The 2020 R-22 Phase Out: Countdown to a New AC

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The 2020 R-22 Phase Out: Countdown to a New AC


For all you homeowners with AC units that operate on R-22 refrigerant, the countdown has begun—not only for the new year, but possibly a new AC.
ue to climate change and its harmful effects on the ozone, R-22 refrigerant (more commonly known as Freon) will no longer be produced as of January 2020. You might be asking, “What is my responsibility during this 2020 R-22 phase out? Does it make more sense to keep or replace my AC unit in 2020?”

Let’s take a look at your options for the new year and answer other frequently asked questions about the ban on Freon.

Do I Have to Get Rid of My Freon-Based AC Unit Right Away?

You are not required to get rid of your R-22-operated AC unit. However, if your AC unit leaks, you will need to add more Freon to keep it running. Herein lies the problem. Because production of R-22 will cease as of 2020, supplies will be at an all time low.

Now, you may still be able to find a few vendors with a dwindling stockpile of Freon to poach from, but it will most likely cost you an arm and a leg to purchase. Also, if you decide to keep your older air conditioning unit, it will likely become more difficult to find contractors who can service your system.

How Much Does R-22 Cost These Days?

Pricing will vary from vendor to vendor. To give you a general idea of cost, R-22 has risen from $10 per pound to $50 per pound in just the past five years. Being that the average AC unit in a home requires 5 to 15 pounds of R-22, replacing the Freon in your current unit can get really expensive.

Over the next few years, expect the cost of freon to exponentially increase into the hundreds and even thousands until it completely runs out of stock.

How Can I Tell What Kind of Refrigerant My AC Uses?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) halted the production of HCFC-22-based air conditioning systems as of January 1st 2010. So if your AC was manufactured or installed after 2010, you most likely do not have a Freon-based AC unit. If you have an AC manufactured before 2010, it doesn’t necessarily mean your unit operates on R-22. It’s very possible that you may have an R410A unit since they’ve been on the market since 1996.

You can always ask an HVAC technician which type of unit you have, but you can also see for yourself. Look for an R-22 or R410A label on the compressor unit conveniently displayed on the unit’s exterior.

Should I Replace My R-22 Air Conditioner?

Because R-22 is becoming too expensive to purchase, it may make more sense to replace your AC unit. Modern air conditioning units are not only ozone-friendly, but they are also generally more energy-efficient thanks to advancements in technology. The most common replacement for R-22 units are those that run on R410-A.

Although replacing your AC unit costs thousands of dollars, it may be the best option in certain circumstances. Let’s say, in addition to running on Freon, your unit requires frequent service calls. One service call alone can wind up costing $1,000 depending on the parts or type of repair required. When AC repairs become costly, it probably makes more sense to invest your money towards a new unit. And don’t forget the money you’ll save from a newer, more energy efficient unit.

Is a more cost effective, energy-efficient AC Unit part of your New Years Resolution?

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