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What to Do with Your Air Con Unit Now that R22 Refrigerant Is Being Phased Out

Over the past 20 years, the EU Ozone Regulation has been incrementally stepping up its efforts to reshape the types of coolant we use in refrigerators and air-conditioners. This has been part of a global effort to reverse the damage done to the ozone layer through the use of harmful CFCs – and it has been extraordinarily successful.

The hole in the ozone above Antarctica appears to be healing, and scientists are optimistic that regulations like those introduced through the Montreal Protocol and EU Ozone Regulation are partially responsible. At a time when humanity’s effect on the global environment is becoming increasingly pronounced, it’s encouraging to see that at least some of our efforts to rein in the damage we’ve caused have been effective.

But after the last round of EU regulations went into effect in 2015 banning all HCFCs – even those used in older air con units – it’s safe to say that the R22 refrigerant is about to be effectively phased out. Needless to say, those whose air-conditioners currently run on R22 are left with a glaring question: What do we do with our older air-conditioning unit?

From our perspective, there are three main options at your disposal:

  1. Replace the unit
  2. Change the refrigerant
  3. Do nothing

We’re going to walk you through the pros and cons of each of those options in the space below.

√ Why Consider Replacing Your Air Con Unit?
The most obvious response to R22 being banned is to buy a new air con unit. The use of R22 refrigerant was halted in new systems back in 2001, so if you’re operating one of these machines, it’s already slightly dated.

Upgrading to a new system will keep you in compliance and provide you with a much more energy-efficient air-con system.

This is the most expensive option, but you’ll recoup the costs in energy savings and if you use the right equipment the ECA will enable you to offset the cost against your profit.

Use this option for business critical systems or systems you can’t live without to enable a planned, managed swap out to minimize disruption.

√ What’s Involved in Changing Refrigerant?
If you opt to keep the air con unit but change refrigerants, then you’ll need to arrange a conversion. This is much more affordable than purchasing a new unit – not to mention faster to implement – which is why many property owners prefer this option. It will mean that you will not suffer un-scheduled downtime in the event of a fault with your air-con.

You’ll have a smaller capital outlay up front, but could end up paying more over the long run and parts obsolescence could cause issues due to the age of the equipment. Operational costs and maintenance will be more expensive than a new system.

√ Does It Even Make Sense to Do Nothing?
This option won’t cost you anything, however, because R22 is now banned if you suffer an issue with your equipment that affects the refrigerant circuit you will have no issue but change the refrigerant or change the equipment. Only choose this option if the air-con is not business critical or you can live without it for a while.

If you need help determining how to best proceed in a post-R22 world, contact the experts at Mitchell’s. We can arrange an inspection of your current system and help make arrangements for a conversion or replacement.


Posted in Air Conditioning, Company News, R22 Refrigerant
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