It’s that time of year again ladies and gentlemen. The time when you start sweating profusely the moment you walk out your front door. The time when you feel like you are in a pre-heating oven every time you take a step outside. (Some people call this time of year summer.)
If you haven’t already than it’s only a few weeks away before you awaken your air conditioning unit from it’s long winter slumber. Hopefully, and I mean hopefully, it turns on and starts cooling your house with no problems. But if it doesn’t, and you find you need refrigerant it is best to do your research before purchasing anything.
Now around this time last year I did a post detailing the price per pound on R-410A refrigerant, also known as Puron. The post was a great success and I still get a lot of views to this day. It seemed to only make sense to do an updated post using 2016’s data and numbers.
Know This Before You Purchase
Before you we get into the actual price of R-410A I want to cover a few things first:
R-410A wasn’t really used mainstream across the United States until 2010. Before 2010 R-22 refrigerant was the go to standard used in all home applications. R-22 was phased out in 2010 due to it’s damaging effect on the O-Zone layer. 410A was brought in as an alternative refrigerant. 410A is now the standard bearer for home air conditioning across the country. If your unit is from 2010 or newer you most likely have a 410A unit, but you should always check your machine just to be sure. You don’t want to make the mistake of putting in the wrong refrigerant and potentially ruining your unit.
Ok, with that out of the way I have one more thing to say before we get into price. If you are purchasing refrigerant or having someone else purchase it for you than you need to be aware that your air conditioning unit is a closed system. What that means is that the refrigerant that was already in your system endlessly recycles back and forth through the various steps. So, in theory you should never run out of refrigerant.
If your unit is low on refrigerant, or out of refrigerant, something is wrong! Do not just fill the machine back up with refrigerant and hope for the best. You have a leak, or a hole, somewhere in your air conditioning unit. If you dump more expensive refrigerant in there it is all going to leak back out if you have not fixed the initial problem. Not to mention damaging the environment. If you are paying a contractor and they say they need to add refrigerant ask them if the leak was fixed. This can save you time and money from shady contractors.
Ok, the moment has arrived. The sole reason you came for the article is now below, enjoy. R-410A is differs from it’s R-22 counter-part. With R-22 you need to be 608 certified with the Environmental Protection Agency to even purchase or handle the refrigerant. Since R-410A is an HFC refrigerant you do NOT need to be certified to purchase the refrigerant. (Click here to visit the EPA site where they specifically say HFCs are excluded.) The EPA is pushing to restrict HFC sales as well, but for now anyone can buy them.
I mention this as it is a great way for you, the consumer, to save money by purchasing the 410A refrigerant yourself rather than having the contractor bring his own out. When I’m shopping for 410A or just checking prices I like to use Amazon or E-Bay as a pricing reference guide. If we check the price on 410A on Amazon today we can find an average price of about $100.00 for a twenty-five pound cylinder. If we divide up the cost by the pounds we end up with a cost per pound of $4.00.
The typical rule of thumb within the industry is two to four pounds of refrigerant per ton of your air conditioning unit. You should always check the exact specifications of your machine, but most of the time the two to four pound guideline will be sufficient. Most home air conditioners are between one ton and five tons. (Anything over five tons is considered a commercial grade unit.)
Ok, so with the $4.00 per pound in mind and the average pounds per ton of refrigerant of two to four we can now do the math for a full refrigerant fill up of your machine. Let’s say you have a middle of the road 3 ton unit. We’ll highball this estimate so let’s go with four pounds of refrigerant per ton of your machine. 4 pounds of refrigerant times the 3 tons of a unit equals out to 12 pounds of refrigerant needed for a complete fill up.
Twelve pounds of refrigerant times the $4.00 dollar per pound we found earlier equals out to $48.00 for a complete refrigerant fill up on your R-410A machine.
Ok, now that we have the cost per pound on refrigerant and the total cost for a fill up I want you, the reader, to keep one thing mind. If you have a contractor come out and quote you on a refrigerant fill up be mindful that they are experts in their field, they know your system, they know how to handle refrigerants, and they are certified to handle the refrigerant.
They will markup the R-410A refrigerant above and beyond the $4.00 per pound that you can buy. But, you are paying for their expertise. It is up to you and your contractor to decide on what is fair. If you want to buy a cylinder yourself feel free to visit the links above that I provided, just remember that you need to be EPA certified to purchase R-22 but with R-410A you do not.