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R22 Refrigerant Replacement: Unveiling the ‘Why’ and ‘How’ of It

December 19 2023by Maximum Climate Control

Chlorodifluoromethane (HCFC), popularly called R22, has been one of the most common refrigerants for air conditioning systems for many decades. Today, it stands out as a banned item and is no longer a part of cooling systems. Reports claim that it is now illegal to use it in refrigeration units on domestic and commercial premises. Any idea why it was phased out and what could be the replacement for R22 refrigerants? Let us explore everything in this blog post.

Why R22 was Phased Out?

Explore the reasons underlying the ban on R22 refrigerant:

  • Negative consequences on the environment

R22 is an ozone-depleting substance. In the 1980s, scientists discovered this layer safeguarding the planet from the detrimental impacts of solar rays was growing weirdly thin. On further detection, they gathered significant evidence claiming man-made chemicals like R22 are to blame. Consequently, a phase-out plan emerged to tackle the situation of ozone depletion and the acceleration of global warming. Moreover, the refrigerant is highly inflammable and a potential hazard when it leaks, whether indoors or outdoors.

  • Expensive

Ever since the refrigerant was phased out, it’s stayed mostly unavailable. So, you can imagine how pricey it has grown. No wonder repairs and servicing of air conditioning systems are so expensive! It is not just about the expense but the delays it was causing due to restricted supply, with things turning haywire during the summer months as demand spikes mostly during that period.

  • Poor energy efficiency

Freon R22 suffers from the drawback of poor energy efficiency compared to the recently used HFC. It implies that the refrigerant is inefficient at transferring heat, unlike its chlorine-free counterparts. So, cooling takes more energy. A part of it is due to the usage of copper coils, which suffer from poor heat transfer efficiency rates.

If your air conditioning system is 15 years old, chances are it’s using R22. You may check for the refrigerant type on your system’s label, typically the one on the outdoor unit. You may also engage an HVAC technician to assess your system and better prepare for an upgrade or R22 refrigerant replacement.

R22 Replacement Refrigerants to Save the Ozone Layer

When the R22 refrigerant production gradually slowed down, three viable replacements restocked the supply:

  • R438A – The cooling capacity may not stand on par with R22, but it is definitely energy-efficient.

  • R421A – It’s the best choice available to retrofit an R-22 unit. Experts often recommend it as the task requires no retraining.

  • R422D – Its lowest toxicity level and non-ozone-depleting properties make it a great substitute.

All three options are mineral oil-compatible, which makes them perfect substitutes for air conditioning compressors. However, modern units function only when synthetic oil is applied. Not all refrigerants are compatible with specific oil types. Therefore, instead of considering it to be a DIY project, engage an HVAC expert to gauge the suitability and go for the change. Wondering what makes the R22 refrigerant replacements so desirable? Well, they are free from chlorine and eliminate the possibility of ozone depletion.

What Next?

It’s evident from the discussion that R22 is not only a threat to you but the community around you. Of course, you may pay a higher price to continue using your air conditioning system running on this refrigerant. It is usually equipment built before 2010 that employs R22 to function. However, it’s best to replace the HVAC system or retrofit the current unit. No matter what you decide on, let only an experienced and certified technician perform the task.

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