Up until recently R-22 Refrigerant was the most common type of refrigerant for home and commercial air-conditioning units. Do you have an air-conditioning unit made before 2010? If so, it takes R-22.
Its popularity took off in the 1950s when it replaced R-12 Refrigerant for home and commercial use. As of January 1st, 2010 no new R-22 air-conditioners can be manufactured in the United States and other developed countries. In 2015 production of R-22 must be cut in half due to EPA regulation. Lastly, in 2020 the production of R-22 will be illegal in all major countries across the world. R-22 is being replaced with R-410A, or Puron. R-410A was invented in the early 1990s but really didn’t begin to gain popularity until the 2000s and it is the Refrigerant of the future. All new units from 2010 and on will be taking R-410A.
If you desire to purchase R-22 Refrigerant you must be certified to be handle refrigerants with the Environmental Protection Agency. If you do not have the certification you cannot legally purchase R-22 or R-12 Refrigerant. R-410A and R-134A you can purchase without any licensing. The sales restriction on R-22 is put in place to prevent laymen from releasing damaged Chlorine from R-22 into the atmosphere. Chlorine damages the O-Zone layer which is the main reason R-22 is being phased out.
R-22’s price is only expected to climb over the next few years. Today, August 2014, the price on a thirty pound cylinder of R-22 ranges from $300-$350. This is quite the difference compared to the R-410A price of $100-$130. Expect a big increase in price in 2015 when production of R-22 will be cut in half. I would expect it to spike to $500-$600 a jug next summer. In another five years when production of R-22 is banned I could definitely see the price per jug going over $1,000. (R-12 is typically over $1,000 per cylinder since it’s phase out.)