United States to Halt Freon Production in 2020

United States to Halt Freon Production in 2020


For the last several decades, Freon has been the most popular chemical used as a refrigerant in residential AC units and heat pumps. That’s about to change with the looming ban on its production next year.By January 1, 2020, Freon, technically R-22 and HCFC-22, will no longer be manufactured and imported, in accordance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The 2020 ban is part of the overall strategy for the gradual phaseout of Freon. The EPA has already prohibited the production and installation of appliances that used R-22 and HCFC-22 in January 2010.

Why the Freon phaseout?


The Freon ban is in accordance with the EPA’s 1992 decision to phase out HCFCs or hydrochlorofluorocarbons, a large group of compounds that provide refrigerators and air conditioners the ability to cool. The EPA’s resolution stemmed from studies that have pointed to HCFCs—including Freon—as major contributors to the depletion of the ozone layer and the worsening global warming.

What does the Freon ban mean for the average homeowner?


If you purchased your current home air conditioning system before January 2010, then it’s highly likely that it uses R-22, which means the Freon ban will affect you directly.

For now, you can still have your older system recharged with stock Freon. However, once the ban comes into effect on January 1, 2020, the only refrigerant recharging option you have left would be reclaimed, as well as previously-produced quantities of the chemical. The dwindling supply—with no hope of replenishment because of the production and importation ban—would also mean the cost of recycled Freon is going to rise steeply.

One option you can consider is retrofitting your older system. As long as the coils in your old AC are compatible with more ozone-friendly refrigerants, HVAC technicians should be able to replace the condenser unit and make the whole system work; all without having to tweak the current setup inside your home. However, you need to know that retrofitting old AC systems can prove to be expensive.

Should you replace your old AC system?


There’s nothing in the EPA directive about the gradual phaseout of R-22 that says you should replace your old system with a new one. As a matter of fact, the federal agency has made it clear that homeowners don’t have to replace their existing AC system, but to switch to a more ozone-friendly refrigerant.

However, with the price of stock Freon skyrocketing over the last few years, coupled with the expected rise in the price of recycled Freon once the ban is in place, replacing your air conditioner with a new one is beginning to sound like a much more attractive option.

HFCs for AC units manufactured after 2010


Instead of HCFCs, all air conditioners produced after the ban on the manufacture of Freon-powered AC units in 2010 are now charged with HFCs or hydrofluorocarbons, R410A or Puron to be specific.

While recent findings have revealed HFCs to be greenhouse gases as well, their contribution to ozone depletion is minimal compared to HCFCs. Aside from being friendlier to the ozone layer, R410A is non-flammable and non-corrosive, which reduces the risk of fires and leaks. Most importantly, Puron is more efficient; mainly when used in high-pressure HVAC systems that allow it to produce cooler temperatures quicker. That means you can expect significantly lower energy bills when you have a new AC system installed.

Should you decide to replace your old AC system, call us at FH Air Conditioning, and we’ll help you determine the most suitable new air conditioning system for your home.