In compliance with the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, the United States has prohibited the production and import of R22-based air conditioning equipment effective January 1, 2010. Most people know R22 by the brand name Freon, air conditioning technicians refer to it as R22, while the U.S. government has classified it as HCFC-22, a controlled substance. Whatever you choose to call it, R22 has long been the most popular refrigerant for cooling homes and businesses. Composed of hydrofluorcarbon (HCFC), it emits chlorine atoms when it escapes into the atmosphere and breaks down. These atoms damage the ozone, which acts as a blanket to help screen out ultra-violet rays which have been linked to skin cancer, one of the fastest growing cancers in the United States.
Homeowners and business owners whose condenser units fail between now and the end of 2009 have an important choice to make: whether to replace the failed unit with a new R22 unit or whether to convert to R410A equipment. Besides the fact that R410A is less damaging to the environment, there are other advantages to using R410A-based equipment. For one thing, it is slightly more efficient than R22 equipment. Also, R410A based compressors run cooler than R22 based compressors and, consequently, are less likely to overheat and burn out. Another benefit of R410A air conditioning systems is that they use new, synthetic lubricants which circulate more efficiently than the mineral oil used to lubricate R22 systems. This translates to less wear and tear on the unit's moving parts. Finally, because they operate under higher pressure than R22-based condensers, R410A-based condensers are constructed with stronger, thicker shells, which reduces the noise and vibrations created by the compressor and puts less of a strain on the piping connections, thereby reducing the incidence of refrigerant leaks.
The most important consideration in whether to replace your condenser with an R22 or R410A based unit may be the rising cost of R22 refrigerant. Effective January 1, 2020, the domestic production and import of R22 will be banned all together. Many plants which have traditionally manufactured R22 are already converting to the production of R410A, commonly referred to by the brand name Puron. As more plants convert, the cost of R22 is expected to rise. After January 1, 2020, R22-based systems which have lost refrigerant can still be charged with recycled R22, but supplies are expected to be scarce and extremely expensive.
If your evaporator coil should fail between now and January 1, 2010 and your existing condenser has a high enough SEER rating to be compatible with a new evaporator coil, you do not have to decide, immediately, whether to go with R22 or R410 equipment. Many of the new evaporator coils will operate with an R-22 based condenser coil now and, with the installation of an expansion valve, can be converted to work with an R410A based condenser in the future.
If you are among the minority who wish to replace their existing R22 condenser with new R22 equipment, time is fast running out. Some manufacturers have already ceased production of R22 equipment as they convert the last of their R22 production lines to R410 equipment and are selling off whatever R22 units remain in stock.
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Selecting a Heater
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