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What All HVAC Technicians Need To Know About R22 Replacements

R22 has been a commonly used refrigerant for many years.  However, it has been determined that this refrigerant is actually ozone-depleting and contributes to global warming.  This has led to the phasing out of R22 which is something that all HVAC technicians should know about.  HVAC technicians should also know about R22 replacements and the options available during the phase-out.

The R22 Phase-Out

The phase-out of R22 officially began on 1 January 2010 with the production and importing of new units of the refrigerant being banned.  After this initial phase, R22 can still be used for servicing and repairing existing units.  The end of the phase-out will occur on 1 January 2020 when the production and importing of R22 will be illegal.

After this last phase, the only way for R22 to be procured will be through the recycling and reclaiming options.  Other than this, you would need to find a supplier that has a stockpile of R22 that they are willing to sell.  The end of the phase-out is not very far away and this is one of the reasons why HVAC technicians need to know what the alternatives are and the phase-out options.

The R22 Replacement Alternatives

There are a number of different refrigerants that can be used as an alternative to R22.  These alternatives are not ozone-depleting which makes them better for the environment.  These alternatives include R-134a, R-507, and R-410A.

Of all the replacements for R22, R-410A has been determined to be the best option for air conditioners.  If you are looking at refrigerant, R-507 and R-404A will be the best choices.  These alternatives have been determined to be the best because they are environmentally friendly and more efficient than the others.  If an HVAC system were to develop a leak, these refrigerants will not cause any harm to the environment.

Understanding these replacements is important because HVAC technicians have to be able to tell their clients what the best possible options are for their system.  Each person will have different needs and this has to be taken into account when making any recommendations.  The refrigerant that is offered should work well with the system and offer all of the features that the client requires.

The R22 Phase-Out Options

HVAC technicians do not only need to know about the refrigerant alternatives which are replacing R22.  They also need to know about the replacement and phase-out options that can be provided to people.  This will ensure that they are able to provide the best solution to clients and ensure that their systems continue to work correctly.  There are a number of different options that you need to be aware of.

A Total System Replacement

There are many instances where a total system replacement will be the only option.  This is a very extensive option as every component of the existing system will have to be removed and replaced.  This will include the condenser unit, the indoor unit, all of the electrical wiring and all of the lines for the system.

While this is a very extensive replacement, it will provide the customer with a completely up to date system.  The system will also have much lower usage costs which offsets the initial cost of the system over time.  It is important to note that in some states there are rebates for this option which can help clients cover the costs.

Partial System Replacement

If the total system replacement is not possible or not needed, a partial replacement might be more appropriate.  This replacement will generally leave the overall infrastructure in place while replacing the indoor unit and condenser.  This is generally a cheaper and easier to complete option as the infrastructure remains in place.

Customers will see an improvement in the system’s performance and the areas where the redundant refrigerant was used will be replaced.  This is a great cost-effective way of replacing an old R22 system with one that uses a more modern and environmentally friendly refrigerant.

Using A Drop-In Refrigerant

The term used for this replacement option is actually a bit misleading.  This makes it seem like you are able to remove the R22 from the existing system and replace it with a new refrigerant.  This is not actually correct and it not actually possible as R22 systems are not compatible with any other refrigerant.

This option will actually include modifications being made to the existing equipment to ensure that newer refrigerants can be used.  A licensed HVAC technician will have to complete this and repair the system should something go wrong.  It is important to note that this is not the best solution because there are problems that can come from the additional hardware and modifications.

What To Do With Recovered Refrigerant

While HVAC technicians need to know about converting R-22 to TDX 20 refrigerant and the system options, they also need to know what to do with the R22 they recover.  It is important to note that it is illegal to release R22 into the atmosphere.  In fact, it is illegal to do this with any CFC and HCFC refrigerants.

According to the EPA, phased out refrigerants that are recovered will need to be sent to an EPA-certified refrigerant reclaimer.  These reclaimers will be able to recycle the R22 and sell it to a new owner.  After 2020, these suppliers will be the only ones that are legally allowed to sell R22 which is not part of a stockpile.

HVAC technicians that do not follow this guidance from the EPA in regards to the recovered refrigerants could face serious problems.  Additionally, the incorrect disposal of this refrigerant can cause a lot of damage to the environment.

R22 is soon to be phased out and illegal to sell as the last phase of the ban takes effect in 2020.  HVAC technicians need to know about the alternatives that can be used as well as the changes to systems which can be made.  They also need to be aware of what they should be doing with the refrigerant that they recover when doing system replacements.


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