Perhaps you’ve been unlucky enough to have your air conditioning system go out. And either the repair is so expensive or the age of your system is so old that you’re ready to replace it, you may have had a company propose replacing your condenser with a “Dry R22” outdoor condenser.
A little background before diving into the cost-benefit of this option. According the Montreal Protocol, which was agreed upon by the US in 1987, there is a mandatory phase out of certain products whose emissions were deemed harmful to the environment. In the US, the protocol was put into law through the Clean Air Act, and is implemented by the EPA. The law requires a phase out of R22 as a refrigerant.
R22 is more commonly known as freon. It was used in most air conditioning systems until the regulation was placed upon manufacturers. The important dates to note for homeowners:
As a byproduct of the required move to more environmentally friendly refrigerants, R22 based equipment is being forced into obsolescence.
Your indoor evaporator coil is working just fine. Your copper lines connecting the two pieces of A/C equipment is intact and not leaking, but your condenser needs to be replaced. The cost of replacing the whole system with R410a based equipment seems too pricey right now. So you’d prefer to use that existing equipment that’s working just fine.
As you weigh your options, this is what I tell our customers to consider, and what you alone must decide. While your initial investment in this Dry R22 condenser may save you $1-$2,000, we continue to see parts for R22 based equipment rise and fewer systems are manufactured. Less supply = greater price to you.
Similarly, with the required ending of production of R22 itself, the cost of the refrigerant is rising faster than gold. This year alone production will be cut in half, and will continue to decline until ending completely in 8 years. Again the laws of supply and demand are at play, and with freon now retailing to consumers at $75-$125 per pound, there’s no telling how high it could get in 10 years.
The bottom line, you know your capacity for this investment. Factor that in with how long you plan to be in the home. We just want to provide an honest assessment of the potential long term costs of making this move, so you’re not surprised as the years go by.