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Shopping For A Used Air Conditioner? You Should Be Aware Of The Switch Away From R-22

If you're in the market for a used air conditioner, you've probably already taken a lot of steps to make a wise purchase. You've probably measured your window so you know what size you need, worked out how many BTUs you'll need to cool your home, and brushed up on your understanding of SEER ratings so you know what to expect in terms of energy efficiency. Have you thought about the type of refrigerant your new-to-you unit should have, though?


R-22 was once the most commonly used type of refrigerant in air conditioners. It is a chemically manufactured, non-toxic, non-flammable halo-carbon compound, and it does a pretty good job of cooling off any small to medium-sized residential home when used in an air conditioner.

Unfortunately, when R-22 is processed as a refrigerant, it releases a greenhouse gas that contributes to ozone depletion. 

In 1992, under an international agreement, developed countries began a program to completely phase out the use of R-22 as a refrigerant in both commercial and residential cooling units. 

Dry Charge Units

This phaseout is expected to be complete in 2020, at which point, no air conditioner manufacturers will be permitted to sell air conditioning units that use R-22 as a refrigerant. 

In response to these coming changes, some air conditioner manufacturers have begun to offer dry charge units. These dry charge units run on R-22, but are sold without the actual refrigerant inside. They're cheaper than units that run on R-410 (the new, better for the environment refrigerant), but you need to get them home, find some R-22, and fill them up with it yourself.

The problem is that, under the International agreement to phaseout R-22, no chemical manufacturer is allowed to create the refrigerant. If you purchase a used dry charge air conditioner and it either doesn't already have R-22 in it or it needs it's R-22 replaced, you're going to have a bad time.

You may be able to still find R-22 to replace the refrigerant in older machines, but the chemical will be hard to come by as it must be reclaimed and recycled from old machines.


When shopping for a used air conditioner, your best bet is to look for a unit that uses R-410 as a refrigerant. This refrigerant is a hydro-fluorocarbon and has been approved as the new standard in air conditioner refrigerants. It is completely safe for the environment and readily available through most refrigerant distributors. 

You may be wondering whether you can just purchase a dry charge unit or a unit that runs on R-22 and fill it with R-410. No, you cannot. R-410 discharges at a much higher pressure than R-22 so your unit needs to be built to handle this higher pressure. 

Besides being more readily available, R-410 offers a lot of other benefits. It absorbs heat better than R-22 so any unit that uses it as a refrigerant will stay cooler, work less hard, and have an overall longer lifespan than a unit that cools with R-22. Best of all, because units that cool with R-410 don't need to work as hard, they won't use as much energy and you'll save money on your utility bill!

When it comes to buying a used air conditioner from a company like Confort Expert, the type of refrigerant it uses could play a big role in how satisfied you are with your purchase down the road. Older model air conditioners cool your home with a refrigerant that is fast becoming obsolete. If you're looking for a used cooling unit that will be inexpensive to run and easy to maintain in the future, look for a unit that is new enough to use R-410 as its refrigerant.