Freon (R-22 blend) is being phased out and replaced with more environmentally friendly refrigerants. But what does that mean for you and your air conditioner?
What is Freon?
Freon is a chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) commonly used as a refrigerant in air conditioning units. A CFC is a molecule that contains carbon, chlorine, and fluorine. It’s beneficial as a refrigerant because it is non-flammable, non-toxic, and not corrosive, making it a great choice to stay inside refrigerant lines and convert back and forth in a constant change between liquid and gas.
However, it was found to have a damaging effect on the Earth’s ozone layer, and as a result, the current R-22 blend is being phased out in favor of more environmentally friendly options. But we didn’t always think that way …
What is the history of Freon?
Freon was first developed in the 1930s by a team of scientists at the E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company – today simply known as “DuPont.” They were looking for a less toxic alternative to ammonia as a refrigerant, and they soon settled on CFCs as the best option.
Freon was first used commercially in air conditioners in the 1950s, and it quickly became the preferred refrigerant due to its low cost and high efficiency. And, Freon was initially thought to be harmless to the environment!
What are the harmful effects of Freon?
It wasn’t until the 1970s that scientists began to realize the potentially harmful effects of Freon and other CFCs on the environment. They found that CFCs were causing the depletion of the Earth’s ozone layer, compromising its protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
As a result of this discovery, Freon and other CFCs were regulated by the Montreal Protocol – an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer – in 1987. This led to a gradual phase-out of the R-22 blend of Freon, and the production of new air conditioning systems that still used it was banned entirely in 2010. (So, if your air conditioner was purchased in 2010 or later, it doesn’t use R-22.)
What happens if my system uses R-22?
If your HVAC system uses R-22, don’t worry! Most technicians are certified to work with this blend of Freon and can recharge your system when it needs it. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find and more expensive as time goes on, so it’s worth considering updating your old system for many reasons!
A few different types of refrigerants are being used as alternatives, the most common being R-410A. R-410A is a hydrofluorocarbon (HFC), which means it doesn’t contain chlorine and is therefore not as harmful to the ozone layer.
R-410A works similarly to R-22, but it operates at a higher pressure, so it can’t be used in older air conditioners designed for R-22. This is one of the main reasons it’s worth considering getting your old system updated – not only will you be doing your part for the environment, but you’ll also be getting a newer, more efficient system that will save you money in the long run!
Talk to the techs at Sun Heating & Cooling.
If you’re not sure whether your system uses branded Freon (R-22) or not, or if you’re thinking about getting a new air conditioner, the team at Sun can help. We’ll review your system and let you know what options are available to you in your Oakland County home. This blend of Freon may be getting “freezed out,” but Sun Heating and Cooling is here to stay!