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With the year 2020 just days away, it is important to keep in mind some changes that are coming to your home air conditioning system – at least if you own a system that uses R22 refrigerant. Granted, these changes started about 20 years ago, but January 1, 2020 is an important date in the phase out of R22 refrigerant. If your air conditioner is more than ten years old, then it likely uses R22 refrigerant, and this article has some important information that you need to know.

What's the Difference Between R-22 and R-410A

R-22 is the refrigerant that has been used in most A/C systems since the 1950s. It is commonly called Freon. R-22 is a hydrochlorofluorocarbon, which the EPA has concluded is bad for the environment. Due to its effects on the environment, it is being phased out. R-410A, also called Puron, is the refrigerant which is the main replacement for R22. Since R-410A is not a hydrochlorofluorocarbon, it is not harmful to the environment.
There are some other important differences between these two refrigerants. R410A runs at a higher pressure than R22 does, so a system designed for R22 cannot use R410A. If you put R410A into an R22 system, then the compressor and other components could rupture – completely ruining the system. Another difference between the two refrigerants is that R410A is able to absorb more heat than R22 refrigerant. This ability to absorb more heat means that systems using R410A refrigerant can operate more efficiently that systems using R22. See the table below for a short summary of the differences between the two refrigerants

R-22

R-410A

A hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) so it can lead to depletion of the ozone layer of the atmosphere

A hydro-fluorocarbon (HFC) that does not contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer.

Often called Freon

Often called Puron

Operates at a lower pressure than R410A

Operates at a higher pressure than R22

Absorbs less heat than R410A

Absorbs more heat than R22 so it is more efficient

Used since 1950s. Being phased out

Used since early 2000s. Being implemented on most new systems

Expensive

Less expensive than R22

Can R22 and R410 Be Combined?

Due to their differences, R22 and R410A refrigerants cannot be mixed. They operate and different pressures, and they use different lubricating oils which makes them incompatible with each other.

Important Dates to Remember about R-22 Refrigerant

  • 2004 – EPA began the phase out of R22 refrigerant
  • January 1, 2010 – After this date, no new air conditioning systems designed to use R22 refrigerant can be produced. (Through a “loophole” in legislation, systems that are dry charged (no refrigerant installed at the factory) can still be manufactured, and the installer can charge them with R22 when the system is installed at a home.
  • January 1, 2020 – No R22 refrigerant can be produced or imported after this date.
  • January 1, 2030 – Systems using R22 refrigerant will be completely outlawed.

How Do the Changes to R-22 Refrigerant Affect You?

If you own an R22 system, your system will NOT be outlawed on January 1, 2020. If your unit breaks down and needs some freon after January 1, 2020, you will still be able to get R22 refrigerant for it, but you will likely pay a lot of money for the R22 refrigerant. Due to the law of supply and demand, it is getting more expensive to purchase R22 refrigerant. Since R22 is being phased out, R22 production has decreased by more than 95% in the last few years. In 2020, the production and importation of R22 will be illegal, so the only R22 that will be available will be refrigerant which was purchased prior to 2020 or which was collected from an old system that was being taken out of service.

How to Know if Your System Uses R22 or R410A

Go outside and locate your air conditioning unit, the condenser unit. Find the label, and look for some that says HCFC, R22, R410A, HFC or something similar. This will tell you if you have R22 or R410A. “HCFC” would be R22, and HFC would R410A. See some examples below.

 

HCFC-22
R410A | Morgan Inspection Services
R-22 | Morgan Inspection Services
R410A | Morgan Inspection Services

© 2019 Mike Morgan

This article was written by Mike Morgan, the owner of Morgan Inspection Services. Morgan Inspection Services has been providing home, septic and well inspection services throughout the central Texas area since 2002. He can be reached at 325-998-4663 or at mike@morganinspectionservices.com. No article, or portion thereof, may be reproduced or copied without prior written consent of Mike Morgan.


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