Refrigerants Make Sense
The benefits of retrofitting existing air conditioners
If your air conditioner was manufactured before 2010, it’s worth learning about the features, benefits and reasoning behind the use of alternative refrigerants. For example, if your system ever develops a leak, you’ll have to make some decisions about whether to repair it, replace it or retrofit it.
Most A/C units manufactured before 2010 use a refrigerant called R-22. As of January 1, 2020, it's illegal to make or import R-22 in the US. So, it’s going to become increasingly tricky and expensive to top your older system off with a refrigerant like R-22. But cost isn’t the only factor to consider.
A/C units may require alternative refrigerants or can be replaced.
The benefits of alternative refrigerants
At their most basic level, alternative refrigerants make your A/C unit do what it does best: cool your home. They’re better for the environment. They're more affordable than refrigerants like R-22. And using them will make repairing and maintaining your A/C much easier.
Why are alternative refrigerants better for the environment?
One of the most impressive benefits of alternative refrigerants like MO99, R-410A, and others is their decreased impact on the environment.
Before today’s alternative refrigerants, we used hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) like Freon®-22, or R-22. HCFCs are less damaging than previous refrigerants, but they still “survive” in the Earth’s ozone layer for 2 to 40 years. Because they’re damaging to the Earth’s ozone, the EPA mandated their phase out with the Clean Air Act of 2010. R-22 may no longer be produced or imported into the US as of January 1, 2020.
Alternative refrigerants fall under the category of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). They contain no chlorine, which is great news for the Earth because they don’t deplete the planet’s upper atmosphere.
Why do alternative refrigerants cost less?
As mentioned, the EPA banned the production and import of R-22 because of the harmful impact it has on the environment. As the supply of R-22 diminishes and it becomes harder and harder to find, the cost will continue to rise.
Since the beginning of 2016, the price of R-22 has more than doubled. Now that we've passed the EPA’s mandated end-of- production date for R-22, this number is expected to only increase.
Alternative refrigerants, on the other hand, are readily available and are not burdened with the production restrictions associated with R-22. This means the supply remains constant, creating far more competitive prices for the consumer.
Why do alternative refrigerants make it easier to repair or maintain an existing system?
One of the biggest challenges Service Contractors encounter is finding the parts they need to fix or maintain an A/C. As R-22 becomes scarce, it can be extremely difficult or even impossible for Service Contractors to get their hands on it. This lack of availability can mean long delays in getting a repair completed and cool air blowing again.
The benefits of retrofitting an air conditioner for alternative refrigerants
The good news about older A/C systems that use R-22 is that they can be retrofitted to use alternative refrigerants. This relatively straightforward process lets homeowners with an older system get more life out of their A/C for a lot less money. In fact, there are several benefits to a retrofit, including the following.
Contractors don’t always carry R-22
R-22 is becoming extremely expensive as the government continues to phase out its production. This makes it much harder for Service Contractors to find and use. An R-22 alternative makes the process much easier.
Retrofitting makes your A/C more serviceable in the future
R-22 is obsolete, and moving to a Freon alternative the next time you need A/C repairs will make future repairs easier and faster (which means you get a cool house faster).
Quite simply, alternative refrigerants let you fix your A/C faster and for less money, all while protecting the environment, than hunting for R-22.
speed of service
R-22 is expensive and hard to source, but alternative refrigerants are widely available. Using them will help get your home cooler, faster.
Frequently asked questions about air conditioners and refrigerants
There are different types of refrigerants, and the use of these compounds is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. That’s because their usage has an impact on the environment, and our understanding of that impact continues to develop and evolve over time.
The EPA’s Clean Air Act of 2010 mandated the phase-out of R-22 production, because researchers discovered that it depleted the ozone. The government mandated a 90% reduction in R-22 production by 2015, and a 99.5% reduction by 2020.
Use this cheat sheet from BuildingCenter.org to determine when your air conditioner was manufactured.
If your air conditioner uses R-22 and develops a leak or needs another repair, your HVAC technician may recommend that your existing A/C unit be retrofitted to accept an alternative refrigerant.
To learn more about the benefits of alternative refrigerants, click here.
Essentially, the chemical refrigerant inside of the unit is being refilled. When you hear the term “charging” it’s also a reference to adding refrigerant into the air conditioning system.
However, there could be any number of reasons for a malfunctioning air conditioner. If you have a Home Warranty Service Agreement from 2-10 HBW, you can place a request for service and 2-10 HBW will dispatch a service contractor to your home. If you do not have a Home Warranty Service Agreement, you should call an HVAC technician to assess your system’s functionality.
Remember that you can still continue to service and maintain your existing air conditioner, even if it uses R-22. You just can’t install a new air conditioner that uses R-22.
If your air conditioner was manufactured before 2013, it likely uses R-22 refrigerant. Due to EPA regulations this gas is good as gold — it’s expensive and hard to find.
Other retrofits are more complex and require additional components. For more information on how an air conditioner gets retrofitted, review How An Air Older Air Conditioner Gets Retrofitted For Alternative Refrigerants.