Refrigerant is something that is never thought about. Even though it can be found literally in every building, car, and grocery store today. After all, something has to keep us and our food cold. The very rare time that when we do think of refrigerant is when we are faced with an expensive bill to repair our air conditioner.
Often times when faced with an air conditioner repair the costliest part is the actual recharging of refrigerant. Depending on what type of refrigerant your system uses you could be looking at a hundred dollar recharge or somewhere around five-hundred dollars. When consumers receive these quotes from their contractors a lot of them go into sticker shock and wonder if they can save some money by taking matters into their own hands.
First, let me stop you right there. HVAC contractors are trained professionals. They have gone to school for this knowledge and most likely have years of experience. Yes, the quote they may be providing is expensive but you also need to consider that they are running a business and need to make a profit themselves.
Ok, now that that is out of the way let’s take a look if you are able to purchase refrigerant. The short answer here is, no… no you are not able to purchase refrigerant.
It didn’t always used to be this way. In fact, prior to 2018 end users who were not certified were able to purchase HFC refrigerants such as R-410A, R-134a, and R-404A. This all changed though on January 1st, 2018 when the Environmental Protection Agency issued a new regulation that passed the purchase restrictions found on CFC and HCFC refrigerants over to HFC refrigerants.
When can YOU buy refrigerants?
In today’s world the only way you can purchase CFC, HCFC, and HFC refrigerants is by being Section 608 of the Clean Air Act certified with the Environmental Protection Agency. This certification was designed to only allow professional HVAC technicians from handling and using refrigerant. This was done due to the harmful effects that refrigerants can have on the environment. CFC and HCFC refrigerants such as R-12 and R-22 actively damage the Ozone layer when they are vented into the atmosphere. HFC refrigerants such as R-410A and R-404A have what’s known as a high Global Warming Potential, or GWP. A high GWP product actively contributes to Global Warming and Climate Change when they are vented into the atmosphere either by mistake or intention.
All this being said, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for those of you who wish to purchase HFC refrigerants like R-410A. It was announced in October of 2018 that the EPA was looking at rescinding the January 1st, 2018 purchase restrictions on HFC refrigerants. While nothing official has been announced yet we may see a time where HFCs are no longer regulated in not too distant future.
Today though folks there is not a legal way for you to purchase refrigerant. The only exception here is if you are purchasing cans of refrigerant that are under two pounds and even in this instance only certain refrigerants can be bought this way.