2015 Outlook for R-22 Refrigerant

July 24, 2014

If you own or occupy space that has air conditioning, there is a chance that it uses a type of refrigerant called R-22, so planning now for the future will be important to you.

Although an air conditioner is a closed system, invariably some refrigerant will leak out over time.  As a result, the system will need to be recharged periodically, otherwise it will become less and less efficient and eventually stop working altogether.  While in the past “filling it up”
wasn’t always the best choice, it certainly didn’t require a loan to purchase the refrigerant.
Over the last several years the production of R-22 has been regulated due to the negative effects on the environment, with a complete halt on the production of new R-22 refrigerant on January 1, 2020.  While reclaimed and recycled R-22 can be used after that date, the supply will be limited causing the prices to skyrocket.
 In 2015 the production of new R-22 is predicated to fall short 22 million pounds of the demand.   This will cause the already expensive refrigerant to become even more cost prohibitive, which means that topping off the refrigerant will not be a good option, especially if it is leaking right back out.

What are your options?

  1. If your air conditioner has a refrigerant leak, get it repaired.
  2. You could retrofit the system to use a new alternative refrigerant.  The average cost is $800-$1200 dollars to perform this conversion.  You will also lower the efficiency and capacity by about 5%.
  3. Replace the entire air conditioning system that was designed for the new refrigerants. Probably the best option if your current air conditioner is over 10 years old.

Learn more about the US Environmental Protection Agency and the R-22 phase-out.