R-22 Refrigerant (Freon) Is Obsolete: What Next?

The United States has slowly been phasing out the use of R-22 refrigerant (or Freon), a Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) refrigerant found in older commercial and residential HVAC equipment.

Commonly used in roof top units (RTUs) and split systems,  R-22 and other HCFC refrigerants are known to deplete the Earth’s protective ozone layer and contribute to harmful climate change.

To combat this, the U.S. has slowly been phasing out the use of R-22 refrigerant, per the following phase-out schedule:

  • 1/1/2010: The U.S. government bans the use of R-22 in new HVAC equipment.
  • 1/1/2015: The U.S. government bans the production and import of all R-22.
  • 1/1/2020: The U.S. government bans the use of all R-22 (with a few exceptions).  Only expensive, reclaimed R-22 can be used for repair of older R-22 equipment.  Effectively, this is the end of the road for R-22 use in the U.S.

How does the 2020 R-22 refrigerant ban affect my facility? 

  • The cost to repair older R-22 units is now skyrocketing and is usually cost-prohibitive.
  • R-22 costs per pound have risen approximately 500% in the past five years — up to 12 times the cost of modern-day, more ozone-friendly refrigerants.
  • Older R-22 units have much lower Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) ratings and are as much as 50% less efficient than current-day, high-efficiency units. 
  • In most cases, older R-22 RTUs cannot be converted to R410A refrigerant. These older units will need to be replaced with RTUs that are more energy efficient and more environmentally friendly. 
  • Emergency replacement, AKA “Fix-on-fail,” is the costliest way to repair older R-22 units. In fact, this philosophy is around 70% more expensive per unit than a proactive roof-sweep or planned equipment replacement program.

So what should I do now, and where should I start? 

First, to really understand how the R-22 ban affects your business, I recommend companies start with an HVAC inventory. Conduct a detailed survey of all facilities to verify the age and condition of all HVAC equipment, including newer and older HVAC units.

Secondly, I recommend involving a national or regional HVAC installation partner, as well as an independent national testing, balancing and commissioning partner such as Melink Corporation to provide the unit data and a complete assessment of the entire mechanical system. (Check out these tips for hiring a Test & Balance partner).

Ideally, the assessment should include the following:

  • Duct-work inspections
  • RTU and exhaust fan inspections
  • Airflow measurements to verify proper building airflows and to identify existing air-balance issues

If the entire HVAC system is not inspected, the building will often continue to have comfort problems and building balance issues, even after the new equipment is installed. Without a thorough inspection, the positive effects of the new, energy-efficient (and R-22 refrigerant ban-compliant) HVAC equipment will not be fully realized, resulting in a lower-than-expected ROI.

For further information on HVAC surveys and other custom scopes of work, please e-mail [email protected] or call at (513) 965.7300.

Sources:
Air Conditioner Refrigerant Costs — On The Rise? (Fixd Repair)
What Is the #1 Way to Save Money on Your Rooftop Unit? (U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy)

Meet Krista Rose, Marketing Communications Specialist

Business Unit and Job Title

Marketing Communications Specialist

What does your job entail?

Helping tell Melink’s story. A big focus of my job is content creation for Melink’s blog, website and social media, as well as organizing materials for tradeshows and miscellaneous marketing efforts.

What did you do before coming to Melink?

I graduated from Ohio University with a degree in journalism, which led me into event planning, public relations, and eventually digital marketing. Before Melink, I was the marketing manager of a travel club for RV owners. I’m from a camping family and own a small travel trailer, so this was a really neat role for me. I never tired of hearing club members’ stories and living vicariously through their RV trips!

What is your favorite aspect of working at Melink?

I really value the work-life balance and the trust that the company places in its employees. It is unlike any place I have previously worked.

What do you like to do in your time off?

I’m a wannabe homesteader. I have my own flock of chickens for egg production, and I’m really into gardening and canning. I also like spoiling my dog, Tally. She is a beagle-basset hound mix. And, of course, I like going on camping trips with my husband!

Welcome to our chicken coop!

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

I like visiting different state parks, and I have a silly goal of visiting every state park in Ohio. I am currently at 18/75.

What are you most proud of?

I’m a hard worker, and for several years I worked multiple jobs.  I may not have always had a job in my preferred field, but I’ve always given 100%.

What are your hopes for our industry?

That more businesses start viewing clean energy as the “norm.”

Do you collect anything?

Currently obsessed with the Pioneer Woman’s colorful kitchenware. It’s taking over my house… There’s really no need for me to own five mixing bowls just because they are pretty!