R22 Air Conditioner Vs. 410A - 3 Reasons to Upgrade your A/C refrigerant
Should I Buy a 410-A air conditioner or should I stay with R-22? 3 Reasons to Upgrade to a 410A A/C system
I've heard it said before that Air Conditioning is often the third most expensive item you will buy in your lifetime. Property(home), Vehicle, then Air Conditioning. I cannot empirically prove that but it sound pretty close at least for those of us who live in Houston, TX. Generally, people are way more excited about buying houses and cars than they will every be about air conditioning. I've yet to meet someone who is dieing to pick out their next air conditioner..... unless of course it is broken. It is one of those items that is long forgotten and even taken for granted....... until it breaks. Then its the end of the world. The look in people's eyes when their AC is broken is on par with a lost relative..... one they've long ignored but received their benefits for years. On that note this is a reminder to please please change your filters... your HVAC system will thank you.
CONTEXT IS KEY - WHAT STATE IS YOUR A/C IN? LEAKING EVAPORATOR COIL?
Lets say your air conditioning unit does break. Sad. You schedule someone to come out to repair it. The AC technician arrives and says that the evaporator coil is broken beyond repair. You need to replace the coil BUT you're system operates on R22. Here comes the dilemma.
The EPA mandated that after 2009 R-22 charged units could not longer be manufactured. Beckoning in a new era to help prevent the release of Ozone reducing refrigerant into our atmosphere. Yes, freon leaks and Yes this was a good move for us to operate on a newer better refrigerant type. But please, bare in mind that 410-A is NOT like putting vitamins into our atmosphere. It is just less harmful than R-22 freon to the ozone. It is a better solution than its predecessor.
Now back to your dilemma. What should you buy? You need AT MINIMUM to purchase and install an evaporator coil. The conundrum is over whether you should also buy a 410A condenser instead of keeping the system on r22. Keep it on R-22 or pay the additional money for a 410A condenser?
The right answer to nearly every question ever asked should be.... "it depends". There are always contingencies BUT, let me provide some more guiding thoughts when thinking about R-22 vs 410a and why I would always choose and always suggest to my customers to install 410-A OVER R22.
When comparing price we need to at least consider the current and projected cost of each refrigerant as well the continued operation of the system. R22 is being increasingly phased out and therefore with basic supply - demand principles the price will continue to escalate. The EPA has stated in the Montreal Protocol that US production of R-22 will be reduced by 99.5% from the baseline by 2020. Basically, the only available R-22 refrigerant after 2020 will be that which is reused/reclaimed/recycled from other older systems.
This is important to realize because 2020 is not very far off. Average life expectancy of air conditioning equipment in Houston Texas is 10-15 years and in northern states this is much longer. So we must ask....
WHY invest in equipment that will become obsolete during its lifetime? The cost to keep and service it will continue to escalate exponentially
Sure this is a larger investment in the immediate but air conditioning should be considered a long term investment. A pinch of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Lastly we should also consider the added efficiency benefit by matching equipment with newer equipment creating lower utility bills.
Most R-22 freon equipment operates at an efficiency of 13 SEER OR LOWER. Most of what we see are older 9 SEER systems that are 8-12 years old. By matching a coil with a 410-A condenser you have the opportunity to reach 14.5 SEER. Add a high efficiency furnace or air handler (yes these are very important when cooling as well) then you'll be able to reach efficiencies of ~20 SEER or more. By upgrading your equipment to properly matched systems you may be able to double your cooling efficiency. This is not a stat that should be quickly dismissed because 40% of your average utility bill is devoted to Heating and Cooling of the home. This means a significant reduction in utility costs. Over the course of the equipment life this constitutes a decent amount of payoff for your investment.
R22 is Ozone depleting. No you shouldn't feel as good about buying 410-A as you do using solar or wind energy - it is still a chemical that is just LESS damaging to our environment than r22. This is a step in the right direction for cooling technology. If you are an entrepreneur AND a chemical engineer you should invent a way to cool homes with a substance that does not influence the atmosphere. You'd be a billionaire. OK, so 410-A is not the holy grail of home cooling but IT IS THE BEST WE HAVE NOW. The ozone layer is important and I think we can agree that we'd all rather not get cancer any sooner than we have to. Each customer that chooses 410A is a step in the right direction.
Conclusion: With my customers, I do NOT recommend staying with R-22 freon.
For the type of customers we see on a regular basis the best recommendation would be to always go with 410-A puron and install a minimum of 14.5 SEER equipment. This recommendation is both an economic one and environmental.