- The service fee to refill an AC unit with refrigerant will cost from $160 to $760
- R410a costs $45 per pound for the average homeowner to refill the AC unit
- R22 costs around $80 per pound to refill the freon in a home air conditioner
Air Conditioner Freon Refill Cost guide
- Refill AC unit service – $160 to $760
- R410a – $40 to $50 per pound
- R22 – $75 to $90 per pound
Why does freon cost so much?
The prices to recharge an AC unit with freon have been skyrocketing. You might be asking, is it my local air conditioning company gouging me, or is freon prices really going up like crazy?
It’s well known that freon is terrible for the environment but did you know that some freon types are worse than others. When a new, safer freon is invented to phase out the old types, the US Government will outlaw the manufacturing of the older freon like R22, leaving only the R22 in inventory to use. As supply runs out, distributors charge more and more until it’s gone, which is why it feels like the freon price per pound is always going up.
The labor cost to refill your outdoor AC unit is freon doesn’t vary that much. It shouldn’t take any longer than one hour to diagnose the problem, add refrigerant, and recalibrate the system. So when you see the cost going up to refill your AC unit, it’s not due to the labor cost.
Freon Refrigerant refill cost Breakout
Knowing only the cost per pound for refrigerant doesn’t give you the total cost you need to budget for when adding freon to your air conditioner. Many companies charge a service or diagnosis fee on top of the freon cost. One pound of R410a might only cost $40, but the addition of a service fee brings the total to $160.
What is included in adding Freon to an outdoor AC unit
- Diagnose problem
- Do a thorough inspection of the system to identify the problem
- Add Refrigerant and Calibrate
- Add needed refrigerant
- Verify pressure are correct and the AC system is performing correctly.
- Diagnose problem
|Item||Material Cost||Labor Cost At $120 Per Hr.|
|Add Freon (1 Pound)||$40 - $90||$30|
Cost To Refill Entire AC Unit
Before you can answer, “how much will it cost to refill your air conditioner?” You first have to answer, “how many pounds of refrigerant is it low?” Sometimes your AC only needs one pound, but sometimes it can require quite a bit of refrigerant. Some high efficacy systems can hold as many as 15lbs of freon. You can spend from $160 to $1,320 depending on the system type and how many pounds of refrigerant are needed.
|Recharge AC unit||14 SEER (up to 8lbs)||16 to 18 SEER (up to 10lbs)||18 SEER+ Multi Stages (up to 15lbs)|
|2 Ton||$160 - $520||$160 - $680||$160 - $1,080|
|2.5 Ton||$160 - $560||$160 - $720||$160 - $1,120|
|3 Ton||$160 - $600||$160 - $760||$160 - $1,160|
|3.5 Ton||$160 - $640||$160 - $800||$160 - $1,200|
|4 Ton||$160 - $680||$160 - $840||$160 - $1,240|
|5 Ton||$160 - $760||$160 - $920||$160 - $1,320|
1 to 2 pounds low
Your air conditioner can lose a pound or two over time. It’s not a big deal; it just happens. However, if you are adding a pound every few months, you probably have a freon leak. If this is the case, I recommend having your AC technician do a leak search to see if they can find the problem. But if it’s a one-time thing for a pound or two, it’s not that big of a deal.
3+ pounds low
If your air conditioner is more than 3 pounds of refrigerant low, you might have a leak in your system. Just adding some refrigerant doesn’t mean it will fix the underlying problem. I would recommend having your HVAC company do a leak search to see if they can locate the leak, which could be in the evaporate coil, condenser, or line set. If there is a leak in the coil or condenser, there is a chance it still might be under warranty. I recommend tracking down the issue if there is one because when your system is this low in freon, the compressor can get damaged, which is very expensive to replace.
R410a & R22 Refrigerant Price Breakout
You might be aware that freon prices keep going up and up, but why? Freon is not good for the environment, so the EPA regulates the manufacturing and sale of refrigerants in the US. The EPA is phasing out R22 and replacing it with R410a, which is more environmentally friendly. At some point, R410a will be replaced too. This is why the cost of freon per pound keeps going up, now as high as $80 for R22.
|2021 Refrigerant Cost Per Pound||$45||$80|
|2020 Refrigerant Cost Per Pound||$42||$70|
|2019 Refrigerant Cost Per Pound||$40||$60|
|2018 Refrigerant Cost Per Pound||$37||$55|
|2017 Refrigerant Cost Per Pound||$35||$50|
On January 1st, 2020, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the production and importation of R22 in the United States. If it can no longer be manufactured or imported into the US, where is R22 coming from? HVAC distributors saw this coming to they stocked up on R22 before they could no longer get their hands on it. So, the entire HVAC industry is working out of 2020 R22 stock. As the supply runs out, prices continue to rise until R22 is out of stock. The r22 freon cost per pound in 2021 has now risen to $80 per lbs. If you own an R22 system, I recommend replacing it soon.
R410a will not be phased out for a while, but HVAC manufacturers are starting to plan for it. Many manufacturers will quit building air conditioning systems with 410a by 2023. R410a will most likely get replaced with the following leading freons: R-32 and R-454B, which will start the phase-out process. Much like the R22 phase-out timeline, it will take another 10-years for it to start affecting homeowners in the US. 410a freon cost per pound in 2021 should be around $45 per lbs.
Test for a Freon Leak
If your system is losing a pound of freon here and there, you might want to track down where the leak is to fix the problem. There are two types of refrigerant leak tests: a nitrogen test, the most common way, and a UV dye test for tracking down harder-to-find leaks.
Refergerant Leak Test
Nitrogen Freon Leak Test
A nitrogen test is one of the best starting points to find where your system is losing freon. The way it works is a technician removes all the freon from the system. Then adds nitrogen in place of the freon, then pressurize the nitrogen around 250psi. If the pressure starts to drop, the tech knows there is a freon leak. The tech will then look over the system, listening for a hissing noise from the leak. A nitrogen leak test normally runs around $250 for the average homeowner.
UV Dye Freon Leak Test
A UV dye test is the next step if the tech can not find the leak from the nitrogen test, which typically happens with tiny leaks. A tech performs a UV test by adding the die to your system, leaving, and waiting for three days. Upon the tech’s return, some of the UV dye should have leaked out, making it easy for the tech to find the problem area. A UV dye test normally costs the average homeowner around $500.
|Item||Freon Leak Test|
|Nitrogen Freon Leak Test||$250|
|UV Die Freon Leak Test||$500|
Freon Leak Fix
Freon leaks commonly occur in a couple of different places. The evaporator coil is one of the most common places, but it is normal for leaks to happen in the line set, condenser coil, or freon valve. Some parts only require a simple repair, while others must be replaced entirely. In some cases, the repair cost is so high that it makes more sense to replace the entire system.
Evaporator and Condenser Coil Refrigerant Leak fix
The evaporator and condenser coils are very complex and use a lot of different metals to bind the tubing and fins together, making it extremely hard to solder the leak hole closed. When a freon leak occurs in a coil, there is a 99% chance that the coil will need to be replaced.
You have two options when it comes to coil replacements 1) replace just the indoor or outdoor coil or 2) replace the entire indoor or outdoor unit. Replacing just the coil almost costs the same as replacing the entire unit. For more information on evaporator coil replacement cost, AC unit replacement cost, or furnace replacement cost, take a look at our other blog posts.
|Item||Replace Coil||Replace Unit|
|Indoor Air Handler / Furnace||$1,230 - $3,700||$2,940 - $5,430|
|Outdoor AC Unit||$1,300 - $3,500||$3,300 - $4,000|
Line Set and Freon valve leak fix
Line Set Refrigerant Leak
A freon leak in the line set is a pretty simple fix depending on where the leak is located. If the line set leak is in a wall, the cost will obviously be higher than somewhere easy to reach. Once the leak is located, all the technician has to do is replace the small section of the copper line that is leaking. It normally costs around $350 – $500 for a line set repair.
Refrigerant Valve Leak
It is fairly common for a TXV, Shrader Core, or King valve to go bad and leak refrigerant. Replacing a valve is a simple repair, but sometimes the valve can be costly. A valve replacement can range from $120 – $750.
|Item||Freon Leak Fix|
|Line Set Fix||$350 - $500|
|Freon Valve Replacement||$120 - $750|