R22 Outdoor Unit Replacement Decision

Recently, we have received a few questions about the advantages and disadvantages of replacing an older R-22 outdoor unit (partial replacement) versus replacing the whole system (indoor and outdoor components).  Since R-22 refrigerant and related equipment is being phased out over the next few years as part of the Montreal Protocol regulations to reduce the effect on atmospheric ozone, the decision about whether to stay with R-22 or jump to a new system with R410A is causing some confusion among HVAC consumers.  This is becoming a very common situation and there is really no right or wrong answer as it depends on your particular needs and your personal preferences.  We’ve compiled a few considerations and suggestions for reference.

Replacing an R-22 compressor or the outdoor unit (which contains the compressor) is a good, low cost way to get your A/C  system running again without changing the indoor system (which contains the cooling coil, the blower and often is integrated with a gas furnace or other heating system).  This approach can save some money,  if the indoor components are still in good shape and you can find the R-22 outdoor replacement parts along with the R-22 refrigerant. Many people have decided to do this and many contractors support this approach.  We think this repair will continue to be a viable, low cost repair option, at least through 2016 and maybe longer – as long as parts are available.

Some other low cost replacement options should be emerging even after the R-22 availability dwindles.  Many R-22 indoor coils built since 2006 were designed to be compatible with R-410A, which means a homeowner can keep the indoor equipment but upgrade to a newer outdoor unit and metering device. There are some extra parts and steps involved but it should still be lower cost than a total system replacement. Unfortunately, just like with the R-22 outdoor replacement option mentioned above, the overall efficiency of the system typically will not improve when only the outdoor equipment is replaced.

For people who are willing to pay a little more, some new, high efficiency retrofits are becoming available in the market.  These should help satisfy homeowners who want the low cost replacement but would also like to reduce their energy bills or address some comfort issues like humidity control, nighttime temperature swings or sound and air quality.

Please share any additional questions you have in the comments section below.

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47 thoughts on “R22 Outdoor Unit Replacement Decision

  1. I have a Heil Model No. nac030akc3 that looks like is going to need a new compressor. Does anybody know where I can find one? I’ve checked places like ebay and amazon and other sites and it doesn’t seem like they are selling them

    • We recommend contacting a licensed contractor for compressor replacements. You should be able to find one in your area at https://www.heil-hvac.com/en/us/find-a-dealer/

  2. I have a Carrier air handler, model number FB4BNF018. This unit currently uses R22 refrigerant. Is there any way to determine if this unit is compatible with R410A?

    Thank you for any help that you might be able to provide.

    • The evaporator coil may or may not be approved with R410A, however, the expansion device would need to be replaced. It is recommended to contact an authorized dealer/contractor of the air handler manufacturer to determine compatibility.

  3. I have read your comments about the newer indoor coils being designed to be compatable with R410A. How do I know if mine is compatable?

    Thank you for your help.

    Lori

  4. I have a 4 ton Trane A/C,Heat unit. There is a leak around the fitting going into the compressor. Can the compressor be repaired with a new fitting that has rusted over the years. The unit is 16 yrs old and I use the R22 Freon. My A/C company that I use has quoted a price for a new compressor , and a new indoor/outdoor Lennox unit. Need help deciding .

  5. I have a 3 ton R22 unit thats not working. My neighbor just replaced his units and said I could have the old units but its a 4 ton R@@. will this work to replace my 3 ton?? will I need to change anything else to accommodate this??
    Thx

  6. I have a split system Trane ZR34K3-PFV-306 with a failed compressor. After receiving quotes for the system replacement decided to just do the compressor.

    This Trane unit was manufactured by Emerson, Coleman Division.

    I can understand the nomenclature, except the -306. The equivalent units all seem to be -800. In terms of configuration the trane unit has brazed connections and the coleman replacement has quick disconnects. I have an HVAC guy, but he does not want to investigate the coleman numbers. It appears the Trane is about 60% higher. I can buy the coleman on amamzon with free shippling. comments??

  7. Frank,
    I have an older Trane unit. The compressor just went out. Can I replace it with a universal drop in replacement compressor? It uses the old R22. I was hoping to get just a couple more years before I purchase a new system.

  8. I just had a contractor recharge my 5 ton, 18 yr old Comfort 10 central AC with R407C refrigerant. It had a slow leak. He removed the R22, injected and removed nitrogen, then added R407C and ‘Super Seal’ to close the leak. The original oil remained in the unit. Will this be a problem using the same oil for R22 and R407C? I read where it is. What will happen?

    • Hi Jim,
      The oil needs to be changed when going from R-22 to r-407C. The oils area different and not interchangeable. You can contact the manufacturer of your equipment to confirm what sort of problems you might have if the oil was not changed and what to do next.

  9. I have a 24 year old Rudd system with two outdoor condenser units in Las Vegas on a two story 3K square foot two story house. System works fine, but I need to relocate the condenser units about 30 feet to add side yard clearance for storage. Given the brand and age, should I buy a whole new HVAC system, or just relocate the existing?

    (I’m posting this for a friend who does not have Internet).

    • This would be a personal decision. As you read through the other post comments you will notice that the average life of AC systems in the U.S. is 14-16 years. While your system is above that average it would be difficult to estimate how much life it has left, and how much moving may affect it. There have been many advancements in AC systems during the last 20+ years that should be considered. These include performance, efficiency (including operating costs) and comfort. While we cannot comment on specific brands we would recommend obtaining at least 2-3 quotes from a few different contractors to get competitive prices and also to get different opinions on the installation project, equipment sizing, types and efficiency levels. The ACCA – which is a national contractor organization has a locator tool which may also help you find a qualified contractor in your area. http://www.acca.org/locator

  10. Can a 5 Ton, R22 Condenser be replaced with a ‘Dry-Shipped’ condenser R22 and use a Drop-In’ refrigerant, such as RS44b,etc? Would the SEER or EER of the unit be lowered?

    • It has been a fairly common practice to replace R22 outdoor units with units that do not have a refrigerant charge (dry charge units) and then recharge it with new or reclaimed R22 refrigerant, or an alternative like R407C. There are no ‘drop in’ refrigerants that would exactly match R22 performance so if an alternative refrigerant is selected the SEER would not likely equal that of the original matched system.

      • How about RS-44b Refrigerant as R22 Replacement

        RS-44b (R453a) is the newest R22 drop-in replacement refrigerant in the U.S. market. RS-44b has been sold worldwide for the past 5 years,. It is the closest replacement to R22 that operates with very similar discharge pressure, cooling capacity and flow rate as R22. It requires no oil or system component changes and has the lowest GWP of any HFC R22 replacement.
        RS-44b advantages are:
        • RS-44b has the same flow rate as R22
        • RS-44b operates at a similar discharge pressure as R22 and lower pressure than R407A & C, R422B & D, R417a and R427A.
        • RS-44b has the benefit of lower energy consumption;
        • RS-44b operates at near cooling capacity of R22 in both A/C and Refrigeration applications down to -20⁰F evap. temp
        • RS-44b is the lowest GWP HFC R22 replacement on the market at 1664 TAR and is Zero Ozone Depleting.
        • If a service technician inadvertantly mixes RS-44b with R22 there will be no harm to the system components or system efficiency. We know this to be true because in Europe, where there are no regulations against mixing refrigerants, our European sister company has tracked these developments. In the USA, the EPA does not permit or condone the intentional mixing of refrigerants.
        • RS-44b is good for cap tube and TXV systems. It has been operating in all types of systems with all types of compressors worldwide since 2013.
        • RS-44 is produced in Texas, the UK and Spain.
        • RS-44b requires no oil or system component changes

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