6 Things You Should Know About New Eco-Friendly AC Refrigerants
The United States Environmental Protection Agency is mandated with the responsibility of promote the use of energy efficient and ozone friendly substances in homes and business across the country. As you may already know, climate change is a real issue affecting the current and future state of the world as we know it. Various measures are being made to mitigate the effects of climate change which include lowering of carbon emissions. One of the biggest sources of carbon emissions is the use of ozone depleting CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) which are commonly found in AC refrigerants.
- The Montreal Protocol
Back in 1987, the countries of the world reached an agreement known as the Montreal Protocol which established various rules and regulations controlling the production and use of ozone depleting refrigerants. The Montreal Protocol was adjusted in 1992 to include a requirement for all developed nations (such as the United States) to phase out the production and use of CFCs. In 1996, CFC production was seized in all developed nations of the world. Hydrofluorocarbons (HCFCs) were suggested as replacements for CFCs because they were less damaging to the environment. In the years after these policies were implemented, many studies have been done on the effects of HCFCs on the environment. HCFCs were found to also be lacking in regards to safeguarding the environment. The phaseout of HCFCs is currently ongoing amidst efforts to save the world’s natural eco-systems.
- HCFCs (R-22 Refrigerant and Its Effects on The Environment)
Today, HCFCs are still the most commonly used types of refrigerants in the world. The most popular AC refrigerant used in homes and business is called HCFC-22 (also referred to as R-22). For many years, R-22 has been the refrigerant of choice for home air-conditioning systems and heat pumps. Unfortunately, studies have revealed that R-22 is responsible for a significant amount of ozone depletion. Moreover, R-22 is categorized as a greenhouse gas. During the production of R-22, a by-product known as HFC-23 is released into the environment. HFC-23 is greatly responsible for the global warming phenomenon the world is experiencing.
As part of the phasing out of HCFCs like R-22, new eco-friendly AC refrigerants and units are being introduced into the global market. Many homeowners are still unaware of the existence of these new ozone friendly refrigerants. It is important to make yourself aware of the new products in the market as the phase out schedule for R-22 is almost nearing completion. You may no longer be able to use R-22 refrigerant in your central heating system or heat pump. Below is some information on the transition from R-22 to new eco-friendly refrigerants. You can use this information to help you make an informed decision when purchasing a new AC system or heat pump.
- Phase Out Schedule For HCFCs (Including R-22)
Under the Montreal Protocol, the United States is supposed to have phased out the production and use of HCFCs in residential AC and heat pump systems by certain dates. Some of the dates agreed under the protocol include:
– 1st January 2004: Consumption of HCFCs was required to be below 35% . The EPA should have banned the production and importation of certain HCFCs like HCFC-141b that were extremely harmful to the ozone layer.
– 1st January 2010: The agreement required that the U.S reduce its consumption of HCFCs by 75%. HVAC systems manufacturers in the U.S were banned from producing any new systems that used HCFCs like R-22.
– 1st January 2015: The agreement required that the U.S reduce its consumption of HCFCs by 90%.
– 1st January 2020: The agreement requires that the U.S reduce its consumption of HCFCs by 99.5%. New eco-friendly refrigerants will be the only ones allowed beyond 2020. Chemical manufacturers will be banned from producing HCFCs like R-22 for outdated AC systems and heat pumps. What does the phasing out of R-22 mean for consumers?
- Availability of R-22 Refrigerant
Availability of R-22 and other HCFCs is expected to diminish in coming years. Although the R-22 in existing AC systems and heat pumps can be recovered and recycled, chemical manufactures will no longer be able to produce or import R-22 for new systems. In a few years time, HCFC will only be found in older systems that have not been retired yet. After 2020, the transition from CFCs to HCFCs and finally to eco-friendly refrigerants will be complete.
- Alternatives to R-22 In Residential AC Systems
As R-22 gets closer to being phased out, new eco-friendly and non-ozone depleting alternatives are needed to power residential AC systems. The Environmental Protection Agency provides a wide range of alternatives to R-22 and other HCFCs that are still in use across the country. These new refrigerants have been thoroughly studied and evaluated to establish their effects on human health and the general ecosystem. One of the most commonly accepted substitute for R-22 is R-410A. R-410A is sold under different trade names including Puron’, Forane’ 410A, SUVA 410A’, and GENETRON AZ-20′. Another alternative to R-22 in residential AC systems and heat pumps is R-407C. R-407C is currently not available in the United States but is commonly used in Europe and other parts of the world. More eco-friendly residential AC refrigerants are expected to be unveiled in the coming months.
- Installing New Eco-friendly Units
Transitioning from ozone depleting refrigerants like R-22 to eco-friendly refrigerants like R-410A will require homeowners to install new AC units and heat pumps. These new systems will include compressors as well as other components specifically designed for use with these new refrigerants. For example, if a outdoor unit (which includes a compressor and condenser) is installed, a new indoor unit (which includes an evaporator) will also be needed. Because of the significant changes in production and product design, changes have also to be made to training and testing procedures for residential AC systems. Consumers should know that dealers of these new units must undergo fresh training on how to install and service these new equipment.
Changing from ozone depleting refrigerant to eco-friendly tdx20 refrigerant is definitely a step in the right direction.