If you’re wondering about R-22 refrigerant cost, you probably have an older air conditioner at your home. While there’s nothing wrong with having an old AC, you could be in a pickle if it develops a refrigerant leak.
Why is that such a big problem? Well, it’s no longer legal to produce or import R-22 refrigerant, which might be what you have in your old air conditioner.
Prior to 2020, you could still obtain this obsolete product, which is also known as Freon. Although EPA rules prohibited the sale of new systems using R-22 in 2010, HVAC technicians could still buy, sell, and use R-22 to service existing systems.
But not anymore! R-22 is now very difficult to source and very expensive.
Why is the R-22 refrigerant cost so high?
One word: scarcity.
Nowadays, R-22 is really hard to find. Nobody is producing R-22 refrigerant domestically and no wholesalers are importing it, much less selling it to American buyers. It’s a banned product, plain and simple.
The only way you will be able to purchase R-22 refrigerant today is to find an HVAC contractor who has some on hand from the before times. Most won’t have any. Among the vendors who still have it in stock, you can expect to pay hundreds of dollars per pound of R-22. That’s much higher than the cost of R-410A refrigerant, which is the current industry standard.
In our experience, new R-22 is almost impossible to buy. At the time of publication (August 2023), we still have a small amount of R-22 refrigerant on hand. When our current stock runs out, which could happen any day now, we won’t be getting any more.
Why did the EPA ban R-22 refrigerant?
R-22 is a chlorofluorocarbon (CFC), which is known to contribute to ozone depletion. That’s why its use was subject to restrictions many years ago with a gradual production phase-out for equipment that used it.
If you purchase a new air conditioner today, it will use R-410A refrigerant. This product is a hydrofluorocarbon (HFC), not a CFC, and is a much more eco-friendly chemical by comparison. R-410A is the industry standard refrigerant and likely will be for many years to come. Unlike R-22 refrigerant, R-410A is future-proof. It’s still being produced and is widely available.
If I need R-22 refrigerant for my air conditioner, what should I do?
When your old AC is leaking refrigerant, we don’t recommend topping it off with R-22. For one thing, R-22 is scarce and expensive. You’ll probably struggle to find any. Then, if you do find some, you’re going to pay quite a bit to fill a broken air conditioner with an obsolete product.
The best solution for an R-22 air conditioning system that’s leaking refrigerant is to replace it with a new one.
Sourcing and paying for R-22 now that it’s been banned just doesn’t make sense. Since your system has a leak (and such leaks usually can’t be repaired), you’ll have to keep topping it off with R-22 in the years to come. And R-22 will only become more and more scarce and more and more expensive.
Getting a new system, by contrast, allows you to enjoy these benefits:
- More cost effective than buying R-22: You probably wouldn’t spend $5,000 to put a new transmission in your ‘98 Dodge Stratus. For the same reason, it makes little sense to pay a high price to put R-22 into a pre-2010 air conditioning system.
- Better efficiency: Any new AC will be more efficient than your old R-22 system. Nowadays, you can also choose from extremely efficient variable speed systems or units with a SEER2 of up to 26!
- Better comfort: Today’s variable speed ACs ramp up and down to meet your home’s exact cooling needs. They’re also better at removing humidity compared to standard air conditioners.
- Quieter operation: In recent years, manufacturers have put a lot of R&D into reducing compressor noise. Today’s air conditioners are much quieter than the ones from years past. And if you choose a variable speed system, the lower operating speed means indoor noise will be lower as well.
You’ll also have better options in the event your system does experience a refrigerant leak. During the first ten years, the system will still be under warranty. If you have a leak, you can just replace the coil. Your HVAC technician will charge it with the readily available R-410A refrigerant, and you’re good to go.
Conclusion: The best way to avoid R-22 refrigerant cost is to…
Ditch your R-22 system. Really. It makes little financial sense to hold onto it.
One thing we talk a lot about at PV is helping our customers enjoy a worry-free HVAC experience. We want your system to work so well and be so dependable that you don’t have to worry about it. An R-22 system is really hard not to worry about, especially if it’s got a leak. You’ll have to spend time, effort, and money sourcing R-22, not to mention topping it off season after season. It’s a lot of hassle.
If you’ve got an R-22 system and you’re concerned about the cost of refrigerant, we can help! Metro Atlanta homeowners can give us a call at (404) 994-2229 or fill out the form below to get in touch.