Hello ladies and gentlemen! It looks like another year is passing us by again and with another year comes a whole other set of possibilities. As I write this article it is twenty odd something degrees outside and we’re expecting some snow in Kansas City tomorrow. Some may say it’s a funny time to write an article on refrigerants but I say what better time is there than this? When the cold wind is blowing and the snow is falling I find that my mind is thinking on what the price of refrigerant is going to do next year. Maybe that says more about me than it should.
Anyways, over the past few years I have written multiple articles detailing the exact price per pound on refrigerant. Each article has been met with astounding success and I feel that it is my duty to write another article for the upcoming 2017 year. This may be a long winded post and if you are in a hurry with the contractor standing over you shoulder I suggest you scroll down and look for the bold text. That will give you the breakdown that you need. If you’re here to read the article in full than by all means read on my friend.
The information that I am going to give you in this article is the exact price per pound that your contractor or your mechanic is paying. Now, we may be off by a few dollars here and there depending on when they bought their product but we are more or less right in line with their cost. There is a fine line to walk here as you are paying your contractor or mechanic for not only their labor but also for their expertise. Do you know how to flush the system? Do you know what refrigerants can be vented and which cannot? In some instances you may not even legally be able to buy the type of refrigerant that you need. (R-22 comes to mind.) While you may have their cost you also need to use the consideration and the common decency to accept their mark up. They need to make a living just as much as you do. The balancing act here is determining what is a fair mark up and what is price gouging. It is up to you to walk that line and negotiate the best price. All I’m here for is to give you the information.
Your AC Unit is a Closed System
Before your purchase any refrigerant either for yourself or from a contractor you need to realize that the refrigerant in your air conditioning unit is in a closed system. What that means is that the refrigerant is an endless cycle from gas to liquid from gas to liquid. This cycle repeats forever as shown in the below picture.
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.
Old R-22 Machines
For those of you who do not know the old HCFC R-22 refrigerant was phased out in 2010. What this means is that no new air conditioning machines can be manufactured with R-22 as of 2010 or greater. This was done in accordance to the Montreal Protocol due to the Chlorine that the R-22 Freon contained. The Chlorine was found to be burning a hole in the O-Zone layer. (Come to find out that is a bad thing.) The phase out was staggered over many years and with each year that passes the price on R-22 climbs and climbs. I remember a few years ago where it was going for two-hundred for a full cylinder and now you can’t buy a cylinder for less than six-hundred dollars. It has gotten to the point now that if your unit is completely out of R-22 refrigerant due to a leak it may make more sense for you to just buy a new machine entirely and make the leap over to the 410A HFC.
Alright, so now that is out of the way let’s dive into the numbers.
R-410A Refrigerant Price Per Pound 2017
Well folks, here’s the good news. If you’ve got a 410A unit you are in much better shape than those poor souls who still have their old R-22 unit cranking away. 410A is much cheaper than R-22 and over the years since it’s major debut the price has remained relatively stable. 410A is overall more efficient, costs less, and best of all it can be bought by you, me, or anyone else. There are no certifications required to purchase 410A. (Click here to view the EPA’s website stating just that.) It is worth noting that as of January 1st, 2018 you will need to be certified to buy HFCs but for 2017 you can still purchase yourself.
Let’s get down to business. Much like I did for the R-22 section above I am going to defer to Amazon and E-Bay to get my price average on a twenty-five pound cylinder of R-410A/Puron refrigerant. As I write this in mid-December 2016 the price looks to be between $120-$150 per twenty-five pound cylinder. For argument’s sake I’m going to use the highest cost, $150. Let’s do the math together:
$150 / 25 lbs of refrigerant per cylinder = $6.00 per pound of refrigerant.
Now that we have the price per pound let’s factor in how much refrigerant the typical residential machine needs. The standard amount of refrigerant needed per unit 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.)
Again, let’s use the medium sized three ton air conditioner example. Ready? Let’s do some more math:
4 pounds of refrigerant * 3 ton unit = 12 pounds of refrigerant needed.
12 pounds of refrigerant times the $6.00 per pound number we came up with earlier = $72.00 for a complete fill up of your 410A machine.
Now, please keep in mind that as I said above these prices can change at any given time.
As I stated before please note that this cost is at or will be very nearly at the cost of your contractor. You will need to account for his markup in this, otherwise why is he even there? Also, as I said above in 2017 you can still buy 410A without being certified with the EPA. This rule is supposed to change in January 1st of 2018. If you were so inclined you may stock up by buying on Amazon and E-Bay .