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What is R22 Refrigerant?: Phase Out, Alternatives & More

What is R22 Refrigerant?

R22 refrigerant is a colorless gas known chemically as hydrochlorofluorocarbon 22 (HCFC-22) and is one of several refrigerants that goes by the brand name “Freon.” It's used in a wide variety of applications, including central HVAC, commercial refrigeration equipment and automotive AC systems.

R22 has an 1,810, (GWP) rating, which measures how much heat a greenhouse gas is trapped within the atmosphere versus the amount of heat that's trapped by carbon dioxide (CO2). In this instance, R22 has almost 2,000 times the strength of CO2, meaning a full pound of R22 is nearly equivalent to a ton of CO2.

Phasing Out R22 Refrigerant

Many countries like Canada and the United States are slowly phasing out refrigerants with GWP ratings, including R22.  As of January 1, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the production or importing of R22 refrigerant. While it can still be used in existing equipment manufactured or repaired prior to the ban, retrofitting items in the next year or two could be beneficial to both equipment operators and service companies. As with most obsolete items, parts of the R22 system and service equipment will be limited and more expensive.

R22 Refrigerant Alternatives

As more equipment gets retrofitted or replaced, you need to know which new refrigerants are alternatives for R22. Below are some of the popular ones on the market:

  • R404A – A non-ozone depleting hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerant blend used in many commercial refrigerators, freezers, ice machines and other cold-side equipment.
  • R410A – A non-ozone depleting HFC refrigerant blend used in many central air conditioners and HVAC solutions. According to the EPA, it's “the most common alternative” to R22 for air conditioners.
  • R407C – A non-azeotropic, non-ozone depleting refrigerant blend made of R32, R-25 and R134a refrigerants. It's used in both air conditioners and chiller equipment.
  • R422D – A non-ozone depleting HFC refrigerant blend used in both air conditioning systems and refrigeration equipment.