In a nutshell, refrigerant is the chemical substance we use to cool your house. Without it, there is no cooling. There have been hundreds of refrigerants developed over the years for various applications but R-22 or Freon has been the prevalent refrigerant for decades. “Freon” is actually the trade name for R-22, not other refrigerants but it seems everyone is calling all refrigerant Freon now(including the industry) so we will go with that.
In 1987, The United States and another 196 countries agreed that the ozone layer was thinning and we agreed to scale down the use of R-22 to eventually ZERO! For us here in the U.S. the allowable amount of R-22 imported or manufactured has been drastically cut down every year since 2010 and by, 2020 NONE will be imported or manufactured.
With more than half the homes out there still using R-22 over the last few years, the price of R-22 has gone way up and in more recent years, it hasn’t been uncommon to find parts distributors out of R-22 for periods of time. The industry, JARIC included had still been installing R-22 equipment as late as 2008 because that’s what the manufacturers were still making so there is still lots of equipment out here on R-22.
The industry has switched to the new, more environmentally friendly R410a refrigerant. The difference to the homeowner is really nothing but its about half the price of R-22. R410a is about half as dangerous to the environment as R-22. To the A/C technician, the pressures are about 60% higher and there are other issues that are particular to R410a, but I wont bore you!
What is going to happen in 2020 when there is no R-22? Well, fear not. There are other refrigerants available that are very close in behavior and pressures to R-22. There will be something and we can help you understand what is right for your situation and guide you through.