In the past decade or so, freon prices have gone up drastically. But anyone who has central air in their home knows that freon is a necessity. Especially for those in temperate climates that can get into the upper 90s or 100s in the summer.
The typical cost of R-410A freon is $125 per 25-pound cylinder, which equals out to be $5.00 per pound. The average home uses two to four pounds of R-410A per ton of your air conditioning unit. So, if your unit is three tons, and you use three pounds per ton, you will need nine pounds of R-410A.
The thing with R-410A freon is that it only comes in 25-pound cylinders or larger. Then you will need to have the right tools to use it and it helps if you know what you are doing. Also, you are not allowed to buy R-410A freon unless you are 608 certified.
Make Sure You Need It
If you are not an HVAC tech then you are probably just guessing that your air conditioner needs freon. However, if your air conditioning unit is not cooling your home, it may not be the freon. There are other reasons why your house is not getting cooled off. Some of these include:
- A dirty air filter
- Outside unit is dirty
- Broken condenser fan motor
- Bad compressor
Now, the first two things you can fix yourself. You can change that air filter or clean your outside unit in just a few minutes. But the other two issues will need an HVAC specialist.
Why You Need R-410A Freon
Even if you are right about needing R-410A in your air conditioner, the reason is important to figure out as well. You could just fill it up and forget about it. But if you have a leak, which is the most common reasons you need R-410A, you will need another refill soon.
There are some clues that you may notice if your air conditioner is leaking freon. Some of these include:
- Air works fine when it is not as hot but does not cool when it is hot
- The air conditioning unit makes a hissing or bubbling noise
- There is a buildup of ice on the outside unit or refrigerant line
What is R-410A Freon Used For?
R-410A freon is a refrigerant of hydrofluorocarbon compounds used to replace R-22 freon. The main use for R-410A freon is air conditioning units. The R-410A freon goes through the process of evaporating over and over again.
The compressor in the air conditioner compresses the R-410A gas. At the same time, a bit of oil is combined with it to lubricate the compressor at the same time. The R-410A gets hot as it is compressed. The hot R-410A gas flows through coils to cool it and change it to liquid
The liquid moves into and expansion valve to cool it down until it evaporates. This creates the cold gas that goes through a different set of coils. The gas absorbs the heat and lowers the air temperature in the house.
What is the Difference Between R-410A Freon and R-22 Freon?
You have to make sure your unit uses R-410A and not R-22 freon because they are not interchangeable. If your unit uses R-410A, there should be a white sticker that says what refrigerant it uses.
Using one instead of the other can ruin your entire unit, meaning you will then have to pay out thousands of dollars for a new air conditioner. That is why it is best to let the experts handle the job.
This freon was invented in 1928 by a group of scientists. It was considered the world’s first non-flammable refrigerating liquid. This made it extremely popular since it made air conditioners much safer.
However, in 1987 it was agreed that this freon could no longer be used. It was creating chlorine, which was damaging the ozone layer. Although it is still used for old systems, any air conditioner made after 2010 uses the newer, safer R-410A freon.
Another refrigerant was developed to replace the R-22 freon because R-22 was harming the environment. There is no chlorine in the R-410A, making it safer to use in air conditioning units as well as heat pumps.
Unfortunately, you cannot just empty out your air conditioner of R-22 and replace it with R-410A. There are two different types of lubricant for the internal parts. While R-22 uses mineral oil, R-410A uses Poly o Ester (POE) oil, which is found in jet engines.
Why is R-410A Freon So Expensive?
The main reason that R-410A freon costs have gone up so much is supply and demand. As the older and more dangerous R-22 freon is edged out, R-410A freon becomes popular. According to experts, the producers just cannot keep up.
Another issue with R-410A freon is that there is a global shortage of one of the refrigerants used in making R-410A freon. This refrigerant, R-125, cannot be made quickly enough to keep up with the needs of the public.
Trade Relations and Competition with China
And yet another cause for the price increase is the trade relations between China and the United States. Much of the R-410A freon is made in China and it was sold to the United States at a cheaper price because of their lower production costs.
That meant the United States companies had to keep their prices low to compete with China. When the United States determined that China was selling at prices well below fair market value, the Department of Commerce put a 200% tax on China.
With the higher taxes, China had to raise their prices. The United States was then able to sell their R-410A freon at their higher prices again. So, while this helped out the American manufacturers of R-410A freon, it costs the American homeowner more money.
The Main Question
Back to the main question of the cost of R-410A freon. No matter how cheap or expensive it is, it will not matter if you are not certified to use it. And not only should you be certified but you should be experienced in HVAC repair.
So, by hiring an HVAC technician to refill your air conditioner unit, you will save money by not having to buy the whole 25-pound tank. However, you will be paying for their time and expertise, and it is not cheap.
First of all, they will have to mark up the cost of the R-410A freon so they can make a profit on that. And then you have to pay them hourly for their service. Most likely, you will be paying the company they work for so they can pay the technician.
That means that if the tech makes $50 per hour, you will likely pay $60 per hour so the company can get paid for hiring out their technician to you. If you were to hire someone on the internet who works for themselves, it will probably be cheaper. But you will be taking the chance that the person you hire may not know what they are doing.
Sometimes it Does Not Pay to Be Cheap
Just remember this, you get what you pay for. And if you try to be cheap by doing it yourself or hiring a stranger, you may end up having to pay thousands to get a new air conditioner.