What's a Fair Price for R-22 Refrigerant?

June 25, 2018

We’ve recently had a lot of questions from homeowners regarding the price of refrigerant—R-22 refrigerant, to be exact.

The bottom line? It’s pricey. In fact, the average price to “recharge” your AC unit with R-22 refrigerant is around $615–$750+.

And that’s the average market price for R-22 in Denver—with very similar prices across the US (2018 prices, at least). That’s not us price-gouging or taking advantage of customers—unfortunately, the price range is out of our control.

But either way, we know that’s not an easy bill to stomach. And we know that you have lots of questions, like:

  • Why is R-22 refrigerant so expensive?

  • Do I really need more refrigerant in my AC?

  • Is R-22 my only refrigerant option? 

So stay tuned. We’ll answer all those questions—and more—below.


Need an estimate for your AC refrigerant recharge? We’ll give you a quote for free.


Why is R-22 refrigerant so expensive?

R-22 refrigerant is so expensive because there’s such a limited supply of it left.

You see, R-22 is an “ozone-depleting substance” and is extremely harmful to the environment. Because it’s so dangerous, countries around the world have been slowly phasing out this refrigerant since 2010. According to the EPA, all sale/production/import of R-22 will end completely in 2020.

In the meantime, R-22 prices have gotten higher and higher every year—and will only continue to get higher.

It’s simply a matter of “supply and demand”: a lot of air conditioners still use R-22 but there’s very little R-22 available for them. That said, let’s look at why and when a central air conditioner might need R-22 in the first place.

Do I really need more refrigerant in my AC?

This is a smart question because, unfortunately, there are some techs out there who may tell you that you need refrigerant when you really don’t.

Here’s what you need to know: The only reason you would ever need a refrigerant recharge is if you have a refrigerant leak.

So if you ever hear a tech say that you need a “routine” refrigerant recharge, they’re just out for your money. Related: How Often Does A Central Air Conditioner Need Refrigerant?

To explain, refrigerant doesn’t get used up in an AC like gas in a car. Instead, it travels through the system in a closed loop. So, unless there’s a hole somewhere along the refrigerant components, you should have the same amount of refrigerant from the AC’s installation to its death.

How refrigerant works in central AC

Refrigerant cycles throughout your unit in a closed loop and never gets used up.

You’ll know you have a refrigerant leak if you notice:

  • Hissing noises along a certain point of the refrigerant lines

  • Ice along the refrigerant lines (or a completely frozen indoor/outdoor unit)

  • Warm air/no air blowing from AC vents

  • The AC can’t cool your home to your desired temperature anymore

If you think you have a refrigerant leak based on those signs, contact a professional to inspect your AC. If they find refrigerant leaks (which they should point out to you), you'll want to make sure your tech repairs the leak BEFORE recharging the system.

Is R-22 my only refrigerant option?

Well, yes and no.

If your current AC unit runs on R-22, then yes, that’s the only refrigerant that will work for that unit. Trying to add a different type of refrigerant into an R-22 unit will cause the unit to die soon after it starts running.

So if you were told that you have a refrigerant leak, you really have two options:

  1. Pay for the recharge and stick with your R-22 unit

  2. Switch out your AC unit for a unit that runs off of R-410A (EPA-approved refrigerant)

Yeah, we know that 2nd option sounds crazy expensive but if your AC unit runs on R-22 it’s likely nearing the end of its lifespan so it makes sense to replace the unit now. You see, most R-22 units that are still functioning are nearing 10+ years old, which means they’re likely to start needing frequent repairs or will die altogether soon.

We suggest choosing a replacement AC unit that runs on R-410A refrigerant. This refrigerant is approved for use in residential air conditioners and is much cheaper than R-22. Most Denver homeowners with older R-22 units will go ahead and make the switch to an R-410A if they ever get a refrigerant leak—it’s just the more cost-efficient option.

Need a quote for either an R-22 recharge or a new AC?

We can provide FREE quotes for both and help you determine the best option for you.

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