Final Phaseout of R-22 (Freon)

May 31, 2019

R–22, more commonly known as Freon, has been the standard refrigerant used in air conditioning equipment for most of the last 50 years.

R–22, more commonly known as Freon, has been the standard refrigerant used in air conditioning equipment for most of the last 50 years. The majority of the air conditioning equipment in this country still uses R-22, which is a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) compound containing a chlorine molecule. Scientific research has shown that the chlorine in HCFCs contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer. At the Montréal Protocol, 197 developing and developed countries met and agreed to phase out the use of HCFCs.

This phaseout has been in progress for many years. In 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the manufacture of all air conditioning systems designed specifically for R-22. In October 2014, the EPA finalized its plans for phasing out the production of R-22. This phaseout gradually reduced the amount of R-22 which can be produced each year from 51 million pounds in 2014 down to 4 million pounds in 2019. As of January 1, 2020, all new or imported R-22 will be banned in the U.S. market.

The primary refrigerant used in air conditioning equipment manufactured after 2010 is R-410A. R-410A is a hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) which does not contain a chlorine molecule. R410A equipment is highly efficient and better for the environment.

The EPA is not mandating the replacement of any air conditioning systems that use R-22. Hart & Iliff should be able to continue to service and repair them for quite some time. The problem is that R-22 has become more and more scarce and more and more expensive (R-22 currently costs five times more than R-410A). After 2020, R-22 may be prohibitively expensive or unavailable altogether. At that point, if you need additional refrigerant, the only option (other than replacing your system) may be to recover all the R-22 and replace it with an R-22 replacement refrigerant such as R-407C. While your unit will run on R-407C, it will inevitably result in some decrease in efficiency. The bottom line is, if your existing unit needs any type of major repair, you should seriously consider replacing it with an R-410A unit, rather than investing in what has become obsolete equipment.

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