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R-22 – Fading Fast

Sara Jackson - Headshot closeup sml

Sara Jackson COAC Customer Service Manager

As HVAC system owners and contractors, we should all be paying attention to the major changes in the refrigeration markets occurring in 2016. As the complete phase-out of R-22 continues, the EPA has declared that in 2016 only 18 million pounds of R-22 can be produced or imported. The 2016 amount is down from 51 million pounds allowed in 2014, and will be decreasing significantly each year until December 31, 2019, when no new or imported R-22 will be permitted in the United States.

The R-22 supply dwindles and the “normal to warmer-than-usual” temperatures, predicted by meteorologists, for this coming summer will assuredly increase the demand. R-22 prices were up 15% in the final quarter of 2015 and are anticipated to reach record levels by the end of 2016. Refrigerant distributors will be subject to allocation limits and supplies will become scarce. The possibilities of imported counterfeit R-22 is a real and likely possibility, therefore purchasers will have to be vigilant in their research and trust who they are buying from.

r-22 Fading AwayAnother notable change will be the end of production of the “dry-shipped” unit (equipment designed to use R-22, yet not containing any refrigerant at the time of sale/shipment). As of the end of February, manufacturers are no longer able to sell this type of equipment. This means all new units will be required to use other types of refrigerants.

The phase-out will force owners of R-22 equipment to replace their systems or transition to an environmentally approved retrofit alternative for their legacy systems. Manufacturers are coming to the table with new refrigerants such as Gentron 422D, Performax LT, and Solstice N40. These next generation products all have different characteristics and performance specifications. When retrofitting with these alternative refrigerants it will be important to note the lubricant choice and its effect on system performance and to recognize the need to replace elastomers, O-rings, and possibly system valves during that retrofit. In this rapidly changing industry, it will behoove the consumer to research the options and regulations and form solid, reliable relationships with well-informed service providers they can trust to do the job right and keep the comfortable air flowing.

Alternative Refrigerant Links:

422D https://www.honeywell-refrigerants.com/americas/product/genetron-422d/

N40 https://www.honeywell-refrigerants.com/americas/?document=solstice-n40-data-sheet&download=1

Performax LT https://www.honeywell-refrigerants.com/india/?document=honeywell-genetron-performaxlt-technical-specs&download=1


HVAC Retirement – To plan or not to plan

The end is coming! The question is, is it better to plan for HVAC replacement or endure the disruption when it occurs.

Old HVAC Ready for Retirement Replacing or upgrading an HVAC unit is never an easy decision, unless that decision has already been made for you due to the unit failing. Many building owners and managers are reactive when it comes to their HVAC systems. Something changes (no air, no cool, no warm etc…) then action is taken to correct the failure or replace the unrepairable unit. Even with diligent and meticulous maintenance HVAC has a finite lifespan and it will fail eventually. The real decision with managing the HVAC assets is will you manage them or will they manage you.

We suggest that you take control and manage these remarkable and quite vital assets. Whether the units are old and running on borrowed time due to the increasing shortage of R-22 refrigerant, you are looking to increase the buildings value and marketability or just want to save energy, taking control will pay off in many ways. Have a plan in place that allows you to be pro-active about your replacement strategy and that fits you budget. Thinking strategically about your HVAC assets is proving to be more economical over the long run than reacting to emergencies.

COAC can provide you with information and expert advice that will guide you through your decision process. Detailed unit evaluations, pre & post energy use modeling, maintenance and replacement planning and financing are just some of the ways we can assist you in taking control. To plan or not to plan, it’s up to you.

Read more about replacing or repairing here.

R-22 Refrigerant Supply Reduced 57% in 2015

Significant increase in costs, likely delays in availability, and challenges in conversion – Change is coming

R-22 Refrigerant Supply infographic
The EPA’s updated phase-out schedule for R-22 refrigerant was recently described as an “Aggressive Linear Reduction”, reducing the amount available next year by 57%. In 2014, there was 51 million pounds of R-22 available on the market. In less than 2 months (2015) there will be only 22 million pounds available with steep reductions each year thereafter. The eventual plan is to have production and importation of R-22 eliminated by 2020.

How does this affect you?

The bulk of the commercial buildings in Sacramento still have HVAC units that use the R-22 refrigerant. If you have equipment that is 8-10 years old or older then it is most likely using R-22. As the supply radically declines, the first effect felt will be the cost of repairs will climb significantly. The next probable challenge will just be having enough R-22 when needed. As supplies dwindle, hoarding and limitations on the size of orders will affect repair times, especially in the critical summer months.

Conversion vs. Replacement?

There are R-22 alternatives on the market but they introduce other significant challenges to future repairs, unit effectiveness (how much cooling it can generate) and life expectancy. If conditioned air is critical to running the business and R-22 is not available then an alternative refrigerant will be needed, or the entire system will need to be changed to use 410A (more ecofriendly refrigerant) which can have installation lead times of 1 week to 2 months, causing further difficulties. The decision to convert or replace is a complex matrix of factors that include expected unit life, ownership and tenant requirements, and the remaining-life cost of ownership to name just a few. Replacing your unit is not a matter of if, but is just a matter of when and the EPA’s new policy may force you to accelerate your plans.

Planning for Change

There is no pat answer to the vexing question of when to repair versus replace, but COAC can help guide you and run the numbers on various scenarios so that you can make an educated, well-deliberated decision that fits your business needs. We want to help you avoid those desperate situations, when a replacement is not available for a few weeks or months, and you have to make short-term decisions that can cause more damage to your system, your building, your tenant comfort and your reputation.

EPA Article – Read More



Game Changing Technology – VRF

VRF: An Energy Slashing HVAC System on the Rise

Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) also known as a Variable Refrigerant Volume (VRV) HVAC systems are becoming an important HVAC solution in the U.S. VRF’s make up about 24% of the global commercial air conditioning market and over 35% market share in China, India, and Eastern Europe. USA only represents about 3% of the market, but it is growing rapidly with multiple manufacturers like LG, Daikin, Carrier, Mitsubishi and Sanyo.

A VRF system allows one outdoor condensing unit to be connected to multiple indoor fan-coil units, each individually controllable by its user, while modulating the amount of refrigerant being sent to each evaporator. By operating at varying speeds, VRF units work only at the needed rate allowing for substantial energy savings at partial-load conditions.

VRF systems have some distinct advantages over conventional systems but they are not for every situation or  application. Learn more about this growing and innovative HVAC solution and review case studies at the end of the article.   READ MORE HERE

Editors Note: We are seeing greater demand for this technology due to life-cycle cost benefits and occupant comfort benefits that outweigh the higher first-cost as compared to conventional systems.

R-22 Rationing Begins

R-22 Refrigerant Phase Out graphicA recent EPA notification announced additional limits on the importation and production of the R-22 refrigerant to only 39 million pounds resulting in price spikes and severe rationing of the supply.  As an example, COAC was recently buying R-22 by the pallet (40 jugs per pallet) and now we are limited to 2 jugs per order. Additionally, in the last 6 months the price of R-22 locally has spiked 240%. In some parts of the country, the rate is double that increase.
DuPont, manufacturer of the Freon brand of R-22, temporarily suspended all orders of Freon until the supply situation was stabilized and the EPA notifications could be fully digested.
If your building’s HVAC equipment uses R-22 don’t panic but now is the time to plan for the eventual phase out of that equipment. Please contact COAC with your questions or concerns about this rapidly evolving shortage.  Contact us at 916.381.4611 or info@coacair.com.

Visit COAC’s R-22 Update Page