Expect to pay at least $600 for an R22 AC recharge and related repairs. Getting an estimate for $2,000 wouldn’t be surprising either.
If your AC or heat pump uses R22 refrigerant, then getting it recharged with R22 is going to keep getting more expensive. R22 can no longer be manufactured in the US nor imported here from elsewhere. Supplies are already limited and getting scarcer.
Did you know? Most of the available R22 is reclaimed refrigerant! It’s taken out of old units and put through a purification process to meet purity regulations. And then it is sold.
Here is detailed information about air conditioner R22 Freon refill cost.
The Cost of R22 Recharge
$240 - $1,200
$320 - $1,600
$400 - $2,000
$480 - $2,400
$560 - $2,800
$640 - $3,000+
$800 - $3,000+
How much does it cost to refill your air conditioner with R22 Freon?
Wholesale cost: $25 – $50 per pound
Installed cost: $80 – $200 per pound plus any repairs that must be made prior to recharging the system with Freon.
The cost of R22 Freon changes frequently, so it’s a good idea to check the current price before refilling your air conditioner unit. As of the writing of this article, the wholesale cost for R22 Freon is $25 – $50 per pound. This price is the cost of the Freon itself, but does not include the cost of installation.
How much does it cost to hire an HVAC technician to refill your air conditioner with R22 Freon?
HVAC technician labor cost: $70 – $125 per hour is pretty standard. It takes a couple hours to recharge an AC – at least! First, the technician must determine why the refrigerant leaked out – ACs aren’t supposed to use up refrigerant. Then the repair is made before the R22 refill is done.
The cost to hire an HVAC technician to refill your R22 is between $70 – $125 an hour. This is just the cost for labor, and does not include the cost for materials like the R22 Freon.
The total cost to refill your air conditioner with R22 Freon including labor and materials is about $80 – $200 per pound. But when you include the cost of repairs, such as replacing a bad fitting that allowed for the leak, another few hours and $200-$500 could be added to the invoice. Costs can rise quickly on an older central AC – and if your unit uses R22, then it is likely at least a decade old and could be 20+ years old.
Overview of R22 Freon
This section provides details about R22 refrigerant and why it is so expensive and scarce.
What is R22 Freon?
It’s a refrigerant that has been in use for decades. A refrigerant is a substance that readily absorbs and holds heat when it evaporators and then releases the heat when it cools and condenses.
The name “Freon” is actually a brand name that has become synonymous with the product over time, like Chapstick or Kleenex. R22 Freon is in the process of being phased out of use. The main reason why this product is not being made anymore is that R22 is an environmental concern. It has been shown to deplete the Ozone layer and contribute to harmful greenhouse gas emissions. Because of this issue, R22 is being replaced by greener options.
The phase-out officially began way back in 2010. As of January 1st, 2010, it became illegal to manufacture or import HVAC machines that require R22 Freon. Since then, all standard split system air conditioner units and heat pumps have been manufactured to use R-410A instead, which is a new refrigerant that is better for the environment. R-410A (or simply written as R410A) does not deplete ozone.
The final stage of the phase-out happened on January 1st, 2020, when it became illegal to manufacture or import R22 Freon into the United States. Since then, R22 has become a scarce commodity. The remaining stock of R22 is being sold off at high costs, and the prices keep rising as supplies run low.
You won’t be committing a crime! It is important to note that it is not illegal to refill R22 Freon in old HVAC systems that require it, so if you have an older system that runs on R22, fear not! You can refill it legally.
R22 Refill / Recharge FAQs
Now that we’ve brought you up to date on the status of R22 Freon, let’s dive into some more practical questions.
How can I know what type of refrigerant my air conditioner uses?
Don’t know what refrigerant your AC runs on? Here’s how to find out:
Go outside to your compressor unit and take a look at the white sticker that is on the outside of the machine. This label will tell you what type of refrigerant your machine uses.
Another quick way to guess the refrigerant type for your machine is to use the age method. If your machine was manufactured before 2010, it almost certainly uses R22 Freon. If your machine was manufactured after 2010, it almost certainly uses R410A. This is a good way to guess the refrigerant type, but you can’t know for sure without checking the label on the compressor.
Can I buy R22 Freon and refill the AC myself?
In other words, can I buy R22 Freon without a license? Nope. Refilling your AC with refrigerant is not a DIY project. In order to purchase R22 Freon you need to have a Section 608 certification, which is a certification for HVAC technicians. Unless you are an HVAC technician with a Section 608 certification, you won’t even be able to legally buy R22 Freon, let alone install it yourself.
Why do you need to be certified?
Handling refrigerants without the proper training is not safe for you or for your HVAC system. Special gauges are needed to ensure the right amount of refrigerant is added. If you add the wrong amount, the air conditioner can be damaged and run poorly. HVAC technicians can also check for leaks in your system and repair them so that you can avoid wasting any expensive R22 Freon.
How much does it cost to hire an HVAC technician, and how long will it take?
A big factor in the cost to refill R22 is the labor costs! The technician you hire will be paying the actual price per pound amount for R22, and you will be paying the technician the price for the R22 plus labor.
With no complications, refilling R22 Freon in an HVAC system takes between one and three hours. If there are leaks to repair or other maintenance duties, it could take longer. At labor rates of $70 to $125 per hour, the cost can become significant.
How many pounds of R22 Freon will I need to refill my air conditioner?
The amount of R22 you will need depends on the size of your air conditioner. You will typically need two to four pounds of refrigerant per ton of air conditioner. Residential air conditioners are between 1.5 and 5.0 tons, or 18,000 to 60,000 BTUs. Anything bigger than five tons is technically a commercial sized unit. Your air conditioner unit has particular specifications that you should check before refilling, so you know exactly how much it needs.
How do I calculate a cost estimate for my R22 Freon refill?
Once you have found out what size air conditioner you have, you can make a total cost estimate for your R22 refill.
Let’s assume you will need four pounds of refrigerant per ton of air conditioner, and your air conditioner unit is completely empty. To find out the cost for R22 that you will need, multiply four times the number of air conditioner tons you have. This number will be the total number of pounds of R22 that you will need in order to refill your air conditioner. Take this number and multiply it by the current cost of R22 (about $25 per pound) and the result will be your total cost estimate for R22!
In case that sounds confusing, here is an example:
Suppose you have a two-ton air conditioner. Multiply two times four (the number of refrigerant pounds you need per AC ton), and you get eight. Then, simply multiply eight by the current price of R22 Freon (about $25), and you get $200. So, for a two-ton air conditioner, you will need to spend about $200 on R22 Freon.
Once you have the final R22 cost amount, you will still need to factor in installation costs. The cost estimate that you found is the cost for materials only, and it is probably about what your HVAC technician will pay for the R22. You will need to pay the technician for the cost of materials and the cost of labor. An HVAC specialist will be able to help you with this, and give you an accurate estimate for the whole project.
Note: A lot of HVAC companies have a three-pound minimum requirement for refilling your AC, so don’t plan on just paying for one or two pounds. You will probably need to buy at least three pounds in order for an HVAC technician to come out.
Can I buy Freon after 2020?
Yes! At least your HVAC contractor can. There is still some R22 out there, but prices are getting very high. A quick Google search will show you where it is being sold and how much it is currently selling for.
Is there a substitute for R22 Freon?
There is not a suitable substitute for R22 Freon. Unfortunately, an R22 air conditioner system cannot run properly on any other type of refrigerant. Like a lawn mower, if you put the wrong fuel in the system, it will cause it to malfunction and could permanently destroy the machine.
However, the unit and system can be retrofitted to use a different refrigerant. This would involve flushing the system, replacing the compressor and possibly the line set. Is it cost-effective? Probably not.
Should I keep buying R22 Freon at these high prices, or should I just replace my machine?
Now that we’ve talked so much about the cost to refill your air conditioner with R22 Freon, it’s reasonable for you to be wondering if it just makes more sense to replace your current system with a newer one.
The Pick HVAC pros think replacement is the best choice for most homeowners when repair costs on an old AC or heat pump are mounting.
Here are some factors to consider when deciding whether or not to replace your air conditioner:
How’s it Running? Ultimately, this is a case-by-case basis. If your machine is running great and working well for you, or if you don’t have the money put away for the large upfront cost of a new system, it may be the right move for you to keep using your R22 system for a few more years and just pay the cost for R22.
On the other hand, the cost of R22 is not getting any lower, and supplies are running out. If your system is worn out anyway, or if it needs hundreds of dollars in maintenance and R22 refill costs, it might be the right time to upgrade your system. It’s only a matter of time until you would have to upgrade anyway when R22 runs out.
Do you want lower energy costs plus new equipment backed with a fresh warranty? Newer systems are more energy efficient and can bring down the cost of your monthly electric bill. Plus, most new residential air conditioners and heat pumps are backed by a parts warranty of at least 10 years. Some compressor warranties are “Lifetime.” The best warranties are available from Daikin, Amana and Goodman, which are identical equipment brands owned by Daikin International.
How long are you going to live in that house? If you’re there for the long-haul, then putting the money toward a new system makes even more sense. If you plan to move, maybe throwing another $1,000 at it might keep it going until it becomes someone else’s problem. Of course, a savvy homebuyer might want a slight price break on your home knowing they’ll have to spend roughly $5,000 to $10,000 or more in the next few years to replace the tired old system.
Get Free Estimates!
If you are having trouble determining what is the best move for you, this decision can be made easier by the advice of an HVAC specialist. Choosing the Local Quotes option on this page – the phone number or convenient information form – allows you to get free, written estimates from licensed and insured HVAC contractors in your area. There’s no cost, as noted, and you’re under no obligation to accept any estimates. Get the estimates, check out the contractors’ online reviews, and if you like what any of them is offering, have your air conditioning system replaced with a trouble-free and efficient new model.