R-22 Air Conditioners Gone? Not So Fast

Homeowners around the country may have been surprised to learn that new HCFC-22 air conditioners – that is, new air conditioning units that run on R-22 refrigerant – are no longer sold in the US. The change, which took effect on January 1, 2010, is part of the global effort to reduce harmful hydrochlorofluorocarbons emitted by the units. Manufacturers have found a way to skirt the regulation however, so R-22 air conditioners in Boston are still available.

How so? Under the law, no new R-22 air conditioning units can be sold, but new R-22 refrigerant is still available and will be until 2020. Manufacturers are selling “dry charged” units that run on R-22 refrigerant but aren’t charged by the manufacturer. Without the R-22 charge from the manufacturer, the units are considered “replacement” units. Once installed, a heating and cooling professional can “recharge” the unit with refrigerant, leaving the customer with a new R-22 air conditioner.

What is the alternative to R-22? The current alternative to R-22 is R-410A. R-410A is a CFC-free refrigerant, but that doesn’t mean it’s entirely environmentally friendly, either. In fact, there’s already a phase-out plan for R-410A, but we’ll be using this refrigerant for awhile.

R-22 is still attractive to consumers because it’s less expensive and it performs very reliably. There are some questions about the performance of R-410A in very hot temperatures, but unless you use a roof air conditioner, your air conditioning unit isn’t likely to reach the point at which R-410A cannot cool efficiently.

Regardless of which refrigerant your air conditioning unit uses, an unmaintained unit can lose efficiency at the rate of about 5%-10% per season. If you have an existing R-22 air conditioning unit and it doesn’t seem to be performing properly, it may be in need of some maintenance.

The professionals at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating can provide seasonal maintenance and repairs on both residential and commercial air conditioning systems. We can also add R-22 refrigerant to a new, dry-charged air conditioning unit. Call us at (617) 288-2911 anytime for all of your Boston heating and cooling needs.