First and foremost please note that refrigerant is a commodity and prices can change wildly from week to week. It all depends on demand and any market surprises. Think of refrigerant as oil. You always hear about how much a barrel of oil is in the news and see how fast it can change. Refrigerant is very similar and fluctuates accordingly… especially in very hot summers.
With that being said let’s look at the pricing on R-410A refrigerant. 410A is still fairly new to the market so the price is still fairly low compared to it’s predecessor R-22. If you have an R-22 unit expect to pay $300.00 for a thirty pound cylinder. Whereas if you have a newer 410A unit the price on a cylinder is only about $85-$90. That price is for a twenty five pound cylinder, rather than thirty, but it is still significantly cheaper than R-22. R-410A’s pricing has stayed rather stable over the past few years. I have seen it go from about $80.00 up to about $100.00 a cylinder, but for the most part it stays pretty flat.
Going off of the $90.00 price for a twenty-five pound cylinder we can find the cost per pound relatively easy. $90.00 divided by twenty-five pounds equals out to $3.60 per pound of refrigerant. Now I have seen multiple air conditioning repair companies quote upwards to $60.00 a pound on R410A. Now they need to have their markup, but that just seems crazy.
Now let’s find out how many pounds of refrigerant you need. Most home air conditioning units are between one to five tons. The rule of thumb is two to four pounds of refrigerant per ton on your machine. (It is important to note that the two to four pounds per ton is the standard, but you should always check for the exact requirements on your unit. Each unit and each manufacturer is different and it is always best to follow their instructions to the T.)
So, to do an example let’s say you have a three ton unit that you are looking to completely refill with refrigerant. The below formula will give you a rough estimate on what you will be needing and approximately how much it will cost you.
($3.60 a pound *(3 ton unit * 4 pounds of refrigerant per ton))
($3.60 a pound*(12 pounds of refrigerant) = $43.20 for a complete fill up.
That being said most air conditioning companies will charge much higher than this. You are paying for their expertise, their labor, and their markup on the refrigerant. If you wanted to buy the refrigerant yourself and save some money you could. I would recommend shopping for a twenty-five pound cylinder on either Amazon or on E-Bay. As of June, 2015 you do NOT need to be registered to purchase 410A, so anyone can purchase. You most likely won’t end up using an entire cylinder of 410A but you will still be saving money and now have some as back up just in case you need it again.