R22 Phase out - Stage 1

In 2003, the first stage of the R22 phase out was enforced, when a total ban on the production of new R22 air conditioning systems was imposed.
Whilst any air conditioning systems purchased since this time will almost certainly operate on either R407C or R410A (with R410A being the long-term replacement for R22), there remains vast numbers of R22 air conditioning systems still in use today, which are affected by the R22 phase out.

R22 Phase out - Stage 2

On 1st January 2010, the next stage of the R22 phase out took effect, making it unlawful for anyone to charge an air conditioning system with new R22.
From this point on, when a system operating on R22 suffered a refrigerant leak or needed to have its refrigerant charge removed in order to facilitate its relocation or a repair, it could then no longer be re-charged with new R22.
Many of the air conditioning equipment manufacturers and distributors of course used this legislation to their full advantage, promoting the message that an equipment change is now necessary, however this is not necessarily the case.
Those with healthy, leak-tight R22 air conditioning systems can continue to use them, unaffected by the R22 phase out.
Should your R22 system however suffer a refrigerant leak, or need to have its refrigerant charge removed in order to facilitate a repair, here are the options that will be available to you, up to 1st January 2015:

Option 1:
The system can be charged with used R22, as the restriction imposed on 1st January 2010 only banned the charging of systems with new R22.
Whilst this option may seem quite reassuring at the offset, the quality and cleanliness of used R22 stocks (being R22 which has been recovered by others from redundant air conditioning systems elsewhere) is going to be difficult and expensive to verify.
Charging a system with contaminated R22 can cause significant problems which are costly to rectify, and there is limited ever reducing stocks of 'clean' used R22 now available.

Option 2:
Many of the refrigerant manufacturers are now offering ozone-friendly 'drop-in' replacement gases for R22.
These latest refrigerants are more expensive than R22, but with most air conditioning systems holding only a few kilograms of refrigerant, this option shouldn't be prohibitively expensive.
These drop-in replacement gases are generally slightly less efficient than R22 itself, although this will only present a problem if the system was insufficiently sized in the first place.

This, in our opinion is the more practical option for those needing to re-charge their R22 systems after 31/12/2009.

Option 3:
The replacement of existing R22 equipment with new, modern R410A equipment is the third option available to those with R22 systems requiring a re-charge after 31/12/2009.
If the decision is made to replace older R22 systems 'as and when' a re-charge becomes necessary, the down-time to replace will be longer than to repair, and in turn a more pro-active approach to replacing older R22 systems should be taken if your air conditioning systems are critical to your operation.

Whilst options 1 and 2 above are both acceptable, any systems still operating on R22 will be at least 8 or 9 years old by the time this next stage of the R22 phase out is enforced, and refrigerant issues aside, there are a number of other good reasons why the option of replacing your existing R22 equipment should be considered.

1. Through advancements in technology, today's R410A air conditioning systems consume as little as half of the power consumed by older R22 systems of an equivalent capacity.

2. Many of today's air conditioning systems incorporate a time clock and energy-saving controls as standard to further reduce running costs.

3. Today's air conditioning systems are quieter than previous models and provide improved comfort though improved control over the temperature and distribution of the air.

4. As the age of an air conditioning system increases, so does the likelihood of expenditure on call-outs and repairs, whereas most of today's air conditioning systems come with a 3 year warranty as standard.

5. Due to the age of the R22 systems still in operation today, the availability of spare parts is becoming unpredictable.

6. Due to the high energy-efficiency rating of most of today's air conditioning systems, they qualify for an Enhanced Capital Allowance (Visit the Website) making their procurement 100% tax-deductible to your organisation.

R22 Phase out - Stage 3

From 1st January 2015, the third stage of the R22 phase out will be enforced, which will also make it unlawful for anyone to charge an air conditioning system with used R22.
This in effect will remove option 1 from the options listed above, although by 2015 any R22 systems still in existence will be at least 15 years old, and in turn the only sensible option at this time will be to replace them with new, up-to-date systems.

R22 Summary
R22 Gas is being phased out!

Those with tighter budgets who operate later, well maintained R22 systems may want to continue to use them until a requirement for a refrigerant re-charge arises.
Armed with this information, they should determine which option they are most likely to take at the time, and if necessary start to factor the cost of replacement equipment into their budgets.
They should also remain mindful of the significantly lower running costs of today's equivalent R410A systems, and look at the typical past running costs of their existing R22 systems to see what potential savings can be made.

Those operating earlier (older) R22 systems should now look towards replacement equipment as soon as possible.
Well maintained air conditioning systems have a maximum life expectancy of approximately 15 years, and the environmental issues, higher running costs, reduced reliability and failing availability of spares all now point to an equipment upgrade being the most sensible option for them to take.
Larger corporations who have their environmental policies and activities firmly in the public eye should no longer be seen to be operating R22 air conditioning equipment, as most Companies of this stature have been replacing their older R22 systems on a staged and budget basis over the past 2 years, not only to minimise the impact that R22 itself has on the environment, but to meet their own environmental targets relating to a reduction in energy consumption.

Irrespective of which category you find yourself in, here at AC Enviro we are happy to offer sound and friendly advice to ensure that your R22 phase out responsibilities are managed in an efficient and practical manner.
For further information about the R22 phase out, please either contact us via our contact page, or call us today on 01482 210391.

We look forward to speaking with you soon.