When it comes to central air conditioning, there are lot of letters and numbers floating around. R22…R410a…what does it all mean to you as a homeowner? When it comes time for an AC recharge, do you go ahead and do it, or is it time to consider replacing your system? Pondering this question can be downright…chilling. We’d like to answer some of the more common questions about the refrigerant mystery.
What Is An AC Recharge?
Central air conditioning works by running a refrigerant through copper tubing between an evaporator coil, condenser, and compressor. As the refrigerant moves through the evaporator coil, it absorbs heat from the warm air moving across the coil. The refrigerant then moves to the outside condenser and compressor, where the heat is dissipated. An AC recharge is needed when the level of refrigerant becomes too low for the system to work properly. Needing an AC recharge is an indicator of potential problems, as air conditioners are sealed systems and low refrigerant levels hints at a leak somewhere in that system.
R22 versus R410a: Recharge or Replace?
R22, more commonly known as Freon, has for years been the refrigerant used in most air conditioners. Since 1992, the government has been shifting away from its use. R410a, commonly known as Puron, is the replacement. All newly manufactured air conditioners are made to use R410a. In fact, R22 will no longer be commercially available by 2020. The limited production has made R22 hard to come by, and more expensive than R410a. R22 is also less efficient, and more harmful to the environment than R410a. If your air conditioning system uses R22 and is in need of a recharge, it may be time to consider a new system. At the time of writing, R22 can cost anywhere between $100 and $200 per pound. With the average air conditioner using 5 to 11 pounds of Freon, this can lead to a costly AC recharge. A good rule of thumb is to multiply the cost of a recharge or repair by the age of the unit. If the result is more than 5000, that’s a good indicator that it’s time for a new air conditioner. For example, if the AC recharge uses 5 pounds of R22 at $125 per pound, the cost of the refrigerant alone would be $625. If your performing this service on a 12 year old air conditioner, multiply $625 x 12, and you get a figure of 7,500. Time to think about a new AC installation.
Fix It Or Replace It?
What type of repair is needed? A new evaporator coil? A new condenser? The higher the cost of the repair, the more you should consider a new air conditioner installation. Couple this with a unit that uses R22, and the answer becomes apparent.
Another thing to consider is the efficiency of your existing unit. The Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute uses a rating known as SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio to measure the cooling efficiency of air conditioners. The SEER rating indicates the ratio of cooling in BTU’s to the energy consumed in watt-hours. The higher the rating, the more efficient your air conditioner is. An air conditioner with a higher SEER rating could save you a lot of money on your electric bill. The example below shows how upgrading from an existing unit with a SEER of 10 to a high efficiency unit with a SEER of 14.5 can save you up to $1300 per year. Broken down over 12 months you could save $108 a month. With financing as low as $59 a month, a new air conditioner could be a sound investment!
If you have questions about your central air conditioning system, or would like to schedule an estimate for a new central AC, please call us at 856-786-0707 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Not only can we keep you warm in the winter, we can keep you cool in the summer.