On January 1, 2020, it will no longer be legal to produce or import virgin R-22 in the U.S

Excerpted from originally from The NEWS

As of January 1, 2020, it will no longer be legal to produce or import virgin R-22 in the U.S., but that does not mean the refrigerant will be unavailable, unaffordable, or illegal to use. It just means that after that date, contractors who service R-22 systems will have to rely on existing stocks of virgin refrigerant or else use reclaimed refrigerant, both of which should be readily available (and affordable) for a long time, according to industry experts.

READILY AVAILABLE

As far as availability is concerned, Glenn Haun, sales director at Arkema Inc., noted that the company will be able to supply virgin R-22 to its customers across the U.S. well beyond the December 31, 2019, phaseout date. And so far, the price has remained relatively stable.

“The supply of virgin R-22 is most impacted by overall demand and the market price,” he said. “Based on our market analysis, we don’t foresee anything that would quickly deplete the overall stockpile. In the last five years, we saw a rapid increase in pricing for R-22 through 2017, but since then, the price has dramatically decreased. It has been relatively flat throughout 2019.”

While the size of virgin refrigerant stockpiles is relatively unknown, Jay Kestenbaum, senior vice president of sales and purchasing at Aspen Refrigerants, does not expect to see any shortages of R-22. That’s because he said the industry has planned for the end of production for many years, and there are numerous supply channels that are prepared to support the market for years to come.

One thing contractors should understand is that there is no difference in quality when purchasing reclaimed materials, as both reclaimed and virgin products are required to meet the same AHRI Standard 700 specifications concerning refrigerant quality, said Taylor Ferranti, vice president of refrigerants at A-Gas. That said, he noted that both products are readily available in the U.S.

“I believe there will be virgin R-22 for years to come,” he said. “Will virgin be the majority of the pounds sold in the future? No, I do not believe so. Each year, availability will tighten up, but I do not expect a geographic shortage of virgin or reclaimed R-22. However, the only way to ensure R-22 supply is for the industry to increase recovery and reclamation efforts.

SCARE TACTICS

Those facts have not stopped some contractors from trying to convince their customers that they need to replace their R-22 systems, even though they may be working just fine. In fact, some are advertising that the use of R-22 will be illegal — or prohibitively expensive — after this year, so homeowners need to buy an R-410A system now before that happens. Not helping the situation are local newspapers that are publishing articles containing misinformation, such as “if your unit breaks down or runs out of refrigerant after January 1, you can expect to spend a good chunk of change, as new R-22 will be illegal to obtain,” or “[homeowners should] bite the bullet and get a whole new system, which could set you back anywhere from $8,000 to $12,000.”

Scaring consumers into buying a new cooling system is not helpful for the HVACR industry, particularly when most contractors work hard to establish their reputations as being honest and trustworthy. That’s why technicians at Yaeger Services spends a lot of time debunking the myths.

About 50 percent of customers at Yaeger Services Inc. in Orange, California, still use R-22, and owner Curt Yaeger expects some of these units will still be operational 20 or 30 years from now.

“We are still replacing systems that are 40-plus years old, and some are still running,” he said. “Most folks will not change out equipment until it fails and/or the cost of repair is not justifiable.”

“So far, the local supply houses here in Southern California are not interested in carrying the reclaimed refrigerant,” he said. “Time will tell when the virgin runs out.”

Ultimately, the whole industry is interested in seeing what will happen when virgin R-22 is no longer available. Given the existing stockpiles, coupled with the availability of reclaimed and substitute refrigerants, no one should be worried about shortages anytime soon.

Read more of the original articles here: https://www.achrnews.com/articles/142323-on-eve-of-phaseout-virgin-and-reclaimed-r-22-readily-available?id=142323-on-eve-of-phaseout-virgin-and-reclaimed-r-22-readily-available&oly_enc_id=0762G1000534E0E

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