A answer to this question will not fit every scenario but let’s break down some of the things that can be evaluated to answer it.
First of all R-22 units can still be bought in 2015 and it looks to stay that way.
There is a rumor that R-22 A/C systems can no longer be bought which isn’t true.
Units and parts are still sold even on Amazon.
Garrison GSC130241 2 Ton 24000 Btu 208/230V 15 Amp Gx Series 13 Seer R-22 Condensing Unit
The government did pass laws regarding selling units that Contain R-22.
Manufactures have found a way around this by shipping R-22 units with no R-22 refrigerant called Dry Nitrogen AC Units.
Units come sealed with nitrogen and R-22 must be added to a system after it is installed.
Here is a video explaining Dry Nitrogen AC Units.
Another myth is that R-22 can no longer be bought which is also wrong.
Amazon R-22 listing
R-22 Refrigerant 10 Lb Cylinder
R-22 can no longer be manufactured or imported but can be recycled for reuse from old refrigerant that is turned in.
R-22 does cost more than R-410A but is still readily available.
If you have an R-22 system than parts and refrigerant can still be bought as with any R-410A system.
Since 2010 It is illegal to sell an entire R-22 system but since the parts can be bought individually it can still be done.
Replacing Parts of A R-22 System
Part can still be bought for R-22 units.
If you have a bad compressor and need to replace the entire outside condensing unit than this can be done by ordering the right sized unit and having it replaced.
R-22 will have to be added to the system since R-22 units do not come filled with any refrigerant which adds to the cost.
Whether you should replace the entire system with R-410A system depends on how bad of shape your system is in.
If the inside A-coil is in bad shape than it will only add to another layer of cost.
R-22 A-coils can be bought and replaced if needed.
If the inside A-coil and other components are wore out than it may be simply time to upgrade the whole system to R-410A.
R-22 vs. R-410A
New R-410A units have better technology and are cheaper to run than the old R-22 units.
R-410A works at higher pressure so the compressors must be built better to withstand the stresses they are put through.
R-410A can also absorb and release more heat than R-22.
R-410A systems also use a synthetic oil while R-22 uses a mineral oil. Synthetic oil is more soluble than mineral oil which reduces wear on a compressor.
Anytime a expensive system needs to be fixed or replaced is always difficult since the best solution is never one-size-fits-all answer.
Whether a R-22 system should be replaced with a R-410A system will depend on the age, wear and tear the system has endured over the years.
Talking with a qualified HVAC technician is the best way to pick the right path by getting quotes and having your system examined.
There are many different scenarios that home owner face when looking to upgrade a old R-22 unit.
If you have a story or thoughts on the matter please share them below.
All information about R-22 air conditioning systems should always be verified with a qualified HVAC technician.