Still Using R22 In Your A/C System? Consider These 3 Alternatives

by Connor Pena

In past years, R22 was the refrigerant of choice for a broad range of air conditioning and heat pump systems. However, it's also proven itself to be detrimental to the environment, which is why the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is conducting a complete phase-out of R-22 and other hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) refrigerants.

If your current A/C system or heat pump still uses R22 refrigerant, you'll have to find a reliable replacement sooner or later. Here are 3 alternatives to consider the next time your A/C system needs a refrigerant charge:

Alternative #1: A Complete Drop-In Replacement

If you've recently bought an A/C unit that still uses R22 refrigerant and have no immediate plans to buy a newer system, you may want to look at a direct drop-in replacement. Drop-in refrigerant requires little effort to add in current R22-based A/C systems, plus it offers similar performance to its soon-to-be phased out counterpart:

  • R424A offers the best compatibility with R22 systems thanks to its compatibility with a broad range of refrigerant oils. It can also be used in fixed orifice systems without any changes to the unit itself.
  • R434A also offers direct compatibility with R22 systems, but it isn't designed for use in systems using capillary tubes to meter refrigerant.

Alternative #2: Drop-In Replacement with Modifications

If you're not able to use a direct drop-in replacement for your A/C system, you may have to rely on an indirect alternative. Replacement refrigerants such as R407C and R438A offer similar performance to R22. Unlike direct drop-in replacements like R424A, however, you won't be able to mix the old oils used by R22 with the new oils used by these alternatives.  

Alternative #3: Complete Replacement of Your Current System with a Compatible Unit

Last but not least, there's always the option to completely replace your current R22-based A/C system with a brand-new system that uses the latest in non-ozone depleting refrigerant instead of contacting anair conditioning repair company. Most new systems currently on the market are designed from the ground up to use R410A, an environmentally friendly and more efficient refrigerant. R410A also runs at cooler temperatures, making it less likely to overheat your A/C unit's compressor and cause other damage.

Since R410A is completely incompatible with R22-based A/C systems, you won't be able to add it directly into your existing A/C system. Instead, you'll to replace both outdoor condenser and indoor blower units with components that are built to handle R410A's increased operating pressures.