A/C Replacement: Puron or Freon? (R-410a or R-22)?

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I've found some previous discussion on this issue on the net, but many of the threads on usenet are at least 2 years old, so I thought it might be worth openinng this topic up for debate again.
I live in the Washington DC area and it has come time to replace my 20 year old RUUD a/c unit. There are leaks in both coils and the compressor is going bad.
I've recieved estimates that range between $3,000 and $3,600 for a 3 ton unit from a number of contractors in the area. Most of them have recommended Bryant or Carrier units. My current concern is which refrigerant to use. The contractor that came in with the lowest bid recommended a Freon (R-22) unit. When discussing his choice, he stated that it was more expensive than R-22, that it had been something that was initially hyped but has lost market momentum, and that his techs didn't like working with Puron (R-410a) due to the high pressures and the number of problems they have seen with the new refrigerant. He also stated that chlorine free replacements for Freon were soon to be available.
Another one of the contractors had the opposite opinion, saying that Freon was a thing of the past and that there was no concern with the use of R-410a as a refrigerant -- all the kinks had been worked out, the pressures weren't anything worth worrying about and that it was the refrigerant of the future. If I was planning on staying in my house for only a few years, I might choose freon, but for the long term R-410a is the way to go.
To me it seems the epa is neutral on the whole thing: http://www.epa.gov/ozone/title6/phaseout/22phaseout.html
I guess my biggest concern is that the price of freon will skyrocket over the next few years. I'm planning on staying in this house for awhile, so I'd like to choose the system that will be the least expensive to maintain and operate over the long term. I'm not as concerned about the environmental impact of Freon because A/C is a closed system and a well maintained unit should leak nothing into the atmosphere (if I'm horribly wrong-minded here, I'd be interested to entertain opinions). I guess my second concern is whether the increase in efficiency of R-410a over R-22 is a big deal over the long term.
The only reason this is even a question for me at this point is I tend to be an early adopter and I have to feel pretty justified in not going with the latest and greatest. However, when homes are concerned, it's a tough call -- for example I have aluminum wiring in this house (not put in by me) and well, that 'technology' didn't turn out so hot.
So, any advice would be appreciated -- even if it's someone who's saying I have a R-410a unit and is has/hasn't worked well for me.
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I've been in the field, having got my EPA card in 1994, and done some refrigeration and AC work since then.
As you have noticed, the wild card is the government. The same govt which promises that R-22 will be around for the next 20 years is the same govt which promised that the Patriot Act would not be used against citizens. Like the school teacher in Buffalo NY who was charged with federal crimes cause he was studying some kind of fungus, and had a bunch of test tubes in his home.
There's a pretty good stock of R-22 out there. It is proven technology. The Fed didn't confiscate all the old freon when they passed the law, and not expected to this time.
I'd go with the R-22 system. It is proven, and works well.
--

Christopher A. Young
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Stormin Mormon wrote:

You're thinking of the "Lakawana Six" who all pled guilty to terrorism-related activities. Nothing to do with mushrooms. The Patriot Act is designed to be used against both citizens and non-citizens who conspire to commit mass murder.
There was an investigation into the hazmat stuff found in the basement of a Buffalo home where police were called to investigate a death. Owner said it was "art." No charges were filed
Story at: http://www.rtmark.com/CAEdefense/news-WKBW.html
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I've reposted the article. You can decide if it is the same case. I don't t hink it is.
--

Christopher A. Young
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On 7-Jun-2004, snipped-for-privacy@prodigy.net (Drew Farris) wrote:

But your existing system leaks! What makes you think your new one is going to be magically better? You say you'll only be in the house a few more years - how well will the next owner maintain the unit?
Some folks think that the ozone problem has been fixed. However, this past Saturday's UV levels were the highest I've ever heard in my area.
Do the right thing - go with the new stuff.
Mike
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If I do the right thing, will you pay for it?
(Drew Farris) wrote:

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S'matter - can't you take responsibility for your own actions?
Mike
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wrote:

On THAT note....what year is the vehicle you drive? If its newer than 93, why are you not screaming for that R134a thats as bad as R12 to be out of the system? Its far from perfect....particularly since there are new R12 and 134 repalcements that are better.....and safer....
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[original post is likely clipped to save bandwidth]
wrote:

That presumes real science to support the "new stuff". There are only models, little to no data.
A few years ago, my state (MA) mandated "cleaner" burning gasoline. Years later, ground water pollution from the new additives is alarming. So much for "Cleaner".
gerry
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That's what a lot of folks said about the old stuff, but there's a big hole in the ozone layer and it isn't going away.
Internationally, the US is famous for not going along with environmental issues. The US signed onto CFC and HCFC elimination. If that doesn't tell you this thing is real, I don't know what will.
Mike
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wrote:

http://www.cnn.com/2002/TECH/space/09/30/ozone.holes /
smallest in years...and then...
http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap031006.html
Must be all those AC units at the pole....

And the US went into Iraq cause they had WMDs and man..I tell you...if that doesnt tell you that they knew what they were doing...I dont know what will....

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[original post is likely clipped to save bandwidth]
wrote:

Except the "models" predicted chlorine as a 1000 year problem, yet the ozone hole size has varied significantly in just a few years, including decreases.

What do these statements have to do with the US? Some data might go a long way in convincing the hold outs. Particularly when known data doesn't support the claimed model.
REAL DATA please?
gerry
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Radio guys out of Rochester NY says there is an "ozone alert" very high ozone today. Get the old stuff, we need the help here.
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Christopher A. Young
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wrote in message

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R-22 ("Freon") will be around for 20 more years. Yes, there is a cap on the manufacture of new R-22 and that cap will get smaller (I think there was a 35% reduction as on Jan 1, 2004).
In my house, I will not use R-410a. I don't care for it and I feel there will be a better solution before R-22 is completely gone.
FWIW, my Dad had central AC installed in the house I grew up in back in 1969. When he sold the house in 1987, he never had to add any refrigerant and the only work done to that system was a condenser fan motor I installed in 1986. I've never had to add any refrigerant to the system in my house either.

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Wow...it was time a couple of years ago..:)

Cheaper Carrier units...not bad in their own right.

First, low bid is NOT always the way to go. We have a saying in the trade, you can pay me now, or you can pay me later, but its up to you when you want to pay. R-22 is a proven performer. There is ALREADY a replacement for R22, and more on the way. With things as they are now, I dont expect R410 to be around long, and if it is, there will be another one to replace it, since it is far from perfect.
The BIGGEST problem with R410, is not so much the refrigerant...I mean...so WHAT a couple of jugs of the stuff have exploded in vans in AZ and CA....the way around that is to carry it around in a 5 gallon bucket of water when its in the service trucks...its the OIL. it is hydroscopic, and EVERY make of unit states clearly that the unit can NOT be open to the atmosphere for more than 30 minutes. Period. Sometimes it will take longer than that to work on the unit when its broken, and it WILL break. Techs have to be more careful than ever, since the oil absorbs moisture so fast, that when you are changing hoses, if you get a little spray on your skin, it will be cracked and blistered in the morning, unlike R22 and the oils used with it.
BTW...we dont call it Freon either, unless we are talking about R12.....even thou, DuPont is the ONLY company that legally can call any refrigerant they make Freon, as its a trademark of DuPont.. Just info there..

FAR from it.
Carrier did this back a few years ago...they said the SAME things about R500. It was the NEXT BIG THING......ask them about that, and look at the backpedal that you get.

For the next few years, its the optional refrigerant. There are more that will be tested, and proven, and the government will allow that to come in as well, as they have NU22 and I expect that NU22 machines may well be on the way..might be wrong...but it seems foolish to bank in a refrigerant that will run over 850PSI, compared to 250.....

Lets see......you got 20 years out of your old unit...you wont get that out of the new one, from anyone. Redundancy and failure is, I hate to say it, built into the units. R22 wont be gone for...wow..almost that long, and I can tell you this...the prices on teh new 410 units are stupid. I mean flat out dumb. What I can pay say...$600 for wholesale, the new units are over $1 500. Not to mention the retrofit work of new linesets, and such that go along with this.
I have R22 in my home. Its a new unit, and I work on them for a living....hummmmm,......if 410 was the save all its claimed to be, dont you think that I would have it in my home, since as a dealer I can get any unit I want for next to nothing for personal use? Installing another unit upstairs finally....its going to be a R22 unit as well...
Do I like 410 units? Sure..they are GREAT profit machines, and repairs are almost always more than a R22...and no....warranty isnt going to pay for everything that breaks..

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want
more
it
mean...so
CA....the
its
http://www.dupont.com/suva/na/usa/about/r410safety.html
...its the OIL. it is hydroscopic, and EVERY make of

more
on
POE oil has been used for years in many applications. You will find that if you use applicable workmanship standards when opening the system, there will be no problems.
http://www.dupont.com/suva/na/usa/ashrae2003/alternatives/410a/410a_POE.html

I guess I don't have sensitive skin. I've had it on my hands and never experienced this, it just made my hand oily until I wiped it off. :-/

R12.....even
they
Or R-22, or R-114, or R-500, or R-502. DuPont sells/sold all these refrigerants under the Freon family. Just info... The Freon thing gets on my nerves too!

Yep, they screwed that one up. I believe there's a few more manufacturers on board with this one as well as a few more years of research than last go around. :-)

as
850? Apples to apples - At 250psi, R-22 is condensing at about 118 deg F, that transposes to about 400psi for the R-410a.

out
flat
$1
While I don't see the extreme swing in wholesale prices from R-22 high-efficiency to a R-410a unit of equal efficiency, I agree that the difference is a bit wide.

you
unit
To each his own. I'm using the Puron in the new home I'm building since I can get it next to nothing for personal use as well. :-) I don't necessarily like it or dislike it but I must say that the arguments against it are the same ones used when R-22 was introduced. Look at the pressure differences between R-12 and R-22. :-)

I would expect this to change when R-22 prices increase. It is quite a few years until that happens, longer than the lifespan of equipment installed today even. Who knows.
- Robert

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trade,
f
perfect.
Ever been in Southern CA? :) Park your van on a hot day, and you might reach over the safe limit there...:)

if
will
http://www.dupont.com/suva/na/usa/ashrae2003/alternatives/410a/410a_POE.html
Sure has been, but we are talking about the AVERAGE tech....I went to a dealer meeting the other week, and the #1 thing that amazed me, was how many OWNERS didnt have a training program in place to reinforce the basics..

so
your
the
Screws me up..this was talked about with several others in the past...must be a personal thing...really.

Nah..its not as bad as...
Can ye come over and put some of dat Freezone stuff in ma AC?????

the
go
Yup, but I think as well, that there are more looking into R22 replacements other than 410.

that
in
the
Figure a clogged coil...OK..I should have made that clear, since otherwise, now looking back it looks like a scare technique. Wasnt the plan...and I still would not want to be near one if the old lineset was reused, and was weak to start with...

it,
I
over
as
against
Same...maybe, but one thing I do need to add is that the lack of training in the industry right now, when we are so close to a major ban, and the industry as a whole is embracing, altho reluctantly, the 410, is scary. Wait till the units start to fail in 5 more years...

are
w
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many
20
stated
that
and
be
you
and
i
when
reach
Nah, I'm scared of California. I don't wanna stand past that big crack in the earth. ;-)

for
work
that
http://www.dupont.com/suva/na/usa/ashrae2003/alternatives/410a/410a_POE.html
basics..
Yep - Absolutely scary how many Dave's last in the biz for more than a week...

moisture
It must know you don't like it!

on
And people wonder why we drink, smoke, and curse.....

about
manufacturers
replacements
Yep, I'm reserving judgement until the dust settles, but I have had good results with 410 thus far.

that
F,
otherwise,
Back to the good practices thing, I know they will be used - but it might clean up the trade a bit and get rid of the hacks after the first round of lawsuits. :-D

that
and
go
dont
I
pressure
in
Wait
The mother ship that introduced Puron, hehe, has had units running since '96. I know that's not factoring in the hack anomoly but it can be successful if installed properly. See above comment about industry purge.....
Bottom line, I'm not for or against it - I'm installing Puron units with great efficiency ratings and great warranties. I think the price gap will drop as time goes on and whatever the industry settles on will be my wagon to ride.....
- Robert

for
fe
installed
the
long
tend
concerned,
house
hot.
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R410? I see it as a poor choice rushed to market for all the wrong reasons. Oh well we all know the engineers and marketing dept know best (-:
As to the pressures well someone's going to lose an eye. As to the POE......yeah that's just brilliant.
410 sucks.

mean...so
CA....the
its
more
on
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