Now to be fair, you could technically “retrofit” an R-22 unit to accommodate R-410A refrigerant but that would include:
- Replacing the condenser, compressor, evaporator and refrigerant lines
- Evacuating the entire unit (i.e. vacuuming out all refrigerant)
- Cleaning, flushing and drying the unit
- Recharging the unit with R-410A refrigerant
To help you make a cost-effective decision regarding your R-22 AC unit, we’ll explain:
- Why R-22 needs to be replaced in the first place
- Why you can’t replace R-22 refrigerant with R-410A
- What you should do instead
Why R-22 needs to be replaced in the first place
Because it’s so harmful to the environment, various countries (including the US) have slowly phased out the production/sale of R-22. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, all production and sale of R-22 refrigerant will end completely by 2020.
And, because there’s a severely limited supply left, R-22 prices are getting higher and higher, which means if your unit ever springs a refrigerant leak, you could spend up to $1,000+ to fill your system back up with R-22.
That’s why a lot of homeowners are looking into completely replacing R-22 for the cheaper R-410A refrigerant. The problem? Changing out an air conditioner’s refrigerant isn’t like changing your car’s gasoline from regular to premium.
Let’s take a closer look at why you can’t switch out the two refrigerants so easily.
Why you can’t replace R-22 with R-410A
R-410A works at a much higher pressure than R-22. And, if the parts inside an AC unit aren’t designed to handle the higher pressure, they’ll quickly get overworked and burn out.
You see, all refrigerants perform the same duty: they absorb heat from the inside air and dump that heat outside.
Well, first off, compressors can’t be repaired like other components. They’re “hermetically sealed” which means they can’t be opened up to repair broken components inside. So really, a compressor that needs repair is a compressor that needs to be replaced completely—and they’re not cheap to replace: compressor replacement can cost up to $2,500+.
An AC compressor inside your outdoor unit.
The better solution? Replace the AC with an R-410A unit
Switching out R-22 for R-410A—when done correctly—is a super expensive work-around. And it’s not even guaranteed to work in every AC.
Your best option is to replace the entire R-22 unit for a unit that was designed to run on R-410A. We know that sounds expensive but it’s a lot more affordable in the long run.
Here’s the bottom line: If your AC uses R-22, it’s likely an older unit that’s nearing/past the typical AC lifespan. So replacing a bunch of parts inside that old AC (so that it can accommodate R-410A) is like placing a new motor inside an old clunker car: the cost to do so won’t be worth it long term.
Want to know pricing for an R-410A AC unit? Ask our NJ techs.
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