R-22 Refrigerant Phase-Out and New AC Refrigerants Standards Explained

A primary coolant in air conditioning units for years, R-22 has a phase-out target date of 2020 in North America and European countries. However, R-22 refrigerant remains in use in many functioning units today. At Duggan's One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning®, we want to let you, the consumer, know just what is in store regarding the use of R-22 in air conditioning over the next few years.

R-22 Defined

Chlorodifluoromethane, otherwise known as HCFC-22 or R-22, is a gas that contains hydrogen (H), carbon (C), chlorine (CL), and fluorine (F). It is not a blend and has functioned as a superior refrigerant in part because it is low in toxicity and has no flame propagation. The downside, and the reason for the phase-out, is that it is capable of contributing significantly to the depletion of the ozone layer, and is considered a gas of high global warming potential.

What Is Happening and What Is Next

There are alternatives to R-22, many of them already in use in new equipment. Sometimes older equipment may be retrofitted to incorporate one of the alternatives to R-22 refrigerant, but not always. A solution for non-retrofittable units has been to ensure the availability of R-22 for use in repairs for the lifetime of the older equipment. While production of R-22 is capped, efforts are in place to recover and recycle existing stores of the refrigerant from retired units.

Key Dates

Here is an abbreviated timeline for the R-22 phase-out:
  • 1987: Montreal Protocol sets reduction rates for HCFCs and other ozone depleting gases.
  • 1992: Intentional venting of HCFCs becomes illegal.
  • 2007: HCFC production reduced 65%-75% from 1989 levels.
  • 2010: R-22 banned in new equipment (OEM level).
  • 2020: Total ban on R-22 production.
All new air conditioners produced in the United States will be required to use an R-22 refrigerant alternative, and have a minimum SEER rating of 13. At Duggan's One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning®, we understand the ins and outs of Augusta HVAC repair. Whether your unit is old or new, for maintenance and repair call us at (706) 914-1617