R22 Refrigerant Replacement Amid 2020 Import and Production Ban

If your building contains air conditioning equipment installed more than 10 years ago, chances are it contains R22 (also know as FreonTM or HSCS-22), a commonly used refrigerant that was banned for import and production in Canada as of January 1, 2020.

R22 was introduced in the 1950’s and quickly became the standard for commercial and industrial air-conditioning units including:

  • Air handling units with remote AC
  • Rooftop units
  • Heat pumps
  • Computer and server room AC

While R22 was inexpensive to produce and favoured by most HVAC installers, scientific research conducted in the 1980’s identified it as one of many substances contributing to the depletion of the Earth’s ozone.

In 2010, Canada signed the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, which is an international treaty dedicated to restricting the use of substances that contribute to the depletion of the Earth’s ozone layer and global warming. Among these substances are hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which are key components of R22.

To fulfill its commitment to the Montreal Protocol, the Canadian government began phasing out R22. Most recently, the production and import of R22 for use in air conditioning and refrigeration systems was prohibited in Canada effective January 1, 2020. Recovered and recycled refrigerant that is locally sourced may still be used to service and repair existing systems.

So, how will the R22 phase out affect you?

If your system works well, you may continue to service and maintain it to minimize its impact on the environment. However, Canada’s scarcity approach to R22 refrigerant means that existing stock will still be available for sale but at ever-increasing prices due to the limited supply. No new R22 will be imported into Canada. Recycled R22 from decommissioned systems will also be available in limited quantifies at a higher cost.

Replacing your equipment may be a viable option if it is beyond its useful life, in poor condition, in a critical environment, or easy to access (to reduce labour cost associated with replacement). Although you can continue using your existing equipment, the cost of ongoing maintenance and repair in the event of a breakdown will subsequently rise. Consider replacing the equipment now for improved cost savings. Financing options and government incentive programs can alleviate the cost of the replacement.

Retrofitting equipment is another option that makes use of alternate refrigerants available for existing systems that were designed for R-22 including R407C and R422B. Modifications may be required and operating efficiency may be negatively impacted. Although retrofitting a system is uncommon, the cost of retrofitting may be justified based on site specific characteristics.

In any scenario, if your equipment contains R22, you have a decision to make that will impact the operating cost and impact on the environment in the long term.

Take the time to develop your plan for replacing R22-based equipment today.

Modern Niagara is a partner you can trust to replace your equipment.

As R22 supply becomes limited, commercial and industrial building operators across Canada are looking for cost-effective solutions that minimize impact to their daily operations.

We are actively working with clients to address R22 based equipment and can work with owners and operators to determine energy efficient solutions that meet operational needs.


Click here to contact our Energy Solutions team for more information!