Is Your HVAC Ready for R22 Refrigerant Phase Out?
R22, known as Freon, is a common residential and commercial refrigerant. The Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandated the phasing out of hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) refrigerants, including R22, by 2020. Air conditioning units using R22 have not been produced in the United States since 2010. By 2020 it will be illegal to even import R22 into the US. Although these changes have been gradually put in place over a number of years, not everyone is ready. Here’s what you need to know to help you determine your best options.
The good news about R22 Phase Out is that newer refrigerants, like R410a, are faster, more efficient and less damaging to the ozone. The bad news is the cost effects of the phase out. Decreased supply means increased prices for R22 and repairs. Prices for R22 and R22 HVAC system repairs will only increase. Moreover, there is a now a growing industry for fake refrigerants, which have led to fires and even explosions.2020 is close approaching. Buildings that do not have a strategy to upgrade or update their HVAC could suffer significant financial losses from refrigerant costs and equipment failure.
R22 Replacement Options
Given the R22 Phase Out, what are businesses to do if they have older, R22 dependent equipment? There are 3 options.
- Wait. If it is completely out of the budget to buy new equipment, one option is the wait for the system to fail post 2020. The risks are having gaps in refrigeration coverage. This could mean lost revenue and function.
- Adapting your HVAC system to use R22 alternatives. Some HVAC systems, but not all, may be able to be retrofitted to use new refrigerants. A certified HVAC technician or mechanical contractor can help you determine if this is an option.
- Completely replace your system. Although costly, this may be the best and only option for many. Replacing your R22 dependent system can save you considerable money in energy expenses.
What’s Your Best Option?
It is best to discuss R22 phase out options with your HVAC mechanical contractor. Professional HVAC contractors can evaluate, search for costly leaks, and strategize the best plan. SPC Mechanical has been working on the R22 Phase Out for a number of years. We would be happy to help to minimize your risk, while achieving your facility’s needs within budget.