer-ZEALUX

ZEALUX stands out as a premier heat pump manufacturer, with its foundation deeply rooted in Guangdong, China. The company’s extensive reach, evidenced by warehouses and after-sales centers in France and Germany, underscores its dedication to the European market and beyond. Offering an array of air source heat pump solutions tailored for residential, commercial, and industrial needs, Zealux embodies versatility and innovation. Their slogan, “Zealux – 365 Days Green Home,” further cements their commitment to sustainability and customer satisfaction.

Key Highlight:

  • INVERBOOST heating technology since 2013
  • Free 7-year warranty
  • A+++ High energy efficiency
  • R290/R32 Refrigerant
  • Sufficient Stock in FR warehouse–Short Delivery Time
  • After-service center and training support in France

heat pump supplier


What’s the deal with using R290 as a refrigerant?

Well, R290, also known as propane, is a natural, efficient, and eco-friendly refrigerant with an incredibly low Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 0.02. Compare that to R410a, another popular refrigerant, which has a whopping GWP of 2088. It’s pretty clear that R290 is the greener choice here.

What’s the go-to refrigerant gas for heat pumps these days?

The top dogs in the game are R134a, R404a/R407a, and R410A. These gases are all over the place in industrial refrigeration chillers and heat pumps because they get the job done.

Between R32 and R290 Heat Pumps, which one’s the better pick for refrigerant gas?

Well, R290 heat pumps take the cake. It’s more efficient and boasts a significantly lower Global Warming Potential (GWP) than R32. R290’s GWP sits at a measly 3, while R32’s is way higher at 657. So, if you’re looking to keep things green, R290’s your go-to.

What about the downsides of using R290 heat pumps?

Sure, it’s got its perks with that low GWP, but there are a few things to watch out for. The biggie is its flammability – it’s classified as an A3 refrigerant, meaning it’s got a higher risk of catching fire. Plus, you’re limited to just 8 grams per cubic meter of chamber volume. On top of that, R290’s got a low molecular mass and polytropic coefficient, which can lead to some not-so-ideal discharge temperatures, low viscosity, and lower pressure drops in systems.

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