A Strange Silence on Dry-Ship R-22 Air Conditioners
Dry-ship R-22 air conditioners and heat pumps - A term that was new to me 10 days ago. It's a pretty big story but even the New York Times doesn't know about it yet. They just published an article about the smuggling of R-22 refrigerant, the HCFC replacement for the CFCs of the pre-Montreal Protocol days. They glossed over the dry-ship R-22 story and seem not to have grasped it completely.
Here's what they said:
Under an international treaty, the gas, HCFC-22, has been phased out of new equipment in the industrialized world because it damages the earth’s ozone layer and contributes to global warming.
Although it has been illegal to sell new air-conditioners containing HCFC-22 in the United States since 2010, vast quantities of the gas are still needed to service old machines.
The closest they came was this statement:
Many air-conditioning manufacturers have even figured out how to sidestep the 2010 ban on selling new machines containing HCFC-22, by offering unfilled air-conditioning compressors that service workers swap into existing units and then fill with the gas, creating refurbished machines that are as good as new.
It seems they don't grasp the significance of those replacement components. Brand new air conditioners and heat pumps are still being manufactured, sold, and installed here in the US solely because of the EPA's loophole...and the EPA's refusal to close it. It's mostly done when changing out equipment in existing homes, and I haven't found evidence of it happening in new homes yet.
I posted my article at Green Building Advisor this past week, and the only comment it got was from my fellow Advisor, Martin Holladay. Lloyd Alter published an article about dry-ship R-22 air conditioners at Treehugger, and it also got no comments. I'm wondering if readers just don't see this as the same kind of big deal that I do.
This morning, one of our readers forwarded me an email ad he'd gotten from an HVAC dealer. The photo above is part of it, showing the 'R22 Dry Air Conditioners' (emphasis added) they're selling, along with the 'R410A Air Conditioners.' Without the EPA's loophole, that ad wouldn't include R-22 air conditioners and heat pumps. Notice that the R410A air conditioners aren't 'dry.'
Yes, this is really happening! Here's the section advertising 'R22 Dry Heat Pumps.'
So, again let me advise you to be careful when buying a new air conditioner or heat pump. This may be the cheaper alternative right now, but it will get very expensive as we get closer to 2020, the year that production of R-22 is supposed to end.
HVAC Secret: An Air Conditioner Loophole the Size of the Ozone Hole
The Science Behind the Phase-Out of R-22 Air Conditioner Refrigerant
Air Conditioner Vendors Keep Selling "Banned" R-22 Based Equipment, Driving Through Loophole the Size of the Ozone Hole by Lloyd Alter at Treehugger