Well ladies and gentlemen it’s another year and we are only a few weeks away from air conditioning season. (Some people call this time of year summer.) Around this time last year I did a post describing exactly how much R-22 refrigerant costs by the cylinder and by the pound. My goal with that post was to provide the information to you, the reader, on exactly what the cost on R-22 was and what to expect from a contractor or if you are looking to purchase it yourself.
The post was great success and to this day is still one of my most visited pages. Not too much has changed over the past year but it only seems appropriate to do an updated post with current 2016 information.
Know This Before You Purchase
First thing’s first. Before we get into the actual cost of R-22 I want to bring to your attention that R-22 was phased out in 2010. Now, when I say phased out I mean that no new machines manufactured in 2010 or newer could use R-22 refrigerant. Instead, they were switched over to the newer HFC refrigerant known as R-410A, our Puron.
If you still have an active R-22 unit I would highly recommend getting it either converted over to 410A or replacing it entirely. At a minimum your unit is over six years old, potentially even older. As the years go by R-22 is going to be harder and harder to find while 410A is plentiful in the market place. On top of that 410A is actually more efficient than it’s R-22 counterpart. (You’ll save money per month.)
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.
Alright, now for the reason you came to this article. As I stated above R-22 machines were phased out in 2010 and with each few years that passes the amount of R-22 refrigerant in the marketplace shrinks and shrinks. Companies are limited in how much they can produce and how much they can import into the United States.
I like to use Amazon and E-Bay as a gauge on the marketplace. Both of these sites offer numerous brands and types of R-22 refrigerant and it will allow you to gather an average price between all sources. For example, if we look at Amazon.com as of today the going rate for a thirty pound cylinder of refrigerant is about $480. If we divided the $480 up by the thirty pounds in a cylinder we get a price per pound of $16.00.
(Please note that if you want to purchase a cylinder of R-22 refrigerant yourself you will need to be 608 certified with the Environmental Protection Agency before you are eligible to purchase.)
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 $16.00 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 $16.00 dollar per pound we found earlier equals out to $192.00 for a complete refrigerant fill up on your R-22 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-22 refrigerant above and beyond the $16.00 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.