A significant part of the residential air conditioning landscape these days revolves around which type of refrigerant is used to cool your home. The discussion surrounds two different refrigerants: the older R-22 versus the newer R-410a. So what are the main differences between the two refrigerants and which one should you be using?
R-22 is chemically classified as an HCFC (hydro-chlorofluorocarbon), which essentially means that it is an ozone-depleting substance. As such, it is in the latter stages of a government phase-out program. At this point in time, R-22 compatible equipment is no longer in production and basically unavailable for purchase. While the refrigerant itself is still readily available in large quantities, production is being scaled back every year causing the price to balloon. Often times, the consumer will end up spending $100+ per pound for R-22.
As a cheaper, more eco-friendly alternative, homeowners can turn to R-410a. As a non-ozone depleting HFC (hydro-flurocarbon), it is the new standard in U.S. residential air conditioning systems. At a cost typically half the price or less per pound for homeowners, R-410a can create some difficult decisions when it comes to your air conditioning system. Namely, if you have a leak on an R-22 system, at what point does it stop being worth adding the costly refrigerant and a better investment to bite the bullet and upgrade to a new system using R-410a? Would you rather spend a few hundred dollars every year or several thousand all at once? The knowledge that R-22 will only continue to go up in price each year only makes the decision all the more daunting. Unfortunately, it is a dilemma that will continue to plague homeowners as long as R-22 remains available.