R22 Replacement – what you need to know

What is R22?

R22 is an old-style refrigerant gas, most commonly used in air conditioning, chiller and industrial refrigeration plants prior to 2004 – when its use in new units was banned. R22 has been gradually phased out since 2004 because of its potential to contribute towards ozone depletion. R22 is considered to be a ‘greenhouse gas’, which brings it under the wing of environmental legislation.

In the past, R22 was commonly used with other (since banned) CFC gases, although banning it wasn’t considered to be high priority as its ozone depletion potential (ODP) wasn’t as high as some of the others. However, as environmental regulations start to tighten, even a relatively low ODP is considered too risky.

Pre-2004 air conditioning and refrigeration systems are very likely to contain R22, but if your systems were manufactured after that date they should be compliant with new regulations.

So what will be used in its place?

Since R22 was banned in new systems, better refrigerants have been developed that are not only good for your business, but benefit the environment too. One such refrigerant, R410A, has already proved itself to be more energy efficient in newer systems, than R22 – with zero ODP.

Is the replacement refrigerant better?

Overall, newer refrigerants are an improvement on the older R22 refrigerants.

Alternatively, many businesses are using this time as an opportunity to update their air conditioning systems to newer systems that were designed specifically for these new type of refrigerants, which have been proven to perform much more efficiently than their predecessors. For example, using R410A inverter air conditioning instead of R22 equipment has been demonstrated to increase efficiency by more than 30% in some cases, reducing energy costs. Many businesses have successfully replaced their old air conditioning systems with modern, efficient systems using R410A refrigerant, and it has proved to be an easy, affordable process that provides demonstrable benefits.

One example is the first ever R22 air conditioning replacement system, which was installed in 2005 at the St Clements Services in Daventry. The owners report that they were still benefiting from lower energy bills seven years after they had a Mitsubishi Electric system installed, and the figures back that up. Monitoring before and after installation proved that, even in 2005, the new system was able to deliver a COP of 3.28 and was 28% more efficient than the old R22 system. You can find more examples of the ‘Case for Replace’ here.

What is the new legislation on R22 refrigerant?

The law says that from 1 January 2015 it will be illegal to top-up air conditioning systems with recycled R22 refrigerants.

You also need to be aware that if you rent or lease a property that has pre-2004 AC or refrigeration units, you’ll have to ensure that appropriate replacements or ‘drop-ins’ are used. Commercial landlords must inspect their leases to find out who is liable for equipment in their buildings. Even if a tenant is responsible for replacing equipment, the landlord is still legally responsible for making sure that the law is complied with.

Can Carlton Services help?

Yes, and we’d be delighted to advise you. At Carlton Services we are well-versed in current and forthcoming EU regulations and all of our engineers hold the 2079 Safe Handling of Refrigerant Qualification, which is required for servicing or converting refrigerant systems.

If you are affected by the upcoming R22 legislation changes and you haven’t done anything about it yet, talk to one of our professional team about ‘drop-in’ solutions or replacing your air conditioning or refrigeration system.

Things to consider are:

  • How old your current system is
  • How efficient the current equipment is
  • Whether you have any leakage issues

For more advice on your options, including which system is best for your needs, Carlton Services is happy to advise. We are a Mitsubishi Electric accredited installer, up-to-date with all the relevant legislation, and all of our air conditioning engineers have received the very latest training for servicing and maintenance. Contact us today to discuss your options!

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