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R22: Is it Really the King of Refrigerants?

R22: Is it Really the King of Refrigerants?

R22: Is it Really the King of Refrigerants?

The vast majority of American homes with HVAC systems use R22 refrigerant in the coolant system. Historically, this coolant has been regarded as the most effective and the best overall value, contributing to its widespread use. Plenty of HVAC technicians still highly praise this refrigerant and use it in all their work. However, is R22 really everything it’s claimed to be?

A growing number of HVAC technicians and industry experts are beginning to turn to alternatives to the R22 refrigerant. Whether they cite environmental concerns, chemical differences, or any of a number of other reasons, it’s worth looking closer at their questions about this so-called king of refrigerants.

R22 coolant may not deserve all the praise it gets from the HVAC industry. Take a closer look and learn the facts about this chemical here. Click To Tweet

Environmental Concerns

Almost since the invention of home air conditioning, R22 has been the nearly-exclusive refrigerant most people used. If not for its environmental dangers, it would probably still hold that title. The ingredients in R22 are known to damage the ozone layer and contribute to greenhouse gases. Even after the problem was discovered and a solution agreed upon, the deadline for a resolution has only recently begun to loom and prompt quick action.

Alternatives to R22

The puron refrigerant R410A, which was significantly safer for the environment, slowly began to gain prominence with time. Reluctant technicians stayed away from R410A at first, citing a host of reasons it didn’t work. Others pointed out that because of their different chemical compositions, R410A produced higher pressure than R22, making the compressors work harder in an HVAC system. R410A also contains caustic POE oils instead of the much safer mineral oil used in R22.

As the deadline approached, many manufacturers had to stop producing machines designed to use R22. Consequently, more and more technicians sought out alternatives such as R410A. However, many continued to cite bad results and blamed the new refrigerant rather than a lack of effort to change. Many still tried to purchase R22 for their work, causing the price to skyrocket from $50/jug to more than $900.

What This Means for Your HVAC Career

Chemists had developed a host of alternatives that could be used in R22 units, including several refrigerants with a near-perfect match on performance and pressure. Today, there are at least 10 refrigerants available that either match or outperform R22 in its refrigerant properties.421A in particular shows great promise. Why spend hundreds of dollars on an environmentally unsafe compound when you can save money and the earth through buying an alternative refrigerant?

Of course, many of your clients will still have older machines that use the original types of refrigerants or an alternative to R22 that you may not have heard of. Before you buy any new refrigerant for a client or suggest a top-off of what they have, make sure you know exactly what type they’re currently using. Putting in the wrong compound could damage their HVAC unit and cause terrible warranty problems for you as the contractor.

Pro Tip: Different units will use different types of refrigerants. Make sure to educate yourself on the most common types and their pros and cons so you can help your customers make an informed decision.

Finding the Right Refrigerant for the Job

The modern world changes rapidly, and the HVAC industry is no exception. Refrigerants will come and go as more cost-effective and environmentally friendly options are developed. Always be willing to compare your old favorites to new products. You may be surprised to see that what was once the gold standard now takes a backseat to a new arrival, much like the R22 refrigerant is phasing out of the industry.

Connect with us to learn more about different HVAC refrigerants and how to best use (or avoid) them in your career.

Ongoing Education: Never Stop Learning

Ongoing Education: Never Stop Learning

Regardless of your career choice, you can’t afford to stop learning. This is especially true for HVAC contractors. While this may sound like a no-brainer, the fact that countless American homes have an incorrectly installed AC unit shows that plenty of HVAC contractors don’t see the need to continue improving their work.

With the introduction of such features as thermostats and electronic circuit cards to AC systems, the need for continuous HVAC training became more pronounced. Since electronics change much more rapidly and readily than less advanced hardware, it’s absolutely essential to know how to keep up with these updates and learn how to use this new form of equipment. Unfortunately, not enough contractors see the need to keep learning once their classes are over. Let’s take a look at why continuous learning is relevant to your HVAC career.

Are you prepared to continue learning throughout your new HVAC career? Here’s why ongoing self-education is so important. Click To Tweet

Teach Yourself Through Available Resources

You will run into veteran technicians out in the field that think they know it all and basically quit learning new stuff years ago. This is a poor approach to any career. Unfortunately, these guys frequently get senior positions and talk with authority. If you get stuck with one of these types and can’t get away from his influence, quit that job and go seek another one.

This need to learn constantly is a good thing since it keeps us in learning and research mode, which makes staying current even easier.  There’s no shame in just taking to the internet to search for an AC-related question or advice. Years ago, HVAC technicians relied heavily on books and factory tech support. Now, with smartphones and the internet, you literally have a world of information at your fingertips. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of it?

Continuing Education is Often Legally Required

If your goal is to open your own HVAC business, almost every licensing jurisdiction requires continuing education of 8 hours per year as a minimum standard. By keeping up with this requirement, HVAC contractors can continue improving their work, keep their licenses current, and stay up-to-date on every update to the industry. Whether you have a license or not, get in the habit of learning everything you can as often as you can about the HVAC industry.

Pro Tip: When it comes to the HVAC industry, never stop learning! There’s always something new to teach yourself or a positive change you can make.

Don’t Just be a Tourist

If your ultimate goal is to work your way to your own HVAC business or just use your newfound skills to support yourself, don’t allow it to become just a job. Don’t be a casual tourist of anything that is important to you. Your HVAC business can support you and your family for a long time to come. Do yourself a favor and stay informed to remain competitive in this growing industry.

Keep Teaching Yourself

Like any other career field in the modern world, HVAC recommendations and work change very frequently and with little warning. If you fail to keep yourself updated and educated on how to handle these new changes, your career will be rather short-lived. Keep your career on track and your customers happy by educating yourself on any topic relevant to the HVAC field. Never stop learning!

Join the conversation for more ways to continue educating yourself through your HVAC career.