If you own an air conditioner manufactured before 2010, you may notice that it uses a refrigerant known as R22.
You may also notice that it can be exceedingly difficult to find an R22 replacement. Try as you might; you may not be able to find it anywhere in your local area.
So, what is that all about? Is R22 still available? Can it be replaced with an alternative refrigerant, or do you need to give up your system altogether? We want to discuss that, and a little bit more, on this page.
Is R22 Refrigerant Still Available?
R22 refrigerant is no longer being produced. However, it is still available. Anything produced before the R22 phase-out is still available. Since R22 was a common refrigerant used in air conditioners, any decommissioned air conditions will likely have R22 recovered from them.
As time goes on, there will be a lower amount of R22 refrigerant available. Within the decade, you can pretty much guarantee that supplies will have completely dried up. Even now, it is tough to find in some areas.
What is R22 Refrigerant?
R22, sometimes referred to as Chlorodifluormethane, or HCFC-22, is a refrigerant designed for air conditioners, although it has also been used as a propellant in other applications.
The purpose of a refrigerant is to help absorb the heat from the air that flows through the air conditioner. The refrigerant accomplishes this by cycling between being a gas and a liquid.
A refrigerant is one of the most important components of an air conditioning system. Without it, the air conditioner wouldn’t be able to cool down anything.
Since 2010, the use of R22 in the United States has started to be phased out. This means that it is no longer being produced. No new items are allowed to be manufactured with R22.
The European Union has gone a step beyond this. There, you are not even allowed to repair systems using R22 now. If R22 is used in the system, then it needs to be converted or safely disposed of.
Why R22 Refrigerant is Phased Out
R22 refrigerant has been phased out because it can cause damage to the environment.
Did you know that just 1kg of R22 is more deadly to the environment than 2 tonnes of carbon dioxide?
R22 is packed with ozone layer-depleting chemicals. This contributes to global warming.
This planet is doing its best to combat global warming, and this means that we are starting to phase out products that contribute to the problem.
R22 has been replaced with alternatives. The current alternative is 410A. While that still does cause a bit of damage to the environment, it will be nowhere near as bad as the impact that R22 has.
How do you Tell if you have R22 or 410A?
You have a couple of methods available to you.
Probably the simplest method is to look for a sticker on the air conditioner. This will tell you exactly what refrigerant is used in the air conditioner.
If you do not have a sticker on the air conditioner, you will need to consult the manual for your air conditioner. If you do not have one, then check online.
If you still don’t know, then talk to an air conditioner service agent. They will be able to identify the refrigerant for you.
Remember, you mustn’t put the wrong refrigerant in the system. If you do, it could cause it to break.
What do I do if My Air Conditioner Uses R22?
At the moment, you can still buy R22 refrigerants. It isn’t going to be easy to find, but it exists. As long as you do not have any major leaks, then you should be fine.
However, it is suggested that if you do use an air conditioner that runs on R22, you should probably consider replacing it soon, or at least upgrading it to accept R410A refrigerant. At least this way, you are going to be protected should you be struggling to find R22.
Can I replace R22 with R410A?
Not directly, no.
You can convert your air conditioning system to use R410A, but this can cost several thousand dollars. At that point, you will probably be best off buying a new air conditioner.
If you wish to convert your R22 system to an R410A, this will need to be carried out by a specialist. Unless you are licensed to handle R410A, you are not legally allowed to refill any system with it. Although, you can still purchase the refrigerant.
Benefits of R410A
There are several reasons why we are starting to see systems convert to R410A. The major reason is that R22 is illegal to produce now. However, there are several other benefits to R410A too.
The major one being that it does not have those o-zone layer depleting chemicals. It is still going to be bad for the environment, but at least it won’t be ripping a hole in the ozone layer at the same time.
R410A is much more energy-efficient than R22 too. While it does require some heavier duty components to use, when you have a system that operates on R410A, it could save you a little bit of money on your energy bills.
Since R410A is still being manufactured, it is a lot more affordable to recharge your R410A system. The cost of R410A is just a fraction of the cost of R22.
How Much does it Cost to Convert R22 to R410A?
It depends on where you are located and the type of air conditioner that you currently have. However, you can expect it to cost about $5,000 to upgrade an air conditioner to use R410A refrigerant. As you can probably guess, this probably isn’t going to be worth the money if you have an older air conditioner.
Can I Replace R22 with R134a?
No. R134A will not work in a system that has been designed to be used with R22.
This is because an R134A systëm converts between gas and liquid at a vastly different temperature than R22. If you add R134A into the system, it won’t be efficient at all. Well, that is if it even works.
What is the Best Replacement for R22?
R-407C is going to be a bit closer to R22 than many of the other alternatives. It isn’t as efficient, but the efficiency will sit somewhere between the 5% to 10% mark, so it will not be a significant issue.
It tends to be a lot more affordable than other alternatives too.
It is important to remember that if you add R-407C to the system, the system will need to be emptied beforehand. If you do not do this, then it could end up causing issues, i.e., you probably shouldn’t be combining R22 with R-407C. Some people do, but it is never going to be recommended.
What Refrigerant can be Mixed with R22?
While you shouldn’t be mixing R22 with other refrigerants, some people mix them with one of the following:
It is never really going to be ideal, but it may be able to help keep your system ticking over in the interim, i.e. before you can replace the system or upgrade it.
It would help if you only used those refrigerants to top off a small amount, not tons of refrigerant.
What Happens if you Put R410a in an R22 system?
An R22 system probably wouldn’t work if you placed R410A into it.
R410A is designed to be used at a higher pressure than an R22 system. An R22 system wouldn’t be able to operate at those sorts of pressures. Therefore, nothing would happen.
The air wouldn’t cool down. You probably wouldn’t break the components inside the air conditioner either. It just wouldn’t work with R410A.
You can, of course, convert your system to use R410A. If you do this, then it should be perfectly fine to load up with R410A. However, do bear in mind that this is not a simple process. It is also not going to be cheap. Converting the system could easily set you back several thousand dollars.
R22 refrigerant is slowly disappearing. It hasn’t been actively produced for several years now. This means that if you find any R22, it will either have been produced before the phase-out or recovered from old, decommissioned air conditioners.
If you have an R22 air conditioner, it will probably be in your best interests to swap it out as soon as you can. This way, you can be sure that you are using a better product (but still not great) for the environment.