traditional R22 vs the new R410 blend
What IS SEER and how does it affect ME?
i always say - Think of SEER as gas mileage. the higher the number, the less electric
used and the better your electric bills. They used to use a formula called EER (Energy
Efficiency Ratio). then as years went by, they changed to a more accurate format for
out daily use, the SEER (SEASONAL Energy Efficiency Ratio). The normal efficiency
number for many years was 8. then they started producing higher efficiency for
homeowners, numbers of 9 and even 10. For a long time 10 was the standard. 11 was
considered high, 12 higher, and 13 was super high-efficiency. But that cost much more.
Then gas prices shot up. and in response to the debates over how to force a reduction
in energy usage and imported oil and energy, the federal government decided to up the
ante to a minimum of 13. So today, the minimum efficiency of residential air
conditioners is now 13 SEER. Of course the price did not lower. Would you expect that?
So the minimum is now what you USED to pay for high efficiency, because that is what
you get now, high efficiency. And to go higher, you go up to 14 SEER, 15 SEER, 16
SEER and so forth. all the way up to 27 currently. But the price as you climb the SEER
ladder starts to really jump. You have to decide what is the best for YOU, for YOUR
electric usage and dollar. Ask us for more info and details to decide. In fact, the rebates
from government and local power companies have also raised the minimum you need,
so you may find you have to up your SEER to get the rebate you were thinking about.
But if you go up to a 15 from the 13, you will find you probably get a 14% decrease in
electric. The SEER is a ratio of how much air conditioning you will get for a dollar. Heat
pumps also have a ratio for their performance but they relate to the SEER as the
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Pinellas Park, Florida 33781
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Freon, SEER, and other Questions
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What are the benefits?
As you read this article, you will understand the benefit to our future environment, as well as
higher efficiency for less energy usage.
What is the Clean Air Act?
The Montreal Protocol, an international environmental agreement, requires the production phase
out of a number of substances believed to be responsible for ozone depletion. The Montreal
Protocol is carried out in the United States through the Clean Air Act, which is a federal law
implemented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to execute and enforce
regulations that reduce air pollutant emissions.
The Clean Air Act mandates that all HVAC equipment manufactures in the U.S.A. cease
producing equipment using R-22 refrigerant on January 1, 2010.
How does the Clean Air Act impact heating and cooling systems?
The portion of the Clean Air Act that applies to the Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning
(HVAC) industry encourages the development of ozone-friendly substitutes for chemicals that
contain ozone destroying chlorine, which are called hydro-chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). The
chemical refrigerant of choice for more than four decades, referred to as R-22, is in the HCFC
category. R-22 is widely used in heat pumps and AC condensing units to heat and cool homes
Do R-410a products cost more?
For a while, yes, they did. NOT ANY MORE! Currently, R-410a products are becoming less expensive
while similar products for R-22 are skyrocketing. One reason is that R-410a refrigerant is now in full
production and supplies are abundant, while R-22 is being phased out. The cost of R-22 has been
skyrocketing this year (2013) while the mass production cost of R-410a has been growing cheaper. This
trend will continue to climb as R-22 is phased out and is increasingly less available. The price of
recharging your existing R-22 unit now leaves many in sticker shock, while the cost of the new R-410a
continues reducing. Therefore the current costs of R-22 versus R-410a is an incentive for customers to
switch to the new R-410a.
If my current system is R-22, can I replace a portion of it with R-410a?
No. If you purchase an outdoor R-410a unit, you must replace the indoor coil with a properly matched R-
410a model. R-22 and R-410a refrigerants and oils cannot be mixed.
Should I purchase an R-410a system if I need a solution NOW?
While you can continue to legally purchase R-22 systems as mentioned above, if you need a solution
today, it may make more sense to buy a higher efficiency R-410a system. Air Magic Building Magic can
assist you with reviewing and understanding your best option.
What if I need to replace a portion of my heating and cooling system?
If a homeowner has an existing outdoor unit that is in need of replacement, it is recommended
that the indoor unit be replaced (coil, furnace or air handler) at the same time. The reason for
this is so that the system will be properly matched based on the manufacturers approved
match-up data. A system that is not properly matched will lose efficiency and be more
expensive to operate and maintain. This is especially true for homeowners who have outdoor
units that are below the current 13-SEER minimum efficiency standard that went into effect Jan
22, 2006. When purchasing a 13-SEER or higher outdoor unit, it should not be matched with
an existing indoor unit that is not rated by the manufacturer to achieve a 13-SEER or higher
system efficiency rating.
What about my R-22 system? will it still be good?
Yes, R-22 will still be produced and used for many years to come. You will, however, continue to
see rapid increases in the price of R-22 as it is phased out in lieu of R-410a. By the time R-22 is
completely removed from the public market, your current unit will already have hit the age for
replacement to a new future system. But expect increases in service fees, and leak repairs, and
tremendous raises in the price of R-22.
How does the R-22 phase-out affect Homeowners with existing R-22 systems?
There is no need for homeowners to panic if they currently have a heating and cooling system
equipped with R-22 refrigerant. Chemical manufacturers can still produce limited production R-22 to
service existing systems until Jan 1, 2020. After this date, many in the industry have estimated that
there will still be adequate R-22 supplies available for servicing equipment for the next 20 years.
However, as this supply declines, servicing R-22 systems will become increasingly expensive.
Will I notice any difference?
Most home-owners will never notice a difference, except that the newer equipment is being produced
for higher efficiency, helping to lower your electric bills! You may also notice that newer equipment is
being produced at a lower noise level, for consumer comfort. The only negative, other than the obvious
costs from inflation, is that ALL the new high efficiency equipment is much larger in physical size,
regardless of the refrigerant type used! keep in mind, a 13 SEER system using the old R-22 or any
other is the same electric usage as a new 13 SEER system utilizing the new R-410a. The difference is
that the new R-410a equipment CAN be produced in MUCH higher SEER ratings. We see units as
high as 27.5 SEER ratings already, although for the average customer, the cost of such high
efficiency equipment is extravagant and not deemed worth it. Ask your Air Magic Building Magic
service tech for the cost factors and savings factors to help make any decisions.
How long will current R-22 A/C and Heat Pump products be
Many HVAC Distributors, Contractors and Homebuilders continued to sell
and install R-22 A/C and Heat Pump products manufactured prior to
January 1, 2010, as long as supplies lasted. This rapidly phased out as
supplies grew harder to find.
Over the past year however, due to demand, many manufacturers have
restarted production of the equipment that uses R-22. However, these
units are now growing much more expensive, and since by federal law
they CANNOT be shipped or manufactured with R-22 in them, they are
shipped charged with nitrogen. Your service installer must vacuum out
the nitrogen and then charge the unit fully with the appropriate R-22.
THAT is what is truly expensive. The current cost of the charge is many
times more expensive than ever before due to the high cost of the R-22
itself. The old hundred dollar charge can now easily become a thousand
dollar or more expense. Add that to the already higher cost of the
equipment, and you usually find it is NOT financially worthwhile to
replace an R-22 unit, if at all possible to upgrade to a new efficient R-
410A system. Additionally, they have reduced the warranty life-span on
R-22 units while extending warranties on many R-410A units.
Will my regular service tech be able to continue my service?
The new refrigerant operates with the same principles as the old, even though there are many
differences in parts, pressures and temperatures. Your Air Magic Building Magic technicians are
trained in the use and safety of the new R-410a, and will be able to service your unit. R-410a
however, does require different tools and gauges than R-22, as well as new training in the
handling and safety due to the high pressures, so you may find many other technicians are slow
to switch. Check with your service technician before you have him touch you’re a/c system.
What is the time frame for the R-410A switch over?
The Clean Air Act mandates that all HVAC equipment manufacturers cease producing equipment
with R-22 refrigerant on January 1, 2010, and chemical manufacturers cease producing R-22
refrigerant on January 22, 2020. Along with prohibiting the production of chemicals deemed
harmful to the ozone, such as R-22 refrigerant, the Clean Air Act also mandates that no
refrigerant be released into the atmosphere during installation, service or retirement of
What is the difference?
Pressures used in R-410a are approximately 70% to 100% higher than Freon-22. R-410a is
similar in handling properties as some of the more sensitive refrigerants such as R-12. Although
R-410a is actually a blend of two of the existing refrigerants, R-410a uses different oils and
filters as it is a completely different blend than your current residential R-22 system now uses. It
reacts differently, and the individual components can separate when the system is off, similar to
what oil and water do.
Why the change?
Two reasons. Years ago, there was many different refrigerants used, and many companies used
their own blend. You’re a/c tech had to carry many various jugs along, depending on your name
brand of equipment. Over the years, R-22 became the industry standard because of it's great
properties in operating and efficiency. This also helped keep your service bills down as it was
inexpensive, and your service tech did not need to stock many different types, and standardization
helped decrease mistakes and repairs from mis-labeled or unknown refrigerant in your systems.
However as Electric bills have increased due to rising energy costs and greater importation of
energy needed, efficiency has become a major player. Additionally, environmentalists have been
paying close attention to recent changes in our global climate. Our government and others, along
with the industry, have debated over the extent of what the cause and effects are of chlorine based
refrigerants. The current standard, R-22 is one of the Chlorine based refrigerants that many
scientists believe are destroying our atmosphere. The new blend, R410a, is considered to be not
harmful to the atmosphere and ozone layer, and has proven the best replacement for the high
efficiency we all desire. R-22 had hit the top of its reasonable efficiency range (around the 15
SEER range), however, R-410a is already designed in units as high as 27.5 SEER and has much
farther to go.
(This process is similar to phasing out R-12 which was previously used in auto-air conditioning and
freezer/refrigerators. If you remember how the government and the industry phased out R-12 for
automobiles, you will understand the same principles. R-12 was replaced by R-134a first, since it
was deemed more the priority.)
Since the Clean Air Act ultimately requires the end of R-22 refrigerant production, what will
the HVAC industry use?
R-410a is an ozone-friendly refrigerant designed to replace R-22. R-410a refrigerant does not
contribute to ozone depletion. R-410a is actually a blend of two prior refrigerants, and therefore
does have some new and unusual characteristics in handling and charging, but your qualified Air
Magic Building Magic service technician has taken classes and knows all about these.
Remember, there have always been many different refrigerants used in cooling,
such as propane, alcohol, water, bichlorodiflouromethane (R12), and so many
more, including blends. You may even be familiar with many of the designation
numbers such as R-500, R-502, R-12, R-22, R-410a, R-414b (a drop in
replacement for R-12), R-134a (commonly used in automotive use) and many