R-22 still available? Yes, but after 2020 reclaimed R-22 will be the only new ‘production’ in the marketplace. R-22, also known as HCFC-22, is most commonly used in older residential air conditioning systems, referred to as Freon, and is considered one of the worst environmental offenders.

Because of supply and demand economics, R-22 has had some wild fluctuations in price. Due to EPA regulations, 2018 consumption for R-22 refrigerant must be below 3.9% of total refrigerant consumption, and below 1.9% of total consumption for 2019. (For perspective, it was allowed at 100% in 2009.) You can see why R-22 is so expensive.

Most a/c systems built prior to 2010 used R-22. When the EPA first began phase out plans of R-22 in 2003, the price started to climb, because most systems still used this refrigerant.

In 2010 R-22 imports and production were prohibited. Investing in R-22 refrigerant stock piles began to look a lot like investing in the stock market. In fact, more than a couple of investors and wholesalers tried to import R-22 around EPA regulations. They earned fines in tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars, and jail time.

So, what is the future for R-22? Despite the historical demand that made smuggling R-22 lucrative, these cylinders may be increasingly difficult to to sell. The prices for R-22 have stabilized and will probably slowly decrease. Some people predict that the price of R-22 will increase again in 2020, when the only source for available R-22 is through reclamation. That may be possible, but overall demand is decreasing.

Air conditioning technicians have had to pass along the cost of R-22 to homeowners. Service calls have become very expensive, and many people opt to replace their aging system. The new a/c systems use r-410a, and that refrigerant performs much better overall. It is less expensive, and the new machines use less energy. The newest a/c systems that still use R-22 are almost nine years old now.

Is there a replacement refrigerant for R-22 that doesn’t require a system overhaul? No. And yes. It’s complicated. Refrigerant Depot sells Chemours’ MO99 retrofit refrigerant and we consider it one of the best options for replacing R-22. We also carry R-422D in a 25lb cylinder, and R-448A, another replacement for R-22. However, if there is any R-22 left in the system, or if the system once used it, it’s not a good idea. Blends and other products were developed that would mimic R-22, but to use them in an old system, an HVAC tech will need to do more to the system that just a ‘drop in replacement.’ And replacing R-22 with other refrigerants will void the manufacturer’s warranty, if that is a concern. If you have any questions about replacement for your system and how the products differ, please contact us.

Refrigerant Depot still has R-22 30lb cylinders available at wholesale pricing. I believe we offer the best price for R-22 in the U.S. Please contact me at eric@refrigerantdepot.com if you are interested in a bulk order.