It’s that time of year again folks. The leaves are falling off the trees, Halloween has passed, and we are having our first cold day of the year over here in Kansas City. While I watch the cold day from my window I sit at my desk drinking some coffee and thinking about refrigerant. Yes… that’s right. I’m thinking about refrigerant at this time of year. That’s just what we do here at RefrigerantHQ. While the refrigerant market may die down around this time of year the articles still need to be published.
Over the past few years here at RefrigerantHQ we have taken the time to write what’s known as our ‘Price Per Pound’ articles. These articles break down the cost of refrigerant so any laymen can understand it. It takes away that hidden cost and brings it out into the light. The goal of these articles is to arm the homeowner or business owner with enough knowledge so that when they receive a quote for R-134a they know where the price should be. This prevents people from being gouged and overcharged, especially during the dead heat of summer.
Now before we go any further into this post I first want to give you a warning that I can be rather long winded. All of this information is good and relevant to your situation, BUT if you are just looking for a basic price per pound price then I suggest you just scroll on down to our ‘Price Per Pound’ section. However, if you’re looking to learn a bit more about your air conditioner then by all means keep reading.
Know This Before Purchasing
Purchasing refrigerant from your contractor isn’t always black and white. There are different factors that need to be considered before you purchase. In this section we are going to take a look at each of these:
You Are Paying For Expertise
Ok folks, so the information that I am going to give you in our ‘Price Per Pound’ section is very nearly, if not exactly, the cost that your technician is paying for their R-134a refrigerant. What that means is that you can expect a markup. After all, the technician and the dealership need to make money as well. This is a specialized trade and requires trained expertise in order to succeed in. Thinking that you can do this yourself is never a good idea as there are a lot of intricacies that need to be accounted for. As an example, let’s go through and ask a few simple questions that a technician would either have to do or consider:
- Do you know how to flush your system?
- Do you know what refrigerants can be vented?
- Are you 609 certified with the EPA to handle HFC refrigerants?
- Do you know how to find, let alone fix, a refrigerant leak?
All of these questions and more are what you are paying your technician for. Remember that they need to make money too, but there is also a fine line between having profit and gouging. Reading this article, and reviewing the price per pound, will allow you to be educated and give you the power to negotiate the price of refrigerant.
Your AC Unit is a Closed System
Even before you bring your car into the dealership to look at the air conditioner you should be aware that air conditioners are what’s known as closed systems. What that means is that the refrigerant in your air conditioner moves back and forth between different cycles and it, in theory, never runs out or needs refrigerant refilled.
If you find that your unit is low on refrigerant or is completely out do NOT just refill your machine with a new refrigerant. I repeat do NOT do this. Your system does not need a top off. It does not need just a little bit more refrigerant to get by. No. If you are running out of refrigerant that means that somewhere in the refrigerant cycle there is a leak. Your unit is leaking refrigerant and will continue to leak refrigerant until a repair is made. If you dump more refrigerant into it without fixing the leak you are literally throwing money down the drain.
I like to think of it as a above ground pool. If you get a puncture in the pool lining water will leak out. Sure you can always add more water but it’s not fixing the problem. Adding more refrigerant doesn’t fix the problem either. It’s just prolong the inevitable and wasting money.
R-134a Price Per Pound
Ok, now we are ready to take a look at the price per pound of R-134a. First, let me paint a picture for you. Let’s say the air conditioner on your new vehicle went out and you just went past the warranty period. What can you expect repair wise? Well, you will need to repair and replace the part that failed but you will also most likely need to have the refrigerant recharged for your vehicle. But, what price should you pay?
I could tell you the price today, which I will in a bit, but I will also give you kind of a cheat sheet that I like to use when gauging the R-134a market price. It’s so simple. All I do is just go to Ebay.com and search for R-134a cans. By doing this I can see what the going rate is per pound of R-134a. As I write this article today I can see that R-134a is priced between one-hundred and forty to one-hundred and sixty dollars for a thirty pound cylinder. Now, let’s do some simple math to get your price per pound. Let’s take the higher amount of one-hundred and sixty just to be safe.
$160 / 30lb cylinder = $5.33 per pound.
There you have it folks, $5.33 for one pound of R-134a refrigerant. Now, please keep in mind that these prices CAN change. To give you a bit more help I have also included a feed from our Ebay partner below that shows you the current market price of R-134a:
Now each car is different and the amount of refrigerant that they need can be different as well. Some only require one pound and others upwards of eight to nine pounds. It is always best to check your owner’s manual or your dealership to see how much you need. In our example we’re going to call it three pounds of refrigerant to get a complete fill up of your vehicle.
3 pounds of refrigerant * $5.33 per pound = $15.99 for a complete fill up.
There you have it folks, that is the true cost per pound of R-134a refrigerant. I have said it already in the beginning of this article but I want to emphasize again that you may not pay the price we mentioned above due to your dealership’s markup. They deserve to make money as well and they deserve to be paid for their expertise. Just keep this article in the back of your mind so that when you do receive a quote you can ensure that you are receiving an accurate and fair price.
If you do find that you are being gouged and the dealership won’t budge then you may be able to run by a local auto-parts store to see if they have any 134a cans in stock. If they do, then you could save some money by providing the refrigerant to the dealership.