The cost of wholesale R-22 refrigerant ranges from $20 to $50 a pound, not including installation costs, but you can no longer purchase this chemical without a pro
Before 2010, the AC and HVAC systems that cooled our homes and over-chilled our offices ran on R-22 refrigerant. Then the Environmental Protection Agency made the alarming discovery that R-22 depleted the ozone layer and began phasing it out between 2010 and 2030. As of mid-2021, refilling an AC ranges between $100 and $350, but larger R-22 systems can cost as much as $600 for the whole service.
How Much Does R-22 Cost Per Pound?
If your pre-2010 AC is still trucking along, there's a solid chance you'll need R-22 when it comes time for a replacement. After 2010, the EPA banned the production of systems that required this substance, and most systems switched to the safer R-410A.
Your HVAC specialist can snag R-22 freon for $20 to $50 per pound wholesale. However, when you call on a repair team to replace it, expect your bill to run from $90 to $150 per pound.
It's important to note that a high-functioning HVAC system only requires a refill if something is wrong. For example, you may have a freon leak or need other common AC repairs, all of which can cost between $170 and $590. As your pro fixes your system, you may also see a $50 to $150 recovery charge on your bill, now required by the EPA.
How Much Does It Cost to Recharge an AC with R-22 Near You?
At this point, there are natural R-22 shortages wherever you live in the U.S. But the cost of living in your area, the size of your home, and the need for an AC in the first place will determine your final cost.
HVAC pros charge anywhere from $50 to $150 an hour for their work. So, in addition to the R-22 cost-per-pound, they may add hourly labor costs for repairs and the refill to your bill.
Here are some examples of how AC repair costs vary depending on where you live.
New York: $200–$670
Salt Lake City: $170–$530
Portland, ME: $200–$520
How Much R-22 Freon Can I Get on My Budget?
Because DIY AC recharges are not typically an option—more on this below—it's best to consider the full installation costs for R-22, not just the substance itself.
Your AC capacity determines how much R-22 you'll need. For each ton of cooling capacity, assume between two and four pounds of Freon.
In other words: Two tons of cooling capacity X three pounds of Freon = six pounds to recharge your system.
Small ACs can go as low as half-a-ton capacity and large homes require around five tons. Here are some cost ranges to expect based on your home size, region, and related AC repair costs.
$100 to $200
This is the average cost to "recharge" a small AC if you need it topped off. Depending on the scarcity of R-22, you could end up paying on the higher end of this range.
$200 to $400
Add a full batch of R-22 to a small AC if there was none left. This will not include the cost of repairs or retrieval fees.
$400 to $600
Replacing R-22 for common HVAC systems today often runs as high as $600 when all is said and done.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace R-22 Freon Yourself?
The EPA only allows licensed professionals to purchase ozone-depleting substances, including R-22—a wise move considering it’s a dangerous chemical with the power to damage your AC if mishandled or installed incorrectly.
Also, running low on freon of any sort typically means you have a leak or other damage. While tackling AC repairs on your own is not advisable—and in some cases, illegal—you can try troubleshooting common AC issues or staying on top of AC maintenance during the summer.
R-22 Cost Breakdown
The cost of R-22 will likely continue to rise as time goes on. However, the EPA phased out chemicals over several decades so that homeowners would have plenty of time to upgrade their systems.
Everyone's timeline differs, however. If you're still hanging onto a trusty HVAC system that needs R-22 for now, the cost to replace it may include:
R-22 per pound
Related AC repairs
R-22 recovery costs
What Factors Influence the Price to R-22 Refrigerant?
Time plays quite a role in the cost of R-22. The further we get away from 2010,the higher the refrigerant will cost per pound, and likely for installation.
Depending on the size of your system, the cost to maintain an old AC may surpass the price to upgrade to a new model.
Major factors of your final R-22 bill include:
Where you live
The size of your HVAC system
Age of your AC
Necessary repairs and recovery costs
FAQs about the Cost of R-22
Home cooling technology will continue to evolve as the years go on. Smart-home systems, higher SEER ratings, and better ventilation will likely look a lot different in ten years.
Is R-22 refrigerant still available?
As of Jan. 1, 2020, the EPA no longer allows the manufacturing or import of R-22 Freon. However, you can still purchase the remaining refrigerant for AC systems built before 2010.
How often should I recharge my AC with R-22?
You will only need to refill your AC with refrigerant if it has a leak. Otherwise, a modern, well-maintained AC will never need a recharge.
Can I use R-410a in my system built for R-22?
No. Due to pressure differences, it is not safe or effective to use R-410a in an older system built to run on R-22. Always work with a licensed AC repair specialist to find the best solution for your older AC setup.