Since the phase-out of R-22 began in 2010 the cost has risen exponentially as each year passed by. In the year 2015 the price jumped even higher due to tougher import and production restrictions put in place by the Federal Government. That’s not the worst of it though folks, not by far. When the year 2020 hits, which it is quickly approaching, R-22 refrigerant will no longer be allowed to be imported or manufactured here in the United States. If you think the price is bad now at six-hundred dollars for a thirty-pound cylinder just wait until the year 2020. I would fully expect R-22 to go the route of R-12 and quickly reach over $1,000 a cylinder.
With the price jumping up like this and the scarcity of R-22 in the marketplace homeowners and business owners are left with a tough decision when their air conditioner begins to leak refrigerant. Sure, if they have a leak they can call a tech out and get the leak repaired but that isn’t the expensive part. If you have an older R-22 unit then you are in for a world of hurt when it comes to refilling your unit’s refrigerant. (Most units manufactured before 2010 are R-22 units, anything after 2010 is most likely going to be an R-410A HFC unit.)
Remember that six-hundred dollar price for thirty pounds of refrigerant? Well, that’s pretty close to a wholesale cost. Your contractor or tech needs to make money on the deal as well so there is going to be markup. You may end up getting quoted close to one-hundred dollars a pound to refill your unit. If you have a standard three or four ton unit you then you are possibly looking at ten to twelve pounds, or twelve-hundred dollars just to refill. That’s not even counting the other repairs needed. At this point most homeowners are faced with the tough decision to either pay the steep cost and hope that their unit doesn’t form another leak, or they purchase a newer HFC R-410A unit.
The Third Option
There is a third option for homeowners or business owners who are faced with this decision. When all of this phase-out began there was a rush of imported and locally manufactured R-22 replacements. Most of the time these replacements weren’t replacements at all. They either required an extreme amount of retrofitting just to get your unit to accept the new refrigerant, they were just as expensive as R-22, or they weren’t approved by the EPA and could cause extreme safety risks like fires or explosions.
In fact there was one company here in the United States, Enviro-Safe Refrigerants, out of Illinois that got fined by the EPA for the amount of $300,000. What did they do wrong? What did they do to get the wrath of the EPA on them? They were selling R-22a refrigerants. I wrote about this at the time, my article can be found by clicking here. Now according to the EPA R-22a refrigerants are a hydrocarbon blend usually consisting of high concentrations of Propane and Butane. After reading that you can guess why the EPA isn’t a fan of these refrigerants. The ANSI/ASHRAE rates these refrigerants as a class 3 in flammability. There is a huge chance of explosion especially if you get Jo-Smo homeowner who is trying to do his own repair. The EPA has a full article on the dangers of R-22a and the actions they have taken against companies trying to sell this refrigerant. It can be found by clicking here.
The EPA can’t catch everything and everyone trying to sell this dangerous refrigerant replacement marketed towards R-22. I’m sure if you scoured the net today and searched for R-22a you could find some. It may even be under a different name or hell they may be as bold as to just market it as R-290 Propane and say that it’s a drop in for R-22.
DuPont/Chemour’s MO99 Alternative
In my opinion there is only one safe and trustworthy R-22 alternative refrigerant on the market today and that is Chemour’s MO99 refrigerant. (For those of you who don’t know DuPont split into two companies a few years back and they moved all of their refrigerant manufacturing over to the Chemours company.) This MO99 refrigerant is designed to be a drop in R-22 replacement. The thing about this type of refrigerant and the reason you hear it brought up all the time when looking for R-22 replacement is that it is the closest alternative refrigerant when it comes to capacity and efficiency. On top of that it is compatible with all of your standard lubricants as well as newer lubricants on the market. The best part about this alternative R-22 is that it is safe! There are no hydrocarbons here instead MO99 is an HFC refrigerant. You know… the refrigerants we deal with on a daily basis such as R-134a, R-404A, and R-410A.
MO99 offers the consumer and HVAC tech a lower cost alternative. Right now MO99 is going for about $300.00 per cylinder on Amazon.com. You will end up paying half the cost for a cylinder of MO99 then you would for R-22. Hell, the way prices are going you may even end up paying a quarter for MO99 over R-22. If you are the homeowner or business owner you just saved yourself a boat load of money and if you are a tech you can help your customer out while still making a decent markup.
The last big step when using an R-22 alternative like MO99 is retrofitting your unit. Remember now, I said that MO99 is a near drop in for R-22. There are still guidelines and rules that need to be followed to ensure everything is done correctly. Now folks, I am by no means an expert when it comes to retrofitting your old R-22 unit to accept the new MO99 replacement. Instead of me fumbling my way through trying to guide you through the process I will instead link to Chemour’s official website where they have step by step instructions on how to retrofit your old unit.
Last but not least, if you are looking to purchase a cylinder or two of MO99 I highly recommend you check out Ebay where there are still some cylinders left. However, if you are looking to buy a pallet or even more then please visit our bulk purchasing page and fill out quote request form.