Should you stay with R22 or its replacement refrigerant R-421A?
Wenatchee Home Inspections
HVAC systems are not cheap and making a decision to repair an older system versus replacement has many varying factors.
A little background R-22 ( Freon) was the popular refrigerant up to around 2010. Pre-2010 you will find R22 on some systems but many were starting to move over to the replacement refrigerant R-410A.
In 1987 there was an agreement called the Montreal Protocol. This agreement established requirements that started the worldwide phase-out of ozone-depleting CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) which the refrigerant R-22 (HCFC-22) is part of. In 2020 (just 3 years away) there will be no production or importing of HCFC-142b and HCFC-22, so all that will be available is what is reclaimed or recycled.
There are other reasons to move on and that is efficiency. The newer R-410A refrigerant is a more efficient refrigerant.
Most R-22 systems have a top end efficiency of 13/14 SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio). I have heard you can reach 18 SEER but have never seen one Many of older R-22 systems may have an efficiency of 9 SEER or less.
R-410A systems will start at a SEER 13/14 (Which is a minimum requirement as of 2015) with ultra high-efficiency systems will be 20 SEER or more.
Another option for repairs on older R-22 systems is R-421A. This is a replacement refrigerant for R22 without unit modifications of the system and does not contain hydrocarbons, such as Butane, Isopentane or Isobutane. ( http://rmsgas.com/pdfs/R421A%20rev%205-08.pdf )
System replaced with R-421A
You will still not see any efficiency increases with this replacement.
To gain the efficiency, performance and environmental benefits of R410a refrigerant, you will need to install a new system that is designed to use the refrigerant due to its higher pressures. If your air conditioner or heat pump is nearing the end of its life, the efficiency of the R410a refrigerant system might be a good reason to replace your system sooner rather than later so that you can avoid the rising costs of repairing a refrigerant leak with R22 refrigerant.
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If you find any errors or have additional information that would expand on any code, building standards or manufacturer requirements please let me know.
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