Greetings ladies and gentlemen and welcome to RefrigerantHQ! It’s just a few days before Thanksgiving. The weather is quite cold outside and I am sitting in my office, sipping at a cup of coffee, and thinking about refrigerant. Yes, it seems that refrigerant is always on my mind, even during these colder winter months. In fact it is actually quite a bit easier to get work done during this time of year. With summer gone and spring quite a ways in the future everything slows down a bit and I have time to catch a breather, gather my thoughts, and write some articles.
Most of the time the articles on this site are more of a technical nature and cater towards HVAC technicians and contractors. However, today we will be doing something slightly different. You see over the past four years we here at RefrigerantHQ have published a series of articles that go into the exact cost that business owners can expect when paying for refrigerant. This was a problem that I recognized a while back. When a business owner receives a quote on refrigerant they have no idea if it’s a fair price or if they are being gouged. There were very little references out there so it made it nearly impossible to negotiate or price shop.
In this article we are going to give you the exact cost per pound on R-404A refrigerant. This will give you the knowledge on rather or not you are being priced fairly. It could be that you own a gas station that needs a refrigerator or freezer repaired. Or, perhaps you drive a refrigerated truck and need an accurate quote on 404A for a repair. Or, you are a store manager at the local grocery store and you’ve had and entire row of freezers stop working. Whatever your line of work or the situation is you will need an accurate quote on R-404A and to make sure it is at an accurate price and to have the problem resolved as soon as possible. Each hour or day that goes by is lost business.
Now, before I get into the price details I am going to spend some time covering some basic HVAC and refrigerant knowledge. I can be a bit long-winded at times so if you find that you just want to find the price per pound then I suggest scrolling through towards the bottom of this article and look for the section titled, ‘Price Per Pound.’ However, if you’d like to learn a bit then please continue reading.
To Know Before Purchasing
Before we get into the price per pound when it comes to R-404A refrigerant I like to take some time in this section and inform you of a few basic things about your 404A system. Now I’ve written similar articles for homeowners as well on 410A and R-22. In those articles I always tell the homeowner to check their machine and determine exactly what kind of refrigerant i handles. While it is not as important as a business owner to know the exact refrigerant you are using it is still a good to know. Checking the system to see what kind of refrigerant it uses is a relatively easy task and can be done by locating a white sticker on the outside of the unit. These stickers are typically found in the back room or ‘control room’ of the system. If you are unable to find this sticker it’s not the end of the world, just be sure ask the technician that you call out to service the unit what kind of refrigerant your system is using.
If you thought that you could repair and recharge your system yourself then you are mistaken. You see, there was a time when this was possible. I knew quite a few small business owners who bought their own cans or cylinders of R-404A. They then repaired and recharged their system. You could find these 404A cylinders online on Ebay, Amazon and in a lot of big box stores like Home Depot or Lowes.
The problem with this now is that as of January 1st, 2018 you can no longer purchase R-404A unless you are section 608 certified with the Environmental Protection Agency. Purchasing has been locked down to only certified technicians. This new rule is known as the ‘Refrigerant Sales Restriction’. These restrictions already existed on HCFC and CFC refrigerants but they were now moved over to HFC refrigerants as well. This included R-404A. What this means is that you are no longer legally able to purchase R-404A unless you are 608 certified with the EPA. Now, there are a few slight exceptions to this such as:
- Providing the vendor you are buying from with an intent to resale form. What this means is that you state that you will NOT be using this refrigerant yourself but that you intend to resell it to another party. In this case the legal record keeping requirements would be passed onto you. So, if the supplier you bought from gets audited by the EPA their records will then point to you. The EPA will reach out to you and you better hope you either sold the product or are 608 certified!
- The other exception is that if you purchase small cans of refrigerant that are under two pounds of refrigerant or less. This works great for automotive and other smaller applications but can be difficult when trying to recharge a larger system with only a few pounds of refrigerant at a time. You could technically do this yourself but you would have to find a source for the cans and it still not legal to tamper or tinker on an air conditioning unit if you are certified with the EPA.
If you do not meet the above exceptions and you try to purchase R-404A you will be asked for your 608 license number. If you cannot provide one then you will not be allowed to purchase. This was done to protect the environment. If R-404A is vented or leaked into the atmosphere it contributes to Global Warming. The restriction was put into place to prevent novices from playing around with the refrigerant and accidentally releasing it into the atmosphere. There was talk at the beginning of 2019 that the Trump Administration would rescind these restrictions but so far there has been no follow-through on this matter. As the law is today you are not able to purchase this refrigerant.
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 contractor is paying for their R-22 refrigerant. What that means is that you can expect a markup. After all, the technician and the HVAC contractor 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?
- Do you know what the Superheat and Subcool are for R-22?
- Are you 608 certified with the EPA to handle HCFC 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 contractor 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 have a contractor come to your home and look at your 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. Potentially a lot of money too if yours is an R-22 unit.
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-404A Price Per Pound
Ok ladies and gentlemen you’ve made it through the boring section of the article. Now we can focus on the real reason you came here. How much exactly is 404A refrigerant per pound? So, let’s envision a scenario. A few of your refrigerators at your gas station are no longer working. You call a service technician to come out and diagnose them. He finds that the compressor has failed and that there is cracking in some of the pipes as well. That means you need a new compressor, new pipes, and most likely a full recharge of 404A refrigerant as well. This is going to be an expensive repair bill.
Before I tell you the exact cost per pound on 404A I want to make you aware that the price will change. I am writing this article in late November and I guarantee that when you are reading this the price will have changed since then. Do not fret though, there is good news. There are a few tools out there that will allow you to find the price of 404A real time. It is relatively easy as well. All you have to do is visit Ebay.com and check the going rate for 404A.
Looking at Ebay today we can see an average price range is one-hundred and ten to one-hundred and fifty dollars for a twenty-four pound cylinder of 404A. I more of a fan of aiming too high rather then too low so let’s take that one-hundred and fifty dollar maximum as our price. Now it is time to do some math:
$150 / 24lb cylinder = $6.25 per pound.
There you have it folks, $6.25 for one pound of R-404A refrigerant. Now, please keep in mind that as I said above these prices can change at any given time.
Alright folks, that should about cover it. We’ve covered some need to know topics and also the exact price per pound on R-404A. One last thing I wanted to mention before closing this article is that you have to remember that there will be mark-up involved from your technician or HVAC company. The price that I gave you is going to be very close to their cost. So, while you may not get that $6.25 price per pound article it does give you a starting point for negotiations. Remember, that everything in this world is negotiable and if they quote you twenty-five dollars a pound then you do your best to get them down to ten dollars a pound using this article as a point of reference.