There is a good chance you've probably heard about the new alternative refrigerants being used in today's Air Conditioning Systems and Heat Pumps. These new products have fewer CFC's [chlorofluorocarbons] and are designed to have less impact on the earth's ozone layer and global warming. Some of them go by different names like Prozone or Puron. But no matter what the name, they are all R-410A.
R-410A is a new generation refrigerant that will be an important part of our future systems. But should you make the switch now or wait? How much time do you have? What are the risks? What do you need to know?
Here are a few facts about R-22
The EPA will allow the production of R-22 systems to the year 2010.
The EPA will allow continued use of R-22 to the year 2030, well past the typical life expectancy of any system installed today.
R-22 has been scientifically shown to have relatively low Global Warming Potential and Ozone Depletion Potential.
What Does the R-22 Phase out Mean for Consumers?
Availability of R-22 - The Clean Air Act does not allow any refrigerant to be vented into the atmosphere during installation, service, or retirement of equipment. Therefore, R-22 must be recovered and recycled (for reuse in the same system), reclaimed (reprocessed to the same purity levels as new R-22), or destroyed. After 2020, the servicing of R-22-based systems will rely on recycled refrigerants. It is expected that reclamation and recycling will ensure that existing supplies of R-22 will last longer and be available to service a greater number of systems. As noted above, chemical manufacturers will be able to produce R-22 for use in new A/C equipment until 2010, and they can continue production of R-22 until 2020 for use in servicing that equipment. Given this schedule, the transition away from R-22 to the use of ozone-friendly refrigerants should be smooth. For the next 20 years or more, R-22 should continue to be available for all systems that require R-22 for servicing.
Cost of R-22 - While consumers should be aware that prices of R-22 may increase as supplies dwindle over the next 20 or 30 years, EPA believes that consumers are not likely to be subjected to major price increases within a short time period. Although there is no guarantee that service costs of R-22 will not increase, the lengthy phase out period for R-22 means that market conditions should not be greatly affected by the volatility and resulting refrigerant price hikes that have characterized the phase out of R-12, the refrigerant used in automotive air-conditioning systems.
Common Sense Approach To Purchasing New Systems
An important thing homeowners can do for the environment is to purchase a highly energy-efficient system. Energy-efficient systems result in cost savings for the homeowner.
Today's best air conditioners use much less energy to produce the same amount of cooling as air conditioners made in the mid-1970s. Even if your air conditioner is only 10 years old, you may save significantly on your cooling energy costs by replacing it with a newer, more efficient model. Products with EPA's Energy Star® label can save homeowners 10% to 40% on their heating and cooling bills every year. Both R-22 and R-410A systems may have the Energy Star® label.
You should consider energy efficiency, along with performance, reliability and cost, in making your decision. And don't forget that when purchasing a new system, you can also speed the transition away from ozone-depleting R-22 by choosing a system that uses ozone-friendly refrigerants.
The Banning of Ozone-Depleting Refrigerants - A Brief History
In 1987 the Montreal Protocol, an international environmental agreement, established requirements that began the worldwide phase out of ozone-depleting CFC's (chlorofluorocarbons). These requirements were later modified, leading to the phase out in 1996 of CFC production in all developed nations. In addition, a 1992 amendment to the Montreal Protocol established a schedule for the phase out of HCFC's (hydrochlorofluorocarbons). HCFC's are substantially less damaging to the ozone layer than CFC's, but still contain ozone-destroying chlorine. The Montreal Protocol as amended is carried out in the U.S. through Title VI of the Clean Air Act, which is implemented by EPA.
An HCFC known as R-22 has been the refrigerant of choice for residential heat pump and air-conditioning systems for more than four decades. Unfortunately for the environment, releases of R-22 that result from system leaks contribute to ozone depletion. In addition, the manufacture of R-22 results in a by-product that contributes significantly to global warming. As the manufacture of R-22 is phased out over the coming years as part of the agreement to end production of HCFC's, manufacturers of residential air conditioning systems are beginning to offer equipment that uses ozone-friendly refrigerants.
While R-410A will certainly be the choice for the future, R-22 systems deliver a combination of benefits that make it an option for most homeowners in today's market. A 13 SEER R-22 system is the same efficiency as a 13 SEER R-410A system. The type of refrigerant used has no bearing on the cooling performance of an air conditioning unit.
1. Will R-22 be available after 2010?
Yes, there is currently no sales restriction
deadline for R-22. Manufacturers are
allowed to produce R-22 for refrigeration
and air conditioning applications until
2020; after that time sales can continue,
but supply may be a problem.
2. Can R-22 equipment still be
R-22 equipment can be manufactureduntil 2010, at which time R-22 will be
phased out for use in new equipment.
However, R-22 equipment can be purchased
indefinitely, subject to availability.
3. What are the alternatives to R-22?
R-407C is the recommended retrofit
for many R-22 applications. For new
systems, R-410A is recommended for
most unitary applications.
4. Will my existing equipment be able to
handle the pressures associated with
In response to the needs of the air-conditioning
industry, many equipment manufacturers
have redesigned their equipment
to accommodate the higher operating
pressures of R-410A. This includes technician
service items, such as gauge sets,
refrigerant hoses, recovery cylinders,
and recovery machines. If you are
not certain that your equipment is rated
for R-410A, please contact the equipment
manufacturer for specific details.
5. Will R-410A and R-407C need to be
Yes, all refrigerants should be recovered.
Check with your Forane® refrigerants
distributor for details on recovering
6. What about the pressure of R-410A?
Is there any safety consideration when
leaving it in a hot truck?
The cylinders which are used to contain
R-410A have been specifically designedto accommodate the pressure of R-410A.
These cylinders are pressure tested to
500 psig, which should accommodate
R-410A up to temperatures of at least
120°F. In cases where the user knows the
temperature will be higher, special care
should be taken to reduce the temperature.
As with any other refrigerant, it is
recommended that R-410A cylinders are
stored in a cool, dry location.
7. What if the pressure exceeds the
R-410A cylinders are designed with a
safety relief device. In extreme cases
where the refrigerant pressure exceeds
the cylinder test pressure, the safety
relief device will open to release the
8. Is R-410A a blend, and if so, do I need
to be concerned with fractionation?
Yes, R-410A is a blend. However, fractionation
due to leaks is not a concern,
because of the low glide levels of R-410A(, 1°F). R-410A, like all blends, must be
charged as a liquid to prevent fractionation
caused by vapor charging.
9. Are there any special issues that
need to be considered when working
with POE oils?
Yes, it is very important to keep the system
free of moisture. POE oil is extremely
hygroscopic and can be easily contaminated
if moisture gets into the system.
10. Are R-410A and R-407C available?
Yes, contact any local Forane® refrigerants
distributor for information on
availability and price.
sp;Click here to take you to the EPA site on R-22 Phase