Since you’ve come to this page you probably want to know what the heck is going on with the Freon in home and light commercial air conditioners. Freon R22 has been banned for use in the manufacturing of new air conditioners with very few exceptions.
Some through the wall units and other very special units were granted a little extra time to convert over to R410a, or Puron for you Carrier fans. Puron and R410a are exactly the same thing.
This requirement goes back to the first President Bush who signed the Montreal Accords in 1989 and that has led to the conversion to R410a, but there have been problems that were not forseen. Glory be to our government.
R22 was not supposed to have additional taxes on it and it was not suppose to be in short supply. In fact, up until last year, the EPA stated on their website that they did not expect any price increases in R22. They were wrong. R22 has gone up by 400 percent and is predicted to have a 25 million pound shortage this year. R22 and R410a are now about the same price…..expensive.
It gets worse. One congressman has already tried to introduce a phase out for R410a. R410a is not environmentally friendly and was, quite frankly, a typically stupid government action. As you can see, I am not a fan. R410a is at least as bad for the environment as R22.
It gets even worse. R22 uses mineral oil in the compressor for lubrication and R410a uses a synthetic oil. They are not compatible at all. This means a complete cleaning or flushing of the existing copper lines going to and from the indoor coil and a replacement coil at the same time as the outdoor unit. The indoor coils of R22 are not compatible with the new refrigerant once they have been used with the old refrigerant. It is just too much contamination and that contamination will destroy the new R410a compressor.
R22 Freon will be around for many years to come, so don’t panic and try to stock up or change out your system thinking you are going to be left behind. Yes, the prices are going to go up, but there is already substitutions on the market and as those prices come down the price of all these Freon’s should stabilize. There will not be the massive increases that we saw with R12 and R11. R11 was heavily regulated and taxed because of it’s use in the illegal drug making trade and R12 was taxed so much it was unconscionable. R12 went up by 1000% because the government taxes.
Contrary to many sales people on the market neither R410a or R22 are more efficient. A 20 SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) in R410a is just as efficient as a 20 SEER R22 system. A pound of feathers weighs exactly the same as a pound of lead….go figure.
It isn’t all bad news. Your new air conditioning system will save you a lot, I mean a lot, of money in utility bills over the years. They are considerably more efficient now than they ever have been. For instance, if your old system is 6 SEER (normal wear and tear over 10 years on a 10 SEER original installation) you can expect an air conditioning electrical bill that only about 30% as much. That is a savings of 70% when you install a 20 SEER system. (6 divided by 20) x old bill = new bill. Simple straight forward math.
On the horizon. Australia seems to be leading the way in alternative sources of Freon that are environmentally friendly. The big push down under is carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide can be used as a Freon and is 100% eco-friendly. It’s cheap, available everywhere, and I believe will most likely be the next Freon within about 10 years or so.So, don’t wait for the next Freon. You can save and be cool and comfortable right now. Your next system will be super environmentally friendly.