Most homeowners pay $300-$450 for an R-410A AC refill plus the cost of repairs needed before the unit will hold refrigerant.
Repairs are the cost wild card. ACs and heat pumps aren’t supposed to lose refrigerant, so if yours is low or empty, a breach in the system like a bad refrigerant line fitting or hole in the line caused the leak. Worst-case scenario is that one of the coils or the compressor is bad and allowed the leak – repairs that cost above $1,000 and sometimes much more.
R-410A Refill Cost
How much does it cost to refill your air conditioner with R-410A?
The Cost to Recharge with R22
$150 - $540
$200 - $720
$250 - $900
$300 - $1,080
$350 - $1,260
$400 - $1,440
$500 - $1,800
- Wholesale cost: $12 – $25 per pound
- Installed cost: $50 – $90 per pound installed
R-410A, which is often written as R410A without the hyphen, is often called by a popular brand name – Puron. It is the most widely used refrigerant in the United States.
Recently, the cost per pound of R-410A has seen a lot of fluctuation, and the average cost has risen significantly due to limited supplies but high demand.
Before you formulate a cost estimate for your refrigerant refill, it is always a good idea to check the current cost of R-410A as it may have changed since the writing of this article.
As of this writing, the wholesale cost for R-410A is $12 – $25 per pound. This price is for the refrigerant only, and does not include the cost to hire an HVAC technician for the job.
How much does it cost to hire an HVAC technician to recharge your air conditioner with R-410A?
An HVAC technician will usually charge about $70 - $125 per hour for their labor.
With the cost of refrigerant included, the cost to recharge your air conditioner, or AC or aircon for short, with R410A is about $50 – $90 per pound installed plus any repairs needed. Again, repairs are the unknown factor that range from minor – less than $100 to repair a fitting – or much more.
Warranty surprise! Even if your AC is under warranty, and it might well be if it uses R410A, you will pay labor on repairs. A few central split system ACs and heat pumps have warranties that cover labor for up to 3 years. Most don’t. So, replacement parts are covered, but the labor to put them in is not. There’s a wealth of information on warranties in our HVAC Warranty Comparison Guide – HVAC Warranties Debunked.
Overview of R-410A
Here is a little background on R410A.
What is R-410A?
R-410A or “Puron” as you may hear it called, is the main refrigerant used in the United States for ducted split systems. It is the chosen replacement refrigerant for R22. Freon, aka R22, was banned by the 2010 Clean Air Act because it is damaging to the Ozone layer, and it contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Experts agreed that R22 needed to be replaced with a healthier option.
On January 1st, 2010, the manufacturing or importing of any HVAC system that required R22 Freon became illegal. Ten years later on January 1st, 2020, it became illegal to manufacture or import R22 Freon in the United States. While it is still legal to buy the remaining stock of R22 and use it to recharge old air conditioning systems, it is being completely phased out and replaced with R-410A.
Why was R-410A chosen as the replacement? R-410A is 100% non-Ozone depleting. This makes it a much more environmentally friendly option than R22, and therefore a more sustainable refrigerant. It is also more energy efficient, so using R-410A can help lower those cooling bills!
Why is the cost to recharge with R-410A so high?
The short answer is that the demand for R-410A is higher than the supply, creating scarcity and higher prices. But why is the demand for R-410A so high?
System upgrades: As R22 phases out, homeowners are upgrading to new systems that use R-410A. The production side of things hasn’t been able to keep up with the demand, and so there is a shortage of R410A, causing the cost to increase. Especially since 2020 as the manufacturing of R22 has completely halted, more people than ever have switched over to air conditioning systems that require R-410A.
Taxes and Tariffs: There is another reason for the high R-410A costs that may seem a little out of the box, but is surprisingly relevant to homeowners like you. The United States recently put a significant tax on certain imported goods from other countries. R-410A is one of these goods. Previously, we were getting imported R-410A that was significantly cheaper than the American-made stuff because of lower production costs. American manufacturers had to match this lower price in order to sell their product, and so the average cost for R410A was much lower. Now, the tax increase has raised the cost of imported refrigerant, and American-made refrigerant manufacturers followed suit and raised their prices as well, making cheap R-410A a thing of the past.
R410A Refill FAQs
Now that you’re familiar with the backstory of R-410A and how we’ve gotten to our current prices, this article is going to move into some homeowner FAQs!
How do I find out what kind of refrigerant my air conditioner needs?
If you still have it, the owner’s manual for your air conditioner /aircon system will tell you which refrigerant your HVAC machine uses.
You can also go to your outside condensing unit and look for a sticker that is on the outside of the machine, which should have on it the model number, refrigerant type and other important details.
Alternatively, if you know how old your air conditioner unit is, then you can take a pretty good guess about which refrigerant it uses. If your machine is older than 2010, there is a very good chance that it uses R22 Freon. If your AC was manufactured after 2010, it uses R410A. However, this is not a fool-proof way of guessing the type of refrigerant. If you are having trouble determining which refrigerant your HVAC system uses, don’t hesitate to call an HVAC company. They will have no trouble helping you figure it out.
Can I buy R-410A as a homeowner?
Unfortunately, no. Until recently, anyone could buy R-410A. Unlike R22 Freon, there was no Section 608 certification required to purchase it. The only requirement was that you needed the 608 certification to recharge the system using R-410A.
However, as of January 2018, you have to have a Section 608 certification in order to buy R-410A. The Section 608 certification is a certification for HVAC technicians, so now you must be an HVAC technician to buy R-410A. Is that a big deal? Maybe not, but it puts the purchase – and price passed on to you – in the hands of someone else.
Why can’t I buy R410A refrigerant?
The main reason why non-certified people can’t purchase R-410A or use it to recharge their air conditioning system themselves is that refrigerants are dangerous substances. It actually requires training in handling and safety protocols to work with refrigerants without serious risk. Even accidentally letting your skin come into contact with R-410A can cause frostbite and other issues, not to mention the skill it requires to properly refill an air conditioning system.
As much as we love the DIY spirit, this is one job that is best left to the pros – and by law, it has to be.
Can I replace R22 with R-410A?
No. Replacing R22 with R-410A can cause serious issues to your machine and to your health and safety. If you put R-410A in a system that is designed to run on R22 Freon, the system may work briefly but will soon die. That’s an expensive mistake!
How long will it take an HVAC technician to recharge my air conditioning system? At what cost?
To check the system, find where the refrigerant leaked, make the repair and recharge/refill the system will take three to six hours at a rate of $70-$125 for labor.
Depending on the repairs required, the labor cost to hire an HVAC technician might be higher than the cost for the refrigerant itself. This is because a Section 608 certified HVAC technician has received significant training in order to perform the job, and they have an extensive knowledge of the tools and materials needed. Plus, they’ve shelled out a lot of money to obtain the knowledge and tools.
How do I know how many pounds of R-410A is needed to recharge my AC?
The size of your air conditioner determines how many pounds of refrigerant you will need. A residential air conditioner is between 1.5 tons (18,000 BTUs) and 5.0 tons (60,000 BTUs).
There are many factors in sizing an AC or heat pump – the size of your home, of course, but also its layout, levels of insulation, type and number of windows and a biggie – your climate.
An average-sized home of about 1,500 square feet in a moderate/warm region of the country will usually need a 3-ton air conditioner to effectively cool the whole house.
General guidance says you need two to four pounds of refrigerant per ton of air conditioner. Each air conditioner unit comes with its own specifications, which can be found in the owner’s manual or on the outside label.
Is R-410A going to be phased out?
Eventually, yes. As we continue to find better solutions for environmental problems like Ozone depletion and greenhouse gas emission, our methods for heating and cooling change. Just like the switch from R22 Freon to R-410A was a step in the right direction, there will be a phase out of R410A to something else eventually. But it’s not anything to worry about, and you will have plenty of time to prepare for the switch when it comes. The average lifespan of an air conditioning system is 15-20 years, so you will almost certainly be ready for a replacement by that time anyway.
Timeline: The current trajectory is for a ten-year phase out to begin in the next five years or so. This would mean that R-410A would not be completely phased out for fifteen years or more.
One alternative to R-410A that is being discussed is R32. R32 is already used in some ductless split systems, window air conditioner units and portable ACs. It does not deplete ozone, and R32 has two-thirds lower global warming potential than R-410A, which is pretty impressive!
- R410A = 2088 GWP
- R32 = 675 GWP
As a savvy homeowner, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye out for greener technology and policy changes. That way, when the time comes to make another change, you won’t be caught off guard.