If you haven’t heard about the R22 Phase Out, then this post is for you. This is a very important topic, especially for those who own heating and air units that use R22 refrigerant, typically referred to as Freon. R22 Freon will no longer be available, and will actually be illegal, on January 1, 2020. For this reason, there are important things homeowners and business owners need to know concerning this matter.
We’re going to go over the details of the R22 phase out, why it’s happening, and what it means for you (and me).
What is the R22 Phase Out?
Over 30 years ago the Montreal Protocol was put into affect to cease the production of ozone layer depleting substances. It’s a international agreement to rid the Earth of these substances. It was determined that R22 refrigerant was one of these substances. They stated that Freon was contributing to the depletion of our ozone layer. Chlorine is believed to be the main compound in the refrigerant that causes the most harm to the ozone layer.
The phase out of R22 began in 2014-2015 and has progressed ever since. It will fully culminate on January 1, 2020. According to the EPA, in 2019 the production of R22 dropped by 55% from 2018. On January 1, 2020 it will cease completely. It will no longer be manufactured or imported.
Does This Affect You?
If your air conditioner uses R22 refrigerant, then this affects you. You can find out what kind of refrigerant your system uses by checking the manufacturer’s data plate. The data plate will typically be located on the condenser unit (outdoor unit) or the air handler (indoor unit). You also might find a specific sticker that lists the refrigerant type in larger letters and numbers. You should find either R22 or the other alternative, R410A listed on the unit. They could also be labeled as HCFC-22 or HFC-410A.
If you are having trouble finding the refrigerant type, knowing the manufacturing date can also help. If the unit was manufactured before 1996, then it definitely uses R22. If it was manufactured between 1996 and 2009, it could use either of the refrigerants. If it was manufactured in 2010 or later, then it uses R410A and you don’t have to worry about this!
Something that you need to know: Many people think that “Freon” refers to any and all refrigerant that is used, especially with air conditioning systems. But, this is not the case. Freon is actually only related to R22. Because R22 was widely used for such a long time as the refrigerant, Freon and refrigerant became interchangeable. So, there are multiple types of refrigerant out there, but R22 is the only Freon.
How Does This Affect You?
First of all, when something valuable is reduced in production, the price of that product will increase. It is no different with R22 Freon. The price for this refrigerant has gone up each of the last 4 years and will reach it’s highest cost this year. This translates to higher service costs when R22 refrigerant is used.
Once R22 is completely phased out, it will be very hard to find it available. I’m not saying it will be impossible, but if you do find it, it will probably be extremely expensive and not cost-effective at all. The only available R22 will be that which was previously produced or that has been recycled.
So, What is the R22 Refrigerant Replacement?
R22 Freon is being replaced by a more environmentally safe refrigerant, R410a Puron. R410A isn’t exactly new, as it was created in 1991 by Honeywell. Unit’s that are R410A compatible started to be manufactured in 1996. As stated before, the R22 phase out has been going on for years, but it is now coming to completion.
Well, can’t you just start using R410A in your R22 unit?
Sadly, no. These refrigerants are not compatible or interchangeable. For some, there is the option to convert your current system to a R410A compatible system. We will go over this more below.
Benefits of R410A Refrigerant
Now that we know what the replacement refrigerant is, let’s go over some encouraging benefits of it.
R22 Phase Out Options
As we’ve eluded to in this post, if your cooling system uses R22, we recommend upgrading to an air conditioner that uses R410A refrigerant sometime before January 1, 2020. If your system uses R22, then it’s likely fairly old anyways and replacing the ac unit will be cost-effective in more ways than one.
For some, there is the option to replace most of the major internal components of your current system with components that are R410A compatible. This is known as a R410A conversion or a “drop in” replacement. We don’t recommend this though, simply because it would be more cost-effective to purchase an entire new unit.
Lastly, you can always ride out your current R22 system through 2020 and beyond for however long it lasts. The only issue with this is that if the system has an issue (in 2020 and after) and R22 refrigerant is needed, it’s not guaranteed that it will be able to be supplied. This would likely result in having to get a new replacement unit in a hurry.
Have you had to take any action concerning the R22 phase out? Does your current system use R22 refrigerant?
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