When the temperatures climb this summer and you find your air conditioner sputtering out, you’re going to call the repairman.
Your heart is going to skip a couple of beats if you have to replace it. Americans are demanding to know why the cost of refrigeration and air condition is going up, and what (if anything) they can do to stop it?
It all has to do with the chief coolant, R22.
It’s the longest standing coolant used for air conditioning and refrigerator units. Without coolant, your unit simply will not blow cold air – the way the unit functions is that it sucks in warm air from outside and the coolant chemical chills the air, blowing back out colder air. Lately, the cost of R22 has been on a perpetual spiral upwards, and it’s just risen again. If you have a refrigeration unit that was built before 2010, it most likely runs on R22 from a company like http://www.bluonenergy.com/freon-replacement/.
Current price of R22
As of this writing, R22 remains one of the priciest coolants on the market – a standard tank of R2 was about $450 in 2015, and between $500-600 in 2016. Now, the cost of R22 is well on its way to nearly $700 for a canister. Yet R22 is the most widely utilized of coolants, and repair companies are reaping a pretty penny out of the price increase! Government phase out In the United States, R22 has been designated as an ozone-depleting substance (ODS). Many ODS substances have already been completely banned in the US. The government plans to phase out R22 entirely by the year 2020. Currently, it is not illegal to own, purchase, or use R22, but the government is setting limits on the amount that manufacturers are allowed to produce. Soon, it won’t be possible at all to purchase R22 from anywhere.
Now, understanding the price increase is a simple matter of economics – as the supply of R22 decreases, it becomes more expensive as it is rarer and more valued. In January 2015, the government banned the sale of R22 except in cases where existing air conditioning units and refrigerators need servicing. By 2020, R22 will be banned outright.
What will replace R22 as a refrigerant?
RS-44b (R453a) is the latest coolant that is designed to replace the allegedly ozone-harmful R22, and has been sold for the past 5 years. It operates at the most similar flow rate, cooling capacity, and has a similar discharge pressure. Most of all, the cost of RS-44b is lower than the older coolant. You can purchase a 26 pound canister of R22 replacement for a little more than $250. Remember, it’s not necessarily the nature of RS-44b that makes it cheaper – it’s not being regulated and limited in the same way that
R22 is by the government! RS-44 can be used with the same materials used to build units that run on R22. However, we suggest checking the manufacturer’s literature that came with your unit and consulting the company before deciding on a coolant replacement.
Depending on how cost-effective it is to keep your unit running for several more years (or whether your unit isn’t too old to continue running), the simpler alternative is to purchase a replacement unit that runs on RS-44. If your unit is leaking out R22, then it’s probably time to consider replacing your unit anyways.