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Is there a drop-in replacement for R22?

Drop-in replacement for R22

Air conditioning units and systems in offices, warehouses and retail premises are regulated by a variety of different legislation. Ensuring that your commercial air conditioning is compliant with all the current laws and regulations can be an arduous task. As a leading supplier of air conditioning in Bristol, we help all of our customers to ensure that their air conditioning installations are always operating within the law.

One of the major changes in how air conditioning systems are designed and installed was the introduction of the R22 Legislation in 2013. Introduced to phase out HCFCs, including R22 gas, it has effectively made it illegal to use virgin, recycled and reclaimed R22 to maintain or repair air conditioning equipment since 1st January 2015.

Total Environmental Kooling understands how important it is that commercial users not only understand the core principles of the R22 Legislation but also that they know how to navigate around them.

What do you need to know about the R22 Legislation?

R22 gas is an HCFC, or hydrochlorofluorocarbon, that has been banned for use in new equipment in the UK since 2004. HCFCs damage the ozone layer and cause wide-ranging environmental effects. Modern refrigerants, such as the industry standard R-410A, which do not damage the ozone layer, are now being used in their place.

The changes in legislation implemented the rule that “All R22, including recycled and reclaimed refrigerant, will be banned for use in maintenance and repairs”.  This means that it is now illegal to refresh the refrigerant in any air conditioning systems that run on R22.

Simply put, whilst technically you can still use your existing R22 system, you will no longer be able to obtain replacement refrigerant to fix or refill your air conditioning system.

Is There A Drop-In Replacement For R22?

Thinking that you could simply replace the R22 gas with a more ecologically sound replacement seems like a logical assumption. There are more than 20 different HFC based retrofit refrigerants on the market that could make a suitable “drop-in” replacement for R22, being the R-32 system the most popular.  Unfortunately, all of them would require the use of an additional synthetic lubricant and could affect the performance and reliability of your air conditioning system.

What R22 Replacement Options Are Available?

Your commercial air conditioning unit is an integral element of the usability of your office space, warehouse or retail unit. Being able to control the temperature ensures that you and your colleagues are able to work in comfort. With this in mind, the options available to you are:

Total air conditioning system replacement

Replacing the entire system, including pipework, electrical wiring and outdoor and indoor units, may sound like an expensive and time-consuming option, but it will ensure that you have the most up to date and environmentally friendly system available to you.

System conversion

Some systems can be converted to accept a substitute refrigerant.  However, whilst this may seem like a cheaper and more convenient option, the use of modern refrigerant in a converted system can lead to poor performance and higher energy costs. Changing the refrigerant may also have implications for any long-standing warranty.

Leave it be

Some commercial air conditioning users prefer to do nothing and leave their existing air conditioning unit installed as is.  While it is not illegal to leave a system that uses R22 in your commercial premises, there will be no replacement refrigerant available if the air conditioning unit breaks.

Air Conditioning Replacement For Maximum Efficiency

The average lifespan of an air conditioning system is around 15 years. This means that even if you do convert your existing air conditioning to accommodate drop-in replacements, upgrading your system will be a consideration at some point.

Do You Have R-22 in Your Old AC System?

If you have R22 in your old air conditioning system, then you have an opportunity. Because replacing your commercial air conditioning with a modern, more efficient, powerful and cost-effective system not only makes your commercial spaces more comfortable, but it will also help to lower your energy usage and bills.

If you need advice on your commercial air conditioning installation or would like to find out about upgrading to a new, more energy efficient system, call us or fill our contact form and we will get back to you as soon as we can.