You never realize how much you appreciate your AC until you don’t have it. One of the most common problems with an AC unit is the need to recharge the refrigerant. AC recharge is only required if there is a leak. If the AC needs a recharge, the unit only blows warm air, but it will be a gradual change. By the time you notice there is a problem, your house is already hot. If the only problem is adding the refrigerant, the cost will be much lower.
The average cost to recharge the Freon in an AC unit ranges between $200 and $500, with most homeowners paying around $360 to recharge their 2.5 ton AC unit with R410A refrigerant and repair a minor leak. The cost to recharge an AC unit depends on the type of gas used and the number of pounds required. At the lowest, an AC unit recharge costs around $120 for a 2.5-ton unit recharge of R410A. At most, the cost will be $1,000 for a 2.5 ton-recharge of R410A and a major leak repair.
|Home AC Recharge Cost|
|National average cost||$360|
Three basic AC units are available for purchase: window, central AC system, and split AC system. The average cost of recharging a home AC unit after a leak ranges between $100 and $500, depending on the type of unit. AC unit refrigerant leaks are very common. However, the prices for a recharge vary depending on the type of unit you have. Because R22 refrigerant is banned for production and importation in the United States, it has become significantly more expensive to recharge R22 air conditioning units since 2020. Even AC units that do not take R22 Freon can be pricey because an HVAC recharge cost or heat pump 1 refrigerant charge cost can be inflated to cover various expenses. It pays to be aware of the current pricing for coolant so that you don’t end up paying much more than the market price.
|Type of Unit||Cost to Recharge|
|Window||$100 - $150|
|Mini Split AC system||$100 - $300|
|Central AC system||$200 - $500|
A window unit gets its name from being mounted in the window of your home. Recharging the Freon in this type of unit costs $100 to $150. These AC units are an inexpensive alternative to central and split systems but only cool one room at a time. Window AC units can be fitted to various windows, including double-hung, slider, and casement windows 2. Generally speaking, window AC units are a wise choice if you only have one or two rooms to cool.
A mini-split AC unit system is less expensive than a central air conditioner and has an advantage over a window unit as it heats and cools. The average cost of recharging the Freon in this style of unit is $100 to $300. Another advantage of using a mini-split AC unit is that the user controls the temperature in specific rooms instead of the entire house all at once. The split AC system uses R410A coolant unless it is an older unit. Older units use R22. However, this was discontinued in the United States in 2020.
Central AC is the most complicated system, but it is generally the most logical choice for homeowners. AC gas refilling costs run $80 to $140 per pound and about $200 to $500 for a whole unit to be recharged. It has many advantages, including cooling the entire house. Central AC units include an outdoor unit, evaporator coils, pipes or refrigeration lines, ducts, and an indoor thermostat 3 to set the desired temperature.
Today, most homeowners are likely familiar with Freon 4 (also known as R22), a colorless, non-combustible gas that acts as a refrigerant. Depending on the type of refrigerant you use, average prices can range from $3 to $20 per pound. Although Freon may have once been the most popular refrigerant on the market, many other coolants have taken its place in recent years. In 1992, the EPA determined that hydrochlorofluorocarbons were harmful to the environment and began a campaign to eliminate their use. Hydrochlorofluorocarbons are the chemicals contained in the Freon recharge home AC product. If your system was manufactured before 2010, it might be using R22 to cool. On January 1, 2020, all production and importation of R22 ceased in the United States. This doesn’t mean that homeowners with R22 AC units aren’t able to get the product anymore. However, R22 is more difficult to obtain and could be very expensive. Professionals can still use recycled R22, but the idea is to eventually phase it out entirely to curb the damage that R22 causes to the Earth’s ozone layer. Systems that use Freon are no longer being sold, but several Freon alternatives are available, specified in the table below.
|Refrigerant||Average Cost per Pound|
|R134A||$3 - $4|
|R407A||$3 - $6|
|R410A||$4 - $5|
|R404A||$4 - $6|
|R407C||$4 - $7|
|NU-22||$7 - $8|
|R22B||$7 - $8|
|R421A||$8 - $11|
|MO99||$10 - $11|
|RS44B||$11 - $13|
|R22 (Freon)||$13 - $20|
R134A is an R22 replacement coolant that is used for high-temperature refrigeration applications. The price per pound for R134 refrigerant ranges between $3 and $4. R134A has been implemented in a select few home AC unit applications. This refrigerant’s properties make it less likely to deplete the ozone and contribute to global warming like the traditional R22 refrigerant.
R407A is an environmentally-friendly alternative to R22 or classic Freon. The R407A price is generally between $3 and $6 per pound. R407A is a fitting choice for low-to-medium temperature refrigeration applications. R407A is a high-performing replacement for R22 and features a lower GWP (global warming potential) than R404A and R507. It can be used in old R22 equipment and more modern designs that were made to use R404A or R507. R404A equipment can even be converted to run on R407A.
Otherwise known as Puron, R410-A, is the most popular type of coolant. R410A price per pound, or Puron refrigerant cost per pound, ranges between $4 and $5. It is more environmentally friendly than R22 and does not damage the ozone layer. It is approved for residential AC use. Many new AC units are made to use R410A coolant. More and more AC units started using R410A instead of R22 starting in 2010.
The refrigerant R404A was successfully used to replace R502, another Freon that is damaging to the environment. The average R404A price per pound is between $4 and $6. That being said, R404A is less popular as it has a higher global warming potential than R410A, and it does not achieve very high energy efficiency. R404A works best for low to medium refrigeration applications. However, R404A is now prohibited in new equipment and significantly limited in aged applications due to its high GWP (global warming potential).
R407C is a non-ozone depleting refrigerant that contributes somewhat to global warming, even though it is still a preferable option to R22 coolant. On average, Refrigerant 407C price ranges between $4 and $7 per pound. R407A is a blend of three components: R32, R125, and R134A. It is well-adapted for air conditioning applications and medium-temperature range chiller equipment.
NU22 refrigerant is an ecologically friendly replacement for R22 Freon that does not require an oil replacement. The average cost of NU22 per pound is between $7 and $8. All R22 should be evacuated before adding the NU22 coolant. It is non-flammable, non-ozone depleting, and features the same operating pressures as the traditional R22 coolant.
Like many of the coolant options mentioned above, R422B refrigerant is an eco-friendly replacement for R22 coolant. The average R422B price is $7 to $8 per pound. It is approved for use in residential or commercial air conditioning systems and does not require a retrofit or oil replacement upon use. However, before using R422B coolant, AC units should be evacuated of R22 and recharged with R422B coolant.
Though several R22 refrigerant replacements are available on the market today, R421A stands out as a prime choice. Its two-component composition makes it the safest R22 replacement out there. The average price of R421A refrigerant is between $8 and $11 per pound. Because R421A coolant contains so few components, less fragmentation occurs at high temperatures, making for smoother operations. This drop-in replacement is easy to incorporate into a residential or commercial AC unit in just a few minutes.
MO99 Freon, also known as R438A, is an R22 replacement refrigerant that does not require homeowners to perform an oil change. The average cost of MO99 Freon per pound is between $10 and $11. Because R22 is now illegal to produce or import into the United States, homeowners need quality replacements that perform well long-term. MO99 Freon is one such option for residential and commercial air conditioning systems.
R427A coolant is a replacement for R22. The average cost of R427A coolant per pound is $10 to $11. It features very similar pressures and capacity as traditional R22 Freon, with even better efficiency than most R22 retrofits. R427A is well-suited to both commercial and residential AC units and other low-to-medium temperature applications. R427A became a popular replacement for R22 coolant systems starting in 2005 and continues to be a high-quality choice for various refrigerant needs.
RS44B is a drop-in replacement coolant for R22 after its 2020 ban in the United States. The average cost of RS44B per pound is between $11 and $13. RS44B’s discharge pressure, flow rate, and cooling capacity are very similar to R22. Like the MO99 Freon, RS44B does not require an oil change, and its GWP is the lowest of all R22 drop-in replacements.
Due to its high efficiency in residential and commercial spaces, R22 has been Americans’ go-to refrigerant for many years. It is now being replaced with several more eco-friendly coolants. The R22 cost per pound is currently between $13 and $20. However, R22 prices continue to fluctuate as supply dwindles and demand gradually slows. R22 is no longer the main coolant option in the United States because of its damaging effects on the environment and ozone layer. Starting January 1, 2020, the United States government banned the manufacturing and importing of R22. As a result, traditional Freon has been replaced by numerous alternatives that are not harmful to the environment but mimic the performance of R22.
Hourly rates for a professional AC technician are generally between $50 and $200 per hour. It is not uncommon for HVAC technicians to charge a minimum fee for any service (between $75 and $200, on average) applied to the first hour of service. If you have an older system and need R22 Freon 4, you will also be charged a recovery fee of $50 to $150. A professional must take care of the job because coolants are usually chemicals that should be handled with care. Coolants are poisonous to consume--both for humans and animals. Swallowing refrigerants can be a fatal mistake for adults, children, the family dog, and much more. Because coolant has a sweet taste, unsuspecting individuals might taste it. Consuming coolant can have many disastrous effects on the human body. For these reasons and more, entrust any HVAC service to the professionals rather than taking on unnecessary risk around your home.
Because Freon recovery is necessary whenever an AC unit is being disposed of or opened to undergo repairs, it is a fairly common service. The three main methods of refrigerant recovery are liquid refrigerant recovery, vapor refrigerant recovery, and push-pull refrigerant recovery. While slower than the liquid method, vapor recovery is the most common method. Laws concerning refrigerant recovery are becoming increasingly strict throughout North America to protect the environment. The average cost for Freon recovery is between $30 and $100. Safe Freon recovery helps uphold environmentally-friendly standards within the coolant industry, effectively limiting the risk of releasing coolant into the atmosphere during recovery, recycling, and reclaiming.
When replacing an AC unit or incorporating a different type of coolant, homeowners are required to pay a Freon removal cost. This service is a standard part of HVAC services and allows homeowners to safely change their AC units and/or change coolants without worrying about safety hazards and more. Freon evacuation costs vary depending on the type of unit that you have and the professionals providing the service. The average Freon removal cost is between $30 and $65, with some companies charging around $2.50 per pound to evacuate coolant.
Ordinarily, it takes five to ten minutes to fill one pound of refrigerant. A 2.5-ton HVAC unit that requires five to ten pounds would take about 25 minutes to an hour and 40 minutes. All AC recharging must be done by a professional, by law. This law is part of the EPA section 608 of the Clean Air Act. The age of the unit is not a determining factor in the amount of time needed.
It is not uncommon for AC units to have leaks, making refrigerant replacement necessary. The amount of Freon that needs replacing depends on how big of a leak you have, what type of coolant your system uses, and who is completing the service. A full Freon replacement cost will be much higher than a regular recharge due to a small leak. A full refrigerant replacement can cost between $300 and $1,200 based on the type of coolant, unit, and length of refrigerant lines that you have. Older units that still run on R22 are even more expensive to replace, given the lower supply of R22 coolant that is available. Replacing R22 coolant costs $1,500 and more.
The amount of refrigerant that your AC unit uses depends on its size and type. AC units are categorized by the amount of air they can cool in an hour. For example, the ability to cool 12,000 BTU (British Thermal Units) of air per hour means that an AC unit is a “1-ton” unit. Likewise, if an AC unit can cool double that amount or 24,000 BTU of air per hour, it is a 2-ton unit. Generally speaking, an AC unit takes two to four pounds of refrigerant per ton. The following table provides a comprehensive overview of various AC unit sizes and their corresponding refrigerant amounts.
|Tons||Amount of Refrigerant Needed (in lbs.)|
|1 ton||2 - 4|
|1.5 tons||3 - 6|
|2.5 tons||5 - 10|
|3 tons||6 - 12|
|4 tons||8 - 16|
|5 tons||10 - 20|
Measuring and converting substances from ounces to pounds, or vice versa, can be tricky, especially with products like coolant, which can appear in a liquid or gaseous state. Even though it might seem complex to convert refrigerants between ounces and pounds, in reality, it’s not that difficult. Refrigerants adhere to the basic rule that says that there are 16 ounces in 1 pound. That being said, you can simply multiply the number of pounds of coolant that you have by 16 to know how many ounces you have. For example, 2 pounds of coolant multiplied by 16 equals 32 ounces.
Because the production and importation of R22 were banned in 2020, some homeowners may be tempted to convert their AC units from R22 to another replacement refrigerant, like R410A. R22 to R410A conversion cost can be quite high, with some estimates ranging from $2,500 to $4,000. Although it is possible to pay a professional to convert your R22 AC unit to R410A or another replacement refrigerant, it can be a risky and costly process that may not pay off in the long run. R410A coolant runs at a higher pressure than classic R22 coolant. To convert, it would be necessary to flush your lines, change your units, metering device, condenser, and more for a smooth transition. All things considered, it may be more prudent to invest in an updated unit than to try and convert R22 to R410A refrigerant.
Even though some homeowners may find the banning of R22 to be an inconvenience, there’s no denying that there are plenty of other Freon alternatives on the market today. In fact, coolants like R454B, R466A, and R470A are suitable choices for anyone seeking an efficient replacement for their Freon home AC unit. The following information will provide an in-depth look at other Freon alternatives than those mentioned above.
AC units will usually show a slow change in cooling ability when the coolant is leaking. A maintenance call or tune-up can reveal low refrigerant as the technician will test for Freon levels before you see signs your AC needs Freon or coolant. Some signs your AC needs to be recharged are:
If you need a recharge on your AC, you have a Puron or Freon leak. Your system is constructed so that the refrigerant will be contained within the unit unless there is an AC refrigerant leak. This means that a perfect AC unit will not need a recharge. That being said, leaks are not uncommon and can usually be remedied with an occasional recharge once the weather gets warmer. If you notice that your home AC unit is blowing hot air, it could very well be a sign of a leak. Older units are bound to get leaks over their lifespan, but if your new AC unit is already showing signs of a leak, it could be a manufacturing problem that should be replaced early on. While leaks aren’t the end of the world, they require homeowners to invest in regular AC unit recharges, which the EPA requires to be performed by an HVAC professional. It is important to talk with your contractor about leaks. This issue must be fixed, or your Freon will need to be recharged again soon. Fixing a leak can be between $100 and $400.
When it comes to how often homeowners should recharge their AC units, there is no hard-and-fast rule. Because every home AC unit is different, the frequency with which homeowners should recharge their units depends on how fast their coolant leak is and how significantly the leak affects their AC. If your AC unit has trouble producing cool air at the beginning of every summer, then you likely need a yearly recharge just before the weather gets warmer. However, as previously mentioned, there is no standard or rule for how often AC units should be recharged. It simply depends on your particular unit’s leak and how well it is producing cool air.
R22 was banned from production in 2020 due to its environmentally unfriendly properties. It contains hydrochlorofluorocarbons, a harmful chemical. It is a major ozone depleter and contributes to global warming. R410A is the better option and has widely replaced R22. The current price difference between R22 and R410A is stark, with R410A ringing up at $4 to $5 per pound. R22 costs an average of$13 to $20 per pound. R410A is a hydrofluorocarbon. Studies show it does not deplete the ozone. R410A coolant is also preferable to R22 due to its ability to absorb and release heat more efficiently. That being said, R410A coolant works at a higher pressure than R22, which makes it necessary to purchase sturdier equipment and parts. Because the production and importation of R22 were banned in 2020 in the United States, it is more expensive per pound than R470A, given its decreased supply.
|Type of Refrigerant||Cost per Pound|
|R410A||$4 - $5|
|R22||$13 - $20|
While it is possible to recharge a window AC unit, homeowners are not advised to recharge their own window AC units. It’s always best to work with a licensed HVAC professional to recharge window air conditioning units and repair any existing coolant leaks.
In their original, perfect state, home AC units do not need to be recharged. However, if your AC unit develops a leak, it will need to be recharged and repaired to continue functioning properly. If your AC unit is blowing hot air, you may have a leak and could require the assistance of an HVAC professional.
R22 coolant is currently being sold at $13 to $20 per pound because it is no longer being produced. R410A will run you from $4 to $5 per pound.
It is illegal to handle or purchase your own Freon or coolant. The EPA requires that individuals who work with any type of coolant be trained and licensed in the correct procedure to handle these chemicals.
When your AC is low on Freon or coolant, you will experience such problems as the unit running, but the house never gets cold, ice appears on the refrigerant lines, a hissing sound starts coming from the refrigerant line, or warm air is coming through the vents.
Freon, or any other refrigerant, does not wear out or lose its functionality. The AC system is sealed, and the coolant continuously recycles unless there is a leak.
Freon is not banned from use but is no longer legal to produce or import. Its most popular replacement is Puron or R410A.